Slides in this set
Rise to Power
· Napoleon graduated as an artillery officer at l'ecole miliaire, without which he would not have become
the genius he was or got his chance at Toulon
· Napoleon was always an outsider as he grew up because of his background, allowing him to make more
effort in his school work, developing skills rather than playing with friends
· Saliceti gave Napoleon opportunities in the military which can be seen when he was chosen to lead the
attack on Toulon, gaining the attention of other influential politicians /people
· Barras aided Napoleons by calling on him to sort out problems the Directory faced like the Vendemiare
uprising (bread riots by the lowest class). By doing so, Barras provided a platform for Napoleon to show
his resilience and willingness to serve.
Impact of the revolution
· Napoleon would never have been able to attain power without the revolt. This becomes abundantly
clear as the king would still have been in power and Napoleon would have been unlikely to attain a high
military rank. This is because when the monarchy was overthrown, 1000's of royalist soldiers and
commanders fled the country leaving space for up and coming military tacticians allowing him to get his
position in Toulon.
· Napoleon showed his military coercion during the Vendemiare uprising, the uprising of the royalists
against the new system. The revolutionary government required someone who would be willing to fire
upon rioters. By firing upon these protesters, Napoleon managed to impress his superiors enough to
earn himself the command of the largest army in France.
Disillusionment with The Directory
· The system the Directory was built upon was too fair which meant that no single person had too much
power, making it ineffective and allowed Napoleon to rise to power. As no single person had
predominant power and did not hold office for very long, no major issues got dealt with which caused
dispute amongst the Directory and the public.
· The Coup of Brumaire was planned by Sieyes (a director) to give the executive more power at the
expense of the legislative assembly who appointed Napoleon as leader of the Coup. Sieyes chose
Napoleon to lead the conspirators . Napoleon successfully lead the coup and got the three man
executive that Sieyes wanted and became a director himself.
· Napoleon's role in the siege of Toulon managed to impress powerful figures in Paris and allow him to be
promoted to Brigadier general. During the siege, Napoleon was offered the position of Artillery
commander. He managed to turn a failing operation into a successful campaign. He impressed many
senior figures amongst the political and military hierarchy which sparked off his ascent to power and
allowed his promotion.
· Napoleon was politically appointed as commander of the Army of Italy where he further implored his
military genius. During his occupation in Italy, he lead a discouraged army to several victories . By
showing his charisma and military skill, Napoleon forced himself into the eyes of senior officials, making
him the most famous military figure in France.…read more
· Napoleon wanted to be First Consul through `voix consultative' rather than the `voix deliberative'
allowing him to only take the other consuls advice in a advisory measure .
· Napoleon drew up the December 1799 constitution, enabling him to declare war, controlling all
governmental appointments etc. This was essentially a stepping stone to attaining full power over
France and returning it to a regime similar the absolute monarchy, betraying the revolution.
· The Franc de germinal 1803 was introduced to display Frances economic stability and giving a fresh base
to Frances monetary system which became the most stable in Europe, symbolising a new France after
· A tax reform was also put in place which taxed the public heavily and unequally, betraying the principle
of equality. A similar form was shown in the newly formed Bank of France as not everyone was allowed
to use it, betraying fraternity and equality. With the tax money, Napoleon put it into military and state,
alluding that he was trying to consolidate power.
· Lycees 1801 were elite schools for the wealthy or with military heritage, often given to sons of
notables free of charge. However a simple, ordinary education given to the rest of France. This betrayed
equality and went against the principle of meritocracy that Napoleon promoted in the other reforms
· However, Napoleon did say that he believed in opportunity no matter what social status they hold which
allowed the principle of equality
· The Civil Code of 1804 was seen as a stabiliser like the other reforms and gave a more unified system
which allowed equal division of states and promoted meritocracy and religious freedom which promoted
the 3 revolutionary principles.
· The code did however betray all the principles as it discriminated against black people and women. It
allowed men the complete control of the household and reintroduced `slavery' and passed the `Le
Chapier Laws` which banned the trade unions and strikes.
· The Concordat of 1801 was initially perceived as a measure for stability like the constitution of 1800 but
was really a way to consolidate power leading to political gain, distancing himself from the public.
