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Essay/Term paper: Napoleon

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

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In the early 19th century a man by the name of Napoleon

Bonaparte led a Coup D"etat that created a new government

in France. This new government started out with a tribunal

leadership, which Napoleon was first consul, and later

changed to an empire with Napoleon as emperor. Some

people believe that he made the revolution better and

expanded the revolution but this is not true. The facts, when

closely looked at, prove that Napoleon effectively destroyed

the revolution by telling the people of his country one thing

while he was actually planning on doing something totally

different. He deceived people so well that he is still

convincing people today that he was a defender of the

revolution. With this pack of deception Napoleon set the

people of France back into the 18th century by killing off a

great number of the young population in his wars. He led the

people of France to believe that he was spreading the

revolution throughout Europe but the truth is that he believed

that in order to be a great leader he would have to invade

and conquer many foreign lands. He controlled what the

people wrote and read through the media. It all started with

a coup against the government that he was fighting for. The

Coup D"etat, led by Napoleon, took place at the perfect

time because the Jacobins were losing power and there were

many people being executed for allegedly being monarchists.

In the courts a person was not able to speak in their defense

so if the prosecutor made a good enough argument the

charged would be executed by the guillotine. There were

many innocent people who were executed, and many more

who were afraid. After the coup a referendum was held in

1802 that made Napoleon First Consul for life. This was his

first step in turning France back into a monarchy. The next

step was in 1804 when a second referendum was held that

made him Emperor. The people really had no choice. They

could have an Emperor and essentially turn back into a

monarchy or return to the governmental insatiability that they

had been living in for about 10 years before Napoleon came

into the spotlight. The electorate, whom were the people that

owned land and were the only citizens who were allowed to

vote, overwhelmingly voted in favor of making Napoleon

Emperor. Napoleon after all was the lesser of the two evils.

After the vote Napoleon granted general amnesty that freed

anyone, most notably himself, from being tried in court for

any political crimes. Napoleon vowed to implement the

ideals of the tennis court oath that was the actual beginning

of the revolution. He created a legislature and left it

powerless. It could not make any laws, it could only suggest

what laws the emperor should make and it could not

examine the finances of the country. This legislature was the

beginning of a large plan to deceive the French people into

believing that he was spreading the revolution. The

Napoleonic Wars was the largest plan of deceit by

Napoleon. These series of wars basically killed off a whole

generation of French people. To finance and fight these

series of wars Napoleon had to have the support of the

French public. To get this he told the people that the rest of

Europe was against the revolution and would not let any

changes take place so he was going to take a large army and

force the rest of Europe to recognize the revolution. The

people liked this idea but that was not really the reason why

Napoleon was going to invade Europe. He thought that in

order to be a great leader he would have to have many

victories in battle. All of these battles took a toll on the age

group of 21 through 50. As he needed more men he

widened the age limitations. One such war that was foolishly

fought was with Russia after the relations between Alexander

I and Napoleon deteriorated. Napoleon invaded Russia but

as the Russian army moved back they burned anything that

Napoleon could use. When the harsh winter set in there was

nothing for the French troops to protect themselves against

the winter with because it was all burned. Napoleon did not

use supply lines, what he did use was what he found in the

places that he took control of, this usually worked. Of the

600,000 men that went into Russia only 50,000 returned to

France. With this large population killed off the development

of France during the Industrial Revolution was hindered

greatly while their main opponent, Britain, prospered greatly.

Napoleon"s loss of life in his wars overshadow the great

things that he did as a leader on the battlefield. The people

who supported these wars started to see that Napoleon was

starting to lose his touch on the battlefield. He lost support

and he still had many more blunders to make before his fall.

The next great blunder of Napoleon"s was the Continental

System. All of the time he was Emperor he could not

manage to launch an attack on Britain. Any time there was a

force fighting against France, Britain was fighting or financing

it. To weaken Britain Napoleon came up with the

Continental System. This plot by Napoleon was to stop all

trading between Britain and the rest of Europe. At first it

looked as if it was a good plan but Britain made new

markets outside Europe. They created markets in such

places as the New World and Asia. When the rest of

Europe saw the success that Britain was having they broke

the blockade. With the blockade no longer in place Britain

became the new trade power in the world replacing France.

France was now losing in the Industrial Revolution and the

power struggle with Britain. Napoleon did a few things right

during his reign as Emperor. The single most thing he is

remembered for is the Code Napoleon. This code was the

first civil law code of it"s kind during modern times. It

guaranteed such things as protection of personal property,

equality of all citizens before the law and basic rights such as

education. Feudalism and class privileges were abolished.

The code is still in place in Belgium, it was also an influence

for civil codes in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Louisiana

(USA), and the province of Quebec. The constitution that he

set up in Switzerland is still in place today. Napoleon also

centralized schools, created a standard set of currency, and

created a national bank. For a short period of time he

balanced the budget which not many leaders before him had

done. Even today the richest countries in the world such as

the United States and Canada cannot balance their budgets.

If Napoleon was for basic rights then why would he take the

privilege of freedom of the press and freedom of speech

away? Napoleon saw that throughout the revolution the

press had the power to influence the way that people saw

their leaders. If a journalist made a good enough argument in

a writing and the Paris mobs agreed with the argument then

the person would be found guilty of something and be

executed. Napoleon knew that in order to maintain power

he would have to control the press. Controlling the press

goes against a persons rights. This was another deception

that Napoleon used to hide the truth from his people. Saying

that people had basic rights but at the same time he had the

right to take away the public"s right to say and write

whatever they wanted to say. This is one of the privileges

that the revolution fought for but Napoleon took that

privilege away without the consent of the people that fought

for it. When something like taking away rights can happen

without consent then there is no doubt that the government is

a monarchy. This all looks like the monarchy that the French

revolution destroyed it is just changed and hidden from the

public. It"s like saying that Napoleon was right and the rest

of Europe was wrong. With the whole of Europe joining

coalitions to fight against this emperor, they must have

known what Napoleon was really fighting for. He wanted to

take over Europe and when he won a number of victories he

thought that he could take over the world. He thought too

big too fast and underestimated things like harsh winters and

the ability of his opponents to get stronger. The setting up a

fake legislature to make the people think that he was

working in their interests was a good way of getting people

on his side. In some countries peasant and working classes

relished the thought of Napoleon leading their country. After

he took power the people started to feel oppressed and

became unhappy when relatives of Napoleon"s became their

Kings. The thing that topped it off was the fact that the Code

Napoleon did not allow changes for the different countries.

These facts prove without a doubt that Napoleon lied to his

people so they would support him. While he was doing this

lying he managed to kill off most of a generation of French,

which left France behind in the Industrial Revolution, and

turn the Republic that the revolution had fought for back into

a Monarchy. V  

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