1800 Creation of the Banque de France
The Banque de France was created on 18 January 1800 by Napoléon Bonaparte, who was then First Consul, to foster renewed economic growth in the wake of the deep recession of the Revolutionary period. The new Bank's task was to issue bank notes payable to the bearer on sight in exchange for discounted commercial bills.
At the time, both Sweden and England already had an issuing bank. The bank created in France, however, had a more limited role. The "Original Statutes" of 13 February 1800 restricted its scope of action to the city of Paris and did not free it from competition from similar establishments already in existence.
The men who drew up the Bank's statutes had learned the hard lessons of the fiasco of the bank founded by John Law under the ancien régime and the collapse of the Revolutionary Government's assignats. They felt that the public's mistrust of paper money could only be overcome if the distribution of such money were entrusted to an institution that remained independent from the Government. The Banque de France was therefore set up as a joint stock company with a share capital of 30 million francs, part of which was subscribed by Napoléon Bonaparte and several members of his entourage. The Annual General Meetings were open to the two hundred largest shareholders. They appointed the fifteen Regents who sat on the General Council administering the Bank and the three Censors who supervised the Bank's management. The General Council in turn elected a Central Committee made up of three members, one of whom served as Chairman of the Central Committee, the General Council and the General Meetings.
The Banque de France opened for business on 20 February 1800, even though all of its capital had not yet been paid up. On 14 April 1803, the new Bank received its first official charter granting it the exclusive right to issue paper money in Paris for fifteen years.
The Banque de France experienced a number of difficulties in its first years, including a crisis in the government's finances and a fall in its gold reserves that restricted the redemption of bank notes. As a result, Napoléon decided to implement reforms giving the government again more say in the management of the Bank. On 22 April 1806, a new law replaced the Central Committee with a Governor and two Deputy Governors. All three were appointed by the Emperor. Two years later, an imperial Decree dated 16 January 1808 set out the "Basic Statutes", which were to govern the Bank's operations until 1936. The Decree also provided for "discount offices " to be opened in other French towns where warranted by the growth of trade. Another Decree on 6 March 1808 authorized the Bank to purchase the former mansion of the Count of Toulouse in the rue de la Vrillière in Paris for its headquarters.