The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

By Philip G. Dwyer; Peter McPhee | Go to book overview

20

RESISTANCE AND REPRESSION

Conscription under Napoleon

The French revolutionary armies were largely made up of recruits. When, however, the number of men volunteering to join the ranks of the army began to dwindle, the government had recourse to the Jourdan Law of 5 September 1798 introducing conscription. All men between the ages of 20 and 25 were eligible to be called up. Those with money could buy their way out by paying for a replacement; the average price was about 2,000 francs. Those who could not afford a replacement or who did not want to leave their villages were, as the following report shows, obliged to find more imaginative means of avoiding conscription.


Conscription frauds in the Ariège, 5 October 1806

The registers of the certificates of births, marriages and deaths of most of the communes of the department of the Ariège are in a deplorable state.

These registers, and in particular those of marriage, have been shamefully defaced or falsified in order to procure for an infinite number of young men the means of avoiding military service.

The origins of these forgeries go back to the end of Year VI, that is to the period when the provisions of the laws of 19 and 23 Fructidor were known in the department of the Ariège. These exempted those requisitioned men married before 1 Germinal in Year VI from the draft and exempted conscripts married before 23 Nivôse of the same year from the ballot.

At that time, certain intriguers united in order to sell false acts of marriage to requisitioned men and conscripts of the department, and they have succeeded in their criminal aims, either by abusing the rusticity of public officers of some of the smaller communes situated in the mountains, or by sharing with them their culpable traffic, or by imposing on the good faith of the administrative corps of Viba extracts of false acts inscribed in the registers of the communes.

-169-

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note on the Revolutionary Calendar xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • 1 - The Ancien RÉgime Challenged 1
  • 2 - Revolutionary Action 16
  • 3 - Creating a Regenerated France 24
  • 4 - Exclusions and Inclusions 35
  • 5 - The Church and the Revolutionary State 43
  • 6 - Monarchy and Revolution 51
  • 7 - The Revolution at War 60
  • 8 - The End of the Monarchy 68
  • 9 - The Peasantry and the Rural Environment 80
  • 10 - A New Civic Culture 84
  • 11 - The Republic at War 90
  • 12 - Revolt in the VendÉe 97
  • 13 - The Terror at Work 103
  • 14 - The Thermidorian Reaction 115
  • 15 - The Directory 121
  • 16 - Bonaparte 128
  • 17 - Law and Order 140
  • 18 - Rule by Plebiscite 149
  • 19 - Governing the Empire 155
  • 20 - Resistance and Repression 169
  • 21 - The Russian Catastrophe 175
  • 22 - Collapse 187
  • 23 - The Hundred Days 193
  • 24 - French Men and Women Reflect 202
  • Index 209
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