Gendarmes and the State in Nineteenth-Century Europe

By Clive Emsley | Go to book overview

10
'FOR THE GREATER HAPPINESS OF THE STATE': GENDARMES BEYOND THE EMPIRE

In territories both incorporated into and external to the Napoleonic Empire French models of government had a significant impact before and after the Congress of Vienna. Napoleon profoundly influenced the Italian peninsula and the German lands. In the former, where his personal writ ran in many territories, his boundary changes were ephemeral; in Germany his restructuring of states and redrawing of boundaries lasted much longer. A few rulers in both of these geographical entities rejected French models of government and administration simply because they were French, tarred with the brush of revolution and its aggressive imperial offspring. But rather more saw elements in these models which they could shape to their own advantage and use to strengthen the kind of state which they sought to develop. There were enlightened, reforming princes and ministers seeking to centralize and rationalize their systems of government and justice well before the French Revolution, and across the German lands the old notions of Herrschaft were under siege.1 Napoleon's changes generally propelled such reforms forward, possibly faster. New legal structures drew on the Napoleonic Codes, and new institutions for administering the provinces, for enforcing laws, and pursuing offenders looked to what appeared to

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1
Herrschaft was a concept which located a variety of economic, political, and social powers and privileges within an individual Herr. There was no distinction here between 'public' and 'private' spheres of life. These powers and privileges were not acquired from, or granted by any higher authority; they were possessed by an individual as a result of his position, whether it be as a prince or simply as the head of a household. Against this, reformers were seeking to introduce ideas of centralized state administration employing a responsible, hierarchical bureaucracy, economic freedom, and social mobility. For a good introductory discussion see James L. Sheehan, German History, 1770-1866 ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 24-41.

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