History: European Essays & Paper Examples

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Essay On Napoleon Bonaparte

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Napoleon Bonaparte is considered by some a reformer and by others a monster, although all must agree that the emperor of France, and for sixteen years most of Europe, one of the greatest military and political geniuses of all time. Napoleon took advantage of every opportunity time after time. In November 1799, Napoleon joined with Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes and other plotters in designing a coup d'etat to overthrow the Directory of France. Quickly revising the Constitution, the plotters set up a decennial consulate in which Bonaparte was nominally first consul, but actually the effective head of government. The coup did not give Napoleon power, but an opportunity to fulfill the destiny in which he was acquiring at an unbelievable pace. He used the opportunity with astonishing vigor and rapidity to crush the Austrians of Marengo in Northern Italy, and to impose on them the Peace Treaty of Luneville in 1801. Only Great Britain remained a threat to France. War weary and isolated, Great Britain made peace in 1802 by signing the Peace of Amiens. Due to this peace, Napoleon, the triumphant first consul, pacified the Continent and ended ten years of revolutionary wars. Napoleon surrounded himself with dedicated and technically competent associates, and with extraordinary energy and great confidence in himself. Napoleon utilized his victories and the interval of peace to make himself virtual dictator of France. In the eyes of the overwhelming majority of the French, his absolute power seemed merited. When Napoleon became emperor in 1804, he had already proved himself to France and the rest of Europe by a remarkable reorganization of the institutions in his country. He abolished feudalism and serfdom to treat everyone equal and give them a chance to work through the ranks. Napoleon suppressed brigandage and disorder, secured life and property, founded the Bank of France, regularized the collection of taxes, and gave encouragement and financial aid to Frances disrupted industries. Napoleon also set up centrally and local administrative governments based upon honesty, efficiency, and stability. He also set up the civil code, which revolutionized the legal and judicial system in France. Napoleon, to overcome opposition to the papacy and win the good will of the Roman Catholics within France, negotiated the Concordat of 1801 that satisfied the moderates on both sides and regulated church-state relations for over a century. He also set up public education, established the University of France to educate the people of France and created the Legion of Honor to honor men that fell in battle. Napoleon Bonaparte may be considered a monster by some, but if he were a monster he was a successful monster. Napoleon did conquer many lands, but he also made many political contributions that made his life as a leader a success. Bonaparte, by restoring health to a sick country and by strengthening the foundation of France without revoking the essential achievements of the French revolution, deserves the nickname he gave himself in 1799, "the child of the revolution."

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