170. Joys of peace
“In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous."1801.
“People will stare. Make it worth their while."
“You can’t be more luxuriously undressed”
“Madame, you are naked. Go and get dressed”
France. Things in the order of importance.
Finally, Europe was at peace, at least for now, and “everybody” could visit Paris, the uncontested center of the fashions and things elegant.
Count Vorontsov, Russian Ambassador in London and the leading Russian anglo maniac: “I heard that our gentlemen make extravagant purchases in Paris. This fool Demidov ordered a porcelain set, each plate of which costs 16 gold luidores.”
For those who could not get there, Helmina von Schesy collected her impressions in a series of vignettes published in the magazine Französische Miscellen, and John Carr was one of those who introduced curious English readers hungry for impartial stories about "a people influenced by political change that had hitherto no analogues... In ten years of separation, we have received very little information about this unusual people that could be relied on,
" Carr said in his foreword.
In the second half of 1802, British guests from the upper class gathered in Paris. William Herschel took this opportunity to consult with his colleagues at the Observatory. The third exhibition of French goods was held in pavilions and temporary arcades in the courtyard of the Louvre from September 18 to 24. Among the visitors was Charles James Fox, to whom Minister Shaptal personally conducted a tour.
Of course, the process was not one-sided. French guests also came to England. Wax artist Marie Tussauds came to London and arranged an exhibition similar to the one in Paris. Balloonist André-Jacques Garnerin staged performances in London and made a balloon flight from London to Colchester in 45 minutes.
But all this was secondary to the most important thing, the female fashions. And in this area the visitors were up to a cultural shock. With the instigation of the fashionistas of the Merveilleuses period, Teresa Tallin, Josephine Beauharnais, Mademoiselle Lange, what was previously considered indecent has become fashionable. Parisian witters laughed that Parisians only need a shirt to be dressed in fashion. This fashion was called a la sauvage ("a la sauvage" - naked) and it became the rage under the Directory:
“Everything in a women's suit was aimed at drawing the shape of the body. A transparent batiste shirt made it possible to see the entire leg decorated above the knee with gold hoops. If a woman couldn't make visible her legs from shoes to her buttocks, they said she couldn't dress. When the lady walked, the dress, flirtatiously picked up in front and behind, tightly showed the whole play of her buttocks and muscles of her legs at every step.”
As presented by a British caricaturist, the fashionably dressed French women looked like that.
But, seriously, as a byproduct of the “Directorie” fashion, the French fashion industry had been decimated because these dresses required the thin cotton and the best cottons originated in Britain and India. Fortunately for France, none of the Consuls had excessively fashionable wife and all of them had been reasonably conservative in their tastes.
Interlude. The wives
- Jean-Baptist Jourdan Jourdan married Jeanne Nicolas Avanturier, a sister of the wife of fabric merchant called Michel Avanturier who, in late 1784, employed a poor ex-soldier by the name of Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. Jourdan clearly went on to be on very good terms with his employer and must have interacted fairly frequently with the family to be able to propose to his boss’ sister in law. There seems to have been a little hesitation on the part of Jeanne’s family – at the time the orphaned Jourdan had no money, no prospects and would suffer life-long health problems after his overseas service – but eventually their consent was given. Jeanne and Jean-Baptiste were married at the church of Saint-Michel in Limoges on the 22ndof January 1788. Shortly after their marriage the young couple set up a haberdashery business in the town. Unfortunately, there is practically no information about her except that they lived a long life together and had six children.
- Jean-Victor Moreau married Eugénie Hulot, born in Mauritius and friend of Joséphine de Beauharnais, an ambitious woman who gained a complete ascendancy over him. She was trying to be a hostess of a political salon but did not have any ambitions in a fashion world.
- Jean-Baptist Bernadotte married Desiree Clary, a daughter of a rich fabric merchant, a former fiancé of general Bonaparte (and not only) and a younger sister of Julie Bonaparte, Joseph's wife, which made him a “member” of Bonaparte family. Prior to marrying Bernadotte Desiree lived with Joseph and Julie. The Bonaparte family sided with her against Josephine after Napoleon had broken off their engagement. She herself did not like Josephine either, as she has been quoted calling her an aged courtesan with a deservedly bad reputation, but she is not believed to have shown any hostility toward Josephine as did the members of the Bonaparte family. In general, she was a kind and good-natured person not interested in politics (In OTL both Napoleon and Bernadotte both used her to influence each other and to pass messages during the periods when they were at odds). indifferent to social position but to please her husband was taking lessons of dances, etiquette and music to be up to her elevated social status. She lived in the circle of the Bonaparte and Clary family and also participated in high society, where she enjoyed music, theater and dance, while she spent her summers at spas or her country villas at La Grange and Auteuil.