· In the Concordat, other faiths were tolerated and allowed religious freedom gave the public the principle
of liberty and also ended the schism between the revolutionaries and the clergy bringing equality.…read more
· In 1804, Napoleon made himself Emperor by fixed plebiscite , this meant that Napoleon wanted to
secure his position at the top of France and wanted to do it in a way that no one could question his
authority. He fixed the plebiscite by adding 500,000 votes `for' him on behalf of the army.
· These elections/plebiscites however were the first displays of democracy in Europe with the rest of the
countries still have a monarchy. This showed that Napoleon was very forward thinking and his modern
ideas would later spread throughout Europe. This idea of popular sovereignty was a revolutionary
principle, something France fought for, therefore he was consolidating his power by give the people
want they want.
Coercion and Control
· General Police surveyed the public and gathered intelligence on the potential threats or conspirators
against the empire. They also searched for army deserters and concription dodgers. By putting this group
into place, Napoleon was able to control the population and continue to meet the consription levies
without much resistance.
· Napoleon also put Prefects into place who were designed to reform and control local governments,
giving them the power to appoint mayors and were given responsibility over monitoring/controlling
public opinion, collect taxes, obtain information and give political enemies house arrest. This allowed
Napoleon to control different regions of the nation through local government and the fear of General
Police and Prefects, therefore consolidating his power.
Censorship and Propaganda
· The newspapers in France were dramatically reduced in numbers, from around 50 to around 10. This
allowed the French government to censor the views that the newspapers published, also allowing them
to publish material into the public eye that could heavily influence the public opinion in France.
· The Imperial catechism was put in place in 1806 which allowed questions on the empire and napoleon to
be answered by priests during services in a positive manner. This allowed Napoleon to influence public
opinion through religion, therefore consolidating his power.
Patronage and Bribery
· In 1804, Napoleon granted Senators large regional estates, large salaries, land and palaces; allowing him
to gain favourable decisions from those high up in his government , therefor allowing him to suppress
the different opinions etc. that were occurring in government.
· In 1808, Napoleon granted 3600 people land in newly conquered areas and made them princes, barons
and counts. Also in this year, Napoleon deployed Imperial nobility which was deployed on meritocracy,
upholding a revolutionary idea. Therefore Napoleon was consolidating his power with bribery and
patronage, however it was done so on merit.…read more
· Napoleons offensive strategy was his greatest strength. At the battle of Austerlitz, he made his
opponents believe he was weak and as they attacked, struck at their exposed weakness.
· He did however have problems with naval matters. At the battle of Trafalgar, he was defeated by Nelson
and the British due to his poor naval leadership. This caused his first real defeat, undermining him to his
Weaknesses of Opponents
· The inherent weakness of Napoleon's opponents were such that Napoleon was not a `genius' but rather
an average general. For example, the tactics he was using with his army were simply slightly more
advanced than the ones his opponents were using, if they developed their tactics out of the old age ones
they were using, they potentially could have beaten him.
· The opposition were divided by a lack of united aims, ideology and strategy. The coalitions Napoleon
faced were never truly united, one of the countries would have been allies with one country, then that
country would be allied with another, very rarely did they hold any similar aims . This meant he could
collapse a coalition by making a treaty with just one country.
· His opponents may not have been as weak as they appeared, it may have been the revolutionary tactics
that the army inherited from the revolution that meant they had a more advanced way of approaching
battles, allowing them to win. For example, they used mixed order to split the forces into corps and
attack the opposition from different angles and positions. This allowed quick manoeuvring of the army
and the ability to attack exposed weaknesses with ease
· It was also not his generalship that allowed him to win, his tactics were inherited and hi s only
improvement was in size. To improve the Grand Armee, he put in place conscription and used prefects
and the general police to enforce it. This meant he had huge numbers in his army which allowed for
more corps, giving him the ability to destroy any army if commanded right.
Domestic and Military Reform
· The inherited army was only effective due to increased numbers due to conscription.
· Promotion of meritocracy allowed normal people who were talented to lead corps instead of Lords of
the land. This allowed truly talented individuals to have leading roles in the army.…read more
Why Did Napoleon Fall From Power?
