Napoleon I (Bonaparte)
Emperor of the French, second son of Charles Marie Bonaparte and Maria Lætitia Ramolino, b. at Ajaccio, in Corsica, 15 August, 1769; d. on the Island of St. Helena, 5 May, 1821.
His childhood was spent in Corsica ; at the end of the year 1778 he entered the college of Autun, in 1779 the military school of Brienne, and in 1783 the military school of Paris. In 1785, when he was in garrison at Valence, as a lieutenant, he occupied his leisure with researches into the history of Corsica and read many of the philosophers of his time, particularly Rousseau. These studies left him attached to a sort of Deism, an admirer of the personality of Christ, a stranger to all religious practices, and breathing defiance against "sacerdotalism" and "theocracy". His attitude under the Revolution was that of a citizen devoted to the new ideas, in testimony of which attitude we have his scolding letter, written in 1790, to Battafuoco, a deputy from the Corsican noblesse , whom the "patriots" regarded as a traitor, and also a work published by Bonaparte in 1793, "Le Souper de Beaucaire", in which he takes the side of the Mountain in the Convention against the Federalist tendencies of the Girondins.
His military genius revealed itself in December, 1793, when he was twenty-four years of age, in his recapture of Toulon from the English. He was made a general of brigade in the artillery, 20 December, and in 1794 contributed to Massé na's victories in Italy. The political suspicions aroused by his friendship with the younger Robespierre after 9 Thermidor of the Year III (27 July, 1794), the intrigues which led to his being removed from the Italian frontier and sent to command a brigade against the Vendeans in the west, and ill health, which he used as a pretext to refuse this post and remain in Paris, almost brought his career to an end. He contemplated leaving France to take command of the sultan's artillery. But in 1795 when the Convention was threatened, Bonaparte was selected for the duty of pouring grapeshot upon its enemies from the platform of the church of Saint Roch (13 Vendémiaire, Year IV). He displayed great moderation in his hour of victory, and managed to earn at once the gratitude of the Convention and the esteem of its enemies.The Campaign in Italy
On 8 March, 1798, he contracted a civil marriage with the widow of Alexandre de Beauharnais, Marie Joséphine Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, who was born in Martinique, in 1763, of a family originally belonging to the neighbourhood of Blois. In the same month Napoleon set out for Italy, where the Directory, prompted by Carnot, had appointed him commander in chief against the First Coalition. The victory of Montenotte, over the Austrians commanded by Beaulieu, and those of Millesimo, Dego, Ceva, and Mondovì, over Colle's Piedmontese troops, forced Victor Amadeus, King of Sardinia, to conclude the armistice of Cherasco (28 April, 1796). Wishing to effect a junction on the Danube with the Army of the Rhine, Bonaparte spent the following May in driving Beaulieu across Northern Italy, and succeeded in pushing him back into the Tyrol. On 7 May he was ordered by the Directory to leave half of his troops in Lombardy, under Kellermann's command, and march with the other half against Leghorn, Rome, and Naples. Unwilling to share the glory with Kellermann, Bonaparte replied by tendering his resignation, and the order was not insisted on. In a proclamation to his soldiers (20 May, 1796) he declared his intention of leading them to the banks of the Tiber to chastise those who had "whetted the daggers of civil war in France " and "basely assassinated" Basseville, the French minister, to "re-establish the Capitol, place there in honour the statues of heroes who had made themselves famous", and to "arouse the Roman people benumbed by many centuries of bondage". In June he entered the Romagna, appeared at Bologna and Ferrara, and made prisoners of several prelates. The Court of Rome demanded an armistice, and Bonaparte, who was far from eager for this war against the Holy See, granted it. The Peace of Bologna (23 June, 1796) obliged the Holy See to give up Bologna and Ferrara to French occupation, to pay twenty one million francs, to surrender 100 pictures, 500 manuscripts, and the busts of Junius and Marcus Brutus. The Directory thought these terms too easy, and when a prelate was sent to Paris to negotiate the treaty, he was told that as an indispensable condition of peace, Pius VI must revoke the Briefs relating to the Civil Constitution of the clergy and to the Inquisition. The Pope refused, and negotiations were broken off; they failed again at Florence, where an attempt had been made to renew them.
