Napoleon’s Empire Collapses By Lucas Research Outline I. Introduction – (Brief comment leading into subject matter – Thesis statement on the reasons why Napoleon’s empire collapsed) II. Body – Napoleon’s success and the process of the downfall, the reasons why the empire collapsed A. Napoleon’s story 1. Napoleon’s success a. Napoleon rose through the army b. Napoleon defeated Coalitions and became the emperor 2. The process of the downfall of the empire a. Many Coalitions were held against Napoleon b. Napoleon was force to abdicate, but he became the emperor again c.
Waterloo Napoleons Last Battle B. The reasons of the downfall of the empire 1. Napoleon’s characters a. Positive characters that lead the empire to downfall b. Negative characters that lead the empire to downfall 2. Napoleon’s domestic affairs and policies a. Debts and vast cost caused heavy taxes b. The empire was controlled by Napoleon’s family c. The Continental System 3. Napoleon’s foreign affairs and policies a. Fought against Spain b. Invaded Russia c. Napoleon allied with feudalism force d. Anti-French alliance III. Conclusion A. Analytical summery
B. Evaluation of Napoleon C. Concluding statement Napoleon Bonaparte was the First Consul of the First French Republic, Emperor of the First Empire of France and Hundred Days. Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the greatest strategists and politicians in world history. Under his rule, France became the strongest country in the Europe. However, after his empire achieved the height of power and splendor, it suddenly fell from grace in a short time. Why did such a strong empire fall in such a short time? This is the question that has been deliberated by many professors and historians.
There are three main reasons that led Napoleon’s empire to collapse: the disadvantages of Napoleon’s characters, domestic affairs and policies, foreign affairs and policies. Napoleon’s story Napoleon was born at Ajaccio in Corsica to parents of noble Italian ancestry. He trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. He rose through the army and came to power step by step. In 1799, he staged a coup d’etat and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. Since Napoleon came to power, he did pay much attention to governing the country.
He restored France’s order and defeated the Anti-French Coalition again and again. Napoleon then became the absolute leader of most of the land of Europe. “The only major European countries outside Napoleon’s power were Britain, the Ottoman empire, Russia and Sweden” (Krieger). Napoleon’s empire held together for only five years and then was broken into pieces. In 1806, Napoleon started the Continental System in order to destroy the economy of Britain, but it also hurt France’s economy. During 1808—1813, Spanish peasants fought Napoleon’s army in Spain.
In 1812, Napoleon decided to conquer Russia and he lost the war. These military actions weakened Napoleon’s power greatly. In 1815, Napoleon was defeated by the seventh Anti-French Coalition in the Battle of Waterloo. From then on, Napoleon’s empire lowly collapsed. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena and he died in 1821. The reasons for the downfall of the empire Napoleon’s characters Both of Napoleon’s positive and negative characters led his empire to downfall. Napoleon’s positive characteristics, such as confidence, optimism, and bravery broke him down.
First, self-confidence made Napoleon so over-confident that he underestimated the situation by mistake. For instance, he wanted to make Spain under his rule, so he planned to make his brother Joseph king of Spain. “He thought the Spanish would accept his tyranny and obey his policies, but he was totally wrong. Spanish not only fought against Napoleon but also weakened his empire greatly” (Ribbe). Since Napoleon’s decision showed no respect but metamorphic confidence, the Spanish fought him off. Napoleon’s optimism predicted Napoleon’s failure as well.
In 1814, Napoleon defeated the Anti-French troop at Brenner city; he thought he would win again. He separated his troops in order to attack his enemies, but he did not realize that he left the way to Paris unimpeded for his enemies. It led Napoleon to the loss of the wars against the sixth Anti-French Coalition. Moreover, Napoleon’s bravery made him succeed in his wars, but it also made him ignore his soldiers’ feelings. Once he got involved in a battle, he would fight until he won. So once he lost, he lost his army’s power, soldiers and morale.
After losing those important foundations, he was not able to control such a huge empire any more. Beside those positive characters, Napoleon also had some negative characters that overset him. Ambition is the uppermost characteristics that made his empire collapse quickly. For example, in 1812, Napoleon’s ambition extended to Russia. His army invaded Russia. Alexander I carried out a scorched-earth policy. Whatever Napoleon captured, the Russians burnt everything before retreating. Day after day, Napoleon’s army ran out of supplies. Finally, Napoleon lost the war in a painful way.
