Napoleon Bonaparte


Napoleon Bonaparte : biography

15 August 1769 – 05 May 1821

When France became the Empire, it was leading wars with England and Austria, and there was a possibility that Italy would join the coalition. But Napoleon undertook the march to Italy and when he got over the Alps he was met very enthusiastically by Severn Italy’s inhabitants. Italian resistance was finished after the battle in Marengo in 1800 which gave France safe rears. The new constitution after Napoleon’s victories was approved by all people in 1800 and it gave Napoleon a possibility to advance in the senate a decree about his lifelong authority, and in two years he declared himself the emperor of France.

Napoleon worked on eternal governmental structure of France very actively. Naturally, all his efforts were directed to consolidation of personal power. But, it was very surprising, Napoleon made it only with one aim: to guarantee the results of previous revolution: for example, peasants’ property rights for land, population’s civil rights and buyout of expropriated and confiscated from the church and emigrants lands. In 1804 Napoleon made the Civil Code for this aim, it is known in France history as Napoleon Code. He also conducted administrative reforms, which established the institutes of departments’ prefectures and district subprefectures, accountable to government. Every city and village got mayors. He established the French governmental bank to secure emission of paper money and keeping of country’s golden supply. Napoleon’s system of bank management was so successful that it didn’t have any big changes during one hundred and forty years.

Napoleon established the basis for modern government, regulated by him administrative and legal relationships in many cases work even today. He created the educational system: the middle school-lyceum – higher educational establishment. He established Polytechnic and Normal schools which are the most prestigious educational institutes in France till nowadays. But Napoleon controlled mass media – from seventy three Paris newspapers sixty were closed by him. The Emperor made a branched secret service and powerful police. In exchange to declaration of Catholicism as a France official religion Rome admitted French government in Napoleon and the Roman Pope’s concordat. But Napoleon managed to save the freedom of religion, and the church activity and bishops’ assignments were controlled by the government. Many Napoleon’s decisions gave his opponents an possibility to accuse the emperor in the revolution’s betrayal. But he considered himself as a true successor of the revolution business because he managed to stop anarchy and provide implementation of revolutionary conquests.

When historians discuss Napoleon’s wars they always mention several points. Firstly, they pointed out that French soldiers had the ideas of revolution and liberation to European nations. This point is really questionable, but it were Napoleon’s wars that finally destroyed feudal relationships in Europe – first of all in Prussia and Austria, the most developed countries of that time. But the understanding of the fact that the emperor (who was a despot) brought freedom made people to lead national-liberation movement and it undermined practically destroyed economy of countries. Besides French army wasn’t disciplined, sacked and marauded on conquered territories with incredible force. The second point is a Napoleon’s aspiration to establish French supremacy in Europe. It was so obvious that the Great Britain was very disappointed and the conflict with “sea ruler” was inevitable. The third problem wasn’t so obvious but some time later it became the first not only in France but also in conquered countries. Napoleon took more and more recruits for his army and it didn’t allow working the land, making handicraft. National disorders started.

Napoleon carefully prepared for intrusion into England taking into consideration that after the army made redeployment through the strait it would defeat in several days. But these victorious plans were crushed down after the defeat on Trafalgar (October 1805). Napoleon’s actions in Europe were successful. After Austria declared war to France (with the help of England and Russia) Napoleon led his army in Bavaria and on the 13th of November in 1805 he was in Vienna, and on the 2nd of December he destroyed Austrian-Russian army on Austerlitz. Till 1806 Prussia didn’t interfere in the war, but then it made a mistake, joining Russia and England – Napoleon’s army destroyed Prussians on the 14th of November.