During these pourparlers between Paris and Rome, Bonaparte repulsed the repeated efforts of the Austrian Wurmser to reconquer Lombardy. Between 1 and 5 August, Wurmser was twice beaten at Lonato and again at Castiglione; between 8 and 15 September, the battles of Roveredo, Primolano, Bassano, and San Giorgio forced Wurmser to take refuge in Mantua, and on 16 October Bonaparte created the Cispadan Republic at the expense of the Duchy of Modena and of the Legations, which were pontifical territory. Then, 24 October, he invited Cacault, the French minister at Rome, to reopen negotiations with Pius VI "so as to catch the old fox"; but on 28 October he wrote to the same Cacault: "You may assure the pope that I have always been opposed to the treaty which the Directory has offered him, and above all to the manner of negotiating it. I am more ambitious to be called the preserver than the destroyer of the Holy See. If they will be sensible at Rome, we will profit by it to give peace to that beautiful part of the world and to calm the conscientious fears of many people." Meanwhile the arrival in Venetia of the Austrian troops under Alvinzi caused Cardinal Busca, the pope's secretary of state, to hasten the conclusion of an alliance between the Holy See and the Court of Vienna ; of this Bonaparte learned through intercepted letters. His victories at Arcoli (17 November, 1796) and Rivoli (14 January, 1797) and the capitulation of Mantua (2 February, 1797), placed the whole of Northern Italy in his hands, and in the spring of 1797 the Pontifical States were at his mercy.
The Directory sent him ferocious instructions. "The Roman religion", they wrote, "will always be the irreconcilable enemy of the Republic; first by its essence, and next, because its servants and ministers will never forgive the blows which the Republic has aimed at the fortune and standing of some, and the prejudices and habits of others. The Directory requests you to do all that you deem possible, without rekindling the torch of fanaticism, to destroy the papal Government, either by putting Rome under some other power or" which would be still better "by establishing some form of self government which would render the yoke of the priests odious." But at the very moment when Bonaparte received these instructions he knew, by his private correspondence, that a Catholic awakening was beginning in France. Clarke wrote to him: "We have become once more Roman Catholic in France ", and explained to him that the help of the pope might perhaps be needed before long to bring the priests in France to accept the state of things resulting from the Revolution. Considerations such as these must have made an impression on a statesman like Bonaparte, who, moreover, at about this period, said to the parish priests of Milan : "A society without religion is like a ship without a compass; there is no good morality without religion." And in February, 1797, when he entered the Pontifical States with his troops, he forbade any insult to religion, and showed kindness to the priests and the monks, even to the French ecclesiastics who had taken refuge in papal territory, and whom he might have caused to be shot as émigrés. He contented himself with levying a great many contributions, and laying hands on the treasury of the Santa Casa at Loretto. The first advances of Pius VI to his "dear son General Bonaparte" were met by Bonaparte's declaring that he was ready to treat. "I am treating with this rabble of priests [ cette prêtraille ], and for this once Saint Peter will again save the Capitol", he wrote to Joubert, 17 February, 1797. The Peace of Tolentino was negotiated on 19 February; the Holy See surrendered the Legations of Bologna, Ferrara, and Ravenna, and recognized the annexation of Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin by France. But Bonaparte had taken care not to infringe upon the spiritual power, and had not demanded of Pius VI the withdrawal of those Briefs which were offensive to the Directory. As soon as the treaty was signed he wrote to Pius VI to express to him "his perfect esteem and veneration"; on the other hand, feeling that the Directory would be displeased, he wrote to it: "My opinion is that Rome, once deprived of Bologna, Ferrara, the Romagna, and the thirty millions we are taking from her, can no longer exist. The old machine will go to pieces of itself." And he proposed that the Directory should take the necessary steps with the pope in regard to the religious situation in France.
