Napoleon’s Background • Born in on the island of Corsica in 1769. • Sent to Military school in France at the age of 9. • Graduated at 16 and became a lieutenant in the French Artillery. • At the age of 26 he became a hero defending the National Convention from an attack by Royalists. • A year later the Directory put Napoleon in charge of the entire French Army. Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821
Napoleon the Statesman • In 1799 Napoleon staged a coup d’ tat and took over the French Government. • He set up a new constitution based on the old Roman Consulate giving him complete control as dictator. • This was ratified by a plebiscite or free election, in which the people of France, desperate for strong leadership, accepted Napoleon’s Dictatorship.
Napoleon’s Successes • Dominated France’s Enemies on the Battlefield. • Compromise with the Roman Catholic Church • Restructure of the government. • Reform of the legal and tax systems.
Victory on the Battlefield • Through conquest of northern Italy Napoleon helped defeat the first coalition against France during the revolution which included Austria, Prussia, England, Spain and the Netherlands. • He then led the French to a conquest of Egypt from the Ottoman Empire • When he returned from Egypt, he defeated a second coalition which included Russia, Austria, Portugal and the Ottoman Turks. • Later he defeated of the Austrian and Russian forces of a third coalition at the battle of Austerlitz. • Finally he defeated a forth coalition made up of Prussian and Russian forces in central Europe. • He seemed virtually unbeatable on the battlefield for nearly a decade from 1798 to 1808.
Peace with the Church • The French Revolution had caused a great rift between the French Government and the Roman Catholic Church. • The Church had been the target of much persecution during the radical phase of the revolution and all Church property in France had been seized and redistributed as private property. • Napoleon signed a concordat with the Pope which proclaimed Roman Catholicism as the cultural religion of the French Empire while maintaining separation of Church and state and retaining the property seized during the Revolution. • The Pope received control of the Vatican state (Rome) and was allowed conduct Church affairs freely. • Napoleon gained the good will of French Catholics who wanted to return to the Church and his regime was blessed by the Church in a public ceremony.
Restructured the Government • Napoleon tried to make the government more efficient through a merit based state bureaucracy. • He appointed and trained groups of young and bright apprentice bureaucrats which helped centralize the government through a system of civil service. • This system was supported by state sponsored secondary school called lyceeswhich educated a new generation of military officers and government bureaucrats and offered equal opportunity to civil service.
Tax and Legal Reforms • Napoleon established the Bank of France to facilitate state finances. • He ordered a land survey and established a new and fair direct tax system. • He established a single uniformed legal code throughout France which protected property rights and enshrined the equality of all people under the law as well as freedom of religion.
Napoleon’s Failures Napoleon was myopic in his goals and lacked a global perspective which lead to his downfall: • He failed to create an effective navy to fight England. • Then he tried to economically destroy England through and unrealistic European trade embargo called the Continental System. • To enforce this embargo he became entrenched in the Peninsular war in Spain against guerilla tactics. • Finally he destroyed his Grand Army in a disastrous invasion of Russia.
Napoleon was forced to abdicate in 1814 and was exiled to the island of Elba. He escaped in 1815 and took control of France for 100 days until his defeat at Waterloo. He was imprisoned on the island of St. Helena and died there in 1821. Napoleon makes a comeback.
Although a dictator, Napoleon ruled by popular mandate and his empire spread the ideals of the French Revolution throughout Europe and gave birth to Nationalism. The Napoleonic Code became, and remains, the basic model of all European legal systems. Napoleon’s policies led to the eventual establishment of public education and universal male suffrage throughout Europe. Napoleon’s sale of the Louisiana territory to the United States insured that England would someday be overshadowed by the new American nation. Napoleon’s Legacy
Presentation Writing Prompts:Write a thesis and provide support for each. • Evaluate Napoleon as a historical figure. Was he a success or a failure? • Identify Napoleon’s greatest success and greatest failure as emperor of France? • Analyze the success or failure of the French Revolution in terms of Napoleon’s rise to power. • Explain the significance of Napoleon to the study of European History. What lesson can be learned from such a study?
Essay Assignment • Choose one of your prompts and write a full essay of one to two pages in length. • Provide support paragraphs to defend your thesis. • Use your textbook or other outside sources to provide concrete details within your support.