Sunday, November 29, 2009
Should Have Listened to Barras....
During the chaotic, economically horrendous days of the Directory, the five member executive branch had a difficult time making decisions. They did not like the centralized republic that had come before, they did not like the constitutional monarchy that had come before that, and they did not like the absolute monarchy that came before that. The directors were generally aware that there needed to be Change, particularly since their really stupid economic and military policies led to disasters unheard of under the Committee of Public Safety and it was pissing off the Parisian mobs, the chouans (Royalist peasant armies), the Jacobins, the royalists, the peasants, the workers and just about anyone who was not more-or-less middle class or higher and who was not more-or-less corrupt and making money off of the chaos.
Thus, it came as no surprise that the directors hemmed and hawed and shuffled their papers when it came to making decisions about who would take up various governmental positions. Barras, who became a director after the fall of Robespierre and remained one until the fall of the directory, got immensely frustrated over in-directory quarreling over military positions, particularly as they pertained to one Napoleone Buonaparte, an upstart Corsican who was, shockingly, actually winning battles.
The directors were reluctant to make Buonaparte head of the Army of Italy, which was doing abysmally, mostly because Buonaparte, at that time, was considered to be Barras's pet project and the directors spent most of their time hating one another rather than doing anything more productive.
Barras, however, won the day by stating, quite flatly, "Promote this man or he will promote himself."
Unfortunately the directors did not listen later on, and Napoleone Buonaparte promoted himself to the position of Emperor.