Storming of the Bastille
The Storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris, France, on the afternoon of 14 July 1789. The medieval armory and political prison known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris; the prison contained seven inmates at the time of its storming. The act was seen, as a symbol of the monarchy's abuses of power. In France, Le quatorze juillet is a public holiday called Bastille Day in English. During the reign of Louis XVI, France faced a major economic crisis; this crisis was caused in part by the cost of intervening in the American Revolution and exacerbated by a regressive system of taxation. On 5 May 1789, the Estates General of 1789 convened to deal with this issue, but were held back by archaic protocols and the conservatism of the second estate: representing the nobility who made up less than 2% of France's population. On 17 June 1789, the third estate, with its representatives drawn from the commoners, reconstituted themselves as the National Assembly, a body whose purpose was the creation of a French constitution.
The king opposed this development, but was forced to acknowledge the authority of the assembly, which renamed itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July. France was under major changes during this time; the commoners formed the National Guard, sporting tricolore cockades of blue and red, formed by combining the red and blue cockade of Paris and the white cockade of the king. These cockades, soon their colour scheme, became the symbol of the revolution and of France itself. Paris, close to insurrection and in François Mignet's words, "intoxicated with liberty and enthusiasm", showed wide support for the Assembly; the press published the Assembly's debates. The Palais-Royal and its grounds became the site of an ongoing meeting; the crowd, on the authority of the meeting at the Palais-Royal, broke open the prisons of the Abbaye to release some grenadiers of the French guards imprisoned for refusing to fire on the people. The Assembly recommended the imprisoned guardsmen to the clemency of the king.
The rank and file of the regiment considered reliable, now leaned toward the popular cause. On 11 July 1789, Louis XVI—acting under the influence of the conservative nobles of his privy council—dismissed and banished his finance minister, Jacques Necker and reconstructed the ministry; the marshals Victor-François, duc de Broglie, la Galissonnière, the duc de la Vauguyon, the Baron Louis de Breteuil, the intendant Foulon, took over the posts of Puységur, Armand Marc, comte de Montmorin, La Luzerne, Saint-Priest, Necker. News of Necker's dismissal reached Paris on the afternoon of 12 July; the Parisians presumed that the dismissal marked the start of a coup by conservative elements. Liberal Parisians were further enraged by the fear that a concentration of Royal troops—brought in from frontier garrisons to Versailles, Sèvres, the Champ de Mars, Saint-Denis—would attempt to shut down the National Constituent Assembly, meeting in Versailles. Crowds gathered including more than ten thousand at the Palais-Royal.
Camille Desmoulins rallied the crowd by "mounting a table, pistol in hand, exclaiming:'Citizens, there is no time to lose. This night all the Swiss and German battalions will leave the Champ de Mars to massacre us all. By early July half of the 25,000 regular troops in Paris and Versailles were drawn from these foreign regiments; the French regiments included in the concentration appear to have been selected either because of the proximity of their garrisons to Paris or because their colonels were supporters of the reactionary "court party" opposed to reform. During the public demonstrations that started on 12 July, the multitude displayed busts of Necker and of Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans marched from the Palais Royal through the theater district before continuing westward along the boulevards; the crowd clashed with the Royal German Cavalry Regiment between the Place Vendôme and the Tuileries Palace. From atop the Champs-Élysées, the Prince de Lambesc unleashed a cavalry charge that dispersed the remaining protesters at Place Louis XV—now Place de la Concorde.