Then, with breathless rapidity, turning back towards the Alps, and assisted by Joubert, Massé na, and Bernadotte, he inflicted on Archduke Charles a series of defeats which forced Austria to sign the preliminaries of Leoben (18 April, 1797). In May he transformed Genoa into the Ligurian Republic; in October he imposed on the archduke the Treaty of Campo Formio, by which France obtained Belgium, the Rhine country with Mainz, and the Ionian Islands, while Venice was made subject to Austria. The Directory found fault with this last stipulation; but Bonaparte had already reached the point where he could act with independence and care little for what the politicians at Paris might think. It was the same with his religious policy: he now began to think of invoking the pope's assistance to restore peace in France. A note which he addressed to the Court of Rome, 3 August, 1797, was conceived in these terms: "The pope will perhaps think it worthy of his wisdom, of the most holy of religions, to execute a Bull or ordinance commanding priests to preach obedience to the Government, and to do all in their power to strengthen the established constitution. After the first step, it would be useful to know what others could be taken to reconcile the constitutional priests with the non constitutional."
While Bonaparte was expressing himself thus, the Councils of the Five Hundred and the Ancients were passing a law to recall, amnesty, and restore to their civil and political rights the priests who had refused to take the oath of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. But Directors Barrès, Rewbell, and Lareveillère Lépeaux, considering that this act jeopardized the Republic, employed General Augereau, Bonaparte's lieutenant, to carry out the coup d'état of 18 Fructidor against the Councils (4 Sept., 1797), and France was once more a prey to a Jacobin and anti-Catholic policy. These events were immediately echoed at Rome, where Joseph Bonaparte, the general's brother, and ambassador from the Directory, was asked by the latter, to favour the Revolutionary party. Disturbances arose: General Duphot was killed in Joseph Bonaparte's house (28 December, 1797), and the Directory demanded satisfaction from the Holy See. General Bonaparte had just returned to Paris, where he apparently confined himself to his functions as a member of the Institute (Scientific Section). He was by no means anxious to lead the expedition against Rome, which the Directory was projecting, and contented himself with giving Berthier, who commanded it, certain instructions from a distance. For this expedition for Berthier's entry into Rome and the proclamation of the Roman Republic (10-15 February, 1798), and for the captivity of Pius VI, who was carried off a prisoner to Valence, see P IUS VI .The Campaign in Egypt
While in Paris, Bonaparte induced the Directory to take up the plan of an expedition to Egypt. His object was to make the Mediterranean a French lake, by the conquest of Malta and the Nile Valley, and to menace England in the direction of India. He embarked on 19 May, 1798. The taking of Malta (10 June), of Alexandria (2 July), the battle of the Pyramids (21 July), gave Bonaparte the uncontested mastery of Cairo. At Cairo he affected a great respect for Islam ; reproached with this later on, he replied: "It was necessary for General Bonaparte to know the principles of Islamism, the government, the opinions of the four sects, and their relations with Constantinople and Mecca. It was necessary, indeed, for him to be thoroughly acquainted with both religions, for it helped him to win the affection of the clergy in Italy and of the ulemas in Egypt."
The French troops in Egypt were in great danger when the naval disaster of Aboukir, inflicted by Nelson, had cut them off from Europe. Turkey took sides with England : in the spring of 1799, Bonaparte made a campaign in Syria to strike both Turkey and England. Failing to effect the surrender of Acre, and as his army was suffering from the plague (May, 1799), he had to make his way back to Egypt. There he re-established French prestige by the victory of Aboukir (25 July, 1799), then, learning that the Second Coalition was gaining immense successes against the armies of the Directory, he left Kléber in Egypt and returned secretly to France. He landed at Fréjus, 9 October, 1799, and was in Paris seven days later. Besides certain political results, the expedition to Egypt had borne fruit for science : Egyptology dates its existence from the creation of the Institute of Egypt ( Institut d'Egypte ) by Bonaparte.Bonaparte, First Consul
While Bonaparte was in Egypt, the religious policy of the Directory had provoked serious troubles in France. Deportations of priests were multiplying; Belgium, where 6000 priests were proscribed, was disturbed; the Vendée, Normandy, and the departments of the South were rising. France was angry and uneasy. Spurred on by his brother Lucien, president of the Five Hundred, allied with Directors Sieyès and Roger Ducos, Bonaparte caused Directors Gohier and Moulins to be imprisoned, and broke up the Five Hundred (18 Brumaire; 9-10 November, 1799). The Directorial Constitution was suppressed, and France thenceforward was ruled by three consuls. First Consul Bonaparte put into operation the Constitution known as that of the Year VIII, substituted for the departmental administrators elected by the citizens, others appointed by the Executive Power, and reorganized the judicial and financial administrations. He commissioned the Abbé Bernier to quiet the religious disturbance of the Vendeans, and authorized the return of the non juring priests to France on condition of their simply promising fidelity to the laws of the republic. Then, to make an end of the Second Coalition, he entrusted the Army of Germany to Moreau, and, himself taking command of the Army of Italy, crossed the Great St. Bernard (13-16 May, 1800) and, with the co operation of Desaix, who was mortally wounded, crushed the Austrians (14 June, 1800) between Marengo and San Giuliano at the very spot he had marked on the map in his study in the Tuileries. The Peace of Lunéville, concluded with Austria, 9 February, 1801, extended the territory of France to 102 departments.
