The Napoleonic Touch

Some observers have smugly claimed that it is impossible to have a reactionary movement. They say it would be like piecing a ruined cobweb back together or trying to set Humpty Dumpty back on his wall. For them, it is one item on a long list of impossibilities. If one supposes that reactionaries want to return to some glittering past in every particular and detail, then the critics are right; it cannot be done. Fortunately, we are not focused on bringing back the poke bonnet or illuminated manuscripts; that is to say, nobody is trying to revive the little irrelevancies of bygone eras. The reactionary goal is to return to the spirit of an age, not its particulars. We only need to extract what worked from the past and juxtapose it onto the present. It is a process of adapting the present to the past, rather than trying to impose the past onto the future.

Perhaps the most compelling point against critics is that history provides examples of reactionary movements that have succeeded. There is one in particular that stands out like a star shining over a pitch-black sea.

If you want to engineer a Restoration — a Restoration in the purest sense of the word, as in a return to one’s point of origin — then you should scrutinize intensely the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon provides the reactionary with an intricate blueprint for how to topple the cracked and flaking idols of the liberal tradition.

Napoleon might seem to be an odd choice for analysis because, at first glance, he seems to be a liberal to those not well versed in Napoleonic history. He was a Corsican, a backwater bourgeois man, an artillery officer, and so he was a man with not one aristocratic credential to his name. He initially rose to fame by firing grapeshot into a crowd of royalists. Many might ask how this could possibly be Europe’s reactionary par excellence.

It is an issue that can only be solved by a crisp defining of terms. Napoleon was not a reactionary in the sense that he wanted to reseat a Bourbon king on the throne and fly the royal white colors again; he was quite content to fly the revolutionary tricolour, provided that he was the man directing things from the top, rather than another Louis the something-or-other.

Tradition means nothing if the tradition does not guard something dear, and in this case, the crown jewel was Napoleon himself.

This point is exemplified in a quote Napoleon made to the French Senate: “What is a throne? A bit of wood gilded and covered in velvet. I am the state. I alone am the representative of the people here.”

With the words, “I am the state,” Napoleon was intentionally referencing Louis XIV. His purpose was to rekindle the feelings his countrymen had for a firm leader who had, in their era, become the stuff of legends. All of the pomp and pageantry of monarchy means nothing if the monarch is a dunderhead and his marshals and ministers are dithering libertines. A state is only as good as its statesmen.

All of this points to the conclusion that Napoleon believed in natural hierarchies, the kind of hierarchies where the most capable men rise to the top and the dross is thrown out. Bonaparte realized that France did not need a liberal revolution to correct its problems; it needed a thorough cleansing at the top. The old order, which had grown stagnant and ineffectual, had to be reworked. It was not a failure of the royalist system that had led to France’s decline; it had been a failure of France’s royalty.

It is from this premise that Napoleon initiated reforms not to end the aristocracy, but to populate it with fresh faces. When he came to power in 1799, Napoleon found himself in a very unique position. The radical liberals had done most of the dirty work by beheading or frightening away the old aristocracy, and yet, the most outspoken radicals had suffered the same fate from an inevitable backlash. Napoleon inherited a blank slate, and it is from this curious position that reactionaries can glean plenty of knowledge: Napoleon had the unusual luxury of creating an aristocracy from scratch.

It is worthwhile, then, to examine how Bonaparte came to power, how he wielded his power, and how he cast out the demons of a revolution that nearly ruined France. Below, I have extracted what I feel are the four most crucial points relevant to reactionaries.

  1. Don’t be the wrecking-ball, be the builder.

It is unusual for revolutions to be led by the middle class, but if they are, the results are often catastrophic. The middle class provides the bulk of a nation’s skilled labor, so if the middle class routine is interrupted, the nation’s productivity plunges. Riots become widespread. Traditions are trampled by the march of often tried and soon abandoned fads. During a revolution, the old middle class heroes are forgotten and a new hero comes to the fore: the blunderbuss, the loudmouthed and garrulous malcontent. He is the kind of man who uses his sometimes legitimate grievances to push for wholly illegitimate abuses of power. He does not want reform. He wants scalps. But the Robespierres of the world can only bellow and shout for so long before their words lose the power to persuade.

