Napoleon & Empire

General organization of the First French Empire

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General organization of the First French Empire

after the Atlas de l'Empire Napoléonien, by Jean-Luc Chappey and Bernard Gainot, Autrement editor, 2008

Everything has been arranged in the Constitution to let the executive authority as free as it can be.

Napoleon Bonaparte himself has intervened in its drafting to simplify the system provided by its designers (Sieyes and Roger-Ducos, who are quickly excluded from power) and in order to make it the instrument of a personal rule.

The Tribunat debates but does not vote.

The Legislative Assembly votes but does not debate.

The Conservative Senate only checks the constitutionality of the laws. To intervene on their writing, it has to ask the head of the executive to rectify them!

The true place of legislative power is the Council of State, which prepares the texts and regulations. It is also the administrative court and an appeal tribunal against abuses of power.

Napoleon Bonaparte appoints the members of the last two assemblies, which are required to compose and control the other two Chambers. He also appoints and - on the occasion - revokes the senior officials and the judges (except justices of the peace and judges of Cassation). Foreign policy is entirely in the Emperor's hands. Ministers are there to execute his will.

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