On October 5, 1795, Napoléon was in Paris when a large, angry Parisian mob of royalists tried to attack the ruling National Convention at the Tuileries Palace. Vicomte Paul de Barras, who had been at Toulon and was impressed by Napoléon’s military ability, called upon Napoléon to defend the palace. Napoléon brought his canons to bear upon the mob, wounding and killing hundreds with his grapeshot, quickly clearing the streets. Napoléon was hailed as a hero by Barras [one of the 5 directors of the government called the Directory] and was promoted to major.
The Directory, which was created out of the Constitution of 1795, was made up of a five man executive directory that ruled France in conjunction with a two-house legislature. The voters, under this constitution, were citizens that paid a certain amount of taxes.
On October 15, 1795 Napoléon meet Josephine de Beauharnais, a leader of fashionable French society, who’s husband, Vicomte Alexandre de Beauharnais, had been guillotined during the Reign of Terror. Josephine was a beautiful, but extravagant woman in both habit and taste. She was of French decent, from Martinique, had two children and was six years older than Napoléon.
From 1792 to 1795, France had been at war with most of Europe. Napoléon drew up a plan for an Italian campaign. On October 26, 1795, with the help of Barras, Napoléon was named Commander in Chief of the Army of Italy.
Napoléon wed Josephine on March 9, 1796 and on March 11 he left for his new position at the Italian-French border where the Directory had ordered him to tie up Austrian forces with his meager, ill fed, poorly trained army of 38,000 men. Within a short time he managed to transform the army into a first-class fighting force.