The middle class resolve will crack eventually, and when it does, the people will want a return to order, efficiency, and everyday routine. The rabble-rousers will have no more sway over the people and very likely will be met with the same brutality they inflicted on others. From the ensuing power vacuum there will emerge one sweeping sentiment, a longing in the minds of the middle class that contradicts its most cherished virtues — they will want an autocrat. They will know, as if by instinct, that an unapologetic authority is the only way to restore order.

This was the role Napoleon played for France. In a world of wrecking balls and societal demolition, France desperately needed the one man it had spent the last decade hating: France needed a builder.

The lesson Napoleon leaves for us here is that no matter how fashionable it is to seem mad, no matter how hysterical the mob becomes, the reactionary must stand like a rock in the tide. He must be the cogent one, the visionary, the law bringer. When their failures come to light, the middle class will look to the reactionary for guidance for the same reason they looked to Napoleon: he will be saner than the alternatives.

In truth, the essence of Napoleon’s rule was simple. It required no complicated theology or tortuous explanations to help people understand it. It was a principle as timeless as the rivers and the trees. To quote one of Napoleon’s prefects, Boniface de Castellane-Novejean, the purpose of Napoleon’s government was to “make sure that the taxes are paid, that the conscription is carried out, and that law and order are preserved.”

  1. Say one thing, do another.

Historians have had a hard time figuring out where Napoleon fits on the political spectrum. When viewed in the rosy afterlight of our era, Napoleon seems more like a shadow than an emperor. No matter what policies he endorses or opposes, no matter what his suggestions or promises, we can never see Napoleon in full color. A part of the man always defies analysis.

This, then, is the lesson for reactionaries. The reactionary does himself no favors by standing on principle and spelling out his intentions with perfect clarity. Rhetoric must be gently tempered with the reality of a nation’s political situation.

You are not going to convince a newly-formed mob republic to become an empire any more than you are going to convince a bunch of farmers to buy a whaling ship. In order to make such a broad leap the political situation must be very gently and subtly changed. The people will have to be nudged into it. Napoleon was shrewd enough to realize this fact, and so he spoke according to the conditions at hand. If the people wanted comfort, he was their tender mother. If they wanted fire and brimstone, he was their avenging angel. But whatever words came out of Napoleon’s mouth, his actions were those of a reactionary.

If we examine Napoleon’s words and set aside his actions, we are met with a slew of contradictions. Here I have provided a brief selection of Napoleon’s quotes illustrating my point. Some are liberal in character, some are reactionary, and none provide a full view of this shadowy figure.

Liberal: “More glorious to merit a scepter than to possess one.”

Reactionary: “A form of government that is not the result of a long sequence of shared experiences, efforts, and endeavors can never take root.”

Liberal: “Hereditary succession to the magistracy is absurd… it is incompatible with the sovereignty of the people.”

Reactionary: “I am a monarch of God’s creation, and you reptiles of the earth dare not oppose me.”

Liberal: “Conscience is the most sacred thing among men.”

Reactionary: “The life of a citizen is the property of his country.”

These quotes should make it clear that if we examine his words in isolation, Napoleon was a political enigma. His actions, however, blot out the bulk of his words. He rebuilt France’s aristocracy, affirmed traditional marriage and religious life, strengthened the military, reformed banking, and from the sunlit hills of Provence to the dirty alleys of Paris, brought an unyielding order to France.

While Napoleon spoke highly of liberty and the rights of man–and certainly some part of his soul was fond of these ideas–in his deeds he was an unflappable autocrat. Perhaps these two extremes were not contradictory in Bonaparte’s mind. He had seen firsthand the cruelties of the revolution and perhaps he felt, with some justification, that liberties can only be upheld by a strong authority.

In a similar vein, I feel that if we were to pull off a reactionary movement in America, it would have to look and sound curiously like Napoleonic France. Liberty would be extolled and cherished in our rhetoric while power would be consolidated into an authoritarian state that guarded those liberties.

  1. Women lead homes, men lead nations.

This is one of the surest laws of nature; so sure that you might as well set it in neon lights and place it at the doorway of every legislative building in the world. Women lead homes, men lead nations.