The Royal commander, Baron de Besenval, fearing the results of a blood bath amongst the poorly armed crowds or defections among his own men withdrew the cavalry towards Sèvres. Meanwhile, unrest was growing among the people of Paris who expressed their hostility against state authorities by attacking customs posts blamed for causing increased food and wine prices; the people of Paris started to plunder any place where food and supplies could be hoarded. That night, rumors spread that supplies were being hoarded at Saint-Lazare, a huge property of the clergy, which functioned as convent, school and as a jail. An angry mob broke in and plundered the property, seizing 52 wagons of wheat, which were taken to the public market; that same day multitudes of people plundered many other places including weapon arsenals. The Royal troops did nothing to stop the
The French Guards were an infantry regiment of the Military Household of the King of France under the Ancien Régime. The French Guards, who were located in Paris, played a major part in the French Revolution as most of the guardsmen defected to the revolutionary cause and ensured the collapse of absolute monarchy in France. French Guards formed the cadre for the National Guard; the regiment was created in 1563 by Charles IX. With a strength of 9000 men it counted 30 companies in 1635 with 300 fusiliers per company, they were armed with a form of musket or steel-handled pikes, were allowed to conduct a normal civilian life in times of peace. In practice this meant. At Catherine de' Medici's insistence, they were at first spread over several garrisons, but after the attempted kidnapping of King Charles IX near Meaux by Huguenots, the Gardes were brought back together to protect the monarch. In times of war the Gardes Françaises had the privilege of choosing their own battle positions. Other privileges included leading the assault when a wall was breached during a siege, the first choice of barracks and special rights of trial.
When on parade, they took precedence over all other regiments in the Royal Army. They shared responsibility for guarding the exterior of the Palace of Versailles with the Gardes Suisses. In addition, the French Guards had responsibility for maintaining public order in Paris, in support of the various police forces of the capital. In 1789, the Gardes Françaises constituted the largest element of the Household troops. Six grenadier and 24 fusilier companies were divided into the six battalions that comprised the full regiment; the total number of Gardes Françaises amounted to about 3,600 men. The regimental colonel held the rank of Marshal of France. Captains of the grenadier companies ranked as colonels in the infantry of the line. There was one grenadier company and four fusilier companies to each battalion; the subsequent image of the Gardes Françaises as a socially-élite palace unit led by courtier officers may be incorrect. Most of the regimental officers were from outside Paris, some, such as the future Maréchal Abraham de Fabert, did not have the status of provincial aristocrats.
The rank and file were recruited from all over France but through marriages and off-duty employment, they established local ties in Paris, which were to influence their behaviour at the outbreak of the French Revolution. Guardsmen were enlisted for a minimum of eight years and were required to be French nationals with a minimum height of 1.73 m, compared with the 1.68 m of line infantry soldiers. The reported incident at the Battle of Fontenoy in which officers of the Gardes Françaises and their English counterparts invited each other to fire first is sometimes cited as an example of excessive chivalry amongst aristocratic opponents. However, in 18th-century warfare, the unit that held its fire until it was closest to the enemy would be able to deliver the most effective volley. On this occasion the Gardes Françaises fired first, with limited effect, sustained heavy casualties, of 411 dead and wounded. During the years 1685 to 1789 the regiment wore dark "king's blue" coats, with red collars and waistcoats.
Breeches were red, leggings were white. Grenadiers had high fur hats, the fusilier companies wore the standard tricorn of the French infantry. Coats and waistcoats were embroidered in white or silver braid; the sympathy shown by the Gardes Françaises for the French Revolution at its outbreak was crucial to the initial success of the rising. The other two units of the Maison militaire du roi de France at the time, the Swiss Guards and the Bodyguard, were loyal to the king, but they were smaller units than the Gardes Françaises and lacked the Parisian connections of the latter regiment. During weeks of disturbances prior to early July 1789 leading up to the fall of the Bastille, the regiment obeyed orders and on several occasions, it acted against the increasingly-unruly crowds. In April, during a riot at the Reveillion factory, guardsmen had fired on a hostile crowd and wounding several hundreds. However, in addition to local ties with the Parisians, the regiment was resentful of the harsh Prussian style discipline introduced by its colonel, the Duc du Châtelet, who had taken up his appointment the year before.
The officers of the regiment had negligently left day-to-day control in the hands of the non-commissioned officers, had limited interaction with their men. These factors led to desertions from 27 June onward, followed by an incident on 12 July in which French Guards fired on the Royal-Allemand Regiment and the final defection of most of the rank and file on 14 July. Only one of the sergeants stood by the officers when they tried to reassemble their men in the courtyard of the Paris barracks of the Guard. Of the six battalions in the whole of the regiment, the equivalent of only one battalion remained obedient to orders; the mutineers played a key role in the attack on the Bastille, where they were credited with both the effective use of artillery cannons and with preventing a massacre of the garrison after surrender. Following the fall of the Bastille, the Gardes Françaises petitioned to resume their guard duties at Versailles. However, this proposal was declined, the regiment was formally disbanded on 31 August 1789.
