Chapter 6 Section 4: The Age of Napoleon Begins
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Chapter 6 section 4 pp. 182-185
Setting the Scene
“He was like an expert chess player, with the human race for an opponent, which he proposed to checkmate.” “Nothing has been simpler than my elevation, it is owing to the peculiarities of the time” From 1799-1815, Napoleon would dominate France and Europe His name was given to the final phase of the revolution“The Age of Napoleon”
Napoleon’s Rise to Power
Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15th, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, an island ruled by the French in the Mediterranean Sea. Parents were minor nobles but had little money At age 9 was sent to France for training and a military career. He was 20 when the revolution broke out. He favored the Jacobins and republican rule. But found conflicting ideas and personalities confusing. “Since one must take sides, one might as well choose the side that is victorious, the side which devastates, loots, and burns.
During the turmoil of the revolution, Napoleon rose quickly in the ranks of the army. December 1793, drove British forces out of French port of Toulon. Later went on to win several victories against Austrians, captured most of Northern Italy, and forced Hapsburg emperor to make peace. Led expedition to Egypt in 1798 which was disastrous. But most in France had no idea of his losses.
Early Successes Cont.
By 1799 moved from victorious general to political leader. 1799 helped to throw off the Directory in a coup-de-tat. Soon after that another constitution was drawn up and Napoleon took the title First Consul. 1802 had himself named consul for life.
A Self-made Emperor
Two years later he had enough power to take the title of Emperor of the French. Invited the pope to preside over his coronation in Paris. During ceremony he took the crown from the popes hand and placed in on his own head. By doing this he was trying to prove that he owned the throne. Each step he held a plebiscite-or ballot in which voters say yes or no, and each time the voters strongly supported him
France Under Napoleon
Napoleon consolidated his power by strengthening the central government. “Order, Security, and Efficiency” replaced the French Revolution slogan of “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”
Napoleon constructed new roads and buildings for the French, which benefited all classes of people. He set up a system of public schools with strict government control to train officials and military officers. Napoleon reversed some of the Revolutions social reforms.
He made peace with the Catholic Church by recognizing religious freedom for Catholics, but keeping the church under government control. Revolutionaries denounced this but obviously Catholics welcomed it.
Napoleon won support across class lines
He encouraged emigres to return if they swore an oath of loyalty He recognized peasants right to lands they bought from the church and Nobles
The Code was Napoleons most lasting reform It included Enlightenment principles
It did undo some of the reforms of the Revolution
Equality of all citizens Religious Toleration Advancement on merit
Women lost most rights Men gained absolute authority over wives and kids
Napoleon valued order and authority over individual rights
Building an Empire
Napoleon increased his reputation on the battlefield from 1804-14 He defeated the greatest powers in Europe He took huge risks and suffered huge losses “I grew up on the field of battle…and a man such as I am cares little for the life of a million men” By 1810 his Empire had reached its greatest extent
Building an Empire cont.
As a military leader Napoleon valued rapid movements and made effective use of his large army He changed his “game” plan for each battle, too keep his enemy guessing Napoleons presence on the battlefield, one enemy said, “is worth 40,000 troops”
The Grand Empire
Napoleon redrew the map of Europe as he conquered and annexed- added outright, land The Netherlands, Belgium, parts of Italy and Germany all fell to Napoleon and his armies He abolished the Holy Roman Empire and created a 38 member Confederation of the Rhine under French protection And he cut Prussian territory in half creating the Grand Duchy or Warsaw in “Poland”
The Grand Empire cont.
Diplomacy was one of Napoleon’s weapons He put family and friends on the thrones of Europe Joseph Bonaparte became the King of Spain Rulers from Madrid to Moscow signed treaties with the “Corsican Upstart” Napoleons successes brought him great accolades at home
France Versus Britain
Great Britain was the only European Nation to remain free from Napoleon With its superior naval power they were able to hold of the French At the Battle of Trafalgar off the coast of Spain Horatio Nelson smashed the French fleet.
France Versus Britain cont.
With no way to invade Britain Napoleon turned to economic warfare He created the Continental System, which closed European ports to the British Great Britain responded with a blockade- or the shutting off of ports by ships to keep supplies and people from coming in or going out.
Both sides seized each others ships and neutral ships that they believed carried supplies. These actions especially by the British angered the United States and led to the war of 1812.
France Versus Britain cont. In the end, Napoleon’s Continental System failed to bring Britain to its knees British exports declined, but its powerful navy kept vital trade routes open Napoleons system created a scarcity of goods in Europe and send prices soaring This all increased the resentment by the people against French power over Europe