July 7, 2006 cameron

#8 – The Coup of 18 Brumaire

When we last left Napoleon he was leaving Egypt in the middle of the night to sail quickly back to a corrupt and floundering Paris. In this episode, we talk about:

  • the corruption of the Directory
  • the various plots to overthrow the Revolutionary Government
  • Napoleon’s failed attempt to legitimately join the Directory to save it
  • Sieyes’ approach to Napoleon to join his plot for a coup
  • Napoleon’s speeches to The Council of Ancients, The Council of Five Hundred, and the eventual coup

And when we leave Napoleon in this episode he is, at the ripe old age of 30, the most powerful man in France.

In our next episode, we’ll talk about the new Constitution of the Year VIII, the Concordat with the Pope, and the drafting of the Civil Code aka the Code Napoleon.


Comments (15)

  1. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    Thanks again for the great episode, I was pleased to note that you showed the true ‘coup de brumaire’ because often they say it was Napoleon who ‘started’ it and did it only for ‘power’, but it was as you both said sieyès…I didn’t know that he send those soldiers to help, rescue his brother, thanks for learning me this.

    I will meet you at the Tuileries (and Marengo, vive la victoire!)!

    Vive l’Empereur!


  2. Chris

    Hi Cameron and David

    I love the new sound misic (much more appropriate than my Beethoven suggestion). Please do not worry about the length of the programme. However, my copy of your eposide 8 downloaded at 81 MByte for about 47:19 of programme and 40 odd minutes of silence. When I edited out the silence, the file shrank to about 16.6MByte. Not a drama for me by it may affect your listeners who are close to the limit of their download allowance.

    Keep up the good work.


  3. Chris, the copy of #008 on the server is only 26Mb but I can see you’re right about the 40 minutes silence! Sorry about that folks, will fix it now. But Chris I don’t know why the copy you downloaded says it is 81Mb!?? Apologies.

  4. UB122

    Hello Cameron and David,

    Thank you for another great episode, I really enjoyed every minute of it, so you don’t have to worry about the time that you spend on it, because for us (listeners) the longer the episode- the better knowlge and really much more fun! As David said, we can always put it on pause, so you can talk about Napoleon as long as you like, because there is no book that can make Napoleon’s history as interesting as you two make it.

    Thank you again, and can’t wait for the next episode

  5. chad

    Thanks for a very interesting podcast. I am just starting to play a game called Napoleon at Marengo and was wondering if you could suggest a couple books that deal specifically with how wars were fought during this period–from a strategic and tactical level as well as from a regular infantry soldier’s perspective.

    Thanks again. I look forward to future episodes.

  6. Julian

    Hey Cameron and David,
    I studied a lot of French history as part of my major in my BA and was a little dubious about a Napoeon Podcast, but wow you guys have really done this topic full justice. I am very much enjoying the casts, they keep me greatly entertained on the long Bus ride into work, keep up the good work and don’t worry about the length, nothing better than to hear people really get into a topic they love.

  7. John G

    Hi David and Cameron

    I live in Melbourne, Australia and I stumbled on your Napoleon podcast series by chance, and couldn’t believe my luck. I don’t know a great deal about Napoleon, but saw a TV series on his life a few years ago (it was on SBS), which was very good. I have always wanted to find out more about Napoleon since watching that series.

    I think this podcast series is a fantastic concept. I downloaded 8 of the episodes 6 days ago and have just finished listening to the 8th episode. I’ve been listening to them on my way to and from work, when I’m lying in bed before I go to sleep, and when I’m out walking. I’m addicted.

    The things I really like about the podcast series are: both of your knowledge, particularly David’s unbelievable depth of knowledge on the subject; the direct quotes (from letters and such) from Napoleon and others who knew him; and dates and his age at the time of various battles and significant events. I think anything that can provide context really helps, like the background information you provided on the Industrial Revolution.

    I have just commenced reading War and Peace, which also covers Napoleon’s life. I would be interested to know what you both think of War and Peace with regard to its depiction of Napoleon. It is obviously a great book (widely regarded as one of the best novels of all time), but is it accurate in its depiction of Napoleon? And is it a favourable depiction of him?

    Anyway, I think you’ve created (and are still creating) a great series.

  8. Thanks everyone for the comments! David and I really appreciate the feedback. It’s good to know that someone out there is enjoying these shows as much as we enjoy making them.