Not only Napoleon but also his empire and his people suffered the consequence of his unreasonable ambition. Napoleon was haughty and self-centered; he did not like listening to others’ suggestions. He always made decisions himself, because he believed he could put everything under his control. “Talleyrand, who was Napoleon’s foreign minister, said: “During the period when he was willing to accept the truth, I was loyally frank with him, and indeed, remained so later…but from the moment I saw him initiate the revolutionary enterprises, hich resulted in losing France, I left the ministry… After Tilsit, however, he was no longer in a mood to listen to anyone. ”(Schom) In summary, although Napoleon had positive characteristics, he kept those characters in an unreasonable way and he did not amend his negative characters. As a result, both kinds of characteristics led to his empire’s downfall. Napoleon’s domestic affairs and policies Napoleon was a remarkable politician; his early policies made his empire achieve its incredible height.
But after his great success, he began to make nonsense policies because he wanted to expand his power widely and strongly. As a result of Napoleon’s endless wars, he needed much money to support his army. As we know, the best way for government to have more income is to increase taxes. “In 1799, Napoleon issued a new Taxation, which had begun modestly, was forced sharply upward, taxes on family income(call “hearth taxes”), food, salt ,stamps, licenses for various businesses, and indirect taxation reaching unbearable levels”(Schom).
Moreover, Napoleon ruled that people who were above sixteen years old must pay a “personal tax” while a separate land tax rose to twenty percent. Taxes were absolutely not enough to pay Napoleon’s costs, so Napoleon began to borrow money. Once Napoleon was in debt, he repaid the debts by adding taxes. For instance, Jerome, who was appointed the kingship of Westphalia by Napoleon, was Napoleon’s puppet. In 1810, Napoleon handed over Hannover to Westphalia, but he soon burdened this acquisition with debt and military occupation as well. Napoleon forced Jerome to pay for a 47-million francs debt.
Jerome was totally broken but he was still unable to pay such a heavy debt. As a result, Napoleon took Hannover away from Jerome and Jerome still had to pay the debt. Over time, French citizens were tired of Napoleon’s endless heavy taxes. In 1813, French army cost reached 864,533,000 francs per year. The French people became less and less united; it began to destroy the foundation of Napoleon’s empire. France was ruled by Napoleon’s family during Napoleon’s period; this is another factor that helped to destroy the foundations of empire.
Napoleon rose through the French Revolution that was led by bourgeoisie, so we can deduce that Napoleon must represent the interest of bourgeoisie so that he could win the support of bourgeoisie and become the leader. Once Napoleon declared himself the emperor of the French Empire, he totally changed the properties of France (from republic to empire), he did not represent the bourgeoisie any more. He violated the purpose of the French Revolution (freedom, equality, universal love).
Here is the list of members of his family who got titles from Napoleon: |Name |Relationship to Napoleon |Title | |Joseph Bonaparte |Elder brother |King of Naples, King of Spain | |Elisa Bonaparte |Younger sister |Princess of France | |Louis Bonaparte |Younger brother |King of Holland | |Paulina Bonaparte |Younger sister |Duchess, Princess of France | |Carolyn Bonaparte |Younger sister |Queen of Naples | |Jerome Bonaparte |Younger brother |King of Westphalia | |Murat |Carolyn’s husband |King of Naples | According to the list, we can see that Napoleon was generous to his family; his family members (male) controlled the important territories of the empire. Napoleon collected heavy taxes and carried out his dictatorship through his family all over the empire.
Because the French Revolution influenced French citizens deeply, the contradiction between Napoleon’s dictatorship and French citizens intensified, it greatly weakened the power of the empire. Above all, the greatest mistake Napoleon made was the Continental System. In 1805, Napoleon issued the Decree of Berlin; it ruled that the British islands were in a state of blockade, all commerce and correspondence with the British islands were prohibited. The purpose of the Continental System was to destroy the British economy, but the consequence was that Napoleon’s empire was hurt much greater than Britain. At the beginning, British did suffer a great recession of economy. In 1811, the value of trade in Britain decreased by eighty percent.
