Forging the New Regime
A French officer engaged in the suppression of the Piacentino revolt wrote to Lebrun early in 1806, with the understatement of a soldier, that the rebels had taken on ‘a government whose power they do not appreciate’.1 There are no truer words to describe what awaited all the peoples of the imperial departments. The power of the French state penetrated the mountain fastness of the Piacentino, where no civil power had ever really gone before, because none had been strong enough, and a new era was truly upon the peoples of Italy. Yet, the Napoleonic regime was still young when it acquired its first Italian provinces, directly in Piedmont, and at one hegemonic remove in the lands of the Cisalpine Republic. The years of relative peace, 1800–5, allowed Napoleon to forge a new, more powerful and more confident state. Its first Italian possessions shared in this process; those annexed after 1805 received its full force, now in mature, increasingly inflexible form.
KeywordsCriminal Court Military Commission French State Imperial Department Police Commissioner
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