Violate this maxim and your society will be well on its way to fire and ashes. By taking women, humanity’s nurturers, and placing them in the thick of battle or in the push and pull of politics, a society is toying with death. Yin and Yang are primordial forces that must remain in balance for there to be harmony. By taking women out of the home, divorce rates rise, birth rates flatten, and the state becomes a tool to serve their nurturing instinct. Thankless welfare policies, finger-wagging taxes and regulations, and a revolving door of arbitrary justice; it becomes, in essence, a rule of schoolmarms. The virtues of women remain virtues only if women rule the home and stay out of the state.

Napoleon was wise to this truth. In the civil code that would eventually bear his name, Napoleon and his legal experts stipulated severe restrictions on women in an effort to restore the natural balance between the sexes.

In Article 213, for instance, we find the statement that “A husband owes protection to his wife who owes obedience to her husband.” This helps to keep men and women in alignment with their respective virtues: protection and provisioning for men, loyalty for women. That is how strong families are forged.

Elsewhere, the code contained laws that worked toward similar goals. Wives could be imprisoned for adultery. Men were shielded from having to support illegitimate children. Women could not sign contracts, file lawsuits, or be called into court as witnesses. They could take their goods to market only with their husbands’ permission, and buying or selling land required formal, written consent.

At first glance, this code might seem hopelessly unfair. We must consider, however, what Napoleon knew and why this code worked to make France a bolt of lightning among lightning bugs. The reactionary understands that fairness has nothing to do with nature. The natural order has prescribed certain roles for men and women, and when those roles are knocked out of alignment, all of society wobbles and tilts.

There are some women who undoubtedly flourish outside of the home and who are quite comfortable examining politics from a logical perspective rather than a maternal one. But we cannot disturb the whole balance of nature, and we cannot compromise our whole living heritage for the occasional Margaret Thatcher. The risk is just not worth the reward.

A woman’s foremost virtue is to make a home and be loyal to it. The Napoleonic Code takes that law of life and extends it into a coherent policy: women should not be having sex before marriage, they should not be having sex with anyone but their husbands, and they should not trouble themselves too much with legal and political matters. Their children, their husbands, and their communities should take precedence over any distraction. This is not done to “oppress” women because the natural order exists beyond concepts like oppression and freedom. It is done for the sake of order itself, which in turn provides women with a proper space to let their virtues shine.

  1. Elites make states, but the masses sustain them.

Every Restorationist faces a conundrum. On the one hand, he requires support from the elites, or better yet, collaboration with them, if Restoration is to succeed; on the other hand, his primary targets to work against are these very same elites who, for obvious reasons, are not inclined to follow along with his schemes. If you are going to rob Peter to pay Paul, it is best not to talk too long with Peter.

Most of the time, regime change can only succeed if there is a split among the elites. There are situations where religious and ethnic struggles or even greed can lead to vast chasms of difference opening up between the elites. If these chasms cannot be bridged, if the factions cannot be reconciled, a civil war will be inevitable. This leads us to the first half of our axiom: elites make or break nations. The stability or instability of a nation rests mostly on the shoulders of its elites. That point is self-evident and requires no elaboration.

The second part of our axiom, however, is not quite as evident and does require some elaboration. The masses, despite having a secondary role to the elites, are nonetheless crucial to political life. To put the point in Napoleon’s words, “What is government? Nothing, unless supported by opinion.”

Napoleon was neither making a case for democracy with that quote, nor was he stating that every Jacques and Antoine on the street should be consulted for his ill-informed opinions. Napoleon was instead speaking in a way that Machiavelli would approve of; he was giving his listeners a glimpse into what politics really is. What he was truly saying is that power is founded on appearances.

Napoleon figured out that if the masses revered him, the machinations of his ministers and aids will be no more dangerous than an elephant in the ocean. Bonaparte had found the golden mean of politics. If the masses supported him, the elites could not touch him. Since the elites could not substantially defy him, it was in their best interest to maintain the status quo by keeping the masses in check. It was a self-reinforcing system that had turned France into the most polished and powerful state of Europe.

One of the ways Napoleon was able to maintain this balance between the elites and the masses was with his clever use of promotions. He distributed hereditary titles and honors to those whom he felt deserved to be among the elite: mostly to his ablest military men. These were called “notables” and they comprised the upper-crust of Napoleonic France.

He did not, however, shun the masses. In 1802, Bonaparte formed the Legion of Honor as a means to give the most talented and capable men in France a chair at the aristocratic table. It was open to all men, of all classes, and it was based solely on a man’s merits. It was the first of its type in Europe. The old notables were incensed but the Legion proved too popular to quash. By 1808, there were over twenty-thousand men among the Legion’s ranks and they were very proud to be there. “You call these baubles,” Napoleon said to his critics, “Well, it is by baubles that men are led.”