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain and several other monarchies, they are divided in the War of the Second Coalition. Confined to Europe, the fighting assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe; as early as 1791, the other monarchies of Europe looked with outrage at the revolution and its upheavals. Anticipating an attack, France declared war on Prussia and Austria in the spring of 1792 and they responded with a coordinated invasion, turned back at the Battle of Valmy in September; this victory emboldened the National Convention to abolish the monarchy.
A series of victories by the new French armies abruptly ended with defeat at Neerwinden in the spring of 1793. The French suffered additional defeats in the remainder of the year and these difficult times allowed the Jacobins to rise to power and impose the Reign of Terror to unify the nation. In 1794, the situation improved for the French as huge victories at Fleurus against the Austrians and at the Black Mountain against the Spanish signaled the start of a new stage in the wars. By 1795, the French had captured the Austrian Netherlands and knocked Spain and Prussia out of the war with the Peace of Basel. A hitherto unknown general named Napoleon Bonaparte began his first campaign in Italy in April 1796. In less than a year, French armies under Napoleon decimated the Habsburg forces and evicted them from the Italian peninsula, winning every battle and capturing 150,000 prisoners. With French forces marching towards Vienna, the Austrians sued for peace and agreed to the Treaty of Campo Formio, ending the First Coalition against the Republic.
The War of the Second Coalition began in 1798 with the French invasion of Egypt, headed by Napoleon. The Allies took the opportunity presented by the French effort in the Middle East to regain territories lost from the First Coalition; the war began well for the Allies in Europe, where they pushed the French out of Italy and invaded Switzerland – racking up victories at Magnano and Novi along the way. However, their efforts unraveled with the French victory at Zurich in September 1799, which caused Russia to drop out of the war. Meanwhile, Napoleon's forces annihilated a series of Egyptian and Ottoman armies at the battles of the Pyramids, Mount Tabor and Abukir; these victories and the conquest of Egypt further enhanced Napoleon's popularity back in France and he returned in triumph in the fall of 1799. However, the Royal Navy had won the Battle of the Nile in 1798, further strengthening British control of the Mediterranean. Napoleon's arrival from Egypt led to the fall of the Directory in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, with Napoleon installing himself as Consul.
Napoleon reorganized the French army and launched a new assault against the Austrians in Italy during the spring of 1800. This brought a decisive French victory at the Battle of Marengo in June 1800, after which the Austrians withdrew from the peninsula once again. Another crushing French triumph at Hohenlinden in Bavaria forced the Austrians to seek peace for a second time, leading to the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. With Austria and Russia out of the war, the United Kingdom found itself isolated and agreed to the Treaty of Amiens with Napoleon's government in 1802, concluding the Revolutionary Wars. However, the lingering tensions proved too difficult to contain and the Napoleonic Wars began a few years with the formation of the Third Coalition, continuing the series of Coalition Wars; the key figure in initial foreign reaction to the revolution was Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, brother of Louis XVI's Queen Marie Antoinette. Leopold had looked on the Revolution with equanimity, but became more and more disturbed as the Revolution became more radical, although he still hoped to avoid war.
On 27 August and King Frederick William II of Prussia, in consultation with emigrant French nobles, issued the Declaration of Pillnitz, which declared the interest of the monarchs of Europe in the well-being of Louis and his family, threatened vague but severe consequences if anything should befall them. Although Leopold saw the Pillnitz Declaration as a non-committal gesture to placate the sentiments of French monarchists and nobles, it was seen in France as a serious threat and was denounced by the revolutionary leaders. France issued an ultimatum demanding that the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria under Leopold II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire renounce any hostile alliances and withdraw its troops from the French border; the reply was evasive and the Assembly voted for war on 20 April 1792 against Francis II, after a long list of grievances presented by foreign minister Charles François Dumouriez. Dumouriez prepared an immediate invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, where he expected the local population to rise against Austrian rule as they had earlier in 1790.
