The Rise and Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte, the second of eleven children, was born in August of 1769 on a French island named Corsica. Being born into a gentry family, this made Bonaparte’s success rate very high. Growing up Bonaparte could not speak fluent French. As he entered school at the age of ten, it was a struggle for him because other students referred to Bonaparte as an “outsider” due to his background. His French had gotten better as he continued in school and he also received great education at the College of Brienne.
Bonaparte later became a French military leader and a political leader. France was in a war before Bonaparte became involved. This war was a war between each where no one could come to an agreement. May of 1798 Napoleon had an army of 35,000 me to invade Egypt. Bonaparte only took a few losses during this time. In the end, all of lower Egypt was in Napoleon’s full control. In 1800 Napoleon Bonaparte was looked at as a tremendous strategist and was made the first consul of France.
This gave Bonaparte total power.
What led to this was the fact that Napoleon collaborated with coup d’etat (sudden deposition of a government) overthrowing the Directory and establishing the Consulate. Over the years Napoleon Bonaparte had participated in a lot of wars where he lost very little of them. There were reforms that fell under Bonaparte’s rule like the Legion of Honor. This reform recognized military and civilians alike for their bravery and/or honorable service. Another reform was the equality of all in the eyes of the law. Freedom of religion was another one as well. The most important reform though was the Napoleonic Code.
This code was designed specifically to reform the French legal system according to the principles and forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs should go to the most qualified. There were many more reforms that brought about the calls for equality, liberty and fraternity. Majority of Bonaparte’s victories in the wars he participated in came from outsmarting his opponents he encountered. His very first victory began with the Italian campaign in which he defeated Austrian armies attempting to restore the Bourbon monarchy.
Later on during his time in the military, Bonaparte goes to Egypt where he defeats Mamluks in the Battle of the Pyramids. He also invades the Levant and is successful against the Ottoman Turks. His most important victory comes from the war with the Austrian and Russian forces where Austria had surrendered and he defeated Prussia at Jena. He later defeated the Russians at Borodino where he took over Moscow. Of course these were Bonaparte’s important victories but Napoleon had plenty more victories. Napoleon Bonaparte’s downfall was soon to come.
All his enemies started to decipher his strategies causing his forces to become weaker. He had became real cocky by not taking offers and was being self centered. Napoleon’s diplomacy did not go well and he had to end up facing four powers: Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden. This was a three day war. Napoleon found himself outnumbered. This war turned out to be a very tragic loss. He suffered 38,000 casualties and lost 30,000 of his men as prisoners. In the year 1812 in total his losses were 400,000. In this event Bonaparte decided to leave and return back to France.
In April of 1813, Bonaparte signed his abdication. He was later exiled to Elba where he continued his life as ruler to preserve his title of an emperor. While he became tired of being Elba’s ruler he was able to get France back on his side. In June of 1813, he sent troops in Belgium. With British, Dutch, Belgian and Prussian forces having 234,000 men, Bonaparte had only 128,000 men causing him to lose the war. Napoleon Bonaparte was captured as a prisoner and was sent to a more remote island where he had written memoirs. In 1821 Bonaparte finally died in St. Helena.
Napoleon Bonaparte DBQ
The ideals of the French Revolution were “Equality, Liberty, and Fraternity,” but the methods that were used to fulfill these goals were complicated. During the Reign of Terror, about 40,000 people were guillotined because of Maximilien Robespierre. He thought that “Liberty could not be secured unless criminals lose their heads”. Napoleon Bonaparte, a Revolutionary hero, seized control of the government in France in 1799, he was looking to bring peace to the French people by ending the Revolution. For this to be done, he had to be in complete control like a monarch or a dictator.
However, the French people still wanted to have some of the privileges they had during the Revolution. Napoleon Bonaparte stabilized and united French society, yet supported the ideals of French Revolution.
Peace came to France with Napoleon’s strong rule. After making himself a consul for life, he re-established the French monarchy, naming himself Emperor Napoleon I in 1804. He centralized French government by appointing new officials, made tax collections more efficient, and created a National Bank.
He believed that he was chosen by God to be in power and made others believe it through the Napoleon Catechism. It showed the French people that Napoleon was blessed to get the throne. “·he whom God had raised up under difficult circumstances to re-establish the public worship of the holy religion of our fathers and to be the protector of it” (Document 7).
Napoleon brought civil rights back to France through codes and treaties that talk about revolutionary ideals. The Napoleonic Code is an example. It recognized the equality of all citizens before the law, protected property rights, safeguarded employers by outlawing trade unions and strikes, and supported religion. Napoleon also signed the Concordat of 1801 with the Pope to reverse the dechristianization attempts made during the “Republic of Virtue.” Napoleon was not a religious man, he realized that most people needed to practice their faith. This made the Catholic Church an ally and they retained the power to nominate bishops, in return, the Pope agreed to recognize the accomplishments of the Revolution and to not question the ownership of the land that had been distributed back then.
Napoleon wanted to be the emperor of all of Europe. This could be foreseen in Jacques Louis David’s painting of Napoleon’s Crossing the Alps (Document 4), where he was portrayed with power, strength and an iron fist. He was a short man, but had an extremely large ego. He controlled a strong army and conquered much of Europe. His empire was made up of the Italian and German states, Spain, Western Russia (for a short amount of time), and Switzerland. With all his power, he still did not mistreat the citizens of the newly conquered territories. He abolished feudal rights and the internal trade barriers in Spain with his Imperial Decree at Madrid in 1808. Napoleon’s concern for the inhabitants of Westphalia was expressed in his letter to Jerome Napoleon in 1807: “I want your subjects to enjoy a higher degree of liberty, equality, and prosperity hitherto unknown to the German people” (Document 7).
