Napoleon Bonaparte

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Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a military officer during the French Revolution and later the ruler of France, first as "First Consul of the French Republic" and later, after 1804, as "Emperor of the French". Today, he may be most known for the extensive European wars during which he commanded French armies, finally being defeated in 1815.

He spread some of the policies of the French Revolution to other parts of the world, but reversed others, such as by reinstituting slavery in the French colonies and prohibiting interracial marriages.

"Years later, questioned by his friend Truguet about what he had done in Saint-Domingue, an enraged Bonaparte declared that, had he been in Martinique during the Revolution, he would have supported the English rather than accept an end to slavery. “I am for the whites because I am white; I have no other reason, and that one is good,” he said. “How is it possible that liberty was given to Africans, to men who had no civilization, who did not even know what the colony was, what France was? It is perfectly clear that those who wanted the freedom of the blacks wanted the slavery of the whites."[1] See also Haiti.

Jewish issues

Continuing policies from the French Revolution, Napoleon removed previous restrictions on Jews/Judaism, sometimes referred to as Jewish emancipation. However, he also in 1808 issued the "Infamous Decree", which among other measures restricted Jewish money lending, annulled certain debts owed to Jews by non-Jewish debtors, and encouraged Jews to work in agriculture and craftsmanship. The motives for these actions have been debated. Less politically views include that Napoleon hoped to gain support from Jews, privately expressed anti-Semitic views, wished to stop activities such as argued exploitative usury against non-Jews, and thought that giving Jews equal rights and responsibilities would cause assimilation and even the disappearance of Jews as a separate group.[2] See also Jewish question.

"Count Louis Mathieu Molé (1781–1855), Napoleon’s informal advisor on Jewish affairs, resurrected the discussion as part of a personal effort to rescind Jewish ‘emancipation.’ [...] He persuaded Napoleon to convene a ‘Grand Sanhedrin’ — a kind of ‘Elders of Zion’ meeting — where Jewish leaders from across France would be compelled to attend and answer questions about the nature of Judaism and Jewish culture as it related to interactions with Frenchmen. Each of these Jewish notables was issued with Molé’s Instructions to the Assembly of Jewish Notables (1806), a summons to attend the Sanhedrin and a list of questions they were expected to answer. The message to the Jews was abrupt: “Called together from the extremities of this vast empire, no one among you is ignorant of the object for which His Majesty has convened this assembly. You know it. The conduct of many among those of your persuasion has excited complaints, which have found their way to the throne: these complaints were founded on truth; and nevertheless, His Majesty has been satisfied with stopping the progress of the evil.” Molé put to the Jewish leaders a number of questions concerning, among other things, intermarriage, loyalty to the state, Jewish attitudes to the laws of the state, and the practice of usury. Molé stated “You will hear the questions submitted to you, your duty is to answer the whole truth on every one of them.” But, of course, the answers were far from truthful, even if they were masterfully crafted works of Talmudic argumentation."[3]

The Jewish Rothschild family was of major importance in financing the wars against Napoleon Bonaparte.

External links


Napoleon and Jews


  1. Laurent Dubois. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution & Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804.
  2. Napoleon and the Jews
  3. The Jewish Question: Suggested Readings with Commentary, Part One of Three: The Enlightenment and Jewish ‘Emancipation’ The Jewish Question: Suggested Readings with Commentary, Part One of Three: The Enlightenment and Jewish ‘Emancipation’