The origins of the French local government structure are found by many observers in the reforms initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte between 1799 and 1815. So entrenched are these creations that some parts of their structure, such as the commune, have remained almost unchanged since their foundation despite the major upheavals in the nature of French government that have occurred since the beginning of the nineteenth century. This is, perhaps, not suprising. A culture of centralisation pre-dates the Revolution and owes its origin to the absolute power exercised by the monarchy. Napoleon did not devise a brand new structure but a system that streamlined existing practices, reconciling central control with local independence which had evolved during centuries of monarchy.