Fabien Menant: Les députés de Napoléon (Napoleon’s assembly)


Napoleon’s MPs are, by and large, not remembered as favourably as his generals or his state councillors. The Corps législatif appears as the poor relation of Napoleonic institutions, and is still today known as the ‘assembly of the dumb’ – an assembly which voted in laws without discussing them and which seemed to have no influence in the government of 1799 to 1815. For Thiers, it was a parliament made up of ‘obscure washouts’. This book argues that the accusation is unmerited; personalities such as Grégoire, Lainé and Fontanes take key decisions for the future of France, whilst the less famous members ensure that Napoleon respect the principles of the Revolution, before declaring themselves against the Emperor upon the defeat of his regime. For the most part, these politicians were from the new elite and reinforced the influence of this elite under the Consulate and the Empire, prefiguring the features of the censual monarchy and founding modern parliamentary systems. Napoleon’s parliament was the last of the revolutionary assemblies and the first assembly of public figures, and this book brings to life all the aspects of the institutions which made up the daily life of its 1,461 members.

Fabien Menant has a doctorate in History and is a prize-winner of the Fondation Napoléon. He teaches at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris.

Paris: Fondation Napoléon – Nouveau Monde Editions, April 2012, Series Etudes, 512 p. To order, click here: Nouveau Monde Éditions.