Discuss Napoleon's domestic policy.

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of Napoleon's main domestic policies was to sign a concordat with the Catholic Church that, while restoring some of the church's power, meant that the church gave up its ability to control politics in France. Instead, the Vatican recognized the power of the Republic and officially relinquished lands that the church had lost earlier in the French Revolution. The concordat also allowed freedom of religion in France. While Catholicism was the religion of the majority of people in France, it was not the religion of the state.

The Napoleonic Code established five codes of laws: civil codes, commercial codes, penal codes, and codes of criminal and civil procedures. These codes provided all French citizens with the same basic rights and disallowed privileges based on birth. All citizens were allowed freedom of religion and the right to apply for government positions.

Napoleon also established a new educational system that afforded some education to girls (though not on the same level as boys). While primary schools were the responsibility of local areas, the state took over the control of secondary schools (while some were still operated by the church). Beyond secondary schools, 30 lycées were established, and scholarships were offered to make sure that talented students from all classes were able to secure the education necessary for future careers in government and the military. 

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Napoleon instituted a number of domestic reforms in France, but the price of those reforms was authoritarian rule under himself. He instituted the Code Napoleon which guaranteed equality under the law for all male citizens, He established the Bank of France, and instituted the use of the metric system. He signed a Concordat with the Vatican that allowed Catholics to practice their religion freely and also provided religious freedom to Jews and Protestants. Even so, he could be draconian. Since Napoleon was away at war most of the time, his surrogate, one Joseph Fouche, instituted a police state where freedom of the press was suppressed and those suspected of disloyalty were often arrested and jailed without trial. It's hard to say if the people of France considered Napoleon's reforms worth the price.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One notably bad thing about the Napoleonic Code was that these laws had a negative impact on the rights of women.

The Napoleonic Code established one set of laws for all of France.  Under these laws, women had very few rights.  For example, divorce was much harder for women to get than men.  Before the Code, different parts of France had had different laws about this and other aspects of women's rights.  So, in this way, the reforms hurt women because they established one set of laws for all of France and those laws were less protective of women's rights than the laws of some areas had been before.

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