Causes of the Downfall of the Directory of France during the reign of Napoleon

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1. The Directors had messed up affairs in France during the absence of Napoleon as is evident from Napoleon’s remark to Deputy Secretary:

“What have you done with this France which I left so brilliant? I left you peace, I find war. I left you victories, I find defeats. I left you the millions of Italy; I find the laws of spoliation and misery.”

The Directory failed to maintain a powerful government as the Directors was not united. Some of them were the supporters of Royalists while the others were democrats. Both these groups remained at daggers drawn with each other.

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2. Besides Carnot, the rest of the Directors were greedy, selfish, corrupt and immoral. They preferred personal gains more to the national interests.

3. The foolish foreign policy of the Directors made the fall of Directory inevitable. The establishment of Helvetica Republic, Roman Republic, Batavian Republic, Cis-Alpine Republic and Ligurian Republic proved detrimental to the existence of Directory.

The European nations were alarmed by this policy of the Directory and they formed a second coalition against France.

4. The Austrian army defeated the French troops in South Germany and also drove the French army from North Italy. These defeats brought bad name to the Directors.

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5. The internal condition of France had also deteriorated. Extra­vagancy and corruption was rampant in the country and people of France desired a change in administration for a strong, efficient and effective one.

The people were tired of Revolution. Their eyes were fixed on Napoleon. They expected that only he could save France from the external foes and internal troubles.

In other words, people were aspiring for monarchy and Napoleon took the best advantage of this situation and struck the iron when it was hot.

The End of the Reign of the Directory

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The Directors were very much afraid of Napoleon after his return from Egypt. But Napoleon remained aloof from politics for some time and watched the internal condition of France closely.

The Directors and other opponents were assured that Napoleon was not planning against them: But in the meantime, he made a secret design with Abbe Sieyes, one of the Directors, as both of them were staunch opponents of the Republic.

After this he entered in the Assembly along with soldiers and delivered a speech but he was opposed with these slogans: “We do not need Cromwell!” Napoleon was confused but his brother Lucian helped him.

He called the troops in and they turned out all the opponents of Napoleon from the Assembly and captured all power. Thus on 10th November the reign of Directory came to an end and the reign of Consuls was established.

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On this occasion Napoleon declared, “It was the epoch of my life in which had shown utmost ability.”

The three Consuls, viz., Napoleon Bonaparte, Abbe Sieves and Ducos took the oath of their office on the same day and the consulate government assumed its legal form.

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