Heller - Chapter 07
The coup d'etat of 18th Brumaire helped to renew confidence,
particularly in the hearts of a bourgeoisie frightened by the Jacobin
threat and concerned by the possibility of a Bourbon restoration. If
the price was a more or less unconcealed military dictatorship, so be
it. Ended were the prevarications of the Directory with respect to
popular participation in government. The populace was once and for all
excluded from politics. Raising Napoleon to the imperial purple
subsequently shut the door to the restoration of the ancien régime.
The regime of privilege based on the first and second estate was gone
for good. From the perspective of the bourgeoisie, the new order
safeguarded the essential gains of the Revolution: civic equality,
administrative reform, and the unqualified right to private property.
The new government subsequently issued a civil code that created a
solid legal framework for future capitalist growth: civil equality,
personal liberty and unqualified property rights. It pursued the
administrative unification of the nation that had begun in 1789. The
Consulate and the Empire further strengthened the optimism of the
wealthy by restoring the public finances while putting an end to forced
loans on the rich and ensuring payment on state annuities. It concluded
a religious concordat with the head of the Roman Catholic Church that
guaranteed the property rights of the new owners of ecclesiastical
property, while further undermining a Bourbon counterrevolution.
Continuing the fundamental gains of the Revolution and spreading them
beyond France, the Napoleonic era marked the consolidation of the
Revolution as well as the power of the bourgeoisie. 1 For a while the
rule of Napoleon held out the hope of peace with the rest of Europe.