CHAPTER XV. FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EMPIRE, 1804-1814
After the establishment of the empire, power became more arbitrary, and society reconstructed itself on an aristocratic principle. The great movement of recomposition, which had commenced on the 9th Thermidor went on increasing. The convention had abolished classes; the directory defeated parties; the consulate gained over men; and the empire corrupted them by distinctions and privileges. This second period was the opposite of the first. Under the one, we saw the government of the committees exercised by men elected every three months, without guards, honours, or representation, living on a few francs a day, working eighteen hours together on common wooden tables; under the other, the government of the empire, with all its paraphernalia of administration, it chamberlains, gentlemen, praetorian guard, hereditary rights, its immense civil list, and dazzling ostentation. The national activity was exclusively directed to labour and war. All material interests, all ambitious passions, were hierarchically arranged under one leader, who, after having sacrificed liberty by establishing absolute power, destroyed equality by introducing nobility.
The directory had erected all the surrounding states into republics; Napoleon wished to constitute them on the model of the empire. He began with Italy. The council of state of the Cisalpine republic determined on restoring hereditary monarchy in favour of Napoleon. Its vice-president, M. Melzi, came to Paris to communicate to him this decision. On the 26th Ventose, year XIII. (17th of March, 1805), he was received with great solemnity at the Tuileries. Napoleon was on his throne, surrounded by his court, and all the splendour of sovereign power, in the display of which he delighted. M. Melzi offered him the crown, in the name of his fellow- citizens. "Sire," said he, in conclusion, "deign to gratify the wishes of the assembly over which I have the honour to preside. Interpreter of the sentiments which animate every Italian heart, it brings you their sincere homage. It will inform them with joy that by accepting, you have strengthened the ties which attach you to the preservation, defence, and prosperity of the Italian nation. Yes, sire, you wished the existence of the Italian republic, and it existed. Desire the Italian monarchy to be happy, and it will be so."
The emperor went to take possession of this kingdom; and, on the 26th of May, 1805, he received at Milan the iron crown of the Lombards. He appointed his adopted son, prince Eugene de Beauharnais, viceroy of Italy, and repaired to Genoa, which also renounced its sovereignty. On the 4th of June, 1805, its territory was united to the empire, and formed the three departments of Genoa, Montenotte, and the Apennines. The small republic of Lucca was included in this monarchical revolution. At the request of its gonfalonier, it was given in appanage to the prince of Piombino and his princess, a sister of Napoleon. The latter, after this royal progress, recrossed the Alps, and returned to the capital of his empire; he soon after departed for the camp at Boulogne, where a great maritime expedition against England was preparing.
This project of descent which the directory had entertained after the peace of Campo-Formio, and the first consul, after the peace of Luneville, had been resumed with much ardour since the new rupture. At the commencement of 1805, a flotilla of two thousand small vessels, manned by sixteen thousand sailors, carrying an army of one hundred and sixty thousand men, nine thousand horses, and a numerous artillery, had assembled in the ports of Boulogne, Etaples, Wimereux, Ambleteuse. and Calais. The emperor was hastening by his presence the execution of this project, when he learned that England, to avoid the descent with which it was threatened, had prevailed on Austria to come to a rupture with France, and that all the forces of the Austrian monarchy were in motion. Ninety thousand men, under the archduke Ferdinand and general Mack, had crossed the Jura, seized on Munich, and driven out the elector of Bavaria, the ally of France; thirty thousand, under the archduke John, occupied the Tyrol, and the archduke Charles, with one hundred thousand men, was advancing on the Adige. Two Russian armies were preparing to join the Austrians. Pitt had made the greatest efforts to organize this third coalition. The establishment of the kingdom of Italy, the annexation of Genoa and Piedmont to France, the open influence of the emperor over Holland and Switzerland, had again aroused Europe, which now dreaded the ambition of Napoleon as much as it had formerly feared the principles of the revolution. The treaty of alliance between the British ministry and the Russian cabinet had been signed on the 11th of April, 1805, and Austria had acceded to it on the 9th of August.
Napoleon left Boulogne, returned hastily to Paris, repaired to the senate on the 23rd of September, obtained a levy of eighty thousand men, and set out the next day to begin the campaign. He passed the Rhine on the 1st of October, and entered Bavaria on the 6th, with an army of a hundred and sixty thousand men. Massena held back Prince Charles in Italy, and the emperor carried on the war in Germany at full speed. In a few days he passed the Danube, entered Munich, gained the victory of Wertingen, and forced general Mack to lay down his arms at Ulm. This capitulation disorganized the Austrian army. Napoleon pursued the course of his victories, entered Vienna on the 13th of November, and then marched into Moravia to meet the Russians, round whom the defeated troops had rallied.