8.2 The Napoleonic Period
Napoleon quickly set about reorganising the army, because he realised that his power would be at its greatest when he was providing stability at home and earning victories abroad.
But he was not just a soldier, this was also the period where he set about reforming much of the organisation of government. He was quick to espouse the development of arts and sciences around the country, he reformed banking, education and the law.
It was not however all plain sailing. In December 1800 there was an attempt on his life in what is known as the Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise, hatched by a group of Breton Chouannerie. They created a bomb in a cart and planned to explode this as Napoleon passed. However Napoleon’s carriage was past and on its way to the Opéra before the plotters lit the fuse. It was a second carriage that took the blast, it was carrying Josephine, Hortense, Napoleon’s sister Caroline and others.
Hortense hand was injured, one of the coach horses was killed but otherwise the fatalities came from innocent passers-by and a young girl who had been paid to tend to the horse pulling the bomb.
Napoleon rushed to accuse the Jacobins and had them arrested, when the police caught the actual plotters he was not to be dissuaded and had 130 Jacobins deported without trial. The Chouan plotters, and others rounded up for their publication of dissent, were executed.
The propagandist in Napoleon used this near miss to build the nation’s concern for his welfare and to sustain a general belief that there were still royalist plots – this was not paranoia, there were!