Was Napoleon a Hero or Tyrant?
Napoleon Bonaparte, the emperor of France was not a normal man, for Bonaparte rose quickly in the ranks of the military and sought respect wherever he went. By being bullied in his early years he did not like being picked on and became deeply invested in his education. Napoleon’s education included the studies of military tactics from ancient generals like Hannibal and Alexander the Great at the Brienne Military Academy in Paris on a scholarship.
Bonaparte was able to defeat the Austrian Army when no other could and brought back the Rosetta Stone. Napoleon also created the Napoleonic Code, sought to spread the Enlightenment, improved infrastructure, helped France get rid of some debt, and protected his country with everything he had, this is what made him a hero.
Being that he was the most powerful man in France he could have easily disregarded the general population and only look out for himself but that is the exact opposite of what he did. He took into account what was best for the country and the people. He allowed the people to have a voice by running a plebiscite, a direct vote. He made peace with the countries France was at odds with, emigres who fled were allowed to return, and he removed laws as well as restrictions on the clergy. By getting rid of the laws and the restrictions he reached a Concordat with the Pope. The Pope then legitimized the Revolution, and Catholicism returned to France. Allowing the emigres to return that meant that they brought their money with them making France have a better economy. Napoleon also was a part of the Louisiana Purchase getting rid of all his colonies this brought revenue into France and helped with the debt from the former kings. This shows how Bonaparte was not spending as much money as former rulers and was bringing in more money for the betterment of France.
Bonaparte insisted on the improvement of France as a whole, Comte Jean-Pierre Bachasson de Montalivet supports this idea stating “Napoleon brought great changes to Paris, and without him, Paris would’ve been in the state it was before, which was dirty and unsanitary.” This is because Napoleon hired Comte to build bridges, a pipe system, fountains, pavements, gas lighting, new markets,a warehouse in Paris. In the provinces Comte has instructions from Napoleon to build the Anvers and Osten basins, a tunnel in Savory, and a superb barrack in Chambery. The Napoleonic Code improved France as a whole because this way everyone had rights and allowed the people to have more freedom. The Code benefited many, Sebastian Gusteau stated when asked how he benefited under the new Code “I was able to give my family food after the Napoleonic code and the removal of estates. I am able to own more land than before in order to increase my personal profits. With the new code I am given more rights as a citizen than before the revolution.” Gusteau also went on to say how “Life with Napoleon not only benefits the upper class but everyone. There for I don’t want to see government without Napoleon,” this proves how Napoleon looked out for everyone. France was one of the only countries at this time that gave women a little bit of rights which is better than none. On top of the Code he also believed in the Enlightenment and spent a lot of time trying to get others to see why the Enlightenment was so beneficial. This as a whole shows how Bonaparte sought to make France and Europe better under his leadership.
Napoleon continuously fought in wars defending France his whole reign and even before he was in a position of power. His education allowed him to have a different point of view about battle that not many rulers might have been able to have. He understood making decisions under pressure and how to be a leader before he was a leader to a country. His first battle that made him famous was against Austria with his ragtag army. Another battle was with Great Britain, he was able to defeat them by cutting off trade routes that were in Egypt . He won multiple battles in Egypt, one being the Battle of the Pyramids this was the time when he brought back the Rosetta Stone. Then the start of his fall was when he battled Russia, he was so deep in the opposing country that when winter hit his troops they ran out of supplies and had to turn back. He battled against Russia, Austria, and Britain, there was more but these were the main three. He was open to peace and there was talk of treaties, Louis-Philippe Segur was apart of this. Segur wrote up a treaty that included Russia, Austria, Spain, and France during Louis XVI’s rule that Louis XVI denied. When Napoleon was told about this he was interested “…he was open minded to making peace work,”states Segur.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a hero for France even before he was an Emperor, he represented what it meant to be a French citizen on and off the battlefield. He improved the economy by allowing those exiled back and got rid of debt by the Louisiana Purchase. He improved the infrastructure with assistance from Comte Jean-Pierre Bachasson de Montalivet by making the country more sanitary. Then he gave the people a voice by having a plebiscite, then by introducing the Napoleonic Code he gave the people more rights and freedoms. This allowed the people to have a better life under him as supported by Sebastian Gusteau. He defended France at any cost either by going to war or talk to others about treaties as Louis-Philippe Segur said he did. He also brought Catholicism back which then him and the Pope have a Concordat. Bonaparte believed the Enlightenment was the best and wished to spread the idea throughout Europe. Napoleon sought to be justice by doing what was the best for the Country as a whole, yet again supported by both Sebastian Gusteau and Comte Jean-Pierre Bachasson de Montalivet. All of this shows that Napoleon Bonaparte was not a tyrant, he was a hero to the people of France and only wanted what was best for France and Europe.
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