Research Grants 1997


François-Joël BALLAND: Ramel, Minister of Finance
Doctoral Thesis in Modern and Contemporary History
Supervisor: Jean Tulard
University Paris IV-Sorbonne

Dominique-Vincent Ramel, from Montolieu near Carcassonne, was first a député of the third estate in the Estates General, then later a député to the Constituante; he was elected to the Convention. In these two assemblies he progressively specialised in administrative and financial matters. And it was for this reason that on the 14th February 1796 the Directoire appointed him Minister of Finance; and he remained in office for three years, four months until the 23rd July 1799, a fact which makes Ramel one of the most important ministers of finance in the history of France. It should be noted here that Gaudin had been called to this post on the 3rd November 1795 from theTrésorerie nationale, but because he refused to toe the line he only lasted five days.

If we bracket off the brief period from July to November 1799 when Robert-Lindet held this ministerial position, then Ramel appears in his true light as the real predecessor to Gaudin, Napoleon Bonaparte’s finance minister for the entire consular and imperial periods (including the Hundred Days), that is, from November 1799 to June 1815. But Ramel was not just Gaudin’s predecessor. He was also his precursor.

We are in debted to Ramel for the following :

  • the preparation for the franc germinal with the suppression of the bad money (assignats and mandats territoriaux) and the stablilising of stock markets with the bankruptcies of two-thirds, an event which eliminated the state’s debts. It should also be borne in mind that Ramel established the name of the French currency as the “franc”;
  • the establishment in (1779) of analytical accountancy with double entry book-keeping and his efforts to start a land survey, on the foundations of which the ministry under Gaudin built their work of national census and accountancy;
  • the initial impetus given to fiscal reforms which were pursued by Gaudin, and his work to rehabilitate indirect taxation and the imposition of a door and window tax.

This thesis deals with these three issues in detail.

François-Joël Balland, has a first degree in History (Paris IV-Sorbonne, 1988), an MA in History (marked Très bien, 1989), and a doctorate in modern history (supervised by Professor Jean Tulard, 1996).
He works with the cultural service of the Musée de l’Armée.


Florence PUECH: Chislehurst: the imperial family in exile (end of September 1870 to 1881)
Doctorate in Contemporary History
Supervisor: Philippe Levillain
University Nanterre-Paris X

The empress Eugénie and the imperial family spent eleven years in exile in a house in Camden Place, not far from London. And it was in this small Kent village that the empress and the young Prince impérial Louis found refuge after the capitulation of the French army at Sedan (2 septembre 1870) and the proclamation of the Republic by the Assemblée (4 septembre). The emperor, prisoner in Wilhelmshohe, was not to be able to join them until 19 March 1871. It was thus at Chislehurst that all the attempts to prepare an imperial re-entry to Paris, like that of Napoleon Ist in 1815 after the Hundred days, were made – but all to no avail.

Finally accepting this state of affairs, the imperial family prepared themselves for a more long-term stay in England. Chislehurst became the base for their new life à l’anglaise, where the education of the young Prince impérial was the most important priority, all however within the context of a lively court life, respecting the traditions established at the Tuileries. Even though the pomp was much reduced, visitors flocked from all over Europe to honour the deposed monarch. In fact, London became home to French colony. These years were marked by feelings of hope and peace and calm, but also boredom and death. Indeed, Chislehurst was soon to be Napoleon III’s final resting place in 1873, shortly before witnessing the funeral of his son, the Prince impérial, killed by Zulus in 1879. These years of short-lived and fragile happiness, entirely centred on the figure of the young prince, were also for Eugénie years of transition towards the second, very long (Eugénie outlived her husband by about 50 years) and very lonely half of her life.

I propose to concentrate on this period of residence at Camden Place, a little-studied, but nevertheless a very important, moment in French history. Study of this “English decade” is in fact study of the final disappearance of the Bonaparte dynasty. The Second Empire died in England, anonymous, desperately avoiding the critical press which it attracted then and still today. Although these events had little impact on a political level, the central characters and what they represent for history (or what history might have been had they lived), is sufficient justification for this study.

My research is ordered around seven themes :

  • the establishment of the court at Chislehurst ;
  • the residence at Camden Place ;
  • the question of financial resources ;
  • the projects for a return to France ;
  • new light on the personnality of the Emperor ;
  • the British view of the exiles ;
  • what these “Chislehurst years” add up to.

Florence Puech has a Masters in contemporary history (Parisian church preservation policy 1970-1997 – graded Very good) and her PhD at the University of Paris X-Nanterre is supervised by Prof. Philippe Levillain. The proposed title of her thesis is: Chislehurst: the imperial family in exile (end of September 1870 to 1881).