Bonaparte spent the years 1801 and 1802 effecting internal reforms in France. A commission, established in 1800, elaborated a new code which, as the "Code Napoléon", was to be promulgated in 1804, to formally introduce some of the "principles of 1789" into French law, and thus to complete the civil results of the Revolution. But it was Napoleon's desire that, in the new society which was the issue of the Revolution, the Church should have a place, and consciences should be set at rest. The Concordat with the Holy See was signed on 17 July, 1801; it was published, together with the Organic Articles, as a law, 16 April, 1802. The former of these two acts established the existence of the Church in France, while the other involved the possibility of serious interference by the State in the life of the Church. Napoleon never said, "The Concordat was the great fault of my reign." On the contrary, years afterwards, at St. Helena, he considered it his greatest achievement, and congratulated himself upon having, by the signature of the Concordat, "raised the fallen altars, put a stop to disorders, obliged the faithful to pray for the Republic, dissipated the scruples of those who had acquired the national domains, and broken the last thread by which the old dynasty maintained communication with the country." Fox, in a conversation with Napoleon at this period, expressed astonishment at his not having insisted upon the marriage of priests : "I had, and still have, to accomplish peace", Napoleon replied, "theological controversies are allayed with water, not with oil." The Concordat had wrecked the hopes of those who, like Mme de Staël, had wished to make Protestantism the state religion of France ; and yet the Calvinist Jaucourt, defending the Organic Articles before the Tribunat, gloried in the definitive recognition of the Calvinist religion by the state. The Jewish religion was not recognized until later (17 March, 1808), after the assembly of a certain number of Jewish delegates appointed by the prefects (29 July, 1806) and the meeting of the Great Sanhedrim (10 February — 9 April, 1807); the State, however, did not make itself responsible for the salaries of the rabbis. Thus did the new master of France regulate the religious situation in that country.
On 9 April, 1802, Caprara was received for the first time by Bonaparte in the official capacity of Pius VII's legate a latere , and before the first consul took an oath which, according to the text subsequently published by the "Moniteur", bound him to observe the constitution, the laws statutes, and customs of the republic, and nowise to derogate from the rights, liberties, and privileges of the Gallican Church. This was a painful surprise for the Vatican, and Caprara declared that the words about Gallican liberties had been interpolated in the "Moniteur". Another painful impression was produced at the Vatican by the attitude of eight constitutional priests whom Bonaparte had nominated to bishoprics, and to whom Caprara had granted canonical institution, and who afterwards boasted that they had never formally abjured their adhesion to the Civil Constitution of the clergy. In retaliation, the Roman curia demanded of the constitutional parish priests a formal retractation of the Civil Constitution, but Bonaparte opposed this and when Caprara insisted, declared that if Rome pushed matters too far the consuls would yield to the desire of France to become Protestant. Talleyrand spoke to Caprara in the same sense, and the legate desisted from his demands. On the other hand, though Bonaparte had at first been extremely irritated by the allocution of 24 May, 1802, in which Pius VII demanded the revision of the Organic Articles, he ended by allowing it to be published in the "Moniteur" as a diplomatic document. A spirit of conciliation on both sides tended to promote more cordial relations between the two powers. The proclamation of Bonaparte as consul for life (August, 1802) increased in him the sense of his responsibility towards the religion of the country, and in Pius VII the desire to be on good terms with a personage who was advancing with such long strides towards omnipotence.