Her closeness with her sister was an additional factor solidifying friendship between Bernadotte, Joseph and the rest of the Bonaparte clan, which was benefitting both sides. (Painting below shows her and Julie).
So nothing extravagant was expected from any of three highest ranking females of France and their husbands did not have noticeable problems with shaping appearance of the Consular France along less revolutionary and more conventional lines. Also, while all three Consuls were staunch republicans, none of them was considering poverty as a merit and the Consulate style, while preserving a general “classic” style (mostly based upon the misunderstandings regarding the Greek and Roman cultures), allowed it to become more luxurious in architecture, furniture and clothing. As a result, besides getting less revealing, the female dresses were becoming more lavish.
Well, and of course there were the interests of the French economy to consider as well. So, in their care for the national economic (and public moral), they gave the French silk industry a much-needed boost in a consular decree that French silk be worn at formal ceremonies and event went as far as to forbade the wearing of foreign cotton in order to stimulate French manufacturing and in a correct expectation that, besides the domestic market, these fabrics will be a popular export item being “true Parisian” rather than a local imitation.
What they could not completely eliminate was the most important accessory that was made necessary by the light muslin gowns that did not provide much protection from the cold, the shawls, the best of which were Indian kashmiris/cashmere. Not only did they provide warmth, they added to the classical draped effect.
Well, of course, being enormously expensive, they were also a social statement. European weavers quickly began to create cheaper imitations, most notably in Paisley, Scotland, and that city’s name would become synonymous with the pine or buta/boteh motif: even the Brits could be useful for something. Speaking of which, in the male attire the British influence, especially in the area of cravats, became prevalent to such a degree that Emperor Paul issued a special decree which explicitly forbade “excessively big” cravats (by whatever reason Paul was under impression that this fashion came from the Revolutionary France and not from apolitical Brummell ).
Other smaller female accessories also mark the era, such as swansdown boas and large fur muffs
. Notably, the reticule, a small drawstring handbag, became a standard element of a woman’s outfit. Reticules became essential as the era’s narrowly-cut skirts prevented the wearing of pockets beneath the dress.
The colonnes infernales
("infernal columns") killed a lot of people and caused a lot of a destruction but after a death of anything between 117,000 and 450,000 it was still a problem with the Chouans looting the coaches, disrupting travel and terrorizing the republican loyalists. A new approach was necessary and the Consulate appointed general Suchet a commander of the Army of Vendee: besides being a capable commander, he was also a reasonable person who understood well how to apply both
stick and carrot. His instructions were :
- Strict military discipline. The soldiers are not to be permitted to oppress the civilians and to treat the region as a hostile area.
- General amnesty to everybody willing to lay down the weapons.
Population of the region by that time was pretty much fed up with the uprising and had been suffering from the Chouans’ activities (they had to eat and have all types of supplies and where they had to get them from? ) and with the government’s troops finally behaving as a protecting
rather than oppressing
force, the movement died out by the “natural causes” with few stubborn Chouans led by Cadoudal escaping from France.
Three former generals who now ruled France were well aware of a danger which can come from the disgruntled generals backed up by the grumpy troops. Now, at the time of peace, France did not need an army as big as it had but the professional
officers and soldiers were of a great value because who knows for how long this peace is going to last.
The latest bunch of the conscripts who served for less than two years had been demobilized (with a bonus paid) with an option for the volunteers to remain in the army. For those who served for a longer time and could be considered “professionals” it was other way around: the volunteers could retire with the bonus paid and a priority in getting the state and communal jobs. Or they would sign a contract for serving for the next 10 years.
The generals were a different story and any solution had to start with the most problematic figure, Andre Massena
The second, after Moreau, most reputable general (with Bonaparte out), a brilliant tactician nicknamed l'Enfant chéri de la Victoire
(the Dear Child of Victory). His genius needed the presence of the enemy to stimulate it, but once it sprang to life Massena became an ideal leader, absolutely brave, resourceful, unrelenting and indefatigable. He was a great master of the strategy of forces in immediate contact.