Napoleon’s monarch rules stabilized and unified French society, as well as supported some of the ideals of the French Revolution but, Napoleon considered himself friendless and Count Mole perceived the thought behind Napoleon’s actions as “nothing but his own gratification, of magnifying himself and his power without limit and without rest” (Document 2). The middle class, who had fought a bloody revolution to end absolute rulers, tolerate Napoleon’s ways. With Napoleon in charge their ideals and rights were safe, they would accepted more his policies and given up some of their basic civil rights.
Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_I_of_France(October 2008)
Napoleon Bonaparte Heir or Betrayer
Napoleon Bonaparte has actually been one of the most significant recognized leaders and extremely debated characters. Known for his management skills, but disputed for the many various interpretations of his actions. Many historians have believed that Napoleon is either a Beneficiary or a Betrayer. It was through his actions on how you can see how Napoleon is thought about a betrayer to the French transformation. This is revealed through different actions and the way he dealt with specific situations. The very first sign that he was a betrayer versus the Reign of terror was that he was established as an absolute totalitarian.
Likewise, Napoleons betrayal is depicted with the unneeded wars that bankrupted France due to the idea of broadening his universal brotherhood. Finally, Napoleons actions were considered to be completely inconsistent to the Reign of terror motto of Liberty Equality Fraternity. As you can translucent these three arguments, that Napoleon proves that he actually is a betrayer to the Reign of terror.
The basis of the Reign of terror was that the people desired to get rid of the outright monarchy that had no interest in serving the 3rd estate. Napoleon on the other hand, did the reverse of what the Reign of terror wanted.
He kept power, and ended up being an outright totalitarian that made all the choices in his own interest. With all this power, Napoleon revealed that he was a betrayer, because he did refrain from doing anything for the good of the individuals, rather he did it for his own interests. One example, is that instead of allowing people to vote, Napoleon established representative institutions that just gave the impression of democracy since actually they had no power. Also, in the start of his dictatorship, he established the “Coup D’Etat” which made himself the very first consul which in the future enabled him to crown himself Emperor.
This can be considered a betrayal because he was crowning himself “king” in a sense. Clearly, these arguments show how Napoleon, although a great leader, was too focused on the power that he obtained from becoming Emperor and it clouded his decisions causing him to become a betrayer to the French revolution. Another big part of why people consider Napoleon as a betrayer to the French revolution, was his relentless quest for personal glory and his desire to conquer more than he could. Napoleons commitment to make everybody into a brotherhood completely went against what the French Revolution stood for.
This is shown in his many unnecessary wars that took place. He started recruiting mass armies for the sole purpose of conquering other lands. Napoleons focus on universal conquest was shown by the year 1812, when almost every country besides Russia, Great Britain, and the Ottoman Empire, were under his control. Another aspect that shows how Napoleon betrayed the French revolution was when he implemented the Continental System, in which he resorted to economic warfare by forbidding his subjects and allies to trade with the English. Thus, further more affecting the already poor economy and worsening ties with England.
These actions portray Napoleon as somebody who is entirely set on European domination and showing how his military focus lead his straying away from the idealistic French revolution. The French revolutions motto was Liberty Equality and Fraternity. The French expected Napoleon to honour these sayings and bring back peace, order and to consolidate the political and social conquests of the Revolution. But, Napoleon used other means of establishing a revolution. Unlike the motto, Napoleon used certain things such as censorship, the power of terror, and even execution to establish control.
Napoleon to keep control of public opinion, he censored almost everything, and filtered what the people could hear. Also, Napoleon used the aspect of fear to keep people under his control, and he used force to subsidize anybody going against his will, thus showing how he did not follow the motto of the French Revolution. Also when he was in power, he rolled back many of the reforms of the Revolution, including the rights of women and basic protections for civil liberties. He anointed himself emperor and established his family members as hereditary monarchs of sovereign European nations.
In this sense, he completely eviscerated the liberal reforms of the revolution. This depicts how Napoleon truly went against the motto of the French Revolution and showed how he truly was not an Heir, rather a betrayer. Napoleon to this very day is still argued as whether he is an heir or a betrayer. But in many cases, he is seen to be a Betrayer to the French revolution. This is shown through different ways, such as his absolute dictatorship and how he uses his total control of power to make decisions for his own interest. This shows how Napoleon became what the French revolution sought out to get rid of with the start of the revolution.
Also, with his many attempts at European domination, you can see that Napoleon put too much focus onto wars and campaigns, instead of trying to create equality for everyone. Lastly, the revolution was about liberty and rights, as said in the French revolutions motto. But Napoleon went against that, and denied the peoples liberty, and their rights with things such as censorship and execution. Overall, you clearly see how Napoleon, in many situations, goes against what the French revolution stands for and shows how he really is a betrayer of the revolution.
Napoleon Bonaparte – Hero or Villain?
Some men are born heroes while others earn the title after their death. Either way, a hero’s life and his achievements are cemented in the history of the world and become timeless. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) is known today as one of the most intelligent and skilled leaders to have ever lived. He is also known as a controversial figure, his reputation however is disputable as many criticize him for being brutal, selfish and delusional. A deeper study of his life and motives dictating it explains whether this accusation of his villainy is true or false.
His first actual military feat was in the Siege of Toulon, when he was the captain of the artillery, driving away the British naval and land forces. It was Napoleon’s ingenious plan to place the republican guns strategically atop a hill, in a manner that they could protect the city’s harbor and they would push the British ships out of the city.