Bonaparte took care to gain the attachment of the revived Church by his favours. While he dissolved the associations of the Fathers of the Faith, the Adorers of Jesus, and the Panarists, which looked to him like attempts to restore the Society of Jesus, he permitted the reconstitution of the Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of St. Thomas, the Sisters of St. Charles, and the Vatelotte Sisters, devoted to teaching and hospital work, and made his mother, Madame Lætitia Bonaparte, protectress of all the congregations of hospital sisters. He favoured the revival of the Institute of the Christian Schools for the religious instruction of boys; side by side with the lycées , he permitted secondary schools under the supervision of the prefects, but directed by ecclesiastics. He did not rest content with a mere strict fulfilment of the pecuniary obligations to the Church to which the Concordat had bound the State; in 1803 and 1804 it became the custom to pay stipends to canons and desservants of succursal parishes. Orders were issued to leave the Church in possession of the ecclesiastical buildings not included in the new circumscription of parishes. Though the State had not bound itself to endow diocesan seminaries, Bonaparte granted the bishops national estates for the use of such seminaries and the right to receive donations and legacies for their benefit; he even founded, in 1804, at the expense of the State, ten metropolitan seminaries, re-established, with a government endowment, the Lazarist house for the education of missionaries, and placed the Holy Sepulchre and the Oriental Christians under the protection of France.
As to the temporal power of the popes Bonaparte at this period affected a somewhat complaisant attitude towards the Holy See. He restored Pesaro and Ancona to the pope, and brought about the restitution of Benevento and Pontecorvo by the Court of Naples. After April, 1803, Cacault was replaced, as his representative at Rome, by one of the five French ecclesiastics to whom Pius VII had consented to grant the purple late in 1802. This ambassador was no other than Bonaparte's own uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, whose secretary for a short time was Chateaubriand, recently made famous by his "La génie du Christianisme". One of Bonaparte's grievances against Cacault was a saying attributed to the latter: "How many sources of his glory would cease if Bonaparte ever chose to play Henry VIII !" Even in those days of harmony Cacault had a presentiment that the Napoleonic policy would yet threaten the dignity of the Holy See.
The idea of a struggle with England became more and more an imperious obsession of Bonaparte's mind. The Peace of Amiens (25 March, 1802) was only a truce: it was broken on 22 May, 1803, by Mortier's invasion of Hanover and the landing of the English in French Guiana. Napoleon forthwith prepared for his gigantic effort to lay the ban of Europe on England. The Duc d'Enghien, who was suspected of complicity with England and the French Royalists, was carried off from Ettenheim, a village within the territory of Baden, and shot at Vincennes, 21 March, 1804, and one of Cardinal Fesch's first acts as ambassador at Rome was to demand the extradition of the French émigré Vernègues, who was in the service of Russia, and whom Bonaparte regarded as a conspirator.
