The Life and Legacy ofNapoleon Bonaparte“Ambition never is in a greater hurry that I; it merely keeps pace with circumstances and with my general way of thinking” (By: Napoleon Bonaparte” By: William Cheung
Background History Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769 on the Island of Corsica, into an aristocratic, although non- wealthy family. The small Mediterranean Island had recently been defeated by the French. Ironically, Napoleon grew up hating France, the empire he would rule one day. While many of the Corsican rebels fled into the mountains to continue fighting the French, Bonapartes father, Carlo, succumbed to French rule and thereon began modifying his lifestyle, to match the French. Napoleon never forgave his father for completely straying from their original Corsican heritage. He later criticized his father, by stating that he was “to fond of pleasure.” Background: Painting of an Seaport in Ajaccio, Corsica
Childhood Though the Bonaparte family was non-wealthy, the clan was still able to keep their aristocratic title. With a total of eight children, Napoleon lived in a state of impoverishment because of the island’s centuries long economic struggles. During his childhood, the family had adapted to the French style of dress and wore silver buckled shoes, powdered wigs, and embroidered waistcoats. Strict, demanding, and strengthened through the struggles of warfare, Letizia, the Bonaparte matriarch, focused most her attention on disciplining her children to teach them what life hardships and sacrifice was like for her. The Bonaparte patriarch, Carlo, was a representative in the Corsican parliament. After traveling to Versailles, the French capital, Carlo became fascinated with the grandeur of the French court and worked to secure a studentship at Brienne, a reserved French Academy for Napoleon. Surprisingly, Napoleon was never educated in the French language as a young child and did not begin learning the language until he was 10 years old, while studying in France. Background: Collage of a Corsican Art Painting and Painting of Ajaccio, the town where Napoleon grew up.
Education During the early childhood years, Napoleon obtained his primary education at an Ajaccio All-‐Boys School. A the age of ten, Napoleon was sent to study at the College of Autun in Burgundy, France in January 1779 and later moved to the military academy at Brienne-‐le-‐Château, in May. While studying in France, Bonaparte was often mocked because he spoke Spanish and very limited French. In 1784, Napoleon concluded his studies at the Brienne-‐le-‐Château and transferred to the prestigious Ecole Militaire School to study advanced ﬁghting tactics and weaponry. While at Ecole Militaire, Napoleon gave up his naval ambitions and focused his studies on artillery. At 16 years old, Napoleon became the ﬁrst Corsican graduate from the institute and was commissioned as the Second Lieutenant in the La Fère artillery regiment. His high aspirations were slightly diminished with the death of this father in February 1785; however determined to succeed, he moved to his station in Valence. Because of the peacetime, Napoleon’s post in Valence was extremely boring. During his commission there, he further advanced his studies in rigorous reading, geography, and history courses. Background: Edited Photos of Brienne-le-château, the town where Napoleon was educated.
Rise in Ranks Napoleon Bonaparte had very high ambitions, but prestigious ranks were reserved for only people form the upper classes in French nobility, not for an ordinary soldier. However, the French Revolution would alter the social class restrictions that had been in place for centuries. At 23 years old Bonaparte took an intermission from the French Army and returned to Corsica. Throughout the early 1790’s, Napoleon suﬀered from several oppositions and was even banned from his homeland. Finally in 1795, Napoleon was again became hero, after defending the French government from anti-‐revolutionary activists. From this moment on, Bonaparte gradually earned more and more respect in French military oﬃcials. He married Josephine de Beauharnais in 1796 and was promoted to commander of the French Army in Italy. While in Italy, he forced Austria and its allies to make peace. The Josephine de Beauharnais successful conquest of Ottoman-‐controlled Egypt Napoleon’s marriage to was another major victory for Bonaparte. Josephine was annulled after However, in 1799 France was faced with the no children were bore. He major concern of the Austrian, British, and later married Marie Louis of Russian alliance. Austria.
Ascension to Central Power s Preceding Napoleon’s return to France, he was appointed ﬁrst consul after a sudden coup d’état in November 1799. The signiﬁcant rise in power was not smooth; however his political command skills were quite evident. The French power domain was reestablished on the continent after a European truce was negotiated. Though many agreed that he made numerous mistakes, Napoleon’s support remained signiﬁcant, due to his talent in French Coup détat propaganda utilization. Napoleon The military take-‐over enabled Bonaparte was elected to consul for Napoleon Bonaparte to be life and later became Emperor of appointed ﬁrst consul and France in 1804. eventually Emperor.
