12/8/10 Napoleon was born in 1769 on the island of Corsica. His family was middle to upper class, but not extremely wealthy. He grew up in a normal household where his parents took great care of him. When he became of age, Napoleon was sent to military school in France. He excelled in military school and an excellent soldier: tough, intelligent, and a born leader. He graduated first in his class as an artillery officer.
Napoleon proved his military greatness during the French Revolution. At the age of twenty-six, he led an army that suppressed an uprising in Paris. He became famous throughout France’s military for accomplishing that goal. Napoleon was very unique looking. He was very short, only 5’2, but he was filled with energy and enthusiasm. He only requires 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night and was extremely vain and thought very highly of himself.
Napoleon was a genius in organizing and directing troops in battle. Once he was put in charge of France’s army, in a mere two weeks, he turned them into an unorganized cowardly group, into a deadly fighting force. Napoleon mastered the technique of outflanking his opponents, and he always changed his strategy so that his enemy would not know what to expect.
Because of his military genius, and his enthusiastic personality, Napoleon becomes the most popular man in France. The government started to fear that Napoleon would take over. They sent him on a military conquest. Great Britain was France’s sworn enemy. To stop Britain’s trade with India they sent Napoleon to defeat the British in Africa. This would get Napoleon out of Paris. Out of sight out of mind.
The campaign against the British in Africa was a disaster. The British army defeats Napoleon in Alexandria, Egypt. The British were able to cut off the French from their supply lines and were starving them to death. Faced with certain defeat, Napoleon flees Africa, leaves his army there and returns to Paris. Upon his return, he claims victory in Africa. He lies about what happens. The French people believe him and claim he is a hero.
The French citizens now support Napoleon and want him to take power. The government is not doing well afraid the Royals will be put back in charge in France. With the backing of the people a coup d’etat takes place. The French did not want to go back to an absolute monarchy. Napoleon believed strongly in the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
12/9/10 Napoleon understood the key to success was keeping the peasants happy. He passed several laws that did just that. The peasants would always own land. They would never return to feudalism. He also signed a peace treaty with al the enemies of France. Napoleon then reorganizes and centralizes the government by breaking the executive branch into three consuls. Napoleon was First Consul. The other two were puppets under his control. As soon as he becomes First Consul he passes the Napoleonic Code. Free public education is the backbone of Napoleon’s plan. Every child was now provided with an education. The second major right people were given was freedom of religion.
Napoleon as a Political Leader Napoleon’s best diplomatic move came in 1802, when he signed a peace treaty with Great Britain, Russian, and Austria.
12/10/10 Napoleon’s Continental System Napoleon used the Continental System as a way to punish Great Britain. Since he could not invade, he wanted to hurt them economically. The other countries were afraid of Napoleon so they listened. Russia could not survive without trading with England, so they were forced to break away form the Continental System.
Napoleon decided to invade Russia. There would be several problems in invading Russia. The French army must march to Russia. Russia is extremely large and has extremely harsh winters, which could cripple an army. To make on an invasion like this, long supply lines would be needed to keep the army well fed and clothed for the winter.
Grand Army Napoleon put together a force of 600,000 soldiers, which was the strongest army in Europe. They began their march from France to Russia in the spring, hoping to defeat the Russians before the winter. When the Grand Army reached Russia, the Russians practiced Scorched Earth Policy. As the Grand Army approached, the Russians would retreat and burn everything so the army would have nothing to live off of. Crops, houses and livestock were all destroyed to starve out the French. When the Grand Army reaches Moscow expecting a battle, they find a deserted city. Napoleon now has a big decision to make. Does he stay in Moscow for the winter, where the army may starve to death, or does he retreat to France?
Retreat Napoleon decides to retreat and make the long march back to France. When he returns home, he comes back with 100,000 soldiers. Napoleon now has the weakest army in Europe. Great Britain is eagerly waiting to attack Napoleon upon his return. Great Britain forms an alliance with Austria and Prussia and attacks Napoleon. Napoleon and his Grand Army are easily defeated by the British alliance. Napoleon is then forced to abdicate the throne. Napoleon is exiled to Elba. King Louis XVIII is put back on the throne.