NAPOLEON EMPEROR The Coronation
While the Third Coalition was forming between England and Russia, Bonaparte caused himself to be proclaimed hereditary emperor (30 April 18 May, 1804), and at once surrounded himself with a brilliant Court. He created two princes imperial (his brothers Joseph and Louis), seven permanent high dignitaries, twenty great officers, four of them ordinary marshals, and ten marshals in active service, a number of posts at Court open to members of the old nobility. Even before his formal proclamation as emperor, he had given Caprara a hint of his desire to be crowned by the pope, not at Reims, like the ancient kings, but at Notre Dame de Paris. On 10 May, 1804, Caprara warned Pius VII of this wish, and represented that it would be necessary to answer yes, in order to retain Napoleon's friendship. But the execution of the Duc d'Enghien had produced a deplorable impression in Europe ; Royalist influences were at work against Bonaparte at the Vatican, and the pope was warned against crowning an emperor who, by the Constitution of 1804, would promise to maintain "the laws of the Concordat ", in other words, the Organic Articles. Pius VII and Consalvi tried to gain time by dilatory replies, but these very replies were interpreted by Fesch at Rome, and by Caprara at Paris, in a sense favourable to the emperor's wishes. At the end of June, Napoleon I joyfully announced, at the Tuileries, that the pope had promised to come to Paris. Then Pius VII tried to obtain certain religious and political advantages in exchange for the journey he was asked to make. Napoleon declared that he would have no conditions dictated to him; at the same time he promised to give new proofs of his respect and love for religion, and to listen to what the pope might have to submit. At last the cleverness of Talleyrand, Napoleon's minister of foreign affairs, conquered the scruples of Pius VII ; he declared, at the end of September, that he would accept Napoleon's invitation if it were officially addressed to him; he asked only that the ceremony of consecration should not be distinct from the coronation proper, and that Napoleon would undertake not to detain him in France. Napoleon had the invitation conveyed to Pius VII, not by two bishops, as the pope expected, but by a general; and before setting out for France, Pius VII signed a conditional act of abdication, which the cardinals were to publish in case Napoleon should prevent his returning to Rome ; then he began his journey to France, 2 November, 1804.
Napoleon would not accord any solemn reception to Pius VII ; surrounded by a hunting party, he met the pope in the open country, made him get into the imperial carriage, seating himself on the right, and in this fashion took him to Fontainebleau. Pius VII was brought to Paris by night. The whole affair nearly fell through at the last moment. Pius VII informed Josephine herself, on the eve of the day set for the coronation of the empress, that she had not been married to Napoleon in accordance with the rules of religion. To the great annoyance of the emperor, who was already contemplating a divorce, in case no heir were born to him, and was displaying a lively irritation against Josephine, Pius VII insisted upon the religious benediction of the marriage; otherwise, there was to be no coronation. The religious marriage ceremony was secretly performed at the Tuileries, on the first of December, without witnesses, not during the night, but at about four o'clock in the afternoon, by Fesch, grand almoner of the imperial household. As Welschinger has proved, Fesch had previously asked the pope for the necessary dispensations and faculties, and the marriage was canonically beyond reproach. On 2 December the coronation took place. Napoleon arrived at Notre Dame later than the hour appointed. Instead of allowing the pope to crown him, he himself placed the crown on his own head and crowned the empress, but, out of respect for the pope, this detail was not recorded in the "Moniteur". Pius VII , to whom Napoleon granted but few opportunities for conversation, had a long memoranda drawn up by Antonelli and Caprara, setting forth his wishes; he demanded that Catholicism should be recognized in France as the dominant religion; that the divorce law should be repealed; that the religious communities should be re-established; that the Legations should be restored to the Holy See. Most of these demands were to no purpose: the most important of the very moderate concessions made by the emperor was his promise to substitute the Gregorian Calendar for that of the Revolution after 1 January, 1806. When Pius VII left Paris, 4 April, 1805, he was displeased with the emperor.
But the Church of France acclaimed the emperor. He was lauded to the skies by the bishops. The parish priests, not only in obedience to instructions, but also out of patriotism, preached against England, and exhorted their hearers to submit to the conscription. The splendour of the Napoleonic victories seemed, by the enthusiasm with which it inspired all Frenchmen, to blind the Catholics of France to Napoleon's false view of the manner in which their Church should be governed. He had reorganized it; he had accorded it more liberal pecuniary advantages than the Concordat had bound him to; but he intended to dominate it. For example, in 1806 he insisted that all periodical publications of a religious character should be consolidated into one, the "Journal des curés", published under police surveillance. On 15 August, 1806, he instituted the Feast of St. Napoleon, to commemorate the martyr Neopolis, or Neopolas, who suffered in Egypt under Diocletian. In 1806 he decided that ecclesiastical positions of importance, such as cures of souls of the first class, could be given only to candidates who held degrees conferred by the university, adding that these degrees might be refused to those who were notorious for their "ultramontane ideas or ideas dangerous to authority". He demanded the publication of a single catechism for the whole empire, in which catechism he was called "the image of God upon earth," "the Lord's anointed", and the use of which was made compulsory by a decree dated 4 April, 1806. The prisons of Vincennes, Fenestrelles, and the Island of Sainte Marguerite received priests whom the emperor judged guilty of disobedience to his orders.The Great Victories; Occupation of Rome; Imprisonment of Pius VII (1805-09).
