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Bonaparte legitimized precisely the specific social disparity that the members of the Third Estate had intended to abolish.The tremendous importance of property rights has its origins in the Enlightenment views of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke; views that shaped the goals of the French Revolution.A woman cannot study independently, for her time is consumed with her duties of attending to “her husband, and to follow him to every place where he may judge it convenient to reside” (historyguide.org).Bonaparte enacted laws that were counter to the purpose of the Revolution, counter to meritocracy, by effectively denying women the right to an education that would equal the instruction offered to their male counterparts.Through its exclusion of women from equal opportunities, the Napoleonic Code prevented the meritocratic French society that revolutionaries had striven for.Although the Declaration posits that “all citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities,” (hrcr.org) Bonaparte renders it impossible for women to acquire sufficient intellectual abilities to rise in society.

In demeaning women via his Napoleonic Code, Napoleon Bonaparte proscribed the keystone idea of the French Revolution, equality, and consequently marred much related progress.Napoleon Bonaparte’s strictures on women’s rights in his code subverted the linchpin idea of the French Revolution—equality for all—and therefore, the Revolution’s goals as a whole.Napoleon quashed the greater spirit of the Revolution, abrogating equality, when he denied women equal rights to property.I was filing some old papers from the school year, and I stumbled across an essay I wrote for global history about women in the French Revolution.I make the point that their lack of equal rights in 1789 undermined the ideals of the revolution as a whole.Teacher and early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft remarked that “there must be more equality established in society, or morality will never gain ground, and this virtuous equality will not rest firmly even when founded on a rock, if one half of mankind are chained to its bottom by fate” (Wollstonecraft).

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