France Under the Bonaparte Regime “I intent to keep the Revolution’s useful changes, but not to abandon the good institutions it mistakenly destroyed.” (By: Napoleon Bonaparte) The Reign of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was marked with numerous military victories and improvements to society and and the nation. Law System-‐Code Government Napoleon After the French Revolution, Napoleon After becoming Bonaparte ruled the country as a military emperor, a set of new dictatorship. His position as Emperor was laws, called the unchangeable and allowed him enormous Napoleonic Code, was amounts of power. The government introduced. It applied consisted for two National Assemblies. The to all citizens of France and the conquered regions of citizens ﬁrst elected nominees, and the Europe including, Italy, Spain, and certain regions of members were then chosen from the those Germany. The Law Codes abolished Feudal rights, who were elected, by Napoleon. After 1804, guaranteed religious freedom, and set new all elections were terminated and the pre-‐ restrictions on French society. existing assemblies made all laws. The Link for more Comprehensive Information: Napoleon era was marked with the http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/code_nap.html introduction to many new developments.
France Under the Bonaparte Regime “If the press is not controlled, I shall not remain three days in power.” (By: Napoleon Bonaparte) French Society s One of the most positive outcomes in rule of Napoleon was the decree for individual right and freedom. Nobles no longer had special privileges and all citiznes were “innocent until proven guilty”…to a certain extent. Bonaparte set a secret government police force that arrested anyone without trial they felt as a threat. In addition, Napoleon censored and had complete control over the news broadcasts, similar to a totalitarian institute. Society, religion, and social class importance was considerably modiﬁed. The Catholic Church was restored through the Concordant; however, the Church never received Notre Dame Cathedral-‐Paris, France their stolen land, and all Bishops were chosen by Napoleon Bonaparte did restore the Napoleon. To help eradicate distinct social class Catholic Church; however he made discrimination, feudalism was destroyed, peasants were allowed to keep their land, and the Nobility several reforms that allowed him to lost many of their privileges. Though many of the have totalitarian-‐like power over the reforms greatly resembled those of Louis XVI, church. Napoleon did try to make sure each of the major social groups beneﬁted from his reign.
France Under the Bonaparte Regime “It is now what is true that counts, but what people think is true.” (By: Napoleon Bonaparte) Educational Reforms s One of the most positive reforms was the French education system. Diﬀerent levels of schools were set up in France, beginning with Primary and then Secondary School. The third level of education consisted of Lycees, military schools and also Technical Institutes. Education curriculums for Primary schools remained relatively the same, but Secondary Schools began to place more emphasis on Science and Mathematics. Urbanization s Modernizing French was a major part of Napoleon’s L’Arc de Triomphe agenda. Napoleon Bonaparte invested immense The monument was built at the amounts of government funds into building and repairing canals, bridges, and roads. Various projects beak of Napoleon’s reign, to were put under way to reconstructing the splendor and commemorate those who died in magniﬁcence the capital, Paris once held. To make sure the French Revolution and that he would be remembered forever, several Napoleonic Wars. memorials of Napoleon were erected, in addition to revolution memorials.
Decline and Legacy Napoleon Bonaparte Decline and Exile s After numerous costly defeats beginning in 1808, Paris eventually fell to the coalition (Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal) and Napoleon was sent into exile on the island of Elba. He was allowed to keep the title as Emperor and given full control over the 12,00 inhabitant of the island. After escaping in March of 1815, his brief second reign for 100 days was ended with the Battle of Waterloo, where he had to ﬁght against two armies. The British then imprisoned him on St. Helena, a remote island where he later passed away. Legacy s During his reign, napoleon installed two institutions that are Battle of Waterloo still in place today. In 1802, the Legion of Honour was The military campaign would be the installed to award the gifted and industrious. The award remains one of the highest honors in modern day French last for Napoleon Bonaparte. society. Napoleon Bonaparte also introduced the Baccalaureate Examination (BAC). The exam was used to test academic qualiﬁcation and was usually taken at the end of a student’s study at a Lycee. The exam remains intact and in utilization in France, today.
Sources "Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)." BBC-History. N.p., 2012. Web. 1 Feb 2012. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/ bonaparte_napoleon.shtml>. "Napoleon: The Man and the Myth." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 1 Feb 2012. <http://www.pbs.org/empires/napoleon/flash/n_myth/youth/ page_1.html>. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Napoleon Bonaparte.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 16 Jan. 2012. Wilde, Robert. "Napoleon Bonaparte." About.com European History. About.com Guide, n.d. Web. 4 Feb 2012. <http:// www.europeanhistory.com/od/bonapartenapoleon/a/ bionapoleon.htm>. Miss Lavelle, . "How Did France Change Under Napoleon?." School History. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Feb 2012. <http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/ year8links/frenchrevolution/changes.pdf>.