The Role of Propaganda in Destabilizing the Directory and Securing Napoleon's Power

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Lavelle, James
Napoleon Bonaparte , Directory , Propaganda , French Revolution
Since the end of the French Revolution historians have constantly debated the reasons why the Coup de Brumaire and Napoleon's rise to power was so successful. Napoleon's control and manipulation of propaganda allowed him to develop a cult of personality, that in its most organic form, dictated the mindset and opinion of the people of France during his Italian and Egyptian campaigns. Napoleon's control of media outlets, the creation of his own glorified dispatches, and the formation of six newspapers catering to his every will helped build up the media empire that would aid him in his rise to power. This article details the ineffective use of propaganda by the Directory, the government that ruled France before the Coup de Brumaire, but also shines light on the accomplishments of the governing body during its time in power. In this paper the Directory and Napoleon are analyzed through various historical lens by authors from both the Marxist and Revisionist side of the historiography surrounding the French Revolution. I conclude that it was Napoleon's effective use of his skills as a propagandist, along with the Directory's ineffective use of propaganda, that would eventually allow him to seize power in 1799.