Write a brief explanation of how Napoleon gained power in France that includes the terms "coup d' etat" and "plebiscite."
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Napoleon first came to a position of great power through his participation in the coup d'etat of 19 Brumaire. He then solidified and extended his power through the use of plebiscites.
Before 1799, Napoleon was the major military leader of France, but he did not have a huge amount of political power. In that year, however, he joined the Abbe Sieyes, who was an important political figure, in a coup. Sieyes thought that he could use Napoleon's military prowess and his popularity to help support the government while keeping power for himself.
But this plan would not work. Napoleon had more ambition than that. He used plebiscites to show his popularity among the people and to force himself into positions with greater power. The most important plebiscite was the one that took place in 1802. That plebiscite gave Napoleon the title and power of "Consul for Life." At that point, Napoleon's rise to power was essentially complete.
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