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: De politiek van ralliement en amalgame van Napoleon als fundament voor de integratie van Nederland in het Franse keizerrijk tijdens de Inlijving, 1810-1813

Translated title of the thesis: Reconciling, renewing, trusting : Napoleon's policy of ralliement and amalgame as a foundation for the integration of the Netherlands into the French empire during the Enlistment, 1810-1813
  • Rob Telkamp

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    In the early modern era or ancien régime, in France, government was in the hands of the sovereign, who had delegated executive administration and jurisdiction to intendants in the provinces. In the Republic of the United Netherlands, the provinces represented sovereign authority, but the stadholder's right of appointment to administrative positions in the provinces allowed him to exert considerable influence on the course of events there. During the eighteenth century, the sovereign was increasingly forced to negotiate with his citizens to obtain capital and soldiers. Apart from an increase in larger armies, the influence of the enlightenment also played a role. In France, the third estate demanded participation in power, which culminated in a revolution in 1789. In the Republic, the Patriots wanted more power, although opinions differed on exactly how that should be arranged. In 1795, with help from France, a Revolution took place, with power falling into the hands of the Patriots.
    In France, the chaotic time after the Revolution led to Napoleons first consulship in 1799, during which he seized much power. In early 1800, Napoleon introduced his Law 28 Pluviôse VIII, which regulated the organisation of departmental administration. This was a centrally managed organisation. Napoleon appointed the administrative head of the department, the préfet, the sous-préfet, the secretaire général, and the members of the conseil de préfecture and the conseil général. The préfet was directly answerable to Napoleon.
    The revolutions in both countries resulted in a power and direction struggle between different parties. For Napoleon, a stable and reliable departmental administration was essential to continue his wars. The departments provided him with money and soldiers. Napoleon selected officials in each department from the group of 600 notables for a position in the departmental administration. In making the selection, Napoleon employed a policy of ralliement and amalgamation with the aim of reconciling former political opponents, appointing officials who enjoyed both his trust and the trust of the local population. In addition, Napoleon pursued renewal of the administration by letting talent and knowledge prevail over a family name in appointments.
    This study examined the extent to which Napoleon's policy of ralliement and amalgame managed to bind local notables below the level of prefect in the northern Dutch departments to his departmental administration during the period of the Enlistment. Prosopographical research was used to determine the extent to which the profile of the group of appointed notables was aligned with the politics of ralliement and amalgame. To determine the degree of alignment, three objectives were distinguished for the politics of ralliement and amalgamation, namely reconciliation, renewal, and trust. With regard to the objective of reconciliation, Napoleon succeeded in binding local notables from different classes with different political preferences and religious beliefs to his administration, spreading them fairly evenly across the northern Dutch departments. Based on their profile, as determined by Napoleon, the appointed notables could be expected to have the confidence of the local population on the one hand, and on the other hand to gain Napoleon's trust in the form of loyalty, for example, by appointing sons of families to administrative positions. Napoleon began to bring renewal to the departmental administration. That renewal consisted of appointing as sous-préfet a group of young men, many of whom were trained as auditeurs, and came from abroad. Their loyalty was to the French state, and therefore Napoleon could rely on their cooperation. Renewal is visible in the group of membres du conseil général, who relatively often had held positions outside public administration, belonged to the bourgeoisie, and showed to be open to (administrative) renewal and enlightened ideas. In summary, it can be concluded that Napoleon largely succeeded in his policy of ralliement, and partly in his policy of amalgamation.
    My research reveals a difference between the profiles of the sous-préfets, the membres du conseil général and the conseillers de préfecture. The sous-préfets often had a conventional administrative background, i.e. a noble background, a father with administrative experience, and were of Reformed origin. The profile of the membres du conseil général differed from this. They mostly came from the bourgeoisie, relatively often had a background other than public administration, and proportionately often a religion other than Reformed. Notable within this group is the presence of a relatively high number of Mennonites and Freemasons. Moreover, several of them had demonstrated modern, enlightened ideas. The conseillers de préfecture were evenly distributed among the classes. The patriots and the Reformed among them were slightly in the majority. The conseillers de préfecture and the membres du conseil général were both most represented in the group of officials born before 1780. Many conseillers de préfecture had experience in public administration, indicating a preference for administrative experience for this position. The group of sécretaires général has a rather heterogeneous composition. Except for the characteristics of religion and education, where the Reformed and officers with a law degree are in the majority.
    An explanation for the differences between the profiles of the different groups can be sought in their job content. The sous-préfets were expected to implement Napoleon's decrees in their districts. For this role, Napoleon chose the security of administrative experience, which is in line with the characterisation of the sous-préfet as a tool of integration (a reference by Van der Burg to Stuart Woolf's characterisation of prefects as Napoleon's tools of conquest). The membres du conseil général advised on the distribution of financial resources in the department. This group had a heterogeneous composition, so its members could be expected to know what was going on among the population. The membres du conseil général spent a lot of time in mediation and lobbying, and were less embedded in public administration than the sous-préfets. They may therefore have played a greater role in the acceptance and renewal of French policy than has been assumed so far. In that case, their role could be considered a tool of mediation by analogy with Woolf's characterisation. The introduction of the function of conseillers de préfecture was a conscious decision to put an end to arbitrary rulings on disputes. The overrepresentation in this group of officials born before 1780, many of whom had experience in public administration, indicates a preference for administrative experience for this position.
    In summary, Napoleon interpreted Machiavelli's advice in his own unique way by using the local elite to govern that territory in the territories he occupied. The novelty of Napoleon's approach consists in the introduction of the prefectoral departmental system of government. On the one hand, this concerns the organization of that administration. Napoleon deliberately introduced a distinction between the executive and the judiciary, which before that time were united in one person. More important perhaps is that Napoleon, with his policy of ralliement and amalgame, was able in a short time to bring together the motley crew of Northern Dutch notables into his departmental administration, in which many fulfilled their duties as expected. At the same time, Napoleon was able to initiate the modernization of departmental administration. This legacy of Napoleon is still working its way into the present.
    Date of Award7 Dec 2023
    Original languageDutch
    SupervisorMartijn van der Burg (Supervisor) & Caroline Drieënhuizen (Examiner)

    Master's Degree

    • Master Kunst en Cultuurwetenschappen

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