Napoleon Bonaparte

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Napoleon Bonaparte

Rise of Napoleon Napoleon was born to Minor Nobility in Corsica on 15 August 1769. Corsica was fighting for its freedom from Italy, but was swindled into becoming a part of France when the French lied that they would give them freedom. Napoleon would hate France and its people throughout his childhood and use this form of manipulation of the Italians. Napoleon was not a prodigy, however it was the ambition, the thirst to prove himself better than his French schoolmates was what drove him to strive for success. At an early age, Napoleon showed signs of leadership, when he organized his friends in snowball fights. However, no matter how talented one must need luck and Napoleon’s chance to prove himself came when the French Revolution arrived. Napoleon was a firm believer of democracy, equality and supported Rousseau; therefore he fought in the French Revolution as a proficient Artillery Officer. Throughout his battles, Napoleon became know for his famed cannons and was wildly feared for it. In 1795, Napoleon was called upon to end a riot from revolting citizens in order to save the Convention. Napoleon fired point-blank range into the mob and easily dispersed the rebels. In return for his skill, Napoleon was rewarded control of the French Army in Italy. Napoleon defeated his Austria foes by surprise attack when he crossed the Alps, therefore gaining reputation as a General. Napoleon’s Italian and Egyptian campaigns which he also returned to France laden with spoils were great triumphs. Napoleon’s increasing military success is crucial to his reputation as well as his ultimate downfall.

Changes by Napoleon -Napoleon demolished the old French Constitution which was inefficient and complex and replaced it with the Napoleonic Code, a much effective and straightforward set of laws that guarantees freedom and natural rights. Many of today’s law codes are based on the effectual Napoleonic Code. -Napoleon brought Nationalism into many countries and inspired the most powerful force of patriotism. This was also what inspired the French soldiers to fight so hard; because they were fighting for their countries, not to their own benefit. Nationalism would also backfire drastically on Napoleon’s military career later on. -Napoleon supported democracy early in his life, but he transformed France’s government from a fierce republic to a dictatorship. There were two National Assemblies with members chosen by Napoleon from Candidates elected by the people. The citizens of France could vote, but there were no elections after Napoleon became Emperor. -Napoleon did not support women’s suffrage, and he regarded women as useless. In many statements exposed in his Napoleonic Code, he states that wives were not allowed to sell or give away property. Wives could only own property with her husband’s consent in writing. -Napoleon returned some of the elements of Louis XI’s reign. He had a secret police force that from 1810 could arrest anyone with trial. Napoleon also tried to censor the newspapers for he felt that if negative opinions were printed on his rule he would last but a couple of days. -After signing the Concordat, Napoleon restored the Catholic Church’s previous popularity in France. The French Revolution had sold off the lands of the Church, limiting religious practice. By giving the Church its land back, Napoleon insures his rising popularity amongst the people of France. The Concordat also gave Napoleon’s government more control of the Church, and the Pope allows Napoleon to choose Bishops. -Napoleon took care to ensure that all classes of French Society would benefit from his reign. Napoleon eradicated Feudalism and removed the tithe that peasants had to pay to the Church. Napoleon also created titles for some people, though they still had no special privileges. Napoleon would reward gifted and perseverant citizens with the Legion of Honor. -Under Napoleon’s rule, new roads, canals and bridges were built. Projects were undertaken to improve the beauty of Paris. Older buildings were upgraded or replaced with new ones. Also, Napoleon ordered construction of his military triumphs, such as L’Arc de Triomphe which was built in 1813. -Napoleon changed the education system into four grades: primary, secondary military schools (lyces) ad technical schools. Obedience, discipline and military standards were set into these schools. Sciences and math became significant fields of study and more people became educated.

Napoleon’s Downfall After the failed Russian Campaign, Napoleon had lost his original Grand Armee. However, contrary to what many believed, this was not the failure that led to Napoleon’s downfall. After fleeing from Russia and deserting his Grand Armee, Napoleon was able to recruit a new army, and Napoleon continued his wars with Austria, Russia and Prussia. Napoleon’s empire was breaking up, and his clever use of nationalism was backfiring. Rebellions broke out across conquered territories and Napoleon finally tasted defeat at the key battle of Leipzig. Against the mighty English, Prussians, and Austrians, Napoleons commanded his troops personally. He won the Battle of Leipzig, but news then came that the alliance of countries formed against him (Prussia, Britain, Austria, Russia, Sweden…) had invaded Paris. Realizing defeat, Napoleon resigned his post as Emperor of France and was exiled to the Isle of Elba. Napoleon was replaced by the brother of Louis XI, Louis XIII. Louis XIII was a dim man who made a series of unwise political acts that destroyed the progress made by Napoleon and the French Revolution and placed France once again in a dire situation. People began to long for Napoleon, and those who supported him during Louis XIII’s reign were named Bonapartists. Napoleon wanted to return to his beloved France as well. After spending only ten months in exile, he returned to France with 1100 soldiers and convinced his old guard to rejoin his forces. After failing to make peace with his enemies, Napoleon raise an army of 300,000 in just 3 months and invaded Belgium. Napoleon met his ultimate downfall at the Battle of Waterloo at the hands of Arthur, Duke of Wellington. Wellington had studied vigilantly napoleonic warfare, and anticipated every one of Napoleon’s moves. The crucial moments were when Napoleon lost his Imperial Guard to the muskets of the British, and when the Prussians charged. Napoleon, who had no reinforcements, was defeated. After Waterloo, Napoleon was exiled a second time, this time to the Isle of Saint Helena. Napoleon Bonaparte drew his last breath on May 5th 1821 and was revered as one of the greatest military leaders in history. Throughout his life, Napoleon has fought and won more wars, conquered more square miles, killed more soldiers, and brought about more reforms than anyone in history. Napoleon will always be remembered as the little man who did big things.

I used this picture because it is an acurate record of when Napoleon was called upon to defend the Convention from the Royalists. This was the factor that gave Napoleon a chance to prove himself.

I chose this picture because it is about the last struggle of Napoleon's career. Both British and French are fighting to the death for the will of one man, making us realize the importance of Napoleon and his ability to galvanize his troops.

I chose this picture due to its background. We see noblesand we are reminded that Napoleon gave out titles. We also see bishops and the Pope, and we now remember that Napoleon has returned the Church's land throught the Concordat.

I chose this song because it was written by Ludwig Van Beethoven. Though this song does not have to do with Napoleon and is about Beethoven's struggle with life, Napoleon does fit in, for again and again he clashes ferociously with his enemies and at the end he struggles to regain power.







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