Napoleon at the ripe age of 24 was known henceforth as Brigadier General and was consequently given the artillery arm of France’s Army of Italy to lead. These events proved his ambitious and speedy progress on the military front and set a parable for time to come.
(Asprey, 2000). In October 1975, he was given command of the forces at the Tuileries Palace where Napoleon had recently seen the massacre of the King’s Swiss Guard. He employed large cannons and used them to repel his enemy. The idea worked like magic, the streets were cleared in what is commonly known ‘a whiff of grapeshot’ as phrased by Thomas Carlyle in The French Revolution: A History. Napoleon had once again used his experience and devised an intelligent solution to hit the nail on the head. (Louis, 1998, p. 40)
Bonaparte was to take command of the Army of Italy so he devised a plan that was entirely unpredictable. The man’s greatness and vision is reflected in how he could be so delicately tactful and roughly aggressive at the same time. First he overtook the Austrian forces at the Battle of Lodi. Then he went on towards the Papal States. The Directory advised him to conduct a march on Rome but as a man of reason would, Napoleon felt that would weaken the state and refused. In March 1797, Napoleon led the army into Austria which being defeated already decided to negotiate for peace in the Treaty of Leoben.
The clauses of this Treaty were such that France got hold of most of northern Italy and the Low Countries. Seizing the opportunity to claim as much of the land as he could, he seemingly awarded Venice to Austria after which he marched into it, ending its 1,100 years of independence with a triumphant invasion. When viewed objectively and for its sheer innovation and creativity, Napoleon’s strategy leaves most people astounded and is certainly admirable. Not only does it take a thorough understanding of conventional military leadership, it also requires a fresh and bright mind to achieve this.
Napoleon thus dedicatedly created for himself a reputation, cooking up military plots that his opponent could not often predict or prevent. (Asprey, 2000) Napoleon was one of a kind when it came to military tactics such as concealment, espionage, envelopment and surveillance. His talent was obvious with the numerous battles he fought and won in a very short span of time. That and the rising popularity inspired him to prepare for invading England which had vast trading interests in India at that time (Louis, 1998).
He had a developing interest in the Middle East, and had the foresight to realize that joining hands with a figure like Tipu Sultan would be Britain’s Achilles Heel. Napoleon told the Directory ‘as soon as he had conquered Egypt, he will establish relations with the Indian princes and, together with them, attack the English in their possessions. ’ (Asprey, 2000, p. 26) Bonaparte sketched out the Constitution of the Year VIII on becoming First Consul and was soon known as the most powerful person in the country. In 1804, he formalized this status by crowning himself Emperor. Following this in 1805 he was crowned King of Italy too.
Even at this exhilarating point in his life, Bonaparte with his quick thinking decided to promote his top generals to ‘Marshals of the Empire’, ensuring their loyalty to him for times to come. He did not take his success for granted. (Louis, 1998, p. 11). One of the most frequently discussed events of that time was the Battle at Austerlitz where, on the first anniversary of his coronation, Napoleon defeated Austria and Russia together. Following this, Austria signed the Peace of Pressburg after which Napoleon was named the Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine (Moore, 1999).
Austria had to also give up its land and Napoleon termed Austerlitz as one of his finest battles (Louis, 1998). Critics argue that at such a prime time in his life, Napoleon lost touch with reality and as Frank McLynn expressed ‘what used to be French foreign policy’ became a ‘personal Napoleonic one’. ’ On the contrary, it seems few remember that the man had noble intentions. Vincent Cronin stated Napoleon was not overly ambitious for himself, that “he embodied the ambitions of thirty million Frenchmen”. (Moore, 1999, p. 2).
One such example of Napoleon’s exceptional foresight and vast vision is that even after a failure to capture Egypt; he pursued his desire to secure a place in the Middle East. His insight that an alliance in that region would give the French the power to pressurize Russia from the South was brilliant. He worked hard to convince the Ottomans to join hands with him against Russia. He gave them incentives like they would regain lost territories and in 1806 Selim III called France a ‘sincere and natural ally’ ready to form an alliance.
Following this feat, the Persian Empire of Fateh Ali Shah also formed the Franco-Persian Alliance in 1807 (Asprey, 2000, p. 23). Personal skill – the exemplary hero Napoleon’s biggest and most undeniable influence has been in warfare – his methods are now referred to as ‘Napoleonic warfare’. The influential military theorist Carl von Clausewitz describes him as a genius in the operational art of war. Wellington, when asked who was the greatest general of the day, answered: “In this age, in past ages, in any age, Napoleon. ” (Moore, 1999, p. 1).
Napoleon was always head first into the battle scene. This not only motivated his soldiers and collegues, it also helped set high standards of dedication and passion on the field. In battles like Montenotte, Mondovi, Arcola and Rivoli, Napolean set great examples often getting wounded himself. He also kept soldiers going by promising those rewards and incentives. (Louis, 1998). ‘Napoleon suffered various military setbacks however: at Leipzig in 1813, in Russia in 1812, and arguably at Aspern-Essling in 1809. He also had to abandon his forces in Egypt’.
Despite the blows he suffered and felt responsible for subjecting his country to, Napoleon was always quick to get back on his feet. His resilient spirit as a fighter lives as an example for all those who search for the determination to achieve high goals. (Asprey, 2000, p. 38). Napoleon’s Strong Foundation Initially, Napoleon had a good opportunity to study and it was because of his dignified and prosperous family background and the strong ties among them. It laid the foundation, and gave him a chance to learn French at a religious school in Autun and later got him to enroll into a military academy at Brienne-le-Chateau.
