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To What Extent

Does Napoleon
Deserve His
Reputation As
An Important
Person In

By Eden Crow

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821


Introduction: Napoleon’s Early Life

and Career:
Page 3
Napoleon as Ruler of France from
1799 and Emperor from 1804: 4 - 5
Napoleon and Britain: 6
Napoleon and Russia: 7

Napoleon and the Battle of

Waterloo: 8

Conclusion: 9
Bibliography: 10

2 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.
Introduction: Napoleon’s Early Life and Career

In 1769 (on the 15th August) Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio, Corse-du-Sud, Corsica, France.
At the age of nine (in 1778) he went
to school followed by military school
for seven years and left when he was
sixteen (in 1785). He joined the
artillery in the same year and became
second lieutenant.

Napoleon became sympathetic to the revolution in 1789 and rose through the ranks in the army. In
1796 he married Josephine Beauharnais and was put in charge
of the French army fighting the Austrians in Italy. Napoleon led
the army to win many victories after inspiring the dispirited
soldiers and made the Austrians sign a ceasefire in 1797.

Between 1798 and 1799 Napoleon tried to attack the British but
“his army was ravaged by plague and sickness and Nelson’s
British Navy destroyed many of Napoleon’s own ships.”
However, he had seized Malta and gained a few victories in
Egypt during the expedition.

Napoleon had easily become an important part in the army and one that France needed in just a
short amount of time. Without him in the forces France may have lost a lot more battles. At this
point, Napoleon does not deserve to be a well known figure as he is just a leader of part of the army
and there had been many part-leaders before him, most of which are very unimportant and
Napoleon is no different.

3 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.
Napoleon as Ruler of France from 1799
and Emperor From 1804

In August in 1799, Napoleon returned to Paris after hearing of a military crisis facing the French and
seized control on November the 11th in the “coup d’état” (or Coup de Brumaire).

Wikipedia definition of coup d’état:

A coup d’état is the sudden, unconstitutional deposition of a legitimate government, by a small group of the
State Establishment — usually the military — to replace the deposed government, with another government,
either civil or military. A coup d’état succeeds when the usurpers establish their legitimacy if the attacked
government fail to thwart them, by allowing their (strategic, tactical, political) consolidation and then receiving
the deposed government’s surrender; or the acquiescence of the populace and the non-participant military

Typically, a coup d’état uses the extant government’s power to assume political control of the country. In Coup
d’état: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak says: “A coup consists of the infiltration of a
small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its
control of the remainder”, thus, armed force (either military or paramilitary) is not a defining feature of a coup

Napoleon made a new constitution (set of laws) he was made “First Consul of France”. In five years
time (1804), on the 2nd of December he crowned himself Emperor, using a foiled assassination on his
life to justify the return of the Monarchy. Napoleon got Pope Pius VII to bless the Imperial regalia
and then crowned his wife, Josephine, as Empress.

4 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.
While he was in power, Napoleon made a lot of changes to France. This table shows what France
was like with King Louis, The National Assembly and Emperor Napoleon:

Changes In The Days Of King In The Days Of The In The Days Of

Louis National Assembly Emperor Napoleon
Power He rules alone sharing No single ruler. The He couldn’t be
power. men in the NA shared removed from power.
No elections. power. He had to give
All Frenchmen could permission to all new
vote for who was in NA laws
the NA. No more elections for
the NA. Napoleon
chose its members.
Education Only the rich went to Said that school was 4 types of schools set
school. for everyone but didn’t up (Primary,
Taught to respect King build any new ones. Secondary, Military,
and Church. Taught to question the Technical).
old ways of the church. Taught to respect
Emperor and army
Religion Catholic Church owned Catholic Churched Made an agreement
lots of land and was burned, Priests killed with Pope to let the
very rich. and land taken. Catholic Church back
No other religions Any religion allowed but not give any land
allowed. but the NA wanted back.
none. Napoleon decided all
People’s Rights Anyone could be Everyone given a trail “Enemies of The
thrown into the before imprisonment. Emperor” imprisoned
Bastille without trail. Free speech and press. without trail.
No free speech or Rich people No free speech or
press. guillotined. press.
Rich people treated Everyone equal.
better by law.
Buildings All money went on All efforts were put New roads, canals and
royal palaces and into hunting down bridges built.
gardens. traitors and not Paris made into the
Ordinary roads were in buildings. best capital city in
a terrible condition. Europe.
Lots of statues of

Napoleon did a lot of work on the laws and most of them were very good decisions, really bringing
France forward. Only a few set the French back a few paces (in things such as people’s rights and
power). He definitely deserves some type of reputation at this point, as he has become a ruler of
France. However, not a lot sets him apart from many other rulers and so he does not deserve the full
reputation or which he has today.

5 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.
Napoleon and Britain
In 1803, Britain went back to war against France as the French had become the biggest military
power in Europe. The British set up a naval blockade on France, which stopped France from trading
or receiving supplies from the sea or different countries and from anyone getting out of France
through sea. While the French did manage to evade the blockade a few times, it was not enough to
put any impact on the British.

While France was under blockade, the French built a continental system which kept Britain from
trading in Europe except with Prussia (Napoleon did not control the Prussian ports).Eventually, the
British had to attack Napoleon on land.

