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Napoleon Bonaparte

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Napoleon Bonaparte restored stability and leadership in France but at a costly expense. The Napoleonic wars devastated the economic structure of France. Due to inflation incurred because of the wars French currency became vulnerable. Since all of France's money was going into the army it put the state into great debt. The wars and ultimate defeat also put France in a crisis regarding foreign trade. All of these factors contributed in crippling France economically during and after the Napoleonic wars. The Napoleonic wars was an attempt for France to assert itself as a force to be reckoned with among Europe. However in doing this they were forced to substitute this new found nationalism with a non-existent economic system. Wherever Napoleon's campaigns took him he was forced to topple monarchies using the only way he knew how; force. This force was his army which was built by using all of France's resources and money. As a result of the Napoleonic wars France's economic growth was stunted and inevitably sent them into a recession.

The unprecedented conditions of continuous warfare resulted in the destruction of France's currency leading to inflation. The war disrupted normal economic activities and forced the country to fend for themselves. Without any resources coming in the country was doomed to face a dismal market and decline. Prices skyrocketed and the country sunk deeper and deeper into economic disorder. France manufacturers and merchants were forced to find alternative markets making France's economy worthless. Budget deficits and tax increases caused discontent and a recession in 1810 to 1811 hurt the industry dramatically. France's only source of income was from increasing taxes on everything from houses to playing cards for a population that had no money. Inflation became so bad that Napoleon himself felt unsafe using paper currency. In order to try and stall the economic disaster “Napoleonic innovations were designed to place the French currency on uniform basis. In April 1795, the Directory has established the franc as the national currency and had fixed its metallic composition [...] Napoleon drew a lesson from the disastrous experience of the assignats and refused to issue paper money, basing French currency on metallic currency” (55). By doing little things like changing the currency Napoleon was trying to hide the fact that France had great inflation. Debt was constantly resurfacing due to the extent of the wars and made France literally broke. The only reason why Napoleon was able to overcome France's debt and inflation was by founding the Bank of France which acted as a line of credit for Napoleon. It was only thanks to taxes and requisitions from occupied territories along with war contributions paid by economies that the Napoleonic regime was able to fight off their enemies for so long. While dealing with the burden of inflation France also had to contend with the fact that their resources were limited if not cut off.

The Berlin decree of November 1806 marked the beginning of the economic war between France and Britain. This cut off all trade between France and Britain thus making France's economic structure one dimensional. The collapse of foreign trading re percussed on a general level of economic activity throughout the country. The consequences of the Berlin decree affected France's agricultural exports, manufacturers and processing and re-exports of colonial goods. Napoleon believed that by prohibiting the entry of foreign goods it would benefit France's national factories, “The economic world view of Napoleon cantilist – a static concept of a fices stock of wealth, in which the enemy, Britain” (139). What Napoleon failed to realize was that such a ban results in major inconveniences. Firstly it derives the state of custom revenue, secondly it encourages smuggling. Thirdly it deprives their manufacturers of the stimulus of competition. Another a policy installed by Napoleon was the discrimination of terrorists against British goods combined with military pressure on the European states. By cutting off trade with Britain France was forced to survive on its own in every aspect.

Napoleon hoped to cut British trade and starve the country into defeat. What the blockade did was limit France and eventually destroyed it economically. The suspension of trade with Britain was hurting Russian exports and economy, and Tsar Alexander issued a decree taking Russia out of the Napoleon's Continental System. Napoleon's decrees succeeded in shutting off many imports to Europe, resulting in a great rise in the cost of many commodities and the establishment of an extensive smuggling trade to supply them. Attempts were made in various European countries to manufacture articles that had previously been imported; some of these attempts became

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