An examiner his exceptional aptitude in mathematics, history and geography, all of which helped him excel in the battlefield. The potentials map of the world, a desire to change history and the mathematical grid with which to arrange troops for an invasion – the seeds were sown for a new vision of the French Empire (Louis, 1998). Napoleon and other Heroic Achievements Not only was he a keen military man, his humane and artistic side too was alive and kicking. Bonaparte published two newspapers, which were apparently for troops but most of France was reading them under that cover.
He also started Le Journal de Bonaparte et des hommes vertueux, a newspaper to be published in Paris, increasing his influence on the political front in the country. 1798, Bonaparte was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences, his Egyptian group discovered the Rosetta Stone and their work was published in the Description de l’Egypte (Asprey, 2000). Bonaparte was the one to initiate centralized administration, higher education, tax codes, road and sewer systems and the country’s central bank (Louis, 1998).
He bargained for the Concordat of 1801 with the Catholic Church, which inviting the Catholic population towards himself as he regulated public worship. In 1802, he instituted what is today the highest tribute in France in both military and civilian achievements, the Legion d’Honneur. These won him public support and high regard, and served as a bible for time to come. Multi talented and as much a man of reason as he was of force, Napoleon’s also created the famous Napoleonic code—was an enormous stepping stone in the nature of the civil law and legal systems promoting lucid and accessible laws.
In his own words “My true glory is not to have won 40 battles… Waterloo will erase the memory of so many victories. … But… what will live forever is my Civil Code. ” (Louis, 1998, p. 51). Correctly so, the Civil Code has immense significance, used in over a quarter of the world’s jurisdictions including Europe, the Americas and Africa. It encouraged civilians to own property without fear and helped fight the plague of feudalism. Among his other achievements, Napoleon emancipated Jews from laws which restricted them to ghettos, and helped them win their rights to proper worship places, and work placed.
In exile, in the first few months on Elba he created a small navy and army, developed the iron mines, and reformed and renovated the agricultural systems according to modern ways. He was not only known for ruling loud and mighty but had a much more humane and thoughtful side to him, his vision extended much beyond the war field (Louis, 1998). The Decline The Russians were defeated in a series of battles and Napoleon resumed his advance. But the harsh climatic conditions made the advance a fierce challenge.
The Battle of Borodino resulted in approximately 44,000 Russian and 35,000 French, dead, wounded or captured, and may have been the bloodiest day of battle in history up to that point in time. In Napoleon’s own words was: “The most terrible of all my battles was the one before Moscow. The French showed themselves to be worthy of victory, but the Russians showed themselves worthy of being invincible. ” The French suffered greatly in the course of a ruinous retreat, begun as over 400,000 frontline troops, but in the end fewer than 40,000. (Asprey, 2000, p. 28).
Napoleon won a series of battles in the Six Days Campaign, but could not sustain control in Paris which was captured by the Coalition in 1814. The Allies eventually forced Napoleon to abdicate. He escaped but was intercepted soon. When confronted by a regiment, Napoleon approached them and shouted, “Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish. ” The soldiers, with hidden awe and admiration for him replied with, “Vive L’Empereur! ” and marched with Napoleon to Paris; another example of the respect Napoleon received from those who knew his strengths and forgave his weaknesses.
(Asprey, 2000, p. 64). Conclusion Many ideas demean the man’s reputation today. There is a term called the Napoleon Complex which indicates aggressive behavior of a person who lacks height. (Moore, 1999). He reinstated slavery in French colonies, encouraged looting and often sought to solve problems with brute force rather than by deliberation. His attack on Jaffa was brutal: innocent men, women and children lost their lives sometimes to save bullets, supplies and at other times because they were suffering from the bubonic plague and were a burden.
In 1920 he re-established slavery in France’s colonial possessions. (Asprey, 2000). Critics feel that the brutalities committed during his reign are unforgivable and were entirely unavoidable. However there are those like Vincent Cronin who felt that Napoleon was not ‘responsible for the wars which bear his name, when in fact France was the victim of a series of coalitions which aimed to destroy the ideals of the Revolution’. His was the rule that ended lawlessness in France after the revolution (Louis, 1998). A hero lives as an example to people to believe in good and strive to achieve it.
A hero dies to live on in their minds as a proof of what the human spirit is capable of if the heart is set on it. Today International Napoleonic Congresses are held in which scholars and politicians meet to discuss matters of world wide significance. An icon of ‘military genius and political power’, Napoleon is used to name products, places and characters, all of which speak of his outstanding skills and innumerable successes (Moore, 1999). American journalist Chuck Palahniuk says ‘We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever; the goal is to create something that will’.
Napoleon has emerged a hero, through what he created – an undying inspiration for great leadership, superb administration, unending determination, ruthless loyalty and masterful skills leading to eternal triumph (Louis, 1998, p. 66). He is remembered today in all historical publications as a courageous and able soldier, a man whose tact, craft and vision extended much beyond others. His name has come to symbolize a soldier’s epitome, a leader’s aspiration. His flaws may be many and will remain attached to his exalted but very human condition. As Alexander Pope puts it, ‘To err is human, to forgive is Divine.
’ It is not everyday one finds a story so moving and as passionate as one of Napoleon Bonaparte. A man fuelled with a ferocious desire to be victorious only to see a victorious France. 1799. Napoleon was laid to rest in May 1821 after fighting with persistent ill health. His last words were ‘France, army, head of the army, Josephine’ which he spoke in French (Louis, 1998, p115). There was no doubt that in his dying moments as his life flashed before him, he expressed what was dearest to him, and in it was his first and deepest love – France. Those who judge him for being self absorbed would think again.
