European History – Napoleon
The main controversy over Napoleon is if he was a friend or enemy to the French people. Napoleon's prosecutors said that he destroyed the civil liberties of the French people. They also think that he started unnecessary wars of aggression. Another argument is that he ruled above the law like a absolute monarch. People on the defending side of Napoleon say that he saved France from a near anarchic situation in France. He extended the French territory to bring glory to the French people, and the rights of the revolution to the in Europe. Also Napoleon did more to help the people than to harm them. Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769 to Carlo and Letizia Bonaparte. No Bonaparte except for Napoleon became a professional soldier. His father Carlo fought for Corsican independence, but after the French occupied the island he served as a prosecutor and judge and entered the French aristocracy.
Napoleon had an excellent
education and excellent military training. His father secured a scholarship for him to the French military school at Brienne. When he was in school he put all his time and effort into his studies. Then in 1794 at age 15 he graduated 42nd in his class of 58. For more education after he graduated he spent a year at the Military Academy in Paris. Then he was commissioned a second lieutenant in artillery. Napoleon commanded an artillery brigade at the siege of Toulon where there was a British fleet. The British were driven out, and Napoleon was rewarded with a promotion to General of Brigade. In February of 1794 Napoleon was assigned to the French army in Italy. On October 5, 1795 a revolt broke out in Paris because of protesting the new constitution introduced by the Convection. Napoleon was ordered to defend the convection and was aided by Joachim Murats cannons. He was able to stop the revolting within four months. He was rewarded by the Directory, with the appointment as commander of the army of the interior. In March of 1796 Napoleon began a series of operations to divide and defeat the Austrian and Sardinian armies in Italy. He defeated the Sardinians at Mondovi, Forcing them to conclude a separate peace by which Savoy and Nice were ceded to France. Then with excellent leadership Napoleon was able to win Lombardy from the Austrians. On May 19, 1798 he sailed with an army of more than 35,000 troops and 350 ships to Alexandria Egypt. Then he occupied Alexandria and Cairo. There he guaranteed Islamic law, and began to reorganize the government. Napoleon liked the ideals of the Enlightment. He used some of those ideals in his law making and reforms. For example he believed in the equality of all citizens. Also he thought that everyone should have the freedom of occupation and freedom of religion. Napoleon thought that there shouldn’t be any kind of slavery in France, because it defied the rights of the people. The coup d’ etat was an act by Napoleon and Emmanuel Sieyes to overthrow the Directory. The Directory was a new form of government that was established in 1795. It consisted of five members that were elected by both houses of the legislature. This form of government was proved even less effective than the Legislative Assembly and the national convention. Within the Directory there was incompetence and corruption that was putting France in a major debt. It didn’t do much to solve the financial problems and military problems in France. Attacks on the republic and other conservatives increased. Rising prices and disrupted production drove some groups in France to armed protests. And foreign hostility to France continued. Then when Napoleon, Sieyes, and their followers got their chance they executed the coup d’ etat. Armed soldiers forced legislators from their chambers, and abolished the directory. Then they proclaimed a new form of government that Napoleon called the Consulate.! It was headed by three consuls, and Napoleon was the first consul. Then Napoleon Bonaparte made many reforms that helped France. One major reform was the Napoleonic Code, Which was a series of laws that some people thought was his greatest achievement ever. This code granted equality to all the citizens of France before the law. It confirmed the end of serfdom and slavery in France. It also gave people the freedom of occupation and the freedom to practice their religion. But, it reduced the rights of some groups including women. There were many other forms as well that strengthened the state. He initiated the Concordat with Pope Pius VII, Which reestablished Roman Catholicism. Napoleon lowered the national debt, restored the value of French bonds, balanced the budget, established the Bank of France, and established a new and fairer system of taxation. Also, he improved the public education system which raised the educational standards for France. There were many reasons for why Napoleon crowned himself emperor of France in 1804. France needed a strong and powerful leader to keep everything under control. Napoleon loved France and he wanted to do good for France. If he became Emperor then he would have more power to make France better. He would be able to liberate France and keep it in order easier. Napoleon also wanted to liberate other countries. To be able to liberate those lands he would need the power to make a big and powerful army.
Once he got this new grand army he was able to conquer and destroy the armies of the lands. For example in 1805 Britain organized the Third Coalition against France, but Napoleon's army swept through Germany into Austria destroying both the Austrian and Russian armies. There were a couple of foreign policies that Napoleon set up. One Treaty was the Treaty of Tilsit, it was signed at the East Prussia town of Tilsit. The Treaties forced Prussia to give all its territory west of the Elbe river to Napoleon, and he used that land to create the kingdom of Westphalia. Prussia also had to give up their polish territory, out of that Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw. Another policy was the Continental System. This policy prevented Great Britain from trading with any European Nations. From September 1814 to June 1815 the Congress of Vienna assembled to reestablish the territorial divisions of Europe. Representatives of all European powers except for Turkey assembled at the congress. At the congress there were many changes to the divisions of Europe. Here are some of those changes.
All the territory conquered by Napoleon was taken away from France. Russia received
the major part of the former Duchy of Warsaw. Prussia Received West Prussia, Posen, The Northern half of Saxony, and the greater part of the provinces of the Rhine and West Phalia. And Austria Got back most of the territory that it had lost. The congress took an important step in condemning the slave trade. It provided the freedom to navigate rivers that formed boundries between states. Also the congress reestablished the balance of power among the countries of Europe. Napoleon never really abused his power he remained a fair leader to the people of France. Napoleon has been referred to as the “first modern dictator,” because he didn’t abuse his power compared to other leaders in western civilization. Napoleon cared more about the well being of the French people, and didn’t care about getting money from the government or getting tons and tons of power. I think that Napoleon’s achievements and goals should be evaluated in a good way. Because he wasn’t a tyrant, he achieved those goals in a civilized way. Napoleon was one of the more fair, and better leaders than the ones that came earlier in history.
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