Napoleon Bonaparte (1768-1821)

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Napoleon Bonaparte (1768-1821)
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  • “Great military leaders of the world”

Napoleon Bonaparte (1768-1821)

The Early Years

  • Napoleon Bonaparte was born on the island of Corsica in 1768
  • His parents were Italian nobles living on the island
  • At age 9 he enrolled in a French military school

As a Young Soldier

  • Napoleon was often teased for his Corsican accent and his height (only 5’3”)
  • He quickly earned respect of his peers by working hard and becoming a brilliant military strategist.

Savior of the Revolution

  • During the French Revolution, Napoleon won several important battles against the Austrians & Prussians.
  • He quickly became a general, and saved the Directory (post-revolution government) from royalists (people who wanted to return a king to power)

Napoleon Seizes Power

  • In 1799, a popular Napoleon launches a Coup d’Etat (sudden seizure & overthrow) on the weak and corrupt Directory.
  • Napoleon is victorious and seizes control of France as a consul (dictator)

Absolute Rule

  • Despite overthrowing the absolute King Louis XVI in 1792, the people of France now support Napoleon as an absolute leader. Why?
  • They would rather have peace and order than bloodshed and uncertainty

Napoleon as Emperor

  • In 1804, Napoleon crowns himself Emperor of the French by grabbing the crown out of the Pope’s hands.
  • He also crowns his wife Josephine Empress as well.
  • This signified his power over the Catholic Church

His Divorce

  • At dinner on November 30, 1809, he let his wife Josephine know that “in the interest of France” he must find a wife who could produce an heir (son). Josephine was devastated. They soon divorced.
  • On March 11, 1810, Napoleon married 19 year old Marie Louise, an Austrian princess.
  • This proved to be a wise move, allying France with Austria.

Napoleon’s Accomplishments

  • Built largest European empire since Rome
  • Sold Louisiana Territory to U.S. in 1803 for 15 million.
  • Set up fair tax code
  • Hires government officials based on merit
  • Created public schools for all (called Lycees)
  • Restores Catholicism in France
  • Creates Napoleonic Code (laws)

Napoleon’s Empire: 1812

Nationalism: Blessing & Curse

  • Due to Napoleon’s new policies and conquests, nationalism (intense love & pride in one’s nation) in France was at an all-time high.
  • But in areas defeated and conquered by France, a strong feeling of hatred towards Napoleon arose. People began to join together as one to fight against France.

Napoleon’s 3 Big Mistakes

The Continental System

  • Napoleon attempted to set up a naval blockade preventing Britain from trading with rest of Europe
  • Many nations ignored it and Britain was able to bust through it (too many holes)
  • Seeking revenge, Britain launched their own blockade which hurt France’s economy

The Peninsular War

  • France attacks Spain for ignoring the Continental system.
  • Over 6 years, Spain uses Guerilla warfare techniques to inflict massive casualties on the French military

Invasion of Russia-1812

  • Napoleon invades Russia for trading with Great Britain
  • As Russian troops retreat to Moscow, they burn everything down (scorched earth policy) leaving nothing for the French
  • Never receiving a surrender from the Russian czar, Napoleon decides to retreat in Winter.
  • 590,000 of 600,000 French troops starve or freeze to death!

Exile to Elba

  • With his forces greatly weakened, Napoleon is defeated by a combined British, Russian, and Prussian force.
  • He is banished to the tiny Island of Elba in the Mediterranean Sea in 1815

Napoleon’s 100 Days

  • After a year on Elba, Napoleon raises a small army and escapes back to France
  • He once again becomes Emperor and attempts to strengthen his army
  • The French welcome his return

Napoleon’s Last Stand

  • Seeking to finish him off for good, the British and Prussians meet Napoleon at Waterloo, Belgium
  • Napoleon and his inexperienced army is defeated.
  • He is exiled for good to St. Helena, an island in the South Atlantic

Napoleon’s Death

  • After 6 years on St. Helena, Napoleon dies of Stomach cancer in 1821.
  • Much controversy surrounds his death
  • It is thought by many that the British may have poisoned him

Napoleon’s Legacy

  • Know as one of the greatest military leaders of all time
  • Nationalism throughout Europe rose during and after his reign.
  • The Congress of Vienna (1815)is called to figure out how to create peace between nations.
  • After his defeat, Europe experiences relative peace between nations for 100 years until WWI.

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