First Consul

From Academic Kids

A title used by Napoleon Bonaparte following his seizure of power in France.

Originally, three equal Consuls made up the government established by Bonaparte and Sieyès after the coup of 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799), which established the Consulate in France (1799-1804). Napoleon, however, soon arose as the strongest of the three.

Contents

History of the Term

The term consul was used as part of Bonaparte's attempt to liken himself to a Roman ruler of ancient times. He later strengthened his ties with Rome by constructing triumphal arches (such as the Arc de Triomphe) and monuments in the style of ancient Rome.

The title of consul was in Rome used by the two most powerful magistrates in the government. The consuls ran the Republic (along with the Senate) and were the highest ranking military figures. Both consuls had equal authority and could veto each other. This was supposed to combat the onset of a tyranny. However in times of crisis the Senate could appoint one figure as a dictator.

The Napoleonic system was similar except that there were three consuls. Bonaparte, by far the most ambitious and charismatic of them, rose to become the most prominent and was later invested with the title of First Consul for Life, which is similar to being elevated to the position of dictator in ancient Rome, except that in Rome a dictator's term was limited to just six months.

First Consul

The title borne by Napoleon Bonaparte from 1799 to 1804, after establishing himself as the dictatorial and military ruler of France.

Second Consul

The title borne by Napoleon's second, Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès, until 1804 when Napoleon declared himself Emperor of the French.

Third Consul

The title borne by Charles-François Lebrun.

See also

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