In the end, the reward proved to be a clever way to redirect the tensions that arise from class conflict: the masses were given a means to advance in life by either bravery or brilliance, while the surge of upstarts among the aristocracy kept the upper-crust honest by reminding them of their potential replaceability.

To bring this essay to its end, I must say it is a shame that Bonaparte is so often overlooked by reactionaries. He demands more diligent care and attention. Perhaps it is because of his manipulative cynicism that religious reactionaries shun him. Or perhaps it is because his rhetoric so often carried with it the vague taint of liberalism that it makes others queasy. Whatever the case, I feel that Napoleon has been too carelessly consigned to the back ends and dusty crevices of the reactionary library. This essay provides four points for study but many more might be taken from Napoleon’s life. It is all there; ripe and waiting for serious scholars. Napoleonic history exists not just as a stirring story, and make no mistake, it is one of history’s most stirring, but as a blueprint of what could be. It shows us that the future is dark but that it still has a silver lining, if we are willing to act with the cleverness and conviction of Napoleon.

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  1. The Man From K Street July 13, 2017 at 11:43 am

    An excellent article. I’d also say that there is another controversial figure of the 19th c. that hatred of has become a shibboleth among reactionaries, but who reactionaries need to dust off and give a real second look at:

    Abraham Lincoln.

    It is, as the Marxists say, No Accident that the Prussian reactionaries of the time, from Bismarck on down, all admired Lincoln and saw his struggle as very much a parallel to theirs in term of German reunification–reforging of a National Union on a _Blut und Eisen_ basis. The Republican Party was founded as the conservative white workingman’s party–and largely in opposition to the 1850s proliferation of liberal reformist movements–not just abolitionism, but other social-liberal causes including temperance/prohibition and women’s suffrage. Lots of do-gooders all over the place. But once you had the rise of the Republicans, led by the ex-conservative Whig Lincoln, it exhausted social reformers across the board. The *original* northern reactionary/restorationist–Orestes Brownson, as well as the Germans watching across the sea, recognized this–that Lincoln’s War represented a repudiation of *both* the antebellum abolitionists *and* the secessionists, because both were the legatees of the outmoded theories of the Enlightenment!

    If today’s reactionaries can ever shake off the “moonlight and magnolias” Lost Cause nonsense and see the secessionist elite for what it was–Monsanto-like Big Agriculture agitating for flooding the remainder of the continent with non-white helots (sound familiar?), they will begin to see the Lincoln and Union victory in 1865 as the triumph of the national-conservative vision of small-r republicanism over the social-liberal one.

  2. Toothbrush Confiscator July 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Fascinating article! Your observations about principles of governance are very on-point, but I think you’re constructing something of a false dichotomy, as many reactionaries do, between progress and reaction. Napoleon certainly had a good grasp of timeless political principles, but he used them to create a state which secured the new liberties of the revolution. Napoleon was a distinctly revolutionary phenomenon, and this article could almost as easily have been written about Stalin or Castro, who built up states founded on eternal principles of authority after Lenin and Che destroyed old orders.

  3. John Q. Public July 13, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Of course, Napoleon wrecked France with endless, pointless wars that he ultimately lost. Because he was Emperor, when he started making bad decisions, there was no way to get him to stop. The folks at Imperial Energy, also taking Napoleon as their model, have promised to address that problem.

    People know this history. It is very basic. That is why they believe in liberal democracy. NRx really needs to be on its game to overcome their natural objections. I’m not talking about the masses; I’m talking about truly educated people, the kind who would actually read a biography of Napoleon.

  4. John Q. Public July 13, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    “In a similar vein, I feel that if we were to pull off a reactionary movement in America, it would have to look and sound curiously like Napoleonic France. Liberty would be extolled and cherished in our rhetoric while power would be consolidated into an authoritarian state that guarded those liberties.”

    Exactly! Our Napoleon must quote Hamilton and Jefferson, but act like Franco and Salazar.

