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Essay/Term paper: Caesar and naopoleon

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities Essays

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Bonaparte's success as a military leader and conqueror can also be seen in


great leader, Julius Caesar. Both Napoleon and Caesar achieved great glory


bringing their countries out of turmoil. It was Caesar, that Napoleon

modeled himself

after, he wanted to be as great, if not greater than Caesar.

Looking to the past, Napoleon

knew what steps to take in order to achieve


Napoleon devoured books on the art of war. Volume after volume of


theory was read, analyzed and criticized. He studied the campaigns

of history's most

famous commanders; Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Frederick

the Great and his favorite

and most influential, Julius Caesar (Marrin 17).


Caesar was the strong leader for the Romans who changed the course of


of the Greco - Roman world decisively and irreversibly. Caesar was able to


the Roman Empire because of his strength and his strong war strategies

(Duggan 117).

Julius Caesar was to become one of the greatest generals,

conquering the whole of Gaul.

In 58 BC, Caesar became governor and military

commander of Gaul, which included

modern France, Belgium, and portions of

Switzerland, Holland, and Germany west of the

Rhine. For the next eight years,

Caesar led military campaigns involving both the Roman

legions and tribes

in Gaul who were often competing among themselves. Julius Caesar

was a Roman

general and statesman whose dictatorship was pivotal in Rome"s transition


republic to empire (Duggan 84).

Caesar's principles were to keep his forces

united; to be vulnerable at no point, to

strike speedily at critical points;

to rely on moral factors, such as his reputation and the

fear he inspired,

as well as political means in order to insure the loyalty of his allies and


submissiveness of the conquered nations. He made use of every possible

opportunity to

increase his chances of victory on the battlefield and, in

order to accomplish this, he

needed unity of all his troops (Duggan 117).

From the time that he had first faced battle in Gaul and discovered his

own military

genius, Caesar was evidently fascinated and obsessed by military

and imperial problems.

He gave them an absolute priority over the more delicate

by no less fundamental task of

revising the Roman constitution. The need

in the latter sphere was a solution which would

introduce such elements of

authoritarianism, which were necessary to check corruption

and administrative

weakness (Grant, Caesar 61).

The story of all his battles and wars has been

preserved in Caesar's written

account, Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, originally

published in 50 B.C. For this

period, Caesar is the only existent source

providing first-hand descriptions of Britain.

While no doubt self-serving

in a political sense when written, Caesar's account is

nevertheless regarded

as basically accurate and historically reliable (Frere 68).

Caesar was

appointed dictator for a year starting in 49 B.C., for two years in 48


for ten years in 46 B.C. and finally dictator for life in 44 B.C. Taking over


Dictator for life, enabled Caesar to gain unrestricted power. He was

able to run a strong

military and even though he was considered only a dictator

he wrote laws that actually

made him have the same powers as a king. The

conspirators saw the problem that had

arised and so they planned the murder

of Caesar on the Ides of March. Caesar was killed

and there was another triumvirate

(government ruled by three) formed. Caesar was a

strong military leader that

had showed strength and courage to take over the town and he

was able to form

a civilization that was strong militarily and politically (Grant, Caesar


Caesar was one of the great generals of history; his name became synonymous


leadership, hence the titles Kaiser, and Tsar.

Having been promoted

over the heads of older officers, Napoleon's unbroken run

of victories over

the armies of both Austria and Piedmont established his credibility as a


while his concern for his previously ill-equipped soldiers won their loyalty.


the storming of a bridge at Lodi, he fought alongside his troops, and earned


them the nickname of "the little corporal" (Castelot 68).

Under the

new government Napoleon was made commander of the French army in

Italy. During

this campaign the French realized how smart Napoleon was. He developed a


that worked very efficiently. He would cut the enemy's army in to two parts,


throw all his force on one side before the other side could rejoin them

(Weidhorn 86).

Napoleon read Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic Wars and

took note of the

propaganda he used. Napoleon would also use favorable descriptions

of battle to sell

himself to the Directory and to the people. Letters were

written that showed Napoleon as

the victor even when he lost battles in Egypt.

The factualness of these letters were never

tested but proved to be a force

in showing his strength and ability to lead an army against

far bigger enemies

(Marrin 99).

Napoleon returned to find the Directory was a mess. He, in

his selfish way, saw

this as the perfect time for self-advancement. So in

November of 1799 he overthrew the

Directory. Napoleon set up a government

called the Consulate. He was the first of three

consuls. Three years later

he made himself first consul for life. Everyone in France loved

Napoleon at

that time. Then he started increasing his power (Marrin 81-82).


started calling himself Napoleon I, instead of General Bonaparte. He had


political and military power in France. But he still hadn't built up his great


empire. The Austrian's had been defeated at Marenegro. The German states and


were tired of fighting so they signed a peace treaty of Aimens in 1802. This


the first time since 1792 that France was at peace with the whole world.

