Napoleon’s Rise to Power. Napoleon's Legacy. The Four Coalitions. Congress of Vienna. From Napoleon’s Rise to Power…. Napoleon Changes France. French Occupation of Europe. The Continental System. Russian Campaign. Hundred Days. Peninsular War. Napoleon’s First Defeat. Josephine.
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The Directory's weakness was that it presupposed certain military conquests and rested on an extremely narrow social base. Two-thirds of the men initially elected to the Councils that compose the Directory, the Council of Five Hundred and Council of Ancients, were required to be ex-members of the Convention, thus the government was constitutionally in the hands of substantial property owners. The Directory was not the type of government for which many of the proponents of the French Revolution had fought.
The Coup d'état of Fructidor temporarily resolved the many issues that France was experiencing under the reign of the Directory by receiving help from Napoleon. This mend proved ineffective when the idea of maintaining the republic as a free constitutional government was abandoned. As the Directory became increasingly ineffective, Napoleon saw his chance to rise. News that civilian leaders of the Directory were planning a change began circulating through the streets of Paris. Many Parisians were sick of the Coup d'état and elected Napoleon to lead an overthrow of the Coup d'état. Napoleon eagerly agreed and successfully disbanded the Coup d'état. The Consulate, a form of the republic, was developed. I was headed by three consuls, with Napoleon as the First Consul.
Napoleon was successful in overthrowing the Directory because he understood the desires of the people of France. He himself thought that the Directory was an inefficient government and understood that it was not the type of government foresaw to rule France at the conclusion of the French Revolution. Also, many were familiar with Napoleon’s military prowess and genius and trusted that he could lead France in the right direction.
The Four Coalitions did little to limit Napoleon’s growing power.
Napoleon came to the realization that it was close to impossible to invade England, his arch nemesis, therefore, he hoped to economically disable them by creating the Continental System. Under the Continental System, he would fight sea power with land power by using his political control of Continental Europe to ban the importation of British goods into any European ports. By doing this, he hoped to ruin England’s commercial firms and cause a violent business depression which would result in England’s loss of large amounts of money and decrease in military power. Another reason behind the formation of this System was Napoleon’s belief that by exiling Britain Europe will be less unified, opening the way for French conquest. The Continental System was formally issued under the Berlin Decree.
Napoleon realized that in order to make the Continental System work effectively he must extend it to all of Europe. This extension was not always met with open arms, but was indeed enforced through the formation of treaties and negotiations, or through pure force. The Continental System not only affected Europe, but also handicapped America’s foreign trade. The United States were prohibited to trade with either England of Europe because of agreements that it held with both England and Europe. In the end, the United States took steps to restore trade relations with whichever control was more willing to remove controls of neutral commerce. Napoleon offered to remove his controls if America would defend itself from British controls. America gladly accepted this proposal which ultimately lead to the Anglo-American War of 1812, in which the United States drove Britain from the North American Mainland.
Even though the Continental System temporarily proved successful by successfully uniting Europe against a common enemy, it ultimately failed. This failure dissipated Napoleons dream of unifying Europe under French control. The failure of this System was due to the agreement with America to allow neutral commerce, the blockade of sea routes by the British, and tariffs put forth by numerous European countries.
In all the areas of Europe conquered by Napoleon, the same three courses of action repeated itself.
Napoleon’s forcible internationalism in numerous countries resulted in many to despise him and France as a whole. This hatred lead to the formation of nationalism, a resilient movement against the desired consolidation of Europe under the Napoleonic Empire. In essence, the nationalistic movement was an anti-French movement.
Much to Napoleon’s displeasure, Tsar Alexander I withdrew from the Continental System on December 31, 1810, not long after a mass reform movement swept through Prussia. In Napoleon’s anger, he resolved to demolish Alexander I with the Grand Army, which were currently located in eastern Germany and Poland. In June 1812, Napoleon led the Grand Army into Russia with the intent to annihilate the Russian army in a short period of time and return home before winter. This arrangement did not follow accordingly, mainly due to the Scorched Earth Policy, a form of warfare utilized by the Russian army and characterized by mass retreats, leaving all towns, farms, and cities that the opposing forces might desire, burnt to ashes. This policy was even carried out in Moscow, which was set to flames upon Napoleon’s arrival. Napoleon realized that his campaign was a failure, and unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate with Alexander I. In the end, Napoleon ordered his troops to retreat and begin their long journey home. This decision was paralleled by the arrival of the cold in Russia. Much of Napoleon’s army does not survive the voyage out of Russia; therefore, the Grand army ceases to exist. The Russian Campaign is one of the most devastating military ventures in which Napoleon partakes and contributes to his downfall in the following years.
The Russian Campaign did not follow Napoleon’s regular courses of action.
To better understand the difficulties Napoleon encountered during his retreat from Russia visit: http://www.funzac.com/play/The%20Napoleonic%20Retreat.html
The Congress of Vienna was an assembly of representatives from all the states of Europe in September 1814. Even though it was comprised of a variety of representatives, including Talleyrand from France, the members of the Quadruple Alliance acquired final say in all important matters. The Congress erected a barrier of strong nations along the French eastern frontier to assure that no French leader would again be able to expand his or her power across all of Europe. The Congress also recognized the restoration o the pope in the papal states and of former rulers in the smaller duchies. Another action taken by the Congress was the restoration of the Bourbons and Braganzas to power in Spain and Portugal respectively. Also, the Congress created a new Poland, of which Alexander I was ruler and comprised the same are as the Grand Duchy, a “fake” Poland that had previously been created by Napoleon. The only area in which the Congress did not meddle was the Germanic States, which had been reorganized by Napoleon. The Congress dealt due justice to numerous countries after the Napoleonic Era.
One can experience the events of the confrontation at Waterloo first-hand by visiting the Battle simulator at: http://www.pbs.org/empires/napoleon/n_war/ibs/
“Interactive Battle Stimulator.” PBS. N.p., 14 Dec. 2009. Web. 14 Dec. 2009. <http://www.pbs.org/empires/napoleon/n_war/ibs/>.
Moore, Richard. “Love Letters of Napoleon.” Napoleonic Guide. Google, 1999. Web. 14 Dec. 2009. <http://www.napoleonguide.com/lovelett.htm>.
“The Napoleonic Retreat.” Funzac. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2009. <http://www.funzac.com/play/The%20Napoleonic%20Retreat.html>.
“Napoleonic Wars.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, 10 Dec. 2009. Web. 14 Dec. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleonic_Wars>.
Palmer, R. R., Joel Colton, and Lloyd Kramer. A History of the Modern World. New York City: McGraw, 2002. Print.