  5. Bonaparte and Frederick the Great both fascinate me, but there are so many books out there I’m overwhelmed whenever I begin looking. Now, there’s a lot more about Bonaparte than Old Fritz, maybe more than any man in history, but I don’t know where to begin. I’m new to biographies, but I’m also a big non-fiction reader, and my reading comprehension is above average. Do any recommendations jump out at you?

    1. Napoleon: an intimate biography by Vincent Cronin is an excellent insight into his character. There’s another good one which is fairly comprehensive at around 800-900 pages by Andrew Roberts. It’s very recent. There’s also a great napoleon podcast by Cameron Reilly you should google search. It’s the one with two guys conversing, not the one guy monologuing.

  6. “Reactionary: “The life of a citizen is the property of his country.””

    A citizen gladly gives his life for his Republic, a subject for his Lord, and with justice banished or hanged he refuses to- but it is imprecise to say that the life of either one is *property*. A human being whose life is the property of another person natural or artificial is neither a citizen not a subject, but a *slave*.

  7. Arthur Marian July 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    An interesting insight about an extraordinary man, who still casts a shadow over France two hundred years later. He was slave to no ideology or “ism” and had contempt for all of them – his only goal was to make France dominant in Europe, and himself and his heirs to rule France – period. He understood humanity – its weaknesses and strengths, and his cynicism was Olympian – if something worked, from whatever part of the political spectrum to serve his ends, well and good.

    Under the Empire there were severe penalties for singing the revolutionary “Marseillaise” in the army. At Austerlitz, at a critical juncture of the battle, an attacking French regiment broke into the hymn – his aides looked at him in horror, but Bonaparte just shrugged his shoulders and said: “So long as these men are willing to fight and die, I care not what ditty they sing”.

    It was not just the age of revolutions, but also the age of war on a Continental scale. Without the threat of France being invaded Napoleon would not have made his career. At that time war could ruin societies but not destroy them – a modern facsimile of Bonaparte would perhaps not have this luxury.

  8. I believe that the essayist here is using the wrong terminology. Napoleon was a combination of authoritarianism and pragmatism. Reactionaries tend to destroy; Napoleon was a visionary. This is an interest essay but fundamentally flawed.

  9. Kenneth Schmidt July 14, 2017 at 10:05 am

    “Old Boney” even started learning toward Christianity on St. Helena. Revolutionary kooks can’t win battles like Austerlitz.

  10. A welcome essay. Good to see Napoleon getting some examination.

    Before UR, we had studied Napoleon and his example does provide many lessons both his successes and mistakes.

    Yet, it should be remembered, as Prince Metternich makes clear, that the France that the Bourbons received in 1815 was not the France of the Revolution but the counter-revolution.

    What we emphasized in Napoleon was the actions he took after seizing power: he could have been Red or White and he chose White.

    The areas we outlined as notable are the following:

    2: Master of the Revolution.

    (He crushed the Revolution.)

    3: Master of War.

    4: Master of Religion.

    (His policy towards religion is worthy of close study.)

    5: Master of Law and Order.

    (Napoleon harsh crack down on crime and disorder was his most popular policy, after restoring religion.)

    6: Master of Coin.

    7: Master of Education.

    8: Master of the Cathedral.

    (His mastery of the press was both surprising and simple.)

    9: Master of the Masses.

    10: Master of France.

    Specifically, we think his legal reforms, his creation of a new nobility and his beliefs and actions towards religion are worth paying attention to.

    Regarding religion, while Napoleon was not a believer, he never doubted the necessity of religion for the social order. Napoleon took great risk with his concordat with the Church but he pushed through the opposition.

    Napoleon is, perhaps, the last true king of Europe. He was far more powerful than any French king before him and he presided over the entire state and nation in the reforms following 1800. The most notable fact, however, is that this was the last time that a country’s ruler personally took charge on the battlefield.

    Napoleon’s great error was both personal and strategic (they cannot be separated).

    By marrying into European royalty with the issue of a male child, Napoleon had achieved everything that needed to be achieved to secure his power – and the stability of France.

    The mistake was that the thing that made Napoleon powerful – war – was the thing that led to his downfall. Instead of aggressive war, his new circumstance required personal forbearance. The pursuit of commercial development and the building of diplomatic alliances (against England and Russia) by offering a good deal to the other European powers was necessary.

    This would have required short-term “pain” for long-term good.

    For example, instead of closing the continent to England’s goods, open them. Instead of preventing Russia from trading with England – let them.

