In the early 19th century a man by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte led a Coup D’etat that created a new government in France. This new government started out with a tribunal leadership, which Napoleon was first consul, and later changed to an empire with Napoleon as emperor. Some people believe that he made the revolution better and expanded the revolution but this is not true. The facts, when closely looked at, prove that Napoleon effectively destroyed the revolution by telling the people of his country one thing while he was actually planning on doing something totally different. He deceived people so well that he is still convincing people today that he was a defender of the revolution. With this pack of deception Napoleon set the people of France back into the 18th century by killing off a great number of the young population in his wars. He led the people of France to believe that he was spreading the revolution throughout Europe but the truth is that he believed that in order to be a great leader he would have to invade and conquer many foreign lands. He controlled what the people wrote and read through the media. It all started with a coup against the government that he was fighting for.
The Coup D’etat, ledby Napoleon, took place at the perfect time because the Jacobins were losing power and there were many people being executed for allegedly being monarchists. In the courts a person was not able to speak in their defense so if the prosecutor made a good enough argument the charged would be executed by the guillotine. There were many innocent people who were executed, and many more who were afraid. After the coup a referendum was held in 1802 that made Napoleon First Consul for life. This was his first step in turning France back into a monarchy. The next step was in 1804 when a second referendum was held that made him Emperor. The people really had no choice. They could have an Emperor and essentially turn back into a monarchy or return to the governmental insatiability that they had been living in for about 10 years before Napoleon came into the spotlight. The electorate, whom were the people that owned land and were the only citizens who were allowed to vote, overwhelmingly voted in favor of making Napoleon Emperor. Napoleon after all was the lesser of the two evils. After the vote Napoleon granted general amnesty that freed anyone, most notably himself, from being tried in court for any political crimes.
Napoleon vowed to implement the ideals of the tennis court oath that was the actual beginning of the revolution. He created a legislature and left it powerless. It could not make any laws, it could only suggest what laws the emperor should make and it could not examine the finances of the country. This legislature was the beginning of a large plan to deceive the French people into believing that he was spreading the revolution.
The Napoleonic Wars was the largest plan of deceit by Napoleon. These series of wars basically killed off a whole generation of French people. To finance and fight these series of wars Napoleon had to have the support of the French public. To get this he told the people that the rest of Europe was against the revolution and would not let any changes take place so he was going to take a large army and force the rest of Europe to recognize the revolution. The people liked this idea but that was not really the reason why Napoleon was going to invade Europe. He thought that in order to be a great leader he would have to have many victories in battle. All of these battles took a toll on the age group of 21 through 50. As he needed more men he widened the age limitations. One such war that was foolishly fought was with Russia after the relations between Alexander I and Napoleon deteriorated. Napoleon invaded Russia but as the Russian army moved back they burned anything that Napoleon could use. When the harsh winter set in there was nothing for the French troops to protect themselves against the winter with because it was all burned. Napoleon did not use supply lines, what he did use was what he found in the places that he took control of, this usually worked. Of the 600,000 men that went into Russia only 50,000 returned to France. With this large population killed off the development of France during the Industrial Revolution was hindered greatly while their main opponent, Britain, prospered greatly. Napoleon’s loss of life in his wars overshadow the great things that he did as a leader on the battlefield. The people who supported these wars started to see that Napoleon was starting to lose his touch on the battlefield. He lost support and he still had many more blunders to make before his fall.
The next great blunder of Napoleon’s was the Continental System. All of the time he was Emperor he could not manage to launch an attack on Britain. Any time there was a force fighting against France, Britain was fighting or financing it. To weaken Britain Napoleon came up with the Continental System. This plot by Napoleon was to stop all trading between Britain and the rest of Europe. At first it looked as if it was a good plan but Britain made new markets outside Europe. They created markets in such places as the New World and Asia. When the rest of Europe saw the success that Britain was having they broke the blockade. With the blockade no longer in place Britain became the new trade power in the world replacing France. France was now losing in the Industrial Revolution and the power struggle with Britain.
Napoleon did a few things right during his reign as Emperor. The single most thing he is remembered for is the Code Napoleon. This code was the first civil law code of it’s kind during modern times. It guaranteed such things as protection of personal property, equality of all citizens before the law and basic rights such as education. Feudalism and class privileges were abolished. The code is still in place in Belgium, it was also an influence for civil codes in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Louisiana (USA), and the province of Quebec. The constitution that he set up in Switzerland is still in place today. Napoleon also centralized schools, created a standard set of currency, and created a national bank. For a short period of time he balanced the budget which not many leaders before him had done. Even today the richest countries in the world such as the United States and Canada cannot balance their budgets.
If Napoleon was for basic rights then why would he take the privilege of freedom of the press and freedom of speech away? Napoleon saw that throughout the revolution the press had the power to influence the way that people saw their leaders. If a journalist made a good enough argument in a writing and the Paris mobs agreed with the argument then the person would be found guilty of something and be executed. Napoleon knew that in order to maintain power he would have to control the press. Controlling the press goes against a persons rights. This was another deception that Napoleon used to hide the truth from his people. Saying that people had basic rights but at the same time he had the right to take away thepublic’s right to say and write whatever they wanted to say. This is one of the privileges that the revolution fought for but Napoleon took that privilege away without the consent of the people that fought for it. When something like taking away rights can happen without consent then there is no doubt that the government is a monarchy.
This all looks like the monarchy that the French revolution destroyed it is just changed and hidden from the public. It’s like saying that Napoleon was right and the rest of Europe was wrong. With the whole of Europe joining coalitions to fight against this emperor, they must have known what Napoleon was really fighting for. He wanted to take over Europe and when he won a number of victories he thought that he could take over the world. He thought too big too fast and underestimated things like harsh winters and the ability of his opponents to get stronger. The setting up a fake legislature to make the people think that he was working in their interests was a good way of getting people on his side. In some countries peasant and working classes relished the thought of Napoleon leading their country. After he took power the people started to feel oppressed and became unhappy when relatives of Napoleon’s became their Kings. The thing that topped it off was the fact that the Code Napoleon did not allow changes for the different countries. These facts prove without a doubt that Napoleon lied to his people so they would support him. While he was doing this lying he managed to kill off most of a generation of French, which left France behind in the Industrial Revolution, and turn the Republic that the revolution had fought for back into a Monarchy.