Napoleon An Opportunist Analysis

887 Words 4 Pages
Was Napoleon a Tyrant? Was he someone who believed in the ideals of the revolution? Or merely an opportunist? In Clive Emsley’s book he explores the entirety of Napoleon Bonaparte’s life up until he is finally defeated in 1815. The book is broken up into four parts that give the historiographic facts on napoleons career, the narrative of napoleons life, his assessment of napoleons achievements and supporting documentation. Emsley’s focus is quite broad in the sense that it looks at his military achievements and his life rather than this intended focus of his ideologies and lasting impressions on Europe/France. In this short precis I will investigate whether Napoleon’s ideologies were in line with the ideals of the Revolution and his lasting …show more content…
This is widely believed because he was not directly responsible for spearheading the French Revolution like Maximilien de Robespierre or even his mentor Paul Barras. While this is true, it can be said that Napoleon was eventually “transformed” into a Jacobin revolutionary by Barras in the year 1793. Additionally, he was imprisoned for a short time while acting as artillery commander for the republican forces at the siege of Toulon. When he was let go from his arrest, he eventually rose to command the army of Italy. At the same time napoleon was engaged in campaigns throughout Europe and Northern Africa, the French Republic, was bankrupt and the Jacobin-led Directory was unpopular with the French population. When he made his return in 1799, he saw the instability throughout France and did take this opportunity to launch a coup d’état against the Directory and his former mentor, Paul Barras. In the November coup he was subsequently named the first consul of France. Although it appeared that Napoleon merely capitalised on the progress made by the people responsible for the French Revolution, it cannot be denied that when he assumed leadership, he had demonstrated his strong submission to the ideals of the …show more content…
What he did believe in was what he named “the blocks of granite”. The blocks where local leaders who had influence in society and also paid a lot of property tax. He took these leaders on the basis of merit rather than birth and used them (and their money) to ensure the stability of France. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Napoleon eventually established a hereditary monarchy that is contradictory to this meritocracy. Another major achievement in France, was his centralization of the departments of government. In 1799 there were 98 departments; and by 1800, the new consulate created a new centralized administration in place of the republican electoral system. The new system gave the first consul a direct hand in choosing mayoral candidates for towns. Finally, his other major influence in France was “the code Napoleon”. Napoleon’s Civil Code removed inherited privilege and allowed freedom of religion. Most of all his civil code lead to the structure of many modern-day constitutions and charters throughout

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