However, the revolution had disorganized the army, the forces raised were insufficient for the invasion. Following the declaration of war, French soldiers deserted en masse and in one case murdered their general, Théob
The Grande Armée was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign, it was renamed in 1805 from the army that Napoleon had assembled on the French coast of the English Channel for the proposed invasion of Britain. Napoleon deployed the army east in order to eliminate the threat of Austria and Russia, which were part of the Third Coalition assembled against France. Thereafter, the name was used for the principal French army deployed in the Campaigns of 1805 and 1807, where it got its prestige, 1809, 1812, 1813–14. In practice, the term Grande Armée is used in English to refer to all of the multinational forces gathered by Napoleon in his campaigns of the early 19th century.
The first Grande Armée consisted of six corps under the command of Napoleon's marshals and senior generals. When Napoleon discovered that Russian and Austrian armies were preparing to invade France in late 1805, the Grande Armée was ordered across the Rhine into Southern Germany, leading to Napoleon's victories at Ulm and Jena; the army grew. It reached its largest size of 1,000,000 men at the start of the invasion of Russia in 1812, with 680,000 men participating in the Russian campaign; the contingents were commanded except for the Polish corps and an Austrian one. The huge multinational army marched east, the Russians fell back with its approach. After the capture of Smolensk and victory in the Battle of Borodino, Napoleon and a part of the Grande Armée reached Moscow on 14 September 1812. However, the army was drastically reduced because of deaths and injuries from battles with the Russians, disease and long communication lines; the army spent a month in Moscow but was forced to march back westward.
It started to suffer from cold and disease, was harassed by Cossacks and Russian irregulars, so that the Grande Armée was utterly destroyed as a fighting force. Only 120,000 men survived to leave Russia. Of these, 50,000 were Austrians and other Germans, 20,000 were Poles, just 35,000 Frenchmen; as many as 380,000 died in the campaign. Napoleon led a new army to the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813, in the defence of France in 1814 and in the Waterloo Campaign in 1815, but the Napoleonic French army would never regain the heights of the Grande Armée of June 1812. For a history of the French army in the period 1792–1804 during the wars of the First and Second Coalitions see French Revolutionary Armies; the Grande Armée was formed as L'Armée des côtes de l'Océan intended for the invasion of England, at the port of Boulogne in 1803. Following Napoleon's coronation as Emperor of the French in 1804, the Third Coalition was formed against him and La Grande Armée turned its sights eastwards in 1805.
They left the Boulogne camps late in August and through a rapid march surrounded General Karl Mack's isolated Austrian army at the fortress of Ulm. The Ulm Campaign, as it came to be known, resulted in 60,000 Austrian captives at the cost of just 2,000 French soldiers. By November Vienna was taken. However, Austria refused maintaining an army in the field. In addition, their Russian allies had yet to commit to action; the war would continue for a while longer. Affairs were decisively settled on December 2, 1805, at the Battle of Austerlitz, where a numerically inferior Armée routed a combined Russo-Austrian army led by Czar Alexander I; the stunning victory led to the Treaty of Pressburg on December 26, 1805, with the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire coming the following year. The alarming increase of French power in Central Europe disturbed Prussia, which had remained neutral in the conflicts of the previous year. After much diplomatic wrangling, Prussia secured promises of Russian military aid and the Fourth Coalition against France came into being in 1806.
La Grande Armée advanced into Prussian territory with the famed bataillon-carré system, whereby corps marched in close supporting distances and became vanguards, rearguards, or flank forces as the situation demanded, defeated the Prussian armies at the Battle of Jena and the Battle of Auerstadt, both fought on October 14, 1806. After a legendary pursuit, the French captured about 140,000 Prussians and killed and wounded 25,000. Davout's III Corps, the victors at Auerstadt, received the honours of first marching into Berlin. Once more, the French had defeated an enemy before allies could arrive, once more, this did not bring peace. Napoleon now turned his attentions to Poland, where the remaining Prussian armies were linking up with their Russian counterparts. A difficult winter campaign produced nothing but a stalemate, made worse by the Battle of Eylau on February 7–8, 1807, where Russian and French casualties soared for little gain; the campaign resumed in the Spring and this time Bennigsen's Russian army was soundly defeated at the Battle of Friedland on June 14, 1807.
