Essay about Napoleon : An Enlightened Despot

1577 Words Nov 18th, 2014 7 Pages
Napoleon: An Enlightened Despot

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was undeniably profound in helping to restore order to France following the revolution, the chaotic Jacobin reign of terror, and the weak directory. Through his leadership, France was able to achieve a much more balanced and powerful state, resemblant of the France of previous great rulers, such as Louis XIV. Napoleon used his absolute authority to align France with his his vision, which was one of glory and greatness for both himself and his country. Through many consider him to be a militaristic megalomaniac, Napoleon had a deep interest in Voltairean enlightened despotism and a desire to make France great, combining to result in equality under the law and natural rights for men, as well as an improvement of the economy as a result of tax reform and banking.

Inevitably, it must be conceded that Napoleon was a militaristic dictator in some regard, but his work as an enlightened despot outshines this detractor. Undoubtedly, Napoleon was ambitious and power hungry. He is quoted as saying, "Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard in conquering her to allow anyone to take her from me, or even to covet her" (Herold). This describes his attitude toward power well. Immediately after successfully completing a coup d’etat on November 10th, 1799, Napoleon created the Consulate, a system of government wherein he had absolute authority, holding the position of First Consul (gale group). This was not unlike…

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