· Napoleons attempt to expand the continental blockade to Spain and Portugal in 1807 proved to be one
of his biggest mistakes. When he invaded, he did not take enough provisions in order for the army top
survive as it was impossible for them to live off the land as the peninsular states were barren outside of
the cities. The ultimate cost of this war were 300,000 French casualties and over 1 billion francs; it also
cost Napoleon his sense of invincibility dropping the weight of his name in France. This was a huge
drain of resources and possibly a waste of time as overall Napoleon did not have the resources or
cooperation from enough countries in order to truly block off British trade therefore simply only having
a short-term effect on them and just weakened Napoleon militarily and economically
· The Russian Campaign in 1812 was embarked on with very little preparation or knowledge of the
conditions. The army invaded during winter with inadequate provisions causing many deaths due to
the freezing climate and not being able to live off the land. Russians also burnt the towns so that the
French could not raid houses for food or use them for shelter, causing more problems for Napoleon
and contributed to the huge death toll of around half a million soldiers.
Napoleon's Ineffective Leadership
· Napoleon's leadership began deteriorating due to the constant mental and physical strain of constant
fighting and running an empire; he was however, still ignorant and over confident. After 1805, he ran
out of fresh tactics to stay ahead of the other powers but would still not take advice from others
displaying his ignorance. He was ultimately too ambitious and outreached what French resources could
handle as seen in the Continental Blockade and Russian campaign where he also showed poor
leadership as he moved his forces slowly causing the chance for an early military success to be lost.
· The army was declining in quality as they lost vetenary troops to death or retirement which led to the
promotion and recruitment of young, less well trained troops causing the armee to fight in an
inexperienced manner as the young commanders under trained and under prepared the troops. The
army by 1807 was becoming diluted by other nationality soldiers, only 1/3 were actually French, this
displayed the weaknesses of the nation and how there own resources were rapidly declining. The Army
had also outgrown its commanders, by 1812 it took 600,000 troops to Russia where they became hard
to control leading to defeat.
Improvements by Opponents
· The formation of the final coalition was crucial in Napoleon's downfall as his failed Russian campaign
realigned European powers and led Russia and Prussia to join the British in an anti-French alliance
which ultimately built a power capable of defeating the French.
· Napoleons opposition began to improve their military tactics so they were more modern, they began
becoming more flexible in their approach to fighting and matched France's artillery capabilities. Some
opponents increased army numbers to match or exceed the Grand Armee and also took a meritocratic
approach to the selection of senior figures. They also learned from their past mistakes and waited
before being fully coordinated before attacking the French, an example being the Battle of Nations at
Leipzig in 1813 where the new coalition neutralized Napoleons offensive and inflicted a huge military
Impact of Napoleon's Empire
· He attempted to export the revolutionary principles through his reforms such as the civil code,
concordat, judicial system and taxation system.
· He did however put in place family members in place as puppet leaders in the satellite states such as is
Naples so that he could maintain control whilst keeping the illusion that he was not. You must also
assess the amount he used the reforms, for example, was the civil code used to abolish feudalism to take
royalist land under state control and maintain popularity in France through Imperial Nobility.
· It can be argued that being a part of the empire helped the annex and satellite states as it increased their
· This was seen in the annexed states but the satellite states still had to pay high tariffs which favoured
France. The satellites were further damaged as they were disallowed from exporting their surplus
agriculture outside of the empire which damaged their trade. The annex and satellite states were both
made to pay Tribute moneys for being conquered by France, intended to help repay the cost of invading
and on top of that, Napoleon took the majority of tax in these countries and used it to build France.
· It can be argued that being part of the empire protected the states as it was protected by France, the
strongest military power at the time.
· Napoleon did however use the states to fill his ever deteriorating army, leaving the states by 1807 to
provide 2/3 of his troops. This further exploited the states as he used these soldiers in reckless infantry
columns leading to high casualties to soldiers that weren't from France
· For countries that heavily opposed an annexed rule, Napoleon reassured that he was not trying to take
them over and so made them satellite states, promoting Nationalism.
· Napoleon did not promote nationalism at all, he assigned puppet leaders from his family to exploit these
countries for their money and their men so he could further expand his empire.…read more