After 1805 relations between Pius VII and Napoleon became strained. At Milan, 26 May, 1805, when Napoleon, as King of Italy, took the Iron Crown of Lombardy, he was offended because the pope did not take part in the ceremony. When he asked Pius VII to annul the marriage which his brother Jerome Bonaparte had contracted, at the age of nineteen with Elizabeth Patterson of Baltimore, the pope replied that the decrees of the Council of Trent against clandestine marriages applied only where they had been recognized, and the reply constituted one more cause of displeasure for the emperor, who afterwards, in 1806, obtained an annulment from the complaisant ecclesiastical authorities of Paris. And when Consalvi, in 1805, complained that the French Civil Code, and with it the divorce law, had been introduced into Italy, Napoleon formally refused to make any concession.
The great war which the emperor was just then commencing was destined to be an occasion of conflict with the Holy See. Abandoning the preparations which he had made for an invasion of England (the Camp of Boulogne ), he turned against Austria, brought about the capitulation of Ulm (20 October, 1805), made himself master of Vienna (13 November), defeated at Austerlitz (2 December, 1805) Emperor Francis I and Tsar Alexander. The Treaty of Presburg (26 December, 1805) united Dalmatia to the French Empire and the territory of Venice to the Kingdom of Italy, made Bavaria and Wurtemberg vassal kingdoms of Napoleon, enlarged the margravate of Baden, and transformed it into a grand duchy, and reduced Austria to the valley of the Danube. The victory of Trafalgar (21 October, 1805) had given England the mastery of the seas, but from that time forward Napoleon was held to be the absolute master of the Continent. He then turned to the pope, and demanded a reckoning of him.
To prevent a landing Russian and English troops in Italy, Napoleon, in October, 1805, had ordered Gouvion Saint Cyr to occupy the papal city of Ancona. The pope, lest the powers hostile to Napoleon might some day reproach him with having consented to the employment of a city of the Pontifical States as a base of operations, had protested against this arbitrary exercise of power: he had complained, in a letter to the emperor (13 November, 1805), of this "cruel affront", declared that since his return from Paris he had "experienced nothing but bitterness and sorrow", and threatened to dismiss the French ambassador.
But the treaty of Presburg and the dethronement of the Bourbons of Naples by Joseph Bonaparte and Massé na (January, 1806), changed the European and the Italian situation. From Munich Napoleon wrote two letters (7 January, 1806), one to Pius VII, and the other to Fesch, touching his intentions in regard to the Holy See. He complained of the pope's ill will, tried to justify the occupation of Ancona, and declared himself the true protector of the Holy See. "I will be the friend of Your Holiness", he concluded, "whenever you consult only your own heart and the true friends of religion." His letter to Fesch was much more violent : he complained of the refusal to annul Jerome's marriage, demanded that there should no longer be any minister either of Sardinia or of Russia in Rome, threatened to send a Protestant as his ambassador to the pope, to appoint a senator to command in Rome and to reduce the pope to the status of mere Bishop of Rome, claimed that the pope should treat him like Charlemagne, and assailed "the pontifical camarilla which prostituted religion". A reply from Pius VII (29 January, 1806), asking for the return of Ancona and the Legations let loose Napoleon's fury. In a letter to Pius VII (13 February), he declared: "Your Holiness is the sovereign of Rome but I am its emperor; all my enemies ought to be yours"; he insisted that the pope should drive English, Russian, Sardinian, and Swedish subjects out of his dominions, and close his ports to the ships of those powers with which France was at war ; and he complained of the slowness of the Curia in granting canonical institution to bishops in France and Italy. In a letter to Fesch he declared that, unless the pope acquiesced he would reduce the condition of the Holy See to what it had been before Charlemagne.