This victory produced the Treaty of Tilsit between France and Russia in July, leaving Napoleon with no enemies on the continent. Portugal's refusal to comply with the Continental System led to a punitive French expedition in late 1807; this campaign formed the basis for the Peninsular War, to
French Armed Forces
The French Armed Forces encompass the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Guard and the Gendarmerie of the French Republic. The President of France heads the armed forces as chef des armées. France maintains the first in the European Union. France has the largest armed forces in size in the European Union. France maintains the world's third-largest nuclear deterrent; the military history of France encompasses an immense panorama of conflicts and struggles extending for more than 2,000 years across areas including modern France, greater Europe, French territorial possessions overseas. According to the British historian Niall Ferguson, France has participated in 50 of the 125 major European wars fought since 1495, in 168 battles fought since 387 BC, they have won 109, drawn 10 and lost 49: this makes France the most successful military power in European history—in terms of number of fought and won; the Gallo-Roman conflict predominated from 60 BC to 50 BC, with the Romans emerging victorious in the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar.
After the decline of the Roman Empire, a Germanic tribe known as the Franks took control of Gaul by defeating competing tribes. The "land of Francia," from which France gets its name, had high points of expansion under kings Clovis I and Charlemagne. In the Middle Ages, rivalries with England and the Holy Roman Empire prompted major conflicts such as the Norman Conquest and the Hundred Years' War. With an centralized monarchy, the first standing army since Roman times, the use of artillery, France expelled the English from its territory and came out of the Middle Ages as the most powerful nation in Europe, only to lose that status to Spain following defeat in the Italian Wars; the Wars of Religion crippled France in the late 16th century, but a major victory over Spain in the Thirty Years' War made France the most powerful nation on the continent once more. In parallel, France developed its first colonial empire in Asia, in the Americas. Under Louis XIV, France achieved military supremacy over its rivals, but escalating conflicts against powerful enemy coalitions checked French ambitions and left the kingdom bankrupt at the opening of the 18th century.
Resurgent French armies secured victories in dynastic conflicts against the Spanish and Austrian crowns. At the same time, France was fending off attacks on its colonies; as the 18th century advanced, global competition with Great Britain led to the Seven Years' War, where France lost its North American holdings. Consolation came in the form of dominance in Europe and the American Revolutionary War, where extensive French aid in the form of money and arms, the direct participation of its army and navy led to America's independence. Internal political upheaval led to 23 years of nearly continuous conflict in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. France reached the zenith of its power during this period, dominating the European continent in an unprecedented fashion under Napoleon Bonaparte, but by 1815 it had been restored to its pre-Revolutionary borders; the rest of the 19th century witnessed the growth of the Second French colonial empire as well as French interventions in Belgium and Mexico.
Other major wars were fought against Russia in the Crimea, Austria in Italy, Prussia within France itself. Following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Franco-German rivalry erupted again in the First World War. France and its allies were victorious this time. Social and economic upheaval in the wake of the conflict led to the Second World War, in which the Allies were defeated in the Battle of France and the French government surrendered and was replaced with an authoritarian regime; the Allies, including the government in exile's Free French Forces and a liberated French nation emerged victorious over the Axis powers. As a result, France secured an occupation zone in Germany and a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council; the imperative of avoiding a third Franco-German conflict on the scale of those of two world wars paved the way for European integration starting in the 1950s. France became a nuclear power and since the 1990s its military action is most seen in cooperation with NATO and its European partners.