He was initially buried in St. Helena but later shifted to Seine as he had requested in his will. He was given a state funeral, respects to a man who was a hero of his time, albeit with inevitable human flaws. (Asprey, 2000). References Books B. Asprey, Robert. (2000). The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. First Edition. New York: Basic Books. Fauvelet de Bourrienne Louis, Antoine. (1998). Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte. Constables Miscellant – Original and Selected Publishing. Websites Richard Moore. (1999). Napolean Guide. May 26, 2010, from www. napoleonguide. com.
Napoleon Exiled to Elba
- 1812 Napoleon launches an invasion against the Russians
- 1814, Napoleon forces surrendered and he offered to step down in favor of his son
- His offer was rejected and he signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau, he agreed to abdicate in exchange for which he was given the tiny Kingdom of Ebla, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea
- May 3, 1814 Napoleon arrives on the island of Elba He brought ambitious plans to reform government and a personal escorts of 1000 men, and a household of staff
- An island of 12,000 inhabitants in the Mediterranean, 20 km off the Tuscan coast
- Napoleon attempted suicide with a pill he had carried since a near-capture by Russians on the retreat from Moscow however, its potency had weakened with age, and he survived to be exiled while his wife and son took refuge in Austria
- Evening of February 26 , 1815 Napoleon takes advantage of temporary absence of the English custodian, Colonel Campbell
- Under the cover of night, he silently slipped away with a from the island and returned to the mainland
- He traveled through areas where he knew he had support and about 500,000 volunteers joined him
- Escapes with a small army and headed to Paris, proclaimed the renewal of his empire
- The French may have found Louis XVIII reasonable, however, they feared the royalists and clergy who were attacking the reforms that had come into effect since 1789
- Also the magic of Napoleon’s name and the glory of his rule been forgotten Battle of Waterloo Return of Napoleon united the powers at Vienna, and agreed to raise and army under the Duke of Wellington
- June 8, 1815 near the town of Waterloo, Belgium the 100 days campaign starts
- June 8, 1815 near the town of Waterloo, Belgium 100 days campaign starts
- June 18, 1815 Duke of Wellington occupied the ridge of Mont St. Jean (south of Waterloo) and Napoleon was at La Belle Alliance across the valley
- Duke of Wellington had inexperienced infantry, cavalry and had 156 cannon and standard gun for infantry
- Napoleon built his army on short notice with veterans, peasants and conscripts
- The French army under fire from the garrisons at LA Haye Sainte and despite heavy casualties at 11:30am the French launched diversionary attack on Hougoumont
- An allied line that hid behind the ridge
Napoleon Bonaparte: a True Tyrant
Ideals of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution were both rooted from the desire to abolish absolute authority, ensure the natural rights of men, and develop a stable government. Napoleon Bonaparte, a prominent military general and French Emperor, strived for these political ideologies, but was corrupt in his way of approaching them. He was strictly egotistical and selfish; these characteristics served only as a catalyst to his abolition. Mohandas Gandhi, a pacifistic revolutionary that led India’s emancipation, stated that “power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment”.
Napoleon, however, seized control over France by ruling oppressively and ruthlessly; citizens followed him only in fear of his boundless power. Although Napoleon did help establish political and social equality in France, his uncontrollable desire for personal supremacy suppressed the ideals of the revolution and violated the basic principles of the enlightenment.
Napoleon’s personal greed for power drove him to infringe the basic principles of the revolution on the rights to hereditary and absolute rule.
Robespierre, an enlightened leader of the Jacobins, stated that the purpose of the French Revolution was to abolish absolute monarchy and institute a “democratic or republican government” that could help increase political equality within a nation (Robespierre). However, Napoleon rejected any republican form of government; he was solely concerned with maintaining a “hereditary power, which… may endure for generations, even for centuries” (Selected). Ironically though, in hopes to gain popularity among members of the 3rd estate, he abolished the power of the nobility and appointed governors that were loyal to the central government.
Not only did he crown himself emperor of France, but also, “he established an imperial court and the members of his family were made royalty, while other titles and honors were given to his supporters” (Sarti). He was “not content merely to create a dynasty for France”, but was constantly looking for ways to improve his family’s reputation (Axelrod). Napoleon’s advice in a letter to his brother, Jérôme Napoléon, revealed his obsessive concern over his own reputation and greed for the “strength of [his] monarchy”. This unenlightened behavior reflecting unequal treatment of the people strictly goes against the revolution’s purpose, and thus, proves that Napoleon was an extremely authoritarian and ruthless emperor.
Consumed by his insecurity and unbounded ego, Napoleon stripped away the natural rights of his citizens to prevent France from entering utter chaos. In The Second Treatise on Government, John Locke, a prominent Enlightenment philosopher, emphasized on the importance of preserving the “lives, liberties, and estates of the people” when governing a nation. Napoleon, on the other hand, was a strong anti-advocate of the freedom of speech and press; he believed that in order to maintain power over his people, it was necessary to “never allow the newspapers to say anything contrary to [his] interests” (Leader). In effort to maintain peace within the nation, he also “banished discussion and proscribed the freedom of press”, and stole his citizens’ rights to the freedom of expression (Selected).
Although this prevention helped preserve serenity within France, it caused them to live in oblivion of the rest of Europe. He most proudly stood against the ideas conveyed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens on the people’s right to “unrestrained communication of thoughts and opinions”, because he was strictly concerned with his reputation among his citizens. In order to gain the affection of his people, he also constructed the French Civil Code in 1804, which promised “equality under the law”.
However, this project created to promote equality within the nation, developed “conditions that were very unfavorable to wives”; it clearly was not “designed for… the good of the people” (French Civil Code) (Locke). By restricting the people’s access to their natural rights of mankind and constructing laws for certain groups, Napoleon hoped he could gain admiration from his followers and earn the recognition of his neighbors. This, however, only proved that he was a dictator who oppressed the most fundamental and enlightened ideals of the revolution.
