Presentation on theme: "Who was Napoleon Bonaparte? Napoleon has been recognized as one of the world’s greatest military geniuses. In only four years, from 1795 to 1799, he rose."— Presentation transcript:
Who was Napoleon Bonaparte? Napoleon has been recognized as one of the world’s greatest military geniuses. In only four years, from 1795 to 1799, he rose from a relatively obscure position as an officer in the French army to become master of France
In October of 1795, Napoleon was told to defend the delegates of the National Convention. Napoleon and his gunners greeted the thousands of royalists with a cannonade. Within minutes, the attackers fled, and Napoleon became the hero of the day. He was hailed throughout Paris as the savior of the French republic.
In 1796, the Directory appointed Napoleon to lead a French army against the forces of Austria and the Kingdom of Sardinia. Crossing the Alps, the young general swept into Italy and won a series of remarkable victories.
Next, in an attempt to protect French trade interests, Napoleon led an expedition into Egypt. Although he suffered defeats in Egypt, he was able to keep stories about his setbacks from the newspapers in France, and maintained a reputation as a great hero.
By 1799, the Directory had lost control of the political situation in France. When Napoleon returned from Egypt, his friends urged him to seize political power. In 1800, the people of France voted in favor of a new constitution. This action gave all real power to Napoleon as first consul.
His first task was to set up an efficient method of tax collection and a national banking system. He also dismissed corrupt officials, and set up government-run public schools, which were opened to male students from all backgrounds.
He also set up the Napoleonic Code, a comprehensive system of laws. These laws eliminated may injustices. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press, however, were both restricted under these laws.
In 1804, Napoleon decided to make himself the emperor of France. The French voters supported him. On December 2, 1804, dressed in s robe of purple velvet, Napoleon walked down the long aisle of Notre Dame, in Paris. The pope waited for him with a crown. Napoleon took the crown from the pope and placed it on his own head. With this gesture, Napoleon signaled that he was more powerful than the Catholic Church.
Napoleon was not content to be the ruler of France. He wanted to control the rest of Europe. In 1803, in order to gain much needed money, he sold all of the Louisiana Territory to the fledgling United States of America.
By 1812, the only areas in Europe not under Napoleon’s control were Britain, Portugal, Sweden and the Ottoman Empire. In addition, Russia, Prussia and Austria were loosely attached to Napoleon’s empire through alliances. Although these countries were not totally under Napoleon’s control, they were easily manipulated by Napoleon by threats of military action.
However, Napoleon’s own personality proved to be his downfall. His desire for power raised him to great heights, but this same desire led to his doom.
Mistake #1: The Continental System This was a blockade Napoleon set up in 1806. It was supposed to make continental Europe more self-sufficient. It was also intended to destroy Great Britain’s commercial and industrial industry.
Why it failed: The blockade wasn’t tight enough. Smugglers were able to get through. Even members of Napoleon’s own family ignored the blockade! In addition, Britain began its own blockade of French goods. Because Britain had a better navy, they were able to make the blockade work.
Mistake #2: In 1808, in an effort to get Portugal to accept the Continental System, Napoleon sent an invasion force through Spain. The Spanish protested this action, and in response, Napoleon put his brother, Joseph, on the Spanish throne.
Why it failed: The Spanish were worried that Napoleon would attack the Catholic Church. For 6 years, bands of guerrillas (Spanish peasant fighters) struck at the French armies. They were not an army that Napoleon could defeat in open battle. Instead, they worked in small groups that ambushed French troops and then went into hiding. The British also sent troops to fight Napoleon.
Throughout Europe, a rising sense of nationalism, or loyalty to one’s own country, was becoming a powerful weapon against Napoleon. People who first welcomed him were beginning to resent the foreign conqueror
Mistake #3: The invasion of Russia In 1812, although the Russian Tsar was Napoleon’s ally, the Russian tsar refused to stop selling grain to Britain. In June 1812, Napoleon and his army marched into Russia. As Napoleon advanced, the Tsar pulled back his troops. As the Russian troops retreated, they burned grain fields and slaughtered livestock. This policy left nothing for Napoleon’s troops to eat
In September 1812, the two armies finally met in battle. After several hours, the Russians pulled back. This allowed Napoleon to march into Moscow. Yet, when Napoleon entered Moscow, it was in flames. The Russians chose to burn their city than let it fall into enemy hands. Napoleon stayed in the ruined city until October, and then he decided to retreat to France.
This was disastrous for the French army. Snow came early, and Russian raiders were able to attack Napoleon’s army. Although Napoleon started with 420,000 men, by the time the army struggled out of Russia in December, only 10,000 soldiers were left.
In only a few months, Napoleon was able to raise another army. Most of these new soldiers, however, were unprepared for battle. By January 1814, the Napoleon’s enemies were pushing steadily toward Paris. In April 1814, Napoleon surrendered, and gave up his throne. He was then given a small pension and banished to the tiny island of Elba.