Today, French military doctrine is based on the concepts of national independence, nuclear deterrence, military self-sufficiency. France is a charter member of NATO, has worked with its allies to adapt NATO—internally and externally—to the post-Cold War environment. In December 1995, France announced that it would increase its participation in NATO's military wing, including the Military Committee. France remains a firm supporter of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and other cooperative efforts. Paris hosted the May 1997 NATO-Russia Summit which sought the signing of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations and Security. Outside of NATO, France has and participated in both coalition and unilateral peacekeeping efforts in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans taking a lead role in these operations. France has undertaken a major restructuring to develop a professional military that will be smaller, more deployable, better tailored for operations outside of mainland France. Key elements of the restructuring include: reducing personnel and headquarters, rationalistion of equipment and the armaments industry.
Since the end of the Cold War, France has placed a high priority on
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions and led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict; the wars are categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition, the Fourth, the Fifth, the Sixth, the Seventh. Napoleon, upon ascending to First Consul of France in 1799, had inherited a chaotic republic. In 1805, Austria and Russia waged war against France. In response, Napoleon defeated the allied Russo-Austrian army at Austerlitz in December 1805, considered his greatest victory. At sea, the British defeated the joint Franco-Spanish navy in the Battle of Trafalgar on October 1805; this victory prevented the invasion of Britain itself. Concerned about the increasing French power, Prussia led the creation of the Fourth Coalition with Russia and Sweden, the resumption of war in October 1806.
Napoleon defeated the Prussians in Jena and the Russians in Friedland, bringing an uneasy peace to the continent. The peace failed, though, as war broke out in 1809, when the badly prepared Fifth Coalition, led by Austria, was defeated in Wagram. Hoping to isolate Britain economically, Napoleon launched an invasion of Portugal, the only remaining British ally in continental Europe. After occupying Lisbon in November 1807, with the bulk of French troops present in Spain, Napoleon seized the opportunity to turn against his former ally, depose the reigning Spanish Bourbon family and declare his brother King of Spain in 1808 as Joseph I; the Spanish and Portuguese revolted with British support, after six years of fighting, expelled the French from Iberia in 1814. Concurrently, unwilling to bear economic consequences of reduced trade violated the Continental System, enticing Napoleon to launch a massive invasion of Russia in 1812; the resulting campaign ended with the dissolution and disastrous withdrawal of the French Grande Armée.
Encouraged by the defeat, Prussia and Russia formed the Sixth Coalition and began a new campaign against France, decisively defeating Napoleon at Leipzig in October 1813 after several inconclusive engagements. The Allies invaded France from the East, while the Peninsular War spilled over southwestern French territory. Coalition troops captured Paris at the end of March 1814 and forced Napoleon to abdicate in early April, he was exiled to the island of Elba, the Bourbons were restored to power. However, Napoleon escaped in February 1815, reassumed control of France; the Allies responded with the Seventh Coalition, defeating Napoleon permanently at Waterloo in June 1815 and exiling him to St Helena where he died six years later. The Congress of Vienna redrew the borders of Europe, brought a lasting peace to the continent; the wars had profound consequences on global history, including the spread of nationalism and liberalism, the rise of the British Empire as the world's foremost power, the appearance of independence movements in Latin America and subsequent collapse of the Spanish Empire, the fundamental reorganisation of German and Italian territories into larger states, the establishment of radically new methods of conducting warfare.
Napoleon seized power in 1799. There are a number of opinions on the date to use as the formal beginning of the Napoleonic Wars; the Napoleonic Wars began with the War of the Third Coalition, the first of the Coalition Wars against the First French Republic after Napoleon's accession as leader of France. Britain ended the Treaty of Amiens and declared war on France in May 1803. Among the reasons were Napoleon's changes to the international system in Western Europe in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. Kagan argues that Britain was irritated in particular by Napoleon's assertion of control over Switzerland. Furthermore, Britons felt insulted when Napoleon stated that their country deserved no voice in European affairs though King George III was an elector of the Holy Roman Empire. For its part, Russia decided that the intervention in Switzerland indicated that Napoleon was not looking toward a peaceful resolution of his differences with the other European powers; the British enforced a naval blockade of France to starve it of resources.
