Napoleon Essay

844 words - 3 pages

A larger than life figure--the first modern military dictator in Europe. Some of the achievements of the French Revolution (FR) were lost some were preserved. Legacy mixed.

Born in Corsica, 1769. Son of a petty nobleman. Military school; then to France to make his career. Brilliant artillery officer, military planner. RUTHLESS AND AMBITIOUS.

: Drove English from Toulon during the FR
: Saves the French Republic from Royalists
Fought against Austrians in Northern Italy; experienced glory, success, and believed he was "a superior being."

Challenged British control of the sea route to India. Lost Battle of the Nile at Nelson's hands in 1798. Slipped away from defeat, returned to France, realized that Britain, Austria and Russia were allied to defeat France, he quickly staged a Coup d'etat to become the man-in-charge. New French Constitution in 1799. Ist of three Consuls. 1802 pronounced himself 1st Consul for Life.

1804 crowned himself Emperor of France. Admired Generals like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Charlemagne. All soldiers who built empires. Rationalists, philosophe, man of ideas, man of methodical action.

1801 Made peace with the Pope (Concordat) and ensured that Church property seized during the FR remained as State property, but agreed to pay the salaries of priests and Church Officers. Henceforth all clerical appointments would me made by the State but consecrated by the Pope. Priests asked to take an oath of allegiance to napoleaon; only half of them agreed to do so. Roman Catholicism recognized as the chief French religion (although it was now under state control) and continued to extend the FR's freedom of worship to Protestants and Jews. State remained secular. Revolution preserved and rift with the Church healed. Was a good Catholic himself.

1804 promulgated the Code Napoleon (Civil Code). Revised and unified the body of conflicting civil codes with some major changes. Code enforced in all the lands he conquered.

Some LIBERAL revolutionary ideas now incorporated into the Civil Code: equality before the law (adult men only; not women or slaves or minors) ; right to choose one's profession, freedom to worship (conscience or religion), protection of property rights, abolition of serfdom in France, secular character of the state. "Careers open to talent", civil marriage, and attacked the privileges of the I and II Estates. Cleansed them. Modernization of Europe hastened.

The Civil Code also had some CONSERVATIVE ideas: He made wives subordinate to husbands, sons to fathers, workers to masters. Restricted women--child-bearing and religion was to be their fate. Not a champion of intellectual freedom or representative government. Liked dictatorship. Censorship enforced against journalists, writers, publishers. No...

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