An official note from Fesch to Consalvi (2 March, 1806) defined Napoleon's demands; the cardinals were in favour of rejecting them, and Pius VII, in a very beautiful letter, dated 21 March, 1806, remonstrated with Napoleon, declared that the pope had no right to embroil himself with the other states, and must hold aloof from the war ; also, that there was no emperor of Rome. "If our words", he concluded, "fail to touch Your Majesty's heart we will suffer with a resignation conformable to the Gospel, we will accept every kind of calamity as coming from God." Napoleon, more and more irritated, reproached Pius VII for having consulted the cardinals before answering him, declared that all his relations with the Holy See should thenceforward be conducted through Talleyrand, ordered the latter to reiterate the demands which the pope had just rejected, and replaced Fesch as ambassador at Rome with Alquier, a former member of the Convention. Then the emperor proceeded from words to deeds. On 6 May, 1806, he caused Cività Vecchia to be occupied. Learning that the pope, before recognizing Joseph Bonaparte as King of Naples, wished Joseph to submit to the ancient suzerainty of the Holy See over the Neapolitan Kingdom, he talked of "the spirit of light headedness" ( esprit de vertige ) which prevailed at Rome, remarked that, when the pope thus treated a Bonaparte as a vassal, he must be tired of wielding the temporal power, and directed Talleyrand to tell Pius VII that the time was past when the pope disposed of crowns. Talleyrand was informed (16 May, 1806) that, if Pius VII would not recognize Joseph, Napoleon would no longer recognize Pius VII as a temporal prince. "If this continues", Napoleon went on to say, "I will have Consalvi taken away from Rome." He suspected Consalvi of having sold himself to the English. Early in June, 1806, he seized Benevento and Pontecorvo, two principalities which belonged to the Holy See, but which were shut in by the Kingdom of Naples.
Yielding before the emperor's wrath, Consalvi resigned his office: Pius VII unwillingly accepted his resignation, and replaced him with Cardinal Casoni. But the first dispatch written by Casoni under Pius VII's dictation confirmed the pope's resistance to the emperor's behests. Napoleon then violently apostrophized Caprara, in the presence of the whole court, threatening to dismember the Pontifical States , if Pius VII did not at once, "without ambiguity or reservation", declare himself his ally (1 July, 1806). A like ultimatum was delivered, on 8 July, to Cardinal Casoni by Alquier. But Continental affairs were claiming Napoleon's attention, and the only immediate result of his ultimatum was the emperor's order to his generals occupying Ancona and Cività Vecchia, to seize the pontifical revenues in those two cities. On the other hand, the constitution of the Imperial University (May, 1806), preparing for a state monopoly of teaching, loomed up as a peril to the Church's right of teaching, and gave the Holy See another cause for uneasiness.
The Confederation of the Rhine, formed by Napoleon out of fourteen German States (12 July, 1806), and his assertion of a protectorate over the same, resulted in Francis II's abdication of the title of emperor of Germany ; it its place Francis took the title of emperor of Austria. Thus ended, under the blows dealt it by Napoleon, that Holy Roman Germanic Empire which had exerted so great an influence over Christianity in the Middle Ages. The pope and the German emperor had long been considered as sharing between them the government of the world in the name of God. Napoleon had definitively annihilated one of these "two halves of God ", as Victor Hugo has termed them. Frederick William II of Prussia became alarmed, and in October, 1806, formed, with England and Russia, the Fourth Coalition. The stunning victories of Auerstädt, won by Davoust, and Jena, won by Napoleon (14 October, 1806), were followed by the entry of the French into Berlin, the king of Prussia's flight to Königsberg, and the erection of the Electorate of Saxony into a kingdom in alliance with Napoleon. From Berlin itself Napoleon launched a decree (21 November, 1806) by which he organized the Continental blockade against England, aiming to close the whole Continent against English commerce. Then, in 1807, penetrating into Russia, he induced the tsar by means of the battles of Eylau (8 February, 1807) and Friedland (14 June, 1807), to sign the Peace of Tilsit (8 July, 1807). The empire was at its apogee; Prussia had been bereft of its Polish provinces, given to the King of Saxony under the name of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw ; the Kingdom of Westphalia was being formed for Jerome Bonaparte, completing the series of kingdoms given since 1806 to the emperor's brothers — Naples having been assigned to Joseph, and Holland to Louis. A series of principalities and duchie
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online