Napoleon Bonaparte is a highly debated figure in academic circles pertaining to if he was a tyrant or a good leader. The knowledge most commonly associated with Napoleon paints him as an intelligent, successful military leader and emperor of France. As stated by Napoleon "history is a set of lies agreed upon". Which I find to be a very truthful and appropriate statement from a man whose history is concealed in lies. This essay will be discussing how Napoleon Bonaparte was indeed a tyrant.
Document C explains that Napoleon believed in better education for France and thought better education would help create a stronger military. Napoleon Bonaparte was a hero for France because he believed in better education for the people of France, he wanted to get rid of the tyrants of other countries to better the lives of people under their rule, and people had civil rights, which they didn’t have prior to his reign as
Altogether, the advances made by Napoleon changed the course of European history, inspiring other European countries to fight for independence over tyranny, by appearing as a hero to some and a tyrant to others. To many in France, Napoleon was viewed as a hero with great power. Napoleon was an inspirational leader of his men. In Document 1, Napoleon addressed his army before they embarked on a campaign. He promised to lead them into “the most fertile plains”.
Taking advantage of his rising popularity, Napoleon became the ruler of France and eventually the ruler of an empire. Napoleon Bonaparte had a positive impact on France and Europe due to the military, political and economic stability he restored to France, the laws he put in place, the reforms he introduced to the European countries he conquered and his improvement of the education system. After a time of uncertainty in France brought about by the French Revolution, Napoleon restored the stability of France through the military. France had experienced a time of military failure during the 1790’s when other European nations declared war on France. Napoleon emerged in this time as a skilled soldier and tactician.
Napoleon At the start of the French Revolution, Napoleon shared the same radical ideas as many of the French people at the time. However once he became emperor, maintaining power and control became more important than the interest of the people. It is debatable whether or not he was a democratic reformer or absolute dictator because even though he was able to create stability in post-revolutionary France, he also centralized power around himself. Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea that belongs to the French. His father was a part of a noble Italian family and when the French took control, the family was able to maintain their status.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Napoleon’s adversaries believe all those good deeds can not overshadow the crimes against humanity Napoleon committed for the hunger of European dominance. Formerly a skilled general he was responsible for a constant state of war in Europe that had benefitted France for only a short term. Bonaparte couldn’t rest until he had control of the whole continent and all he knew was fighting. He tried to enforce a European wide blockade of Britain, invading any country that didn’t comply and launched more wars to hold on to his gains. (Gendler) Many modern dictators such as
From the beginning, Robespierre followed the ideology of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Andress 105). It was not uncommon for political leaders of the Revolution to follow the philosophies of the Enlightenment thinkers; therefore, his political notions were not so far-flung and radical for the time. Robespierre worked alongside the republic’s government and used this opportunity to influence decisions made regarding the public. He would speak of his need for the extreme measures that took as well as voice the fears of his people, including starvation, death, and the degradation of the nation (Andress 103). The government was also known to be violent from time to time, which influenced the ruler to use terrorism as a means of gaining power (Andress 105).
When it comes to Napoleon there are two views you can have. He was a hero, a champion of the revolutionary ideals who almost united Europe under one flag. He was a demon, a villain who betrayed the revolution that he came into power through, and he dealt more damage to it than all of the ancien regime combined. Some major figures in European history have had the former opinion, Charles De Gaulle, while others have had the latter opinion, Ludwig van Beethoven. Personally, when I think about what happened before, during, and after the revolution, as well as the basic causes and the core of the revolution, I have to agree with the later opinion despite my deep and heartfelt admiration for both Napoleon and his accomplishments.
The French Revolution ended when Napoleon Bonaparte, a military genius, stepped in and dismantled the Directory, which promoted middle class interests, and helped with financial crisis and food shortages. Napoleon crowned himself emperor of France, and made a new social order called the Napoleonic Code. Although there may be many reasons he reversed the spirit of the French Revolution, he modernized and changed the political and social construct immensely, for the good of France. The main trait that Napoleon is known for is his genius military mind. He studied at a military school and was an officer by the age of 16.
Richard Neustadt, Presidential Scholar at Harvard University, once said of the greatest leader in American history, “It wasn’t his generalship that made him stand out...it was the way he attended to and stuck by his men. His soldiers knew that he respected and cared for them, and that he would share their severe hardships.” This is the full characterization of this great leader’s style. He never asked of his followers what he did not, first, demand of himself. He could inspire others to do what they could not even imagine possible. He not only conveyed a galvanizing vision, but he also lived it.