woensdag 11 februari 2015

How did Napoleon get money?

You mustn't forget that the military expeditions planned or led by Bonaparte (Italy or Santo Domingo) were organised for economic reasons or failed for serious lack of funds (Egypt).

  • Money was one of Napoleon's most important allies. At several moments, he used it to forge his own destiny. I'll give you just one example: the payment in May 1796 of the Armée d'Italie's wages in gold and silver pieces.
  • The decision to fight the First Italian campaign had to a large extent been taken for financial reasons.
  • The Directory was short of money because paper money was no longer used, and so it gazed covetously on the wealth of the Italian peninsula. It then sent an inexperienced general, Bonaparte (he had never commanded an army in combat), to try to fill up its coffers. The initial results were very encouraging. Bonaparte soon sent several millions to Paris.
  •  But his army remained rather poorly supplied and, apart from the pillaging, most of the «booty» was not for the troops. Counter to all expectations, Bonaparte in Milan paid his army in coins, despite the Directory's instructions to the opposite. This measure was «revolutionary» for the time in that the armies of the Republic had before only ever received depreciated paper money called assignats. By paying in coin, Bonaparte got loyalty from his army and ensured his position at its head. Other generals, such as Moreau, tried to follow him, but as soldiers respectful of authority they were never able to go against the instructions of the government. There are many other examples too, such as the fact that during the Empire expenses related to regime dignitaries were higher than those of Louis XVI for his own court.
  • It is true that the Directory was fairly effective in settling financial matters after the worst of the Revolution, but Bonaparte and his team were able to put public interest at the top of the agenda, and they built a financial system which could provide the State what you might call «enough to live on».

France was very poor at this time and needed a lot of money. So Napoleon fought more battles in Italy, and then won a big war against Austria. He sent lots of money from Austria back to France.

  • Napoleon raised money by selling all the French land in North America to the United States. europe./history/napoleon
  • Napoleon also sold the Louisiana Territory to the newly independent U.S. on April 30, 1803, for 80 million francs, or about 15 million dollars. In the U.S., this event is referred to as the "Louisiana Purchase."
  • Napoleon had only acquired the territory himself three years earlier in a Treaty with Spain. He had made promises to the Spanish which he frankly did not intend to keep. It is quite likely that Napoleon had no interest in ever retaining the property. In the meantime, Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, was concerned that the French might try to close the port of New Orleans to American traffic.
  • Although Napoleon's true motives are still a matter of conjecture, a major factor was a slave revolt in the French island of Santo Domingue (present day Haiti,) the only truly successful slave revolt in the Americas. It is entirely possible that the loss of this island possession caused
  • It would thus appear that both the U.S. and France considered themselves the winner in this situation. France rid itself of lands which it never intended to keep and gained much needed revenue in the bargain; and the U.S. gained enough territory to double the size of the nation. enotes//why-did-napoleon-sell-Louisiana
  • As the sugar industry on Martinique began to grow, the French started bringing African slaves to the island to work on the sugar plantations. Martinique's sugar export reached an all-time high during the 18th century, which made the island France's most valuable colony. caribya/martinique/history/
  • When Napoleon took control in France, he attempted to put Saint Dominique on a sound footing. By 1800 the plantations were producing for France only one fifth of what they had in 1789. He reinstituted slavery in the colonies, and denied rights to free blacks. He send an expeditionary force to retake Saint Dominique. Through deception the French captured Toussaint and took back to France. historywiz/slavery-french
  • The Continental System hurt English industries and helped spur the Luddite protest movement against unemployment in England. Although it stimulated manufacturing in some parts of France, the system damaged regions dependent on overseas commerce. Because the British had an overwhelming superiority at sea, though, enforcing the system proved disastrous for Napoleon. His efforts to halt evasions of his blockade stretched French forces too thin, and ultimately provoked his calamitous invasion of Russia in 1812. britannica


In France, the Bank of France was set up. However, Napoleon decided France had to break free of the debt and he therefore never trusted this bank. He declared that when a government is dependent on bankers for money, it is the bankers and not the government leaders that are in control. He stated,
"The hand that gives is above the hand that takes. Money has no motherland, financiers are without patriotism and without decency, their sole object is gain."

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