Who is Napoleon?
Megna Rao, Seoyoon Kim, Alex Herrera
The Last Great Enlightenment Despot-Megna Rao
The Preserver of the Revolution-Alex Herrera
The First Modern Dictator-Seoyoon Kim
*note: each person's pictures are found after their writing
1785- Commissioning as second lieutenant at Ecole Militaire
1786- given command of the French army in Italy
1789-Storming of Bastille
1792- Dethroning of King Louis XVI/ Storming of the Tuileries
King Louis guillotined
Liberation of Toulon
Accused of being too Pro-French, had to flee home in Croatia with family
1794- imprisoned under suspicion of being a Jacobin and a supporter of Robespierre
Insurrection of Paris
promoted to General of the Army of the West
tasked by the government with the job of suppressing civil strife and rebellion against the Republic
Marriage to Joséphine de Beauharnais
Italian campaign against Austria begins
Victory at Battle of Lodi
Victory at Battle of Rivoli
Treaty of Campo-Formio with Austria written
Egyptian campaign begins
Fall of Alexandria
Victory at Battle of the Pyramids against Mamelukes in Egypt
Became first consul following coup d'etat
Returns to Paris
Leads army across the Alps in the Second Italian Campaign
Victory at Battle of Marengo against Austria
Treaty with Austria signed at Luneville
Concordat between France and Rome signed
Schism between the French government and the Catholic Church ends
Napoleon escapes assassination attempt
Treaty of Amiens signed with Britain
New constitution adopted
Napoleon First Consul for life based on new constitution
1803-France sells Louisiana territory to U.S.
Senate proclaims Napoleon Emperor
Crowns himself Emperor in Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris
Crowned King of Italy in Milan
Victory in the Battle of Austerlitz against Austria and Russia
Names his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, king of Naples
Defeats the Russians at the Battle of Friedland
Makes peace with Czar Alexander I in the Treaty of Tilsit
Creates the Grand Duchy of Warsaw (Poland), to be overseen by France
Start of French occupation of Portugal
Unsuccessful Spanish revolt against French army
Napoleon names Joseph Bonaparte King of Spain, and Murat King of Naples
Marriage to Austrian Archduchess Marie Louise
Napoleon's son born
Russian Campaign begins
Devastating losses in Russia for army
Napoleon returns to Paris
Prussia declares war on France
The French fall to Spain in the Battle of Vitoria
Anti-French coalition army enters France
Napoleon abdicates his rule
Louis XVIII is restored to the French throne
Exile to Alba
Escaping Elba, Napoleon returns in South France
rallies the French army
Louis XVIII flees, Napoleon takes control
Defeated in the Battle of Waterloo by the British and Prussians
Exiled to Saint Helena
The Last Great Enlightened Despot-Megna Rao
Influenced by American philosophers such as George Washington and other founding fathers early in his life, Napoleon Bonaparte improved the French government by instituting educational and political reforms, thus establishing himself as an enlightened despot. New civil codes and constitutions instituted both judicial and religious freedoms including popular sovereignty, freedom of religion, trial by jury, and equality before the law. The creation of a citizen army built Bonaparte's involvement with his countrymen. Feudal privileges were abolished in an attempt to modernize France with Enlightenment ideas. As consul, Napoleon established financial reforms, centralized administrative reforms, and the installed the enlightenment principles of liberty and equality in French political culture. A massive road construction project was started under the Napoleonic Codes (napoleon-series.org). Local autonomy was subdued, and a modern bureaucracy was established. The middle class benefitted from new jobs that were open to talent and ability rather than social status. Napoleonic codes were one such example of educational reform and political reform in France. Bonaparte stressed the importance of secondary school that divided classes between students who were focused on a military career from those interested in a civil career (napoleonic-series.org - David Markham). The 1804 civil code regulated civil matters, including divorce and education, and discussed religious freedom, individual freedom, guaranteed equality before the law, and freedom from arbitrary arrests and punishments. Napoleon’s education reforms included the establishment of schools (lycées) and universities (Émile Marco de Saint-Hilaire's primary account