Napoleon responded with economic embargoes against Britain, sought to eliminate Britain's Continental allies to break the coalitions arrayed against him. The so-called Continental System formed a league of armed neutrality to disrupt the blockade and enforce free trade with France; the British responded by capturing the Danish fleet, breaking up the league, secured dominance over the seas, allowing it to continue its strategy. Napoleon won the War of the Third Coalition at Austerlitz, forcing the Austrian Empire out of the war and formally dissolving the Holy Roman Empire. Within months, Prussia declared war; this war ended disastrously for Prussia and occupied within 19 days of the beginning of the campaign. Napoleon subsequently defeated the Russian Empire at Friedland, creating powerful client states in Eastern Europe and ending the fourth coalition. Concurrently, the refusal of Portugal to commit to the Con
National Assembly (France)
The National Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of France under the Fifth Republic, the upper house being the Senate. The National Assembly's members are known as députés. There are 577 députés, each elected by a single-member constituency through a two-round voting system. Thus, 289 seats are required for a majority; the assembly is presided over by a president from the largest party represented, assisted by vice-presidents from across the represented political spectrum. The term of the National Assembly is five years; this measure is becoming rarer since the 2000 referendum reduced the presidential term from seven to five years: a President has a majority elected in the Assembly two months after the presidential election, it would be useless for him/her to dissolve it for those reasons. Following a tradition started by the first National Assembly during the French Revolution, the "left-wing" parties sit to the left as seen from the president's seat, the "right-wing" parties sit to the right, the seating arrangement thus directly indicates the political spectrum as represented in the Assembly.
The official seat of the National Assembly is the Palais Bourbon on the banks of the river Seine. It is guarded by Republican Guards; the Constitution of the French Fifth Republic increased the power of the executive at the expense of Parliament, compared to previous constitutions. The President of the Republic can decide to dissolve the National Assembly and call for new legislative elections; this is meant as a way to resolve stalemates where the Assembly cannot decide on a clear political direction. This possibility is exercised; the last dissolution was by Jacques Chirac in 1997, following from the lack of popularity of prime minister Alain Juppé. The National Assembly can overthrow the executive government by a motion of no confidence. For this reason, the prime minister and his cabinet are from the dominant party or coalition in the assembly. In the case of a president and assembly from opposing parties, this leads to the situation known as cohabitation. While motions de censure are periodically proposed by the opposition following government actions that it deems inappropriate, they are purely rhetorical.
Since the beginning of the Fifth Republic, there has only been one single successful motion de censure, in 1962 in hostility to the referendum on the method of election of the President, President Charles de Gaulle dissolved the Assembly within a few days. The government used to set the priorities of the agenda for the assembly's sessions, except for a single day each month. In practice, given the number of priority items, it meant that the schedule of the assembly was entirely set by the executive. This, was amended on 23 July 2008. Under the amended constitution, the government sets the priorities for two weeks in a month. Another week is designated for the assembly's "control" prerogatives, and the fourth one is set by the assembly. One day per month is set by a "minority" or "opposition" group. Members of the assembly can ask oral questions to ministers; the Wednesday afternoon 3 p.m. session of "questions to the Government" is broadcast live on television. Like Prime Minister's Questions in Britain, it is a show for the viewers, with members of the majority asking flattering questions, while the opposition tries to embarrass the government.
The history of national representation for two centuries is linked to history of the democratic principle and the uneven road that it had to go before finding in the French institutions the consecration, its own today. Although the French have periodically elected representatives since 1789, the mode of appointment and the powers of these representatives have varied according to the times, the periods of erasure of the parliamentary institution coinciding with a decline in public liberties. In this respect, the names are not innocent; the name of National Assembly, chosen in the fervor of 1789, just reappears - if we except the short parenthesis of 1848 - in 1946. In the meantime, more or less reductive appellations "Instituted by the Constitution of the year III in August 1795," Chamber of deputies of the departments "," House of Representatives "," Legislative body "," Chambers of deputies ", etc.) which show, to varying degrees, the reluctance or the declared hostility of some governments or governments to the principle