Analyzing Successes And Failures Of Napoleon Bonaparte Research Paper

Length: 7 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Healthcare Type: Research Paper Paper: #71021598 Related Topics: Success, Egyptian Revolution, The War Of 1812, War Of 1812
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Successes and Failures of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was the most successful leader of his era. His life consisted of many accomplishments followed by a few failures. Napoleon was born on 15 August 1979 in Ajaccio, which is the capital of the island of Corsica. He attended school at the age of 9 in France, and later got admitted to the military school in Paris at the age of 15. Napoleon was exceptionally good in his studies, especially mathematics, which made him a second deputy of artillery at the age of 16. He went to Corsica three times at the beginning of the French Revolution in order to set the Revolution there. All his efforts were unsuccessful. In 1793, his superiors noticed his exceptional artillery performance during the siege of Toulon, which resulted to his promotion as a brigadier-general of the artillery by the Committee of Public Safety. Napoleon as a Jacobin lost his commission in 1794 when Robespierre was killed. To save himself, he disowned any involvements with the Jacobins. He was back in his military uniform by 1975, protecting the Directory. Napoleon became prominent when he fostered an attempted coup against the Directory. This worked in his favour, resulting in his appointment as a commander in chief of the Army of Italy. The successful days of his military had just started[footnoteRef:1]. [1: Tim, McNeese, The Age of Napoleon. (St. Louis, Mo: Milliken Pub, 2000), 16]

Napoleon is well-known as one of history's greatest and prominent military commanders. Through his reformation of the French army, his capability to handle clashes with great manoeuvre and his adaptable and unusual strategies of handling the armies, he was successful in dominating the European battle field during most of his career.[footnoteRef:2] [2: "Napoleon as a Military Commander: The Limitations of Genius." Napoleon as a Military Commander: The Limitations of Genius. Accessed April 14, 2016. ]

After the demise of Robespierre in the summer of 1794, the ultimate consequences brought about by the French Revolution did not end. The breakdown of Jacobin force and the formation of the Directory in Paris as the regulatory body of the country also did not result in the termination of those consequences. The men of this five-person committee government were regularly part of themselves. The Revolution could not resolve the crucial issue of a financial crisis that was faced by the nation with the decreasing face value of paper money assignats to one percent. The Directory did his best to overcome the poverty, hunger and bankruptcy in the country by bringing back the assignats and delivering new currency, but it didn't work in their favour[footnoteRef:3]. The Directory was dependent on the backing from the military to keep itself in power, but in 1797, its political force came to an end due to lack of military support. In the same year, the army expelled the administrative and judicial divisions of the French Government. Napoleon Bonaparte took hold of the power by force at the end of 1799. He ended 10 years of war, reform and defeat known as the French Revolution, and set up a military autocracy. French history from 1799 to 1815 is largely based on the success stories of Napoleon's power. Throughout the battles with the prominent authorities of Europe, Napoleon proved to be an exceptional political leader and military contriver. He introduced a new constitution in France called the Consulate, after the defeat of the Directory. The structure of the Consulate was familiar with the Roman Republic and its Later Empire of ancient times. Napoleon was a military dictator who confirmed himself as a First Consul. Later in 1804,...


His political and military power was at its peak after he strengthened victories over his European enemies, including Russians, Austrians and Prussians from 1805-1807. The years that followed were slow for him, with less or no victories. He completely over exhausted himself after his dreadful invasion of Russia in 1812. He continued to win wars in 1813 and 1814, bringing to an end his power and the resignation of his royal seat. Even though Napoleon was expelled to an island in the Mediterranean, he ran away and united with the French in 1815, which resulted in another defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in summer. Napoleon lived his final years on an island off the cost of West Africa where he ruminated, writing his records until his death in 1812.[footnoteRef:4] [3: William, Doyle. The Oxford History of the French Revolution. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)] [4: McNeese, 16]

The third war of the league started when Austria and Russia united forces in 1805. Napoleon's strategies against the Austrians were successful. He conquered the Germans first and on October 17, 1805, he captured an Austrian army on the Danube River in Bavaria, which resulted in their disastrous defeat. In less than two months, once again Napoleon defeated Austrians at Austerlitz, north of Vienna. On December 2, he celebrated the first anniversary of his Emperor crowning. By the end of the year, Austrians gave up the control of northern Italian city-states including Venice.