of Napoleon). France’s administrators and scientists were trained in institutions known as grandes écoles (enlightenment-revolution.org). According to his own speech about the internal conditions of France, he declares, "New schools are being opened, and inspectors have been appointed...The lycees and the secondary schools are filling with youth eager for instruction. The polytechnic school is peopling our arsenals, ports, and factories with useful citizens. Prizes have been established in various branches of science, letters, and arts..." (Napoleon's Account of the Internal Situation of France in 1804). Under Napoleon’s rule, art flourished and the Louvre palace became one of the most well-known center for the arts in Europe. Napoleon institutionalized France as think-tanks, research centers, monuments and statues to beautify France, and bridges to secure a home for the National Archives building were constructed (napoleonic-series.org - Dr. Weider). Napoleonic Codes discussed social issues such as divorce, marriage, adoption, guardianship, emancipation, property, succession, and loans (Napoleonic Code - primary source). The Concordat of 1801 displayed the extent of Napoleon’s involvement in religious and social affairs as an Enlightened Despot. The contract between the papacy and Napoleon ended the restrictions on Church lands that were installed during the French Revolution. Napoleon reformed the Church by reserving the right to appoint bishops and award them salaries. The tensions that had grown between the traditional rural community and anti-clerical towns (europeanhistory.about.com) were broken in Bonaparte's attempt to elevate his status as consul. Thus, Bonaparte created many social, economic, and judicial reforms that characterized not only as a dictator and preserver of the revolution, but also an Enlightened despot.
The Preserver of the Revolution-Alex Herrera
Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign was characterized through policies and military tactics that supported the French revolution’s concepts of equality, fraternity, and liberty, ultimately making him a preserver of the revolution. Napoleon’s rule was marked by a key belief of the revolution: overthrowing and eliminating the aristocracy previously present in France and establishing equality. Napoleon implemented a code known as “The French Civil Code” which reinforced the ideas of equality brought about by the revolution as a consequence of the grievances of the third estate (Rude). This code established that the rights of the citizens should be protected and provided for all citizens without regard for social status, economic status, or family ties (Napoleon). Furthermore, the code specified that governmental jobs should go to those who were the most qualified for them. This was revolutionary in contrast to the previous system where offices could be purchased prior to the spread of the revolution (PowerPoint). These elements in his leadership marked Napoleon as a preserver of the French revolution and its values. Not only did Napoleon help keep the values of the revolution alive within France but he helped extend them to the rest of Europe. While addressing the Italian army and encouraging them to fight aligned with the French he declared to the soldiers “Your property, your religion, and your customs will be respected. We are waging war as generous enemies, and we wish only to crush the tyrants who enslave you” (Napoleon). Napoleon’s promise to the Italian troops further reinforced the ideas of equality found in the civil code established under his reign. The idea that civil rights should be awarded to all not just those of wealth and property was embodied as he promised even those who were of another nation the same treatment if they would follow his lead.Napoleon's comments reveal his desire to preserve the concepts that brought about the revolution and embody his desire to expand and spread it's concepts of equality and liberty.Furthermore, Napoleon appeased the desires of the third estate, which fueled the revolution, through his policies. Napoleon established a national bank which helped provided financial unity and stability to the nation (Power point). This resolved the issues of unemployment and high/rising food prices which left the members of the third estate in poverty. Napoleon's policies lead to low unemployment and lowering food prices. These results combined with the equally distributed tax system in place kept the values of the French revolution alive under Napoleon's reign.