During the next

14 months of peace Napoleon drastically altered Europe and

reshaped France. He became

president of the Italian Republic, he reshaped

Switzerland with France. He annexed

Piedmont, Parma, and the island of Elba

to France (Marrin 82-86).

Through his military exploits and his ruthless

efficiency, Napoleon rose from

obscurity to become Napoleon I, Emperor of

France. He is both a historical figure and a

legend, Napoleon was one of the

greatest military commanders in history. He has also

been portrayed as a power

hungry conqueror. Napoleon denied being such a conqueror.

He argued that,

instead, he had attempted to build a federation of free peoples in a Europe


under a liberal government. But if this was his goal he intended to achieve

it by

concentrating power in his own hands (Castelot 96). However, in the

states he created,

Napoleon granted constitutions, introduced law codes, abolished

feudalism, created

efficient governments and fostered education, science,

literature and the arts (Castelot 97).

Emperor Napoleon proved to be a superb

civil administrator. One of his greatest

achievements was his supervision

of the revision and collection of French law into codes.

The new law codes,

seven in number, incorporated some of the freedoms gained by the

people of

France during the French revolution, including religious toleration and the


of serfdom. The most famous of the codes, the Code Napoleon or Code Civil,


forms the basis of French civil law (Marrin 90).

Napoleon should have learned

from Caesar's one mistake of having too much

power, because it would eventually

cause him to be exiled to the island of Elba. The

Grand Alliance had crushed

Napoleon's Grande Armee. Napoleon tried conquering all of

Europe, but not

all of Europe wanted to be ruled by a military dictator. Instead, they


the return of the Bourbon empire, where peace could be restored and power


so no ruler could take matters into his own hands again. Too much power


became the downfall of Napoleon as it did Caesar. People became fearful and


not like that one person could control all of Europe. In the beginning they


supportive because he ended the wars and fighting, but now he brought

it back which

made his citizens oppose him and what he stood for (Weidhorn


Napoleon and Caesar took their struggling nations out of turmoil and


them order, and for that the people loved them. Caesar put an end to

the Gallic and Civil

wars that Rome was involved in, with that, he entered

into power . Napoleon took France

out of the French Revolution by overthrowing

the then government, the Directory.

Napoleon instated a new government the

Consulate and crowned himself first Consul and

three years later, Consul for

life, Caesar became all powerful when named dictator for life.

Both men knew

in order to be a successful leader, they had to have the full support of the


Power and territory were increased, because there armies were always the


and responsible for putting down any revolts that might occur. Caesar introduced


and Napoleon followed his lead. Favorable accounts were written which


to give them a political edge, and the support of the people. Caesar was a


of his people and gave many lands to his soldiers and to the poor,

he built bridges, roads

and waterworks. Napoleon was also civil in the beginning

of his reign, abolishing

serfdom, passing laws and granting universal male

suffrage. Both men were well liked

until they abused there powers and privileges.

They fell for the same reason, too much

power. Caesar was murdered because

his role as dictator came to close to being a king

and Napoleon did not know

where to draw the line and his army eventually turned against



Bonaparte was able to rise to power because of another great general


came before him, Julius Caesar. Napoleon was a success because he looked to


past, and emulated Caesar; he built up his army, conquered most of Europe,

became a

dictator for life and eventually fell from power, because like Caesar,

he did not know

where to draw the line.



Thomas. The French Revolution Complete and Unabridged. New York:


House, Inc., 1837.

Castelot, Andre. Napoleon. New York: Harper & Row

Publishers Inc., 1971.

Duggan, Alfred. Julius Caesar A Great Life in Brief.

New York: Borzoi Books,


Ellis, Peter Berrsford. Caesar's Invasion

of Britian. New York: New York

University Press, 1978.

Frere, Sheppard.

Britannia: A History of Roman Britain (3rd edition). London:

Routledge &

Kegan Paul, 1987.

Grab, Walter. The French Revolution The Beginning of

Modern Democracy.

London: Bracken Books, 1989.

Grant, Michael. Julius

Caesar. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1969.

Grant, Michael. Caesar.

Chicago: Follett Publishing Company, 1975.

Herold, J. Christopher. The

Age of Napoleon. New York: American Heritage

Publishing Co., Inc., 1963.


J. Christopher and Marshall B. Davidson. The Horizon Book of The Age


Napoleon. New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1963.


James. Napoleon The Last Campaigns 1813-1815. New York: Crown


Inc., 1977.

Marrin, Albert. Napoleon and The Napoleonic Wars. New York:


Books, 1991.

Weidhorn, Manfred. Napoleon. New York: Macmillian

Publishing Company,


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