    While this is a concession and it gives certain commercial advantages to England, this is the political version of trading space for time by trading gold for time.

    In the meantime, Napoleon should have tried to reassure the European nations – Austria, Spain, Portugal, Prussia and also Poland – which should have been liberated and strengthened to serve as a buffer against Russia.

    Furthermore, France should have taken the opportunity during the time of peace to build a powerful and experienced navy.

    Finally, with England having no means to intervene militarily and having no clear or easy excuse to oppose Napoleon because of better trade conditions (free trade would be going too far). England would thus have to sit and watch as France grew more and more rich and powerful, though slower than it may have done.

    During this time, Napoleon could have pursued a long-term plan of subversion against the English by sponsoring Irish republicans and opening channels with any Scottish separatists.

    But it was not to be. So, the disastrous invasion of Russia took place. This was done to punish Russia for trading with England – which they had agreed not to. The origin of this was Napoleon’s continental blockade against the English – which failed.

    Napoleon, like Hitler, had only two options with England: crush utterly or become firm friends.

    In the end, despite his abilities, Napoleon provides us with the example of why absolute power is too much for one man.

    Some sort of responsibility mechanism needed to exist – though it seems impossible to imagine how anyone could have restrained the man – and that is exactly the point.

    Impossible, that is, without some sound political engineering principles and modern technology. (The technology we will leave for the moment.)

    Let’s consider a very simple mechanism.

    You have the ruler and the board. The board have two ways of influencing and controlling the ruler:

    1: Face to face, week after week, battle of wits in the boardroom where the ruler confronts the board and the board confronts the ruler. Then, a battle field with passion and reason, dialectic and rhetoric, authority and charisma all play out.

    Someone said, roughly, that you were not a leader unless you could face down the opposition in the English Parliament. The PM had to stand up and defend himself and his decisions against all comers.

    The board can reason, persuade, plead, warn, complain and, finally, threaten. They cannot block appointments, budget allocation or overrule decisions they have no direct control over the state and they have no checking mechanisms.

    They cannot make the ruler do anything.

    But they can do one more thing.

    They can remove the ruler. They cannot check him, but they can can him.

    To remove the ruler is, of course, a very serious, very risky thing. It looks bad and it would create worry – among the stock market. Capital might start to flee the country and the wolves, smelling blood, might start to paw at the door.

    Yet, the option is there. If a ruler decides to go off on some criminal, crazy project – the plug can be pulled.

    Now, a ruler cannot remove board members; but he does have one card to play:

    Rile up the shareholders to remove the board-members.

    If the directors are only selected and removed and confirmed at fixed points, then the ruler cannot bring about their removal right away – assuming he was persuasive in the first place. So, there is a time-delay between one feedback loop feeding into a stock.

    the up-shot is that if the the board oversteps itself, then its day will soon come and they too will be removed.

    When we were children, we developed a game called Le Circle Circle. Team A can catch Team B and Team B can catch Team C but B cannot catch A and C cannot catch B. At times, B could back away from catching C in order to chase away A and at times A would lead C to B.

    The circle, or circuit sees each node no more controlling than controlled.

    Each node is very, very powerful but its power is focused like a laser on only one or two things – which essentially revolves around either hiring or firing people.

    As Silvo Dante said in the Sopranos “you got two choices here: make nice or make disappear.”


  11. Good reading for Napoleon is:

    Carlyle’s treatment from On Heroes.

    The Diaries of Prince Metternich.

    The Campaigns of Napoleon. David Chandler.

    Napoleon the Great. Andrew Roberts.

    For a philosophical look at the Napoleon, and for Nietzsche fascination in the man see Don Domboski Nietzsche on Napoleon.

    We excerpt Carlyle, Metternich an Nietzsche here:

  12. Michael Rothblatt July 24, 2017 at 7:47 am

    This is insane. How can a man who single-handedly ended the Old Order in Europe (and consequently via domino-effect in the World) and set the stage for the People’s Spring and the Great War be considered a reactionary of any sort, let alone par excellence? He ended not just various ancient kingdoms, but millenum-old HRE and maritime republics (if anything represented the Old Order in Europe it was definitely HRE). That, and well, Buonaparte led far more Frenchmen to their deaths than Robespierre could have ever imagined murdering. Who cares about filthy chivarly? Yay total war!

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