The recession of economy caused a series of problems, such as unemployment, and inflation. However, the British were quick to retaliate. In 1807, Britain placed France and all its allies in turn in a state of international blockade. Neutral countries were hurt, forbidden to carry food, cloth and other supplies of the war machine to any French or French-controlled port. Actually, Napoleon’s Continental System was thus resented more by the French than anyone else. From then on, the French began lack those important supplies. Extremely severe recession of economy, debts, heavy taxes and the great contradiction between bourgeoisie and Napoleon were the domestic affairs and policies that greatly weakened Napoleon’s empire.
Though Napoleon’s empire seemed so strong, it reached the brink of collapse. Napoleon’s foreign affairs and policies Napoleon invaded Spain in 1807 and he made his brother Joseph the king of Spain. In Spain, Napoleon force the Spanish to obey his policies. These actions were opposed by many Spanish people. Over time, the contradiction between Spain and France intensified, in 1808; the Spanish began to fight off Napoleon step by step. Finally, Napoleon failed to control Spain, he lost his power but won nothing, and it hurt his authority and power. In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia since Alexander I did not obey his Continental System and kept trading with Britain.
Alexander I carried out scorched-earth policy so that wherever Napoleon captured land, he was unable to get any supplies from Russia. During winter, the lack of supplies killed many soldiers; it hurt the morale of the army greatly. Little by little, no one wanted to fight any more. Under this condition, French army was defeated and withdrew back to France. After invading Russia, Napoleon’s empire fell rapidly. In 1810, Napoleon married Maria Luise, who was the princess of the Austrian empire. From then on, the Austrian empire and France became allies. This event marked that Napoleon compromised to feudalism finally. Since Napoleon based his rule on the success of the French Revolution, the bourgeoisie class was his greatest support of his empire.
Because he compromised to feudalism, the bourgeoisie class became disappointed in Napoleon; most of them did not support Napoleon any more. Since the crossbeam of Napoleon’s empire began to fall apart, Napoleon’s failing ending became more and more possible. Since the French Revolution overthrew feudalism in France, other feudal country in Europe began to hold Anti-French Coalitions to fight against France and try to restore feudalism. From 1792 to 1815, seven Anti-French Coalitions were held against French, five of them were defeated by Napoleon and the last two defeated Napoleon and ended Napoleon’s empire. There were 7 Anti-French Coalitions during 23 years; it means that Napoleon did not stop fighting battles during this period.
Moreover, during this period, Napoleon also invaded Russia and Spain. Uninterrupted wars greatly impaired the power of Napoleon’s empire. After the sixth Anti-French Coalition, Napoleon soon came to power again, but the seventh Coalition was held quickly. On June 18th, 1815, Napoleon fought his last battle at Waterloo, after he lost this critical battle, his empire totally collapsed. In fact, Napoleon rose through the bourgeoisie. He won the power because the bourgeoisie supported him. In the beginning, he consolidated the achievements of the French Revolution and stuck up for the benefits of the bourgeoisie, so his empire kept expanding, seized power and achieved its peak.
However, little by little, Napoleon began to compromise to the feudalism, his war did not fight for the bourgeoisie but for his own desires, so he began to lose support from the bourgeoisie and his empire began to collapse. The fundamental reason for Napoleon’s empire collapsing is that he violated the achievements and purposes of the French Revolution and failed to stick up for the bourgeoisie. “Napoleon’s greatest mistake was that he did not try his best to perish feudalism but entered into an alliance with it” (Engels). The fundamental reason caused his great mistakes on the domestic and foreign affairs and policies. Moreover, his characteristics made his tragic ending inevitable.
Napoleon was a great person who contributed to the development and progress of history and society. In the initial stage, he protected the achievements of the French Revolution through wars. “He made those wars gracious……France became the owner of the largest area of Europe” (Liddell). , and “these wars were revolutionary, they defended greatness” (Lenin). He restored the order in France and made it one of the strongest countries in the world. However, Napoleon’s unfair policies caused him to lose support and get many enemies; his endless wars intensify domestic contradictions and his cruel invasions made other countries fight him off together.
Though Napoleon’s had a tragic ending, his story has become a miracle—Napoleon only took about 20 years to become the absolute ruler of Europe. To make a comprehensive survey of Napoleon, his deeds outweigh his faults. “The defeat instead became the loser loftier” (Hugo). History is always the home fields of majorities. Once a ruler fails to protect the majority or refuses to develop his way to rule, his tragic ending is inevitable. Over time, no matter who he was, where he was from, what he had done, everything would become a couple of pages in the history books and would inspire the coming generations to study, to experience and to step up until eternity. Work Cited
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