When Austria, Russia, Portugal, Sweden and other clients of France started war against the French
after a short lasting treaty, Napoleon was determined to invade Britain. To do so, the French would
have to attack by sea and Britain had a much better naval fleet than the French.

During 1805, the French and British battled, with the British threatened
with invasion, for more than eighteen months. In October, Napoleon
massed a huge army and huge invasion flotilla with the hope of destroying
the British. However, his plan to unite his fleets with the unwilling Spanish
to use them for cover when crossing the channel had been derailed by the
British Royal Navy that summer. Napoleon’s main fleet lied in Cadiz, while
he marched south to invade Austria. Although, it was now very unlikely
that a British invasion would take place, the British
Admiralty assembled a special fleet to get rid of the
threat of the fleet in Cadiz.

On the 19th of October, Napoleon ordered the French commander to begin a

new campaign in the Mediterranean. The French commander was ill-prepared
and his fleet was largely un-tested and (unknowingly to Napoleon and the
commander) the British were waiting for them.

Usually, when attacking by sea, a fleet would come upon the side of the other
fleet to use the cannons on the side of the ship. Instead, at Trafalgar, the British
attacked head on with two columns. Once they had broken the combined line, the British ships were
able to quickly knock the enemy ships out of the battle. The British targeted the enemy flagships and
quickly destroyed the French/Spanish command whilst dodging in and out of the enemy ships. Many
of the French/Spanish ships surrendered. Nelson got wounded during the battle. At about 4.15pm,
Nelson is congratulated on his victory, to which Nelson replied: “Now I am satisfied. Thank God I
have done my duty.” Nelson died at 4.30pm.

The threat of an invasion on Britain was gone, but the British continued to keep a blockade on
France. This battle was very important as it gave Britain complete control of the European seas.
Napoleon had failed on trying to invade Britain. The battle of Trafalgar helped loosen Napoleon’s
grip on Europe and get rid of Napoleon.

6 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.
Napoleon and Russia
Before 1812, Napoleon had been very successful in Europe.

As you can see in the picture

on the left, Napoleon had
control of Italy, The
Confederation of the Rhine
(mostly now Germany), The
Kingdom of Naples (and
some surrounding countries
that are now Italy), The
Swiss Confederation
(Switzerland, The G. D. Of
Warsaw (parts of Belarus,
Ukraine and some
surrounding countries), The
Kingdom of Spain (Spain)
and France (which also
includes Corsica and

To become master of Europe, Napoleon felt that he had to conquer Russia. He planned to invade
along a 480 kilometre front and keep the troops supplied by 9 deports.

In June 1812 Napoleon’s Grand Army (the biggest the World has ever seen) started along the trek to
Russia. However, he found two major problems once he was in Russia. The first was that winter had
set in and Napoleon had told the army not to bring any warm clothes. The second problem was that
the supply train ate one third of all the food during the journey from the depot to the army.

The Russians did not fight the French as the Grand Army was to strong. Instead, the Russians left
their land and took as much as they could and burnt anything which was left. They eventually
reached Moscow and did the same think there too. There was no food or buildings left there.
Napoleon had to retreat. On the way back to France the army had almost no food, not enough warm
clothes and the Russians kept attacking them and random intervals.

When Napoleon started his journey he had 600,000. He returned with just 20,000 (a loss of 580,000
men). Most were lost on the way to Russia. His attack had become a failure and would really lower
morale and numbers in the French army.

7 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.
Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo
In 1814 Napoleon surrendered and was banished to the Mediterranean island of Elba.

Louis the 18th came to power, restoring Monarchy and abolished the Empire.

10 months later Napoleon got word that all of France would celebrate in his return to French
Emperor. Napoleon couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to his former power. In March 1815 he
escaped on a boat disguised as an English ship. On the way, Louis sent many soldiers to get him, but
they all joined him. Eventually, Louis fled and the French fully embraced the return of Napoleon. He
promised to return France back to its days as a ruling country in a massive empire. Meanwhile, the
Europeans who had banished Napoleon officially declared him as an outlaw.

The Duke of Wellington went to Brussels. He had double the amount of soldiers Napoleon had, but
did not underestimate him. The French and British met each other on a 3 mile ridge. Gunfire signals
the beginning of the Battle of Waterloo. However, Napoleon’s tactics are too old fashioned. The
Prussians then come up on Napoleon’s right flank. Later more Prussians join and Napoleon’s army
collapses in the afternoon.

The Duke of Wellington lost 20,000 men to win and Napoleon lost 40,000 to loose.

8 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.
In Conclusion, I think Napoleon was an important person as he completely changed the history of
Europe. If Napoleon had not existed, then we would know a very different world. He started a war
lasting roughly 25 years, meaning many people dead and the living’s thoughts and opinions could
have changed because of it. Trafalgar square (in London) has been made just because of one navy
battle in this war. London would definitely be different if that battle had never taken place.

Napoleon’s changes to France has given people ideas and changed to way countries run that we can
see today. For example, Napoleon’s ideas of schools has (give or take a few ideas) been
implemented in England.

9 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.
Purple Book

10 To What Extent Does Napoleon Deserve His Rep As An Important Person In History?
Text Copyright 2009 Eden Crow. All rights reserved.