The First Modern Dictator-Seoyoon Kim
Although Napoleon was often regarded as a hero of the French revolution, he ultimately reestablished an imperial reign similar to modern dictatorships. Despite his role in the French revolution, he exercised absolute power over his people, just like the absolute monarchs prior to the revolution (Staël). Characterizing him as an intimidating tyrant, Madame de Staël notes his inability to sympathize with others and his overwhelming self interest, both of which made him a tyrant (Staël). Furthermore, Bonaparte himself acknowledged his own dictatorship, claiming that it was "absolutely necessary" (Las Cases) to fill the anarchy of the revolution-he justifies his abundance of power by appealing to nationalist and revolutionary ideas of supporting the country through whatever means possible. Establishing the Code of Napoleon, the emperor did maintain some revolutionary ideas but also ensured that he had absolute dictatorial control of his country by appointing judges who shared his views and would help administer his laws, executing those who spoke against him politically, and hindering freedom of speech and press through propaganda and eliminating over 83% of French newspapers (kprdsb.ca). As defined by Britannica, a dictatorship is a "form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations" (Britannica). Napoleon certainly fit this description by holding absolute power, not only politically, but also educationally through uniforms and marches intended to indoctrinate students from a young age and completely centralizing government administration through abusing his position as prima intra pares (kprdsb.ca). The main legislative body, the Council of the State, was effectively used as Napoleon's pawns, as Bonaparte had the ability to choose its members and thereby indirectly control his country in all aspects (kprdsb.ca). He placed his four brothers and three sisters in positions of power as he gained more territory throughout Europe, making them kings, dukes, counts, queens, duchesses, or countesses (bc.edu). Thus, he not only obtained power for himself but also for his entire family, ensuring his family's status as the ruling family. Using his popular support, a consequence of his military successes, the emperor eradicated controls on his power, including the 10 year limit, and pressured the Senate to state that the government was in the hands of the emperor (kprdsb.ca). Despite initially advocating the French revolution, Napoleon ultimately overthrew the Directory in favor of a Consulate then declared himself emperor (history.com), giving sole and absolute power to himself. As the general of the French army, Bonaparte effectively established a military dictatorship supported by the people in which he had unrestricted control over all aspects of French society. To ensure the security of his reign, the emperor suppressed royalist and pro-Catholic rebellions and created a secret police (library.brown.edu). Like modern dictators, he exercised censorship, supervising books, plays and newspapers via the Directeur General de l'imprimerie et de la librairie (Napoleon, library.brown.edu). To secure power not only for himself, but for his family, Napoleon created a constitution that ensured that his children would be next in line to the throne (library.brown.edu). Although Napoleon differs from typical modern dictators in that he did provide stability and happiness for his country, he fits the definition of a dictator due to his absolute power, popular support due to charisma, restrictions on opposing voices, and sole control over all aspects (social, economic, educational, political) of his country. Napoleon was considerably more dictatorial than George III, as George's power was restricted by a Parliament and prime ministers while Napoleon's status as consul then emperor made him second to none (history.com). Napoleon also experienced significantly more popularity, as George III was known for his insanity and loss of the American colonies (history.com). Additionally, George's contribution to British instability further weakened his reign, while France's military successes and revolutionary fervor empowered Napoleon (britannica.com). While Bonaparte easily unified his country through military conquests and patriotism, George III could not obtain enough wealth, power, or popularity to become a dictator, as his country was divided between Whigs and Tories (factions were not present in France due to Napoleon's outlawing of his enemies)(royal.gov.uk). Thus, despite both being involved in wars and seeking military expansion, Napoleon was able to become a dictator due to the initial chaos and the new form of government, which was still in the process of being developed and therefore could be used to support his power, while George had to adhere to conventional views of the constitutional monarchy, which had long been held through tradition and law (royal.gov.uk). Through the Continental System, Napoleon controlled trade and commerce throughout Europe, thereby dominating the economics of his country completely (Britannica). While he was often regarded as a hero of the revolution, Bonaparte established an autocracy and an empire through his military skill. Though he was extremely talented politically and militarily, the emperor dominated and controlled all of France, oppressing rights and freedoms that posed a threat to his power over the country; France had returned to its post revolutionary state in that it once again had an absolute monarch, albeit one that the public adored.
Visuals: (These are public domain, so do not necessarily need to be cited but below are the citations regardless...)
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