    John, WAR AND PEACE is, of course, a wonderful novel, but of course it’s written from the Russian perspective, so the treatment of Napoleon and the French occupation of Moscow is fairly harsh. As I’m sure we’ll cover when we finally get around to the 1812 invasion, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia was precipitated by Tsar Alexander’s massing of troops on the border of Poland and his refusal to enforce Napoleon’s “Continental System” (banning the import of British products, an attempt to ruin the British economy which hurt Europe just as much as it hurt England and was extremely unpopular) – both actions were a failure on behalf of the Tsar to uphold the terms of the peace treaty signed at Tilsit in 1807.

    So Napoleon planned a quick, decisive march into Russia in 1812, thinking it would force Alexander to quickly surrender and agree to the terms of the 1807 treaty – but he was very, very wrong and what followed was a monumental disaster.

    For a deeper perspective on the 1812 campaign, I suggest reading tw excellent books: ‘1812’ by Adam Zamoyski or David Markham’s book “Napoleon’s Road to Glory”.

  9. Chad, the “bible” of Napoleonic campaign strategies would have to be “The Campaigns Of Napoleon” by David Chandler. 1200 pages of detailed analysis, maps, etc.

  10. Phil

    Dear Cameron and David –
    My wife and I recently returned from a trip to France. You two need to know how much you enhanced our enjoyment of the trip! I had a much greater awareness of Napoleon and his contribution to French history … and his contribution of Napoleon III, who was so influential in reshaping Paris. Without your podcast, I don’t know how high on my list Napoleon’s tomb would have been, but it ended up being the first thing we did — a pilgramage and a walk to wear off jet lag! Your talks made that visit into something that gave me gooseflesh. Please keep up the great work! You are bringing Napoleon to a number of us who previously knew very little.
    A votre sante!

  11. wow, Phil, that’s wonderful feedback! Thanks for sharing it and we’re very glad to have played a small role in your vacation!

  12. rob

    I worked in Paris for a while and am lucky enough to have a small flat not that far away from Les Invalides. I love returning there for the food, the art, the language and the ambiance. Even the Parisians are not as bad as they are made out to be!! Having listened the podcast I know now what will be my first port of call on the next trip. Maybe the whole place will be thrown into new relief – I’ll let you know.
    In keeping with the sentiments above, don’t worry about the time frame. Notwithstanding the scholarly content, it’s the personal elliment and the enthusiasm that is iso nfectious.

  13. Daniel

    Gday fellas,

    I know these were released some time ago but I am catching up with pace!

    Like you Cameron, I am Australian, and am thoroughly enjoying working my way through these podcasts. I am still waiting for the episode where Napoleon turns into the Hitler figure that I took for granted growing up in a Commonwealth country :-/ I am currently living in the UK and can foresee some heated debates on the horizon as I try to ‘educate’ a few Poms as to why Napoleon should be viewed with respect in the same way as Caesar and Alexander the Great.

    Please, please, please don’t force the time shorter on the podcasts. The longer the better. I find myself hoping for massive traffic delays on the way to and from work just so I can keep listening.

    David – I note on your website (and your references in the show) that you are also an admirer of Caesar and Alexander the Great. Any plans on working on a podcast for those guys or am I just getting greedy? 🙂

    Keep it up guys.

  14. Cameron

    Thanks Daniel! We’ve actually been talking about “what next” (not like this podcast has any chance of finishing in the next few years the way we are going!) and we will definitely do something on either Caesar or Alexander. We’re both passionate about them as well. I’m probably more fluent in Alexander’s life and David leans towards Caesar. As he’s the historian and I’m just the guy who pushes the buttons, I can guess which way we’ll go. 🙂

    Glad you’re lovin’ the show mate and don’t be afraid to educate the Poms. Just remember what they did to us at Gallipoli.

  15. Daniel

    I went to Gallipoli in 04 and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. A must do for any Australian who is able to. The Poms haven’t even heard of Gallipoli, let alone believe they could have been so incapable.

    Well, I just came back from Rome after fulfilling a long held desire to see what is left of the Palatine, Forums, Octavian’s tomb etc….so I would be thrilled with a show on Caesar!

    Oh and another thing, I have a 24 hr flight back to Aus in April….any chance you could just not interrupt David at all one episode and there might be enough material to get me home without having to find something else to listen to? 😉

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