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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

- World History -
The Napoleonic Era


The Napoleon Era


The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte (1799 - 1813)
By the age of 25, Napoleon Bonaparte had been expelled from the army, was disgraced, despondent and suicidal. One year later, he was the youngest general in France, and began winning victories with ragged troops who were at the point of starvation. "He was like an expert chess player, with the human race for an opponent, which he proposed to checkmate," said Madame Germaine de Stael, a writer and intellectual.

Napolean
Napoleon Bonaparte - 1812. Click the portrait for an enlargement.

Napoleon was a former Jacobin. He was the son of poor nobles. Napoleon joined the Jacobins because, as he wrote in a letter to his brother, "Since one must choose sides, one might as well choose the side that is victorious, the side which devastates, loots, and burns. Considering the alternative, it is better to eat than be eaten."

Napoleon Bonaparte became France's foremost military leader. He drove the British out of France in 1793. Napoleon beat the Austrians in 1796. The Austrian Hapsburgs wanted the monarchs back. Napoleon failed in Egypt, but he kept news of the worst losses from reaching France. He sent people to study Egypt's history, and these people found the Rosetta Stone. Napoleon wanted to establish a base so that France could attack England in both Africa and India.

Napoleon gained the love of the French people by proclaiming, after a victory at Austerlitz, that he would adopt the children of all the soldiers. He then ordered the state to pay for the children's support and education, arrange marriages for the girls, and find jobs for the boys; he let them all add Napoleon to their names.

In 1799, Napoleon was a general in the Middle East. He had just decided to release 1,200 prisoners. Napoleon coughed and said, "Ma sacree Toux." (my confounded cough) His officers thought he said, "Massacrez Tous." (kill them all) The officers executed all 1,200.

Napoleon crowns himself
Napoleon places the crown upon his own head, while a reproving Pope Pius VII looks on.

In November 1799, Napoleon overthrew the Directory, a coup d’etat. France was to remain a Republic, but he made himself First Consul for Life saying, "I am no ordinary man." The people agreed and voted him emperor in 1804. Napoleon invited the Pope to preside over his coronation. He took the crown from the Pope's hands and placed it on his own head to show that he owed his throne to nobody.

Napoleon was a great Leader. He balanced the budget, and established the Bank of France. He controlled prices, started public works to put people to work, and encouraged new industry. Order, security, and efficiency replaced liberty, equality, and fraternity as the slogans of the new regime.

The Napoleonic Code
The Napoleonic Code: no privileges based on birth, freedom of religion, and government jobs went to the most qualified. Several times, he would have the people vote on issues - he always got full support.

Napolean at St. Bernard
Napoleon Bonaparte at St. Bernard - 1800. Click the image for an enlargement.

As his armies marched across Europe, they did away with serfdom and spread liberty and equality. Napoleon reached his height by 1810; he had most of Europe. He divorced his wife to marry a Hapsburg (the niece of Marie Antoinette). Napoleon won many victories, and had several huge losses. He valued rapid movements and made effective use of large armies. He developed new plans for each battle, so the enemy could never figure out what was going to happen next.

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The French Revolution
1. The Old Regime and the Estates General

2. Tennis Court Oath / Storming of the Bastille

3. The Reign of Terror and the Guillotine

The Napoleonic Era
4. The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte

5. Napoleon's Problems /
Results on Europe of the Napoleonic Era

Related Information
Marseillaise, the National Anthem of France

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Historical Periods of
World History Class Study

| Prehistory | Mesopotamia & Phoenicians |
| Ancient Egypt | Greece | Rome |
| Medieval History | Renaissance and Reformation |
| Exploration | National Monarchies |
| The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment |
| Colonial America and American Revolution |
| The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era
|

 

   
 

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Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
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