Napoleon was not only egotistical and selfish, but he was also a reckless military dictator who maintained stability using violence and unnecessary invasions. Although he strived for social equality and a utopian society, in reality, very few beneficial changes were made during the time of his rule. In fact, during his invasion of Russia, over 300,000 French soldiers were killed: it weakened the entire French army. A passage summarizing the French-Russian war stated: “Although [Napoleon] managed to preserve himself and the core of his Grand Army, much of his forces were destroyed or had deserted him … fewer than 10,000 men fit for combat remained in [the] main force” (Phillips).
War general, Philippe de Ségur, who accompanied Napoleon on many of his military campaigns, described him as an insensitive, callous dictator who valued his own life far more than of his soldiers: “He rapidly descended the northern staircase… and gave orders for a guide to conduct him out the city … to the imperial castle of Petrowsky” (Selected). Benjamin Constant, an active participant of French politics, also thought of Napoleon as a barbaric conqueror who robbed “us of the heritage of all the enlightened generations” and took advantage of the French army for his own benefit (Selected). Napoleon’s foreign policies, such as the Continental System that boycotted all British goods, and his unsophisticated military invasions on Russia further reflected qualities of a self-absorbed dictator; he was selfish, uncaring, and insensitive to the physical well being of his citizens.
Although Napoleon helped improve the lives of many, his excessive lust for power and egotistical character deprived him of the admiration from his citizens. By restoring hereditary rule within the nation, he directly violated the main purpose of the revolution; equality was certainly not established. He went against the ideals of the Enlightenment protecting the natural rights of every individual by stripping away his citizens’ right to life and liberty. Napoleon was, in fact, a dictator who ruled unconstitutionally and was constantly preoccupied with the thought of personal success; his selfish personality and overbearing ego served as a strong foundation to his authoritarian rule over France.
Napoleon Bonaparte Rise to Power
In 1784 to 1785 Napoleon attended the Ecole Militaire in Paris. That was the place where he received his military training. He studied to be an artillery man and an officer. He finished his training and joined the French army when he was 16 years old! Soon after that his father died and he was left with the responsibility of taking care of the huge Bonaparte family. Napoleon was stationed in Paris in 1792. After the French monarchy was overthrown on August 10, 1792, Napoleon decided to make his move up in the ranks.
After this, Napoleon started becoming a recognized officer.
In 1792 Napoleon was prompted to the rank of captain. In 1793 he was chosen to direct the artillery against the siege in Toulon. He seized ground where he could get his guns in range of the British ships. Soon after that Toulon fell and Napoleon was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. In 1795 he saved the revolutionary government by dispersing a group of rioting citizens by using his famous “Whiff of grapeshot” – He loaded a bunch on pellets into a cannon and fired it at the crowd.
Napoleon was made commander of the French army in Italy. He defeated four Austrian generals in succession, and each army he fought got bigger and bigger. This forced Austria and its allies to make peace with France. But after this Napoleon was relieved of his command. He was poor, he was suspected of treason, he had no friends. No one would have suspected what Napoleon would do next. In 1795 Napoleon was appointed to put down a revolt in Paris. He calmly took complete control of the situation. He just had his men shoot all the rebels in the streets. The French government was saved, but they decided to form a new government called the Directory.
Under the new government Napoleon was made commander of the French army in Italy. During this campaign the French realized how smart Napoleon was. He developed a tactic that worked very efficiently. He would cut the enemy’s army in to two parts, then throw all his force on one side before the other side could rejoin them. This method was extremely effective against the Sardinian troops, because he defeated them five times in 11 days!! This made the King of Sardinia to try to make peace. Napoleon could not be stopped. He was a fast thinker who moved his troops extremely fast. Soon, instead of taking the defensive position Napoleon started taking the offensive position and thus, he started his conquest of Europe.
He started his attack on Austria. It was his first big campaign. During one attack he showed his bravery by forcing his way across a burning bridge. After that his troops gave him the name Petit Caporal” or in English “Little Corporal” the name stuck to him. He then attacked the Austrians in Mantua. Austria sent troops there four times, and every time Napoleon crushed them. In 1797 he came within 80 miles of Vienna when Austria surrendered. Napoleon had won 14 pitched battles and 70 combats. He had made the rich lands he conquered feed and pay the French soldiers. Plus millions of francs were send back to France. This helped France’s poor economy tremendously. Napoleon negotiated a treaty called Campo Formio with Austria. Austria gave up it’s Netherlands and Lombardy to France. Austria also recognized the Rhine as the eastern boundary of France. In return France gave Austria most of the old Venetian Republic.
When Napoleon returned to Paris he received a huge welcome. He then began thinking of pursuing political power and military power. He wanted to become the next Alexander the Great, so he asked the Directory if he could take a large army to Egypt. That way he could conquer an empire that included Egypt, India, and other middle and far east places. Napoleon came up with a neat idea to accomplish this. If he conquered Egypt, he could attack the English’s route to India.
He won the battle of the Pyramids in July 1798. But his fleet was destroyed at the Battle of the Nile in Aboukir Bay. So Napoleon decided to invade Syria. The English and Turkish troops in Syria had held up against Napoleon. Napoleon then retreated to Egypt. Then later in July 1799, he defeated 10,000 Turks at Aoukir. He returned to France shortly after.