On October 21, 1805, a British naval fleet forced the capture of the French and Spanish navy at the Battle of Trafalgar (Spain) near the Gibraltar streets under the supervision of Lord Nelson. Also, this battle meant that the British navy was to control its French counterparts throughout the battle. But Napoleon continued with his strategic tactics and had number of military victories when he trooped through Eastern Europe. Napoleon structured the coalition of the Rhine, which was a corporation of German states including Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Saxony against the Austrians and Prussians in 1806. Again in October, he took over control of one of the French Armies and conquered two Prussian armies, one near Auerstadt and other at Jena in Thuringia. The French trooped into the city of Berlin, the Prussian capital, by the end of the month. The French Emperor called a meeting with Russia's Leader Alexander I (ruled 1801-1825) and Prussia's Frederick William III (rules 1797-1840), highlighting to end their collusion in war. Both rulers agreed to appoint three of Napoleon's brothers as the new leaders of Holland, Westphalia and Naples, under the Treaty of Tilsit. Prussia had to pay war debts after losing half of its region. Napoleon, who was the ruling power over Europe, gave out a declaration called the Berlin Decree during the same month. This proclamation confirmed an association called the Continental System. This trade agreement stated that the states controlled by Napoleon and others in his support had to stop trading with the British. Later, their docks were to be shut down to all the British trading ships. After all these tactics, Napoleon expected to change the British decision.[footnoteRef:5] [5: McNeese, 19]

Portugal was captured by the French armies as it had not agreed to the Continental System, which was built to stop trading with the British. Right after that, Napoleon started campaigns in Spain. He defeated the Spanish monarch, Charles IV (rules 1788-1808) and Ferdinand; Charles' elected inheritor in 1808. Napoleon's brother was then elected as the King of Spain. The Spanish violence continued even after initiating the French sovereign in Spain. The French were being attacked by guerrilla soldiers sent by Spain for years. These soldiers were not trained, they fought with all the ordinary tools they could get such as axes, wooden sticks, farming tools and even roofing tiles which kept the Napoleon forces busy for seven or eight years. Known as Peninsular War in Spain, it lasted for years until 1814. The guerrilla forces not only fought the war for freedom, but also fought against the brutality of the French forces. Napoleon included Mamelukes in his forces. Mamelukes were Egyptian Muslims who were in support of Napoleon's execution of the Spaniards to threaten them; as a result, the guerrilla soldiers fought back fiercely. Ultimately, Spanish peasants were successful in capturing one French General who was boiled alive. After the General, a Spanish force defeated a certain French army, which was not directly under Napoleon's control by the summer of 1808 in Southern Spain. Other French forces were conquered by an English army in Portugal. These victories proved that the French forces could be defeated. After these losses, before the end of 1808, Napoleon himself directed an army into Spain and captured the city of Madrid. This could not stop the violence of Portugal and Spain. Their battles caused Napoleon to lose many of his men and francs, which he could not afford. After the successful attempt to stop the French forces on the Iberian Peninsula, other forces started the wars again. The Austrian forces initiated a war for freedom in the spring of 1809, to release the German states under the control of Napoleon, but they failed. This resulted in Austria losing over 30.000 square miles of its land, mostly to France. Napoleon encountered another resistance from Church in…

Sources Used in Documents:


1. Doyle, William. The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

2. McNeese, Tim. The Age of Napoleon. St. Louis, Mo: Milliken Pub, 2000.

3. "Military History Online - The Success of Napoleon." Military History Online - The Success of Napoleon. Accessed April 15, 2016.

4. "Napoleon as a Military Commander: The Limitations of Genius." Napoleon as a Military Commander: The Limitations of Genius. Accessed April 14, 2016.
5. "Napoleon Defeated at Waterloo." Accessed April 15, 2016.
6. "Napoleon's Defeat (1810-1814)." SparkNotes. Accessed April 15, 2016.
7. "Napoleon's Strategy and Tactics: Victories and Defeats: Principles of War." Napoleon's Strategy and Tactics: Victories and Defeats: Principles of War. Accessed April 15, 2016.
8. "Napoleon's Strategy and Tactics." Napoleon's Strategy and Tactics. Accessed April 15, 2016.
9. "Not Just Waterloo - Six More of Napoleon's Greatest Defeats - Very Short History." Very Short History RSS. 2015. Accessed April 15, 2016.
10. Podruchny, Richard. "Military History Online - The Success of Napoleon." Military History Online - The Success of Napoleon. 2008. Accessed April 14, 2016.

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