Sunday, May 25, 2008

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 1821) is perhaps one man whose actions have caused a lot of discord among people. People who lived during his lifetime and after his death have been faced with a dilemma about him: Was he a cruel and barbaric person who took pleasure in killing people or was he a great leader who won the hearts of his followers? He is said to have poisoned his wounded soldiers at the end of a battle. Was this because he cared so little for them or was it because he took pity on them and did not wish them to be tortured by those who captured them? He is said to have taken less food on his expeditions than was needed by his arnty. Was this because he was cruel and merciless or because he was being a realist? He might have thought that many soldiers would die in the battle they were to fight and his army would become much smaller Perhaps we shall be able to answer these questions as we read more about him. in bahasa ]

Napoleon was born in 1769 on the island of Corsica, which at that time belonged to France. He grew up during the French Revolution when the ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity were spreading throughout the nation. He was sent to French military schools and by 1789 was a young artillery officer. He was recognized as a competent military leader at an early age and was given the command of the artillery in Italy in 1794. When he returned to Paris the next year, he was given command of a part of the French army. There was an uprising of the people against the government, which was in power at that time, and Napoleon took an active part in the military action that marked the real end of the revolution. In 1796, Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais. She was the widow of General Alexandre de Beauharnais who had been killed in 1794. Her influence with the government may have helped Napoleon become the commander of the French army, which invaded Italy in 1796.

Napoleon started his Italian campaign by invading Piedmont in Northern Italy. He gained control of Nicea and Savoy. Then he took Milan by defeating the Austrian army. By 1797, the French had gained complete control of Northern Italy. Napoleon then turned from Italy towards Vienna and forced Austria to surrender. A treaty was signed between Austria and France, which gave France control of the Ionian Islands, and in return, Venice was given to Austria.

When Napoleon returned to France, he found that the government had run into difficulties. On being asked to help, Napoleon once again organized a coup, which ended the political crisis. However, Napoleon's popularity as a great general womed the government. They wanted him out of France. He was asked therefore to invade England. But Napoleon decided to attack the British in the Mediterranean and landed at Alexandria in 1798. The British navy, commanded by Horatio Nelson, destroyed the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile. Napoleon had to leave his troops behind and escape to France. His soldiers finally surrendered to the British and Turks in 1801. It was France's first major defeat.

When Napoleon returned to France in 1799, the country had lost many battles by then. The people were unhappy and the government was unpopular. Napoleon called in troops and sent away all defiant members of the government. With this success came the beginning of a new era. A new constitution, which gave power into the hands of three Consuls, was drawn up. As an outstanding soldier and the First Consul, Napoleon became the1eal ruler of France. Within the next few years, he climbed the remaining steps to power. In 1802, he was chosen, Consul for life. By 1804, he became the Emperor. The Frenchmen were fired of the troubles and the many changes in the constitution that the country had been through. They accepted Napoleon as a dictator as he seemed likely to give them the much needed law and order.

From the time he became the Consul, Napoleon started making many important changes. Of these, codifying the French law was considered the most important. Napoleon knew that in order to bring peace and unity to France, the religious problem had to be settled. His feelings about religion were purely political. He needed the support of the peasantry, which remained firmly Roman Catholic, although the early revolutionary government had tried to abolish Catholicism. Napoleon felt he had to come to an agreement with the Pope, and in 1801 he initiated this change. Pope Pius agreed to some government role in religion - bishops were to be appointed by Napoleon, and parish priests were to be appointed, by the bishops.

In 1804, Napoleon invited the Pope to his coronation as Emperor at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. But he insisted on crowning himself at the ceremony because he thought no one in the world was good enough to crown him. Napoleon then made plans to become the ruler of Italy. When the Pope went against Napoleon's plans, he annexed the Papal States to the French empire and took the Pope into captivity in France. He held him there for five years.

For Napoleon, the main reason for education was to train for the service of the state, especially the army. He planned a system of four grades of schools. He did not return to the Church to control it had over education before. the Revolution. Although Napoleon's educational plans were never completely put into effect, by 1813, French secondary education was the best in Europe.

Napoleon had to deal with war once more. Britain (lid not trust him. The fact that France continued to have control over Holland alarmed Britain. In 1805, Britain formed a coalition against France. This coalition was made up of Russia, Sweden, the Kingdom of Naples and Austria. Already angered by attacks on him in the British press, Napoleon decided to put down Britain by an invasion. But the French fleet was badly beaten by the British in the Battle of Trafalgar. Nevertheless, Napoleon continued fighting both the Austrian and Russian armies at Austerlitz. He then went on to defeat Prussia at the Battle of.Jena and in the following June, he defeated Russia at Friedland.

In taking control of Europe, Napoleon invited the members of his family to rule in the lands he had conquered. His brother Joseph was made the king of Naples, and another brother Louis, the king of Holland. His brother in law was given a German dukedom, while a son of the Empress Josephine by her former marriage was made the Viceroy of the Kingdom of Italy. In 1910, after divorcing Josephine, Napoleon married the Austrian Emperor's daughter Marie Louise. She gave him the son that he longed for, who was later made the king of Rome.

Despite his success on the battlefield and in ruling his country, Napoleon's power was already showing signs of diminution. Britain's military strength was on the rise, but Napoleon.overlooked this fact. People hated being forced into military service. The unpopularity of his many relatives in high positions and the rise of feelings of nationalism in the states that had been captured by France also brought about his loss of control over Europe.

In Russia, Czar Alexander did not trust Napoleon. Both the rulers wished to spread their influence in Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Each feared the other, and Napoleon decided to strike first. In June 1812, Napoleon advanced into Russia. His army of more than 600,000 men had less Frenchmen than other Europeans. The Russian forces kept pushing back, thus forcing Napoleon's army to advance. After a fierce battle by the river Moskva, Napoleon entered Moscow only to find it empty. The Czar refused to make a deal with him and the city was set on fire. This forced Napoleon to face a far more terrible enemy, the Russian winter. He began his return journey in October. There was no food for his men and horses and many soldiers ran away from his army. Napoleon's army was defeated and he went back alone to Paris.

Napoleon's defeat in Russia was so great that it made his enemies come together in trying to defeat France. He raised an army again and marched into Germany. But the forces of the coalition were too strong and after a victory at Dresden, Napoleon lost the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig. Although deserted by his commanders, he fought the allies for every inch of the French territory. He finally abdicated in 1814 and was exiled to the island of Elba.

Ten months later, Napoleon escaped to France to be received gladly by the people. He organized his army again, using returned prisoners of war, and invaded Belgium. After some victories, Napoleon was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815 by the British and the Prussians. This time he was exiled to St. Helena, a small island in the Atlantic. There he wrote his life story. He died in 1821. According to recent findings, he was poisoned by his servant.

Napoleon Bonaparte was a very competent military leader. He brought accomplishment to France. Frenchmen considered him to be the most successful ruler in their history. He stopped any return to the old order and, at the same time, did not allow the government to become disorganized. The Napoleonic pattern of centralized middle class government was copied by other European states. To this day, the army, administration, education, and law in France maintain the pattern Napoleon had set up. [The Biography Institute]

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