Napoleon returned to find the Directory was a mess. He, in his selfish way, saw this as the perfect time for self-advancement. So in November of 1799 he overthrew the Directory. Napoleon set up a government called the Consulate. He was the first of three consuls. About three years later he made himself first consul for life. Everyone in France loved Napoleon at that time. Then he started increasing his power Napoleon’s impact is still around today. Many laws are based on the Napoleonic Code. In Paris there are many monuments saluting him. His remains were brought to Paris in 1840 and placed in the Invalides, where they still lie.
Rise and Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Casa Buonaparte in the town of Ajaccio, on the island Corsica, on 15 august 1769. At the time of Napoleon’s birth the island Corsica was taken over by the French Republic. Napoleon’s family was an upper class nobility family. His father Carlo Buonaparte, an attorney, was a representative of Corsica to the court of Louis XVI. His mother Letizia Ramolino was the one, who made the dominant influence on the child. Napoleon went to a military school in France.
He spoke with a Corsican accent and often he was discriminated because of his dark skin. However he has always been distinguished in his schools as an excellent student. After graduating, Bonaparte was named as a second lieutenant of artillery. During the years of the French Revolution, Napoleon fought for the French Republic by putting down the riots and helping to defeat British at Toulon. Soon for his achievements, Napoleon Bonaparte was made a General Brigadier of the French army in 1794.
When Napoleon was at his 30’s, he was one of the famous military generals in Europe for his Italian and Egyptian Campaigns. When Napoleon returned from the Egyptian Campaign to Paris in 1799, France was a bankrupt and also the Directory was ineffective, corrupt and very unpopular within the French population. On November 9, 1799 Napoleon barges into the two houses and makes the convention to vote. By the election, Napoleon became one of the “3 consuls”. That was selected to be an executive branch of the government. Napoleon was the main consul. After that, Napoleon made all of the people in France to vote for a new constitution that was called “Napoleonic Codes.” The constitution gave most of the power to the 1st consul. In 1802 – Napoleon was appointed as the 1st consul for life.
Then by the election Napoleon became an Emperor of France. As Napoleon became an emperor, he had made a lot of changes that make a good influence on French Empire’s situation. Bonaparte had balanced budget, slowed down the inflation and also he had set up a nation bank. Napoleon then had invited all of the nobles back to France and improved the relations with the Catholic Church. Also the Napoleonic Codes had a great impact and had lasted for 8 years. The Codes abolished the 3 estates of the Old Regime and there were equal rights for all men. However there were also disadvantages of the Codes. There was a censorship, limited women rights and slavery in French colonies. Also the Napoleonic codes applied to everyone except Napoleon. Napoleon Bonaparte successfully conquers several European countries and those campaigns led him to the war against the Great Britain and the Third Coalition which was formed from Russia, Austria, Sweden and Prussia.
Napoleon wins a lot of battles against the coalition. However Napoleon makes several mistakes that lead to the disintegration of the French Empire. Firstly Napoleon decided to cut off Great Britain’s trade. He makes a Naval Blockade and Europe becomes closed to British shipping. Britain strikes with its own blockade and French Empire loses most of its navy. The second mistake Napoleon had done is giving the throne of Spain to his brother Joseph Bonaparte in 1808. That move was extremely disrespectful towards Spain. Spain counters with the small hit- and – run attacks on France. That costs Napoleon many soldiers in that war called Guerilla War. Finally Napoleon’s last mistake was invading Russia. The main reason for war was that The Czar Alexander I had refused to stop selling grain to Great Britain.
Then Napoleon marches to Russia. However the Russian officer Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly had chosen “the scorched earth policy.” The Russians began to retreat and burn all the supplies that would be helpful for Napoleon s army. Napoleon arrived in Moscow in September, 1812 and found it in flames. Napoleon had to retreat and rush back by crossing the Russia in the middle of the winter. Napoleon then raised a new army but became defeated in Leipzig by the coalition of the European countries. Napoleon soon was exiled to Elba where he planned his escape. He escaped from Elba to France and raised the army in the period called “Hundred Days”.
In June, 1815, his army got defeated by the forces of Prussia at Waterloo. Then Napoleon was again exiled to the island St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean where Bonaparte had spent rest of his life. Napoleon Bonaparte died on May 5, 1821. The official cause of his death was the Stomach Cancer. However there were opinions about the poisoning with the arsenic. I believe that Napoleon Bonaparte was a great politician, one of the best military leaders. One of his greatest achievements was the creating of Napoleonic codes.
The code abolished 3 estates and gave equal rights to all men. That had ended the revolution, massive violence and instability. Napoleon had reached the financial stability in the country reformed the educational system and had improved his relationships with the Catholic Church. Also Napoleon Bonaparte was a talented strategic and that helped him to expand the French Empire and set colonies in the North Africa. That had a great impact on the situation of French Empire and made it one of the most Powerful Empires in the Europe during that time.
What role did Napoleon Bonaparte play in the French Revolution?
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military leader and emperor who conquered a large portion of Europe in the early 19th century. While French Revolution, beginning in 1789 and ending in 1799, was a time of chaos for France. Napoleon was only able to gain power during the end of the revolution, around the late 1790’s and early 1800’s.
He very quickly ascended the military ranks during the French Revolution. In no time he was crowned emperor and he successfully conducted war against many European Empires. He was known to be very clever, determined, and a skilled military strategist. Although,after the French invaded Russia in 1812 Napoleon stepped down from the throne, and he was exiled to the land of Elba for three years but briefly returned to power. He was defeated once again and was exiled to the island of Saint Helena, where he died at 51.