For the planning of a whole perfect campaign he had neither knowledge nor inclination. But outside of his military greatness he was also indolent, greedy, rapacious, stingy, ill-educated and morose. Greediness was outstanding even by the prevailing standards and during a war was, as much as the circumstances were allowing, an unrestricted looting of everything down to the shirts and tableware. Which meant that at the time of peace he could not be trusted, both by education (or rather its absence) and character, any serious administrative position, a stealing boss being bad example for the subordinates, and anyway not that he was interested.
But he could not be simply brushed aside both because of his undeniable talent and because of his popularity (successful commander rather lax on a discipline and allowing looting). Fortunately, he had no ambition beyond a desire to live well and to have plenty of money to spend. He was presented with a big estate, given a big amount of money as a bonus and retained his rank (and salary). Of course, the more money he was getting, the stingier he became but in general he was happy.
. Shortly after Castiglione, Bonaparte tersely summed up Augereau's military qualities: "Much character, courage, steadiness, activity; is used to war, liked by the soldiers, lucky in his operations." The important thing, however, was that he was deeply involved in the Brumaire events and had to be awarded so he was made Inspector-General of the Infantry.
The less important figures had been given various rewards (usually estates and money grants for the generals and just money for the officers), retained their positions and did not have reasons to be unhappy.
After a long and rather tedious discussions two Jean-Baptists managed to convince Jean-Victor that introduction of the state awards is not a return to the Old Regime and that the “baubles” can be a powerful stimulus for the military and civilians. How the people would know that a person deserves a respect for his service to the Republic? Only the generals have names of their victorious battles engraved on their swords and even then, you are not going to brandish that sword on a street. But what about the lesser personages? Do they deserve a respect for the outstanding deeds? Eventually, Moreau’s wife was contacted and easily convinced that a high state award will look great on her husband’s uniform.
It was decided to start with 3 awards:
- Legion of Honor - military :
- Order of Merit - civilian (the same degrees as for Legion of Honor)
- Military Medal - military
. The triumvirs decided to do as little as possible and the best way was, seemingly, to acknowledge status quo. François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture
who was both pro-French, the biggest plantation owner and, after defeating all rivals, proclaimed Governor-General for Life by the constitution acknowledging in Article 1 that it was a single colony of the French, got an official recognition of his title from Paris.
As a side note, constitutional assembly, composed chiefly of white planters,
came with a document abolishing slavery. Article 3 of the constitution states: "There cannot exist slaves [in Saint-Domingue], servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French
." The constitution guaranteed equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law for all races, but confirmed Louverture's policies of forced labor and the importation
of workers through the slave trade. The reason was simple: the plantations were already using the paid labor and this model proved to be quite profitable.
There were some “issues” potentially damaging to France: the absence of provision for French government officials, the lack of trade advantages, and Louverture's breach of protocol in publishing the constitution before submitting it to the French government. However, the triumvirs opted to ignore the protocol breach, minimize an issue of the officials and concentrate on negotiations regarding the trade advantages . As a result, the agreement was reached regarding having a single French Commissioner as a liaison officer with Paris and the lesser tariffs for the French imports/exports. After which he was left alone.
was a much greater potential
problem because most of it was French only on paper. In the territory of 2,140,000 km2 non-native population was around 60,000 inhabitants, of whom half were enslaved Africans
and so far the French did not want
to move there. Commercial value in the terms of exports was rather low: some tobacco, indigo and furs. Plus some of the agricultural production had been sent to the French West India colonies. It was tempting to get rid of it but decision was not made, so far.
with the US had been ended in 1800 by Convention of 1800
, also known as the Treaty of Mortefontaine.
The Convention signed on 30 September contained 27 clauses, the majority of which related to commercial affairs; these protected each other's merchants from having their goods confiscated, and guaranteed both sides most favoured nation
trading status. An issue of compensation for the claimed damages was postponed indefinitely  and principle of the unrestricted neutral trade (there was still a war going on) prevailed.
 When meeting Theresa Tallien at the theater
 To the excessively fashionably dressed woman at the state occasion.
 More or less what was Bernadotte’s policies in OTL when he was in charge of the Army of the Vendée.
 Seems to be excessively popular place, judging by a number of posts mentioning it.
 Aka, behave 180 degrees opposite to the OTL Napoleon’s attitude.
 The whole Quasi War had been triggered by the US reneging upon the agreements with the Kingdom of France arguing that the French Revolution made them null and void but during the treaty discussion being reluctant to accept the French argument that all measures taken by the Directory against American commerce also had been annulled by the new government.