The Rise and Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte

The Rise and Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), also known as Napoleon I, was born on the island of Corsica. He quickly rose through the ranks of the military during the French Revolution

Napoleon first seized political power in a coup d’état in 1799, when the economy was crashing and France was in turmoil after the revolution.

Napoleon’s Impact

Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military general, France’s first emperor and one of the greatest military leaders in the world. Napoleon sponsored the Napoleonic Code. In 1804, Napoleon introduced the civil code, also known as the Napoleonic Code, which streamlined the French legal system and continues to form the basis of French civil law to this day.

The Napoleonic Code had brought together the laws of post-revolutionary France into a coherent whole. Thus, the Civil Code assured the spread of the ideals of the French Revolution long after the end of Napoleon’s rule.

His Civil Code eliminated the aristocracy’s privileges (birth-based rights), and gave the common citizen more rights including property rights(protected the right to property before the law), and created greater equality.

In doing so, the focus of the law shifted to benefiting the middle class. Napoleon made administrative divisions easier, abolished the feudal system, and released peasants from serfdom and land dues Overall, Napoleon had a positive effect on the social structures of Europe by giving the power to the majority.

Napoleon reorganized education by setting up public schools and instituting a system of state-supported secondary education, through the lycées to ensure that officials and military officers are well trained.

Napoleon Bonaparte was full of energy and was always on the move. He had a tremendous capacity to bring thoughts into motion, and once he set his mind on something, there was no waiting.

The initial aim of Napoleon was to stabilize the government of France. To boost Democratic reforms, Napoleon consolidated the government and Introduced judicial reforms. He also set out to defend France from being opposed for not being a monarchy by foreign countries.

Napoleon’s Reforms

After he crowned himself king of France, Napoleon set out to strengthen the central government in France. He established a stable, single currency and created the Bank of France.

In order to restore economic prosperity, Napoleon controlled prices, encouraged new industry, built roads and sewers. Napoleon begun to spend huge amounts of money to improve the image of France’s capital. Older buildings were either demolished or renovated and new buildings were built.

Napoleon initiated series of ventures to make Paris an imperial capital. He built monuments including the Arc de Triomphe to French military glory.

A better network of roads was planned for Paris. To improve traffic in central Paris, he built new wide streets. He improved the city’s sewers and water supply and ordered the construction of a dozen new fountains, including the Fontaine du Palmier.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s Rule

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), was a French military leader and emperor who in the early of 19th century dominated most of Europe.

Napoleon successfully waged war against numerous coalitions of European nations and extended his empire.
Napoleon was a skilled military strategist and tactician of his time and no one could deny how brilliant he was as a leader.

He was a genius and although his methods were sometimes unorthodox, he still was one of the best commanders in Europe.

Napoleon revolutionized military tactics and did away with the many of the assumptions in the history of ancient warfare.

He started to use mass conscription and constantly sought to inflict a swift and decisive blow to his enemies. Although he did not reform armies and their tactics, he excelled at the refinement of an art that had already existed.

Napoleon was very successful for a number of reasons. He was fearless, charismatic and able to draw people in with his words. He became popular among his troops and he was eager to put himself in the frontline along with his troops. Thus, they started to trust and develop complete faith in him.

Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the greatest military commanders of all time. He brought France back from the brink of destruction and made a fool of Czar Alexander I at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.

The battle of Austerlitz is seen by many as Napoleon’s greatest triumph, which paved the way for French dominance over the European Continent for the next decade. Only Great Britain would remain opposed to France after The battle of Austerlitz.

He extended France’s conquests from its borders to that of an empire stretching from Spain to Russia.
At the height of Napoleon’s empire in 1812, the French Empire had 130 departments, ruled over 44 million subjects, and had an extensive military presence in Germany, Italy, Spain, Warsaw, Austria and Prussia.

Napoleon’s Three Costly Mistakes

Napoleon’s own personality turned out to be the greatest threat to the future of his empire. He was once quoted as saying, “I love power,” as a musician loves his violin.” It was Napoleon’s drive for power that propelled him to great heights, and the same love of power led to his demise.

Napoleon made three costly mistakes that contributed to the downfall of his empire.

The First Mistake was The Peninsular War.

Napoleon’s peninsula struggle contributed considerably to his eventual downfall; Spain and Portugal fought against the invading and occupying forces of France for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic era. Many Spaniards defied French rule and waged a bloody war to overthrow them.

Though Britain was not known for being as militarily strong as France at the time, formed an alliance with the Portuguese and Spanish forces and under British General Arthur Wellesley was able to rout the French, effectively ending the Peninsular War. The defeat weakened the French empire because over 300,000 men were lost in the war.

The Second Mistake was Continental System

The Continental System was Napoleon’s policy to undermine the UK’s economy by banning trade between Britain and countries occupied by or allied with France, which proved to be largely ineffective and ultimately led to the fall of Napoleon
The continental system failed miserably because Napoleon didn’t have control over the seas, making it easy for British ships to smuggle goods into Europe while Napoleon ordered European ships to stay on port.
Although the Continental System was bad for Britain, it was devastating for Napoleon as well because it backfired on him. Continental system was meant to prohibit all trade, even by neutral countries, with Britain, the nation that Napoleon referred to as ‘an island of shopkeepers.
But the blockade of European ports caused Europe’s economy to fall, and goods became scarce thus creating a rise in European nationalism.

The Third Mistake was the Invasion of Russia
The French Invasion of Russia

In an attempt to pressure Britain, Napoleon hoped to force Russia to stop trading with British merchants through proxies. In June 1812, the Grande Armée led by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, crossed the Neman River and invaded Russia. The invasion turned out to be disastrous and lasted only for six months. Napoleon lost more than 300,000 men.

By destroying all their crops and livestock, the Russians followed the scorch and burn strategy so that the French army had little to eat. This left the French troops incredibly weak and sick, giving the Russians the upper hand.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s Defeat For Good
The Battle of Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo, which took place in Belgium on June 18, 1815, marked the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, who conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century, bringing an end to the Napoleonic era of European history.

At Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte suffers defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington, which forced his abdication and subsequently ensured the restoration of Louis to the French throne in July.

Napoleon was a tyrant to some, as he ruled with utter force and refused his people many privileges. To others, Napoleon was a hero for providing a nation devastated by a decade of instability, chaos and violence after the revolution with peace and positive changes.

Many French people revere Napoleon because he became an emperor not because of bloodline but because he was a good general and a national hero at that time.