Napoleon I Bonaparte, L’An XI-A (1802)

KM 652; Friedberg 479, PCGS graded MS-62

On November 10, 1799, a bloodless coup d’état known as the Coup of 18 Brumiere (the date according to the French revolutionary calendar) was orchestrated by the French general Napoleon Bonaparte together with his younger brother Lucien, who was serving as president of the Council of Five Hundred in the French Legislative Assembly. Together they compelled the resignation of the Directors and the abolition of the Constitution of Year III. A new constitution, the Constitution of Year VIII, adopted on December 4, 1799, suspiciously lacked a declaration of rights and made provision for a republican government led by three consuls with 10-year terms. However, in practice power was concentrated in the hands of Napoleon who served as First Consul. The Second and Third Consuls became increasingly irrelevant after the adoption of the Constitution of Year X (1802) made Napoleon First Consul for life. Although the present 40-francs gold piece depicts Napoleon unpretentious and bareheaded in the image of an ancient Roman Republican, the fact that he alone of the consuls is named belies the fact that he was swiftly becoming a monarch.

Paris. Head of Napoleon I left. Reverse: Denomination within wreath.

Ex Elsen (6 December 2014), 799