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.
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