In his earlier years Napoleon went to school in mainland France, and in 1785 graduated from a French military school. A few years later was the start of the French Revolution, where chaos broke out in France. During this time he was know to be associated with Augustin Robespierre, who was the brother of Maximilien, a very famous leader at the time. Just as Napoleon was climbing the ranks of the general army, he was put under house arrest for being connected to both the Robespierre brothers. They were known for supporting and urging basic human rights or everyone, which did not sit well with those in power (although many people favored them). After a little while he was able to gain his position back by helping squash a royal insurrection, and in fact even got promoted to a higher level.
For the next 5-6 years he worked towards leading invasions in countries such as England, Egypt, Syria, and modern day Israel. Despite his many victories with his army , he decided to leave them in Egypt and return to France. His army scoring another victory against the Austrians, leaving them no choice but to leave Italy, was the final step for Napoleon in order to secure his role as first consul. This is when he started to make reforms towards certain areas that had been destroyed post French Revolution. Some of these included government, economy, education, the arts, as well as religion (relations between his province and the pope went extremely downhill before). He had a code that was strictly based off of enlightenment ideals, religious tolerance and equality, building the French empire, and fortifying the military/army called the Napoleonic Code. The peace Napoleon brought towards France did not last for long. Soon after the reforms he was working towards, France and Britain went into war once again in 1803. At first his idea was to occupy England but he changed his mind and decided to go eastward.
After many successes, he was able to insure leaders from nations such as Naples, Sweden, Holland, Italy, Westphalia, and Spains trust in him. At this point it seemed as if Napoleon’s military was unbeatable. Around 1812 was when a winter invasion of Russia proved them wrong. Not only were many of the troops killed, 600,000 men to then 10,000, but it destroyed Frances budget and put them in tremendous debt. To make matters even worse, not only was Russia attacking the French territory but British forces were as well. With tensions rising and Napoleon’s reign slowly worsening, he opted to surrender on March 30, 1814. Almost right after his defeat he was exiled from his homeland to the deserted island of Elba. After only one year, Napoleon managed to escape the island and went back to France. The people were thrilled when they heard about the return about their once consul/emperor. He once again took on the role of their leader, and attempted to lead his forces into battle. At first they found victory, but because other countries who were allies with one another such as the Austrians, British, Prussians, and Russians viewed Napoleon as an enemy they were quick to prepare for the coming war. He did the same bringing a new army, and beating them one by one before they even got the chance to put their plan into action. In 1815 Napoleon’s troops attempted to take over Belgium and actually succeeded in a war called Battle of Ligny. The celebrations didn’t last long, just two days later the French were demolished by the British/Prussians.
The loss was very humiliating for them and was known as the Battle of Waterloo. Almost immediately after this happened Napoleon was, once again, required to abdicate. He was also exiled to an Island called Saint Helena that belonged to the British. Napoleon died very shortly, at the age of 51, after he was exiled it was six years to be exact. The reason is believed to be because of stomach cancer, not only that but living alone on a remote island left him bored, as there was not much he could do. Napoleon had previously asked be buried near his people saying I wish my ashes to rest granted though and he ended up being buried on the deserted island where he passed. Overall Napoleon had a huge impact on the French Revolution and France as a whole. The main impacts he had were conquering a lot of Europe territory, meaning he had a strong military and good leadership. He worked his hardest to build a French Empire and helped the people in many ways which is why many favored him. Napleon opened up more job positions, improved education, and created a substantial economic stability (paying taxed were a must no matter what social class you had). He didn’t end his reign in the best way, being defeated numerous times by neighboring countries, but he did have a long lasting affect on France and even Europe.
Napoleon’s reforms and the principles of the Revolution
By the late 1700s, the Directory was blamed for debasement and inefficiency, and lost prevalence because of the negligence of many foreign campaigns. Some citizens urged the return of the monarchy, however others demanded that radical policies established at the beginning of the revolution, needed to be implemented. There was a high chance civil war would break out, and Napoleon sought his opportunity to take over.
With the army’s aid he overthrew the Directory which became known as the Coup of 1799. This was the beginning of his reign and he would soon enact many reforms on France, which would not maintain the principles of the Revolution.
France wanted to make tracks in the opposite direction of the monarchy prior to the revolution. They wanted a voice based system, and to be heard by their legislature. However, Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804, and gave the people of France a false hope of a democracy with his plebiscites. They were fixed, and the plebiscites casting a ballot were agreeable to Napoleon and voted in favor of anything he desired. Napoleon also issued a secret police force which could arrest citizens without trial. This went against one of his reforms which was that trial by jury was guaranteed. These were all political signs he would not sustain one of the fundamental standards of the revolution; a democracy.
Similar to what King Louis did, but not sustaining the principles of the revolution, Napoleon attempted to censor the press, and control the newspapers. Also, free discourse was not impeded in the French Empire. Additionally, Napoleon created the Continental System. The British army was very powerful, and had a lot of strength. Napoleon was unable to defeat them, so he developed this system which eliminated trade between Great Britain and Europe, thinking it would weaken their nation. It did not affect their country though, because they created black markets. In 1806, Napoleon went on to write the Berlin Decree preventing any countries allied or dependent on France from trading with Great Britain. The following year, Napoleon issued the Milan Decree to reinforce the Berlin Decree. These reforms were socio-economic signs that he would not maintain the principles of the revolution.
Generally, Napoleon’s reforms did not keep up the standards of the revolution. A portion of his changes in Napoleonic Code however, did. It declared all people equal before the law; special privileges were abolished for the Churchmen, Nobles, and the wealthy. Also, feudal rights were ended, and trial by jury and religious freedom were both guaranteed. Napoleon furthermore changed the education system in France. He believed school was for everyone and set up four grades of school including primary, secondary, lycees, and technical schools. These reforms were very beneficial to the people and maintained the principles of the revolution.