Who was Napoleon Bonaparte?

July 31, 2020 by Essay Writer

Napoleon Bonaparte was a successful French military leader and emperor who conquered most of Europe in the early 1800’s. He experienced a chain of events that promotes him to general and eventually to first consul in 1799 and progressively, he becomes emperor of France. He got to this point because of the French Revolution.

Napoleon’s career benefitted from the French Revolution and at some point he started affecting the political environment to his advantage. Even though Napoleon was a noble, he wasn’t actually eligible for a promotion to a higher rank. This was because of the Old Regime. The Old Regime was the reason why Napoleon couldn’t seize power in France in 1789 as well as the fact that France was still a monarchy at the time until 1792 when it was overthrown and replaced by a republic. He was basically a nobody.

The Old Regime consisted of the estates system which enforced legal inequality. It divided France into social groups known as the first, second, and third estate. The nobility and the clergy were privileged. For example, they were exempted from paying taxes meanwhile the third estate had no privileges. But on August 4th 1789 the National Assembly abolishes this system entirely and the declaration of rights of man was put into place. This created an entry way for Napoleon to start his career in 1789 because it made it possible for Napoleon to rise above ranks to start his journey to success through the power of merit. However, he didn’t take advantage of this opportunity right away. Instead, Napoleon returned to his home country, Corsica in 1790.

Upon Napoleon’s arrival back to France, he was greeted with the execution of Louis XVI along with the dictatorship of the Committee of Public Safety under Maximilien Robespierre. Robespierre had dictated the reign of terror which executed anyone who was suspected of opposing the revolution. In the midst of the Reign of Terror, Napoleon became popular when he put an end to the royalists uprising at Port Toulon in 1793 this was known as the Siege of Toulon. This event allowed Napoleon to obtain command of the army’s military as well as using this newfound fame to force the English fleet to withdraw. Shortly after, Napoleon got promoted to general which granted him some recognition in the French society. When Robespierre was sent to the guillotine, it ended the terror. But Napoleon ended up being imprisoned. Due to his family ties with Robespierre he was suspicious of treason.

Because of Napoleon’s relationship with Barras who was his old patron, Barras gave Napoleon the opportunity to be in charge of the artillery during the Vendemiaire rising in 1795. Bonaparte led the French Revolutionary troops in stopping a rebellion of Parisians as they marched against the government. Napoleon’s victory against Royalist forces in Paris resulted in his entrance to Barras’s inner circle (Pg.6). With each victory Napoleon achieves, he gets more opportunities to become a powerful figure in France.

The Battle of Arcole in 1796 fought between the French and the Austrians was another victory for him. It was a three-day battle in which Napoleon had lead an assault across the Arcola bridge. Following this event, came the Italian campaign. In 1797, Napoleon conducted the first Italian campaign in which France defeats Piedmont and Austria. Napoleon was outnumbered by the Austrians and the Piedmontese but he found a strategy to help France walk away in victory. He moved troops in a quickly manner around the battlefield so that they would outnumber them. Napoleon and his army had won 18 pitched battles, capturing 150,000 prisoners, 540 cannons and 170 standards during this campaign. 1797 was the year in which he stopped benefitting from changes and began affecting the political environment to his advantage. In this time, The Coup d’?‰tat of 18 Fructidor was launched and this coup had increased power in the executive at the disadvantage of the legislatures which is exactly what Napoleon wanted. He wanted the government to be strong and centralized. However, after the introduction of the coup d’etat 18 fructidor, the Treaty of Campo Formio was been established due to France’s victory during the Italian Campaign. It served as a peace settlement between France and Austria.

Upon his arrival in France, the people viewed Napoleon as a hero and this increased his power and popularity. These victories against the Austrians, expanded the French empire and eliminated the threat by the royalists, to turn France back into a monarchy. All of this helped make Napoleon a gem in the French military. After his success with the Italian Campaign, Napoleon had been in charge of leading the Egyptian campaign. On July 1, 1798, he and his army traveled to the Middle East to threaten Great Britain’s empire by going to Egypt and impairing English trade routes to India. Napoleon ended up conquering Egypt but eventually him and his army experienced a disastrous stage of the campaign because the British navy sank the French fleet. They had trapped Napoleon and his army in Egypt. But this didn’t hold Napoleon back from gaining the fame that he wanted. In this tough situation, Napoleon had tried to rule Egypt through his encounters with people like scientists, artists, Muslim elites, and more. This however, had resulted in an uprising because the people of Egypt saw the situation as the French being insensitive to their culture (Pg. 7) but Napoleon was able to abandon his men and return to France in 1799. When he returned to France, Napoleon was greeted with cheers of triumph.

The final stage of the rise of Napoleon included the events that led to Napoleon becoming First Consul. Once he returned to France, Napoleon had launched the coup d’ etat of 18 Brumaire because of the state France was in when he returned. France was experiencing a crisis with their administration and financial stability. As a solution to the crisis, the coup had served to overthrow the Directory in France and replace it with a new system of government after the approval of the new constitution. Napoleon took part in this decision making which allowed him to become First Consul in 1799 because his brother formulated a plan that led Napoleon to his newfound position. Once Napoleon took his position as First Consul, he did everything he could along with the other two consuls to ensure that the new constitution would be approved and surely enough it was. This constitution created a new regime in France called the Consulate and once Napoleon assumed the position of First Consul, this new system of government concentrated all real power to him. The Consulate coming into effect marked the end of the French Revolution leaving Napoleon in a authoritative position as First Consul and allowing him to become even more successful. This allowed him to promote himself to Emperor of France in the early 1800’s.

The French Revolution basically made it possible for Napoleon to move up the social ladder and rise above ranks in order to become someone who possesses high authority. Establishing a centralized government for France was a main priority for Napoleon. He wanted the government to be in control of everything. Napoleon was powerful in France because he was a major figure in the army. His many victories during the French Revolution made the French people view him as a hero. Through the French Revolution, he had promoted French nationalism to places like Egypt. He was also a good soldier and very intelligent which eventually brought him up to be a major historical figure because he was worthy of it. He had various accomplishments but in the end, he brought about change to France for the better and in the end, he has the French Revolution to thank for his sky-rocketing career.

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