Policing, Rural Revolt, and Conscription in Napoleonic France

TitlePolicing, Rural Revolt, and Conscription in Napoleonic France
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsForrest, Alan
EditorBroers, Michael, Agustín Guimerá Ravina, and Peter Hicks
Book TitleThe Napoleonic Empire and the New European Political Culture
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

The system of annual conscription, introduced into France by the Loi Jourdan-Delbrel in 1798 and maintained, with minor revisions, across the whole period of the Empire, lay at the heart of Napoleon’s military strategy, and was the key to his ability to pursue his wars so relentlessly and on so many fronts. Conscription did not necessarily imply the militarization of society or the sublimation of all other policy to the needs of the army; indeed, when compulsory military service was first introduced, the Revolution had gone out of its way to present it as a duty incumbent on the citizen, part of the contract between the individual and the state which citizenship involved.

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