Napoleonic Wars

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© Bob Denton 2014

Napoleonic Wars 1802 – 1815

Napoleon took advantage of the opportunities offered by both the French Revolution and its revolutionary wars to rise to the top, seizing power in a coup, before declaring himself Emperor of France in 1804. The next decade saw a continuation of the warfare which had allowed Napoleon to rise, and at the start Napoleon was largely successful, expanding the borders and influence of France. However, after the invasion of Russia failed in 1812 France was pushed back, before Napoleon was defeated finally at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The monarchy was then restored.

French cuisine – The French Revolution was integral to the expansion of French cuisine, because it effectively abolished guilds. This meant any one chef could now produce and sell any culinary item he wished. Marie-Antoine Carême was born in 1784, five years before the onset of the Revolution. He spent his younger years working at a pâtisserie until being discovered by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, who would later cook for the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Prior to his employment with Talleyrand, Carême had become known for his pièces montèes, which were extravagant constructions of pastry and sugar architecture.[4]:144–145

More important to Carême’s career was his contribution to the refinement of French cuisine. The basis for his style of cooking came from his sauces, which he named mother sauces. Often referred to as fonds, meaning “foundations”, these base sauces, espagnole, velouté, and béchamel, are still known today. Each of these sauces would be made in large quantities in his kitchen, as they were then capable of forming the basis of multiple derivatives. Carême had over one hundred sauces in his repertoire. In his writings, soufflés appear for the first time. Although many of his preparations today seem extravagant, he simplified and codified an even more complex cuisine that had existed beforehand. Central to his codification of the cuisine were Le Maître d’hôtel français (1822), Le Cuisinier parisien (1828) and L’Art de la cuisine française au dix-neuvième siècle (1833–5).

In 1820 Toulon became the base for the conquest of France’s colonies in North Africa. In 1820 a French fleet with an army departed from Toulon for the conquest of Algeria.

Venus de Milo – In 1820, the statue which became known as the Venus de Milo was discovered on the Greek island of Milo. It was discovered by a French naval officer, Emile Voutier, who persuaded France’s Turkish Ambassador to buy it. It was brought it to Toulon on his ship, the Estafette. From Toulon it was taken to the Louvre.

The rise of the French Empire and the conquests of France from 1830 onward (notably Algeria) stimulated the maritime trade and raised the prosperity of Marseille. Maritime opportunities also increased with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

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© Bob Denton 2014