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Napoleon's bicentenary: November 9, 1799, the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire


WEBSERIES 4/12 - Le Figaro Hors-Série devotes an exceptional number to Napoleon Bonaparte. Discredited, the Directory regime was overthrown by the coup d'état designed by Sieyès and executed by Bonaparte.

When, after a short stopover in Corsica, Bonaparte arrived in sight of the French coast, on October 9, 1799, he was unaware of the reception which would be reserved for him.

No one in France was notified of his departure.

Hardly disembarked and neglecting the quarantine, he informed the Directory of his arrival.

She quickly became known.

Curiosity turns into enthusiasm.

To read also: Michel De Jaeghere: "Napoleon, bring in the accused"

What he does not know is that the Egyptian campaign, despite the scarcity of news, has never ceased to inspire people.

Popular imagery, disseminated by hawkers, if we are to believe Lamartine's Memoirs, made the Battle of the Pyramids known in the most remote villages.

Napoleon's brothers who sit on the Council of Five Hundred, Joseph and Lucien, carried out active propaganda in his favor.

In Europe, the military situation is bad for France.

The Italian conquests were compromised.

The coalition of Austrians and Russians took over Milan and put an end to the Cisalpine Republic, founded by Bonaparte.

The English and the Austrians attack Belgium.

We are waiting for the general who will rectify the military situation and drive out an unpopular government.

For lack of Bonaparte retained in Egypt, Talleyrand and Fouché had pushed the young Joubert, but he was killed in Italy, at the battle of Novi.

Napoleon returns at the right time.

In Avignon, on October 11, it is enthusiasm in its passage.

Lyon, on the 13th, lights up in his honor and has a play performed: Le Héros de retour.

Same events in Nevers.

On the morning of October 16, Bonaparte is in Paris.

After resting, he visits Gohier, Chairman of the Management Board.

The next day, the entire Directory (Barras, Sieyès, Roger Ducos, Moulin and Gohier) receives him.

His house on rue de la Victoire (formerly rue Chantereine) is always full of visitors.

What is he going to do ?

He is thinking of joining the Directory to take power by legal means.

But he is not forty years old.

Getting closer to the Jacobins, winners of the last elections, is impossible.

They have their general, Bernadotte, who married Désirée Clary, his former fiancée, and who hardly likes his rival.


He is credited with the intention of a coup d'état in favor of the royalists with the support of General Hédouville.

There remains Sieyès, the former abbot, who since the beginning of the Revolution has been biding his time.

The alliance between Sieyès and Bonaparte is concluded thanks to the intervention of Talleyrand and Fouché, Minister of Police.

A plan is established.

First step: create a vacuum at the head of the executive to bring about the fall of the Constitution.

Sieyès and Roger Ducos can resign.

But we need a third director who has resigned: we will buy Barras.

Second step: transfer the two Councils, Anciens and Cinq-Cents, outside of Paris, to Saint-Cloud.

They will be at the mercy of the troops responsible for protecting them and which Bonaparte will command.

They will appoint, under pressure, a new government and a commission responsible for giving France a new constitution, that which Sieyès has been meditating since 1789.

On 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799), Talleyrand persuaded him to resign Barras and kept the two millions he was to pay him for himself.

He places them on the Stock Exchange, then on the decline.

On the 19th, the continuation of the coup was played out in Saint-Cloud.

Bonaparte struggles to explain to the Council of Elders that they are made to sit in Saint-Cloud to escape a Parisian plot.

He then entered without authorization from the president before the Council of Five Hundred.

Cries - “



- burst forth from hostile deputies.

Bonaparte loses his cool.

Called for help, the troops under the command of Murat and Leclerc then drove out the opponents.

The coup d'etat changes direction.

He was to be a parliamentarian, the army limiting itself to an intimidating role: the deputies voted for the formation of a new government and approved the need for a new constitution.

Sieyès remained the master of the game. The intervention of the troops made it a military coup.

Bonaparte's confusion, however, turned to his advantage: the coup d'etat lost all legal form, but it was he who now held the reins of power by relying on the army.

On the Stock Exchange, the 20 Brumaire is the increase: the two million invested by Talleyrand have doubled.

Cover of the Figaro Hors-Série Napoleon: the epic, the myth, the Versailles trial, RMN-Grand Palais, Franck Raux

Discover on Figaro Store,

Le Figaro Hors-Série Napoleon: the epic, the myth, the trial

A single man was alive then in Europe; the rest of the beings tried to fill their lungs with the air they had breathed

”. Fifteen years after Napoleon's death, Alfred de Musset thus expressed the grandeur of the myth he had embodied. That of a strategic genius carried by an irresistible enthusiasm, a flamboyant epic, whose brilliance and panache remain. To commemorate the bicentenary of his death, on May 5, 1821, the Figaro Hors-Série is associated with the two major exhibitions organized at the Army Museum (the Death of the Emperor) and at the Grande Halle de la Villette (Napoleon ), and retraces, with the help of Napoleon's best specialists, the incredible itinerary of the melancholy young Corsican who became emperor of all the French. Story of his life in twelve days, illustrated dictionary of characters (wives, family, generals, ministers), decryption of the myth sifted through history: savior of the Revolution, civil and military engineers, conqueror of Europe ... Discover the incomparable destiny of Napoleon.

Source: lefigaro

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