The Age of Napoleon Essay

The Age of Napoleon Essay

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From the despair of the radical phase of the French Revolution emerged a great military hero who would overthrow the extremist Directory and build a formidable empire out of the struggling nation of France. After gaining publicity for his military victories, the young general swiftly rose to power. The rule of Napoleon Bonaparte signified the end of the Revolution and the start of a new age for France and the whole European continent. During his rule as First Consul and later Emperor of France, Napoleon completely overhauled his revolution-strained country with a new law code that would later be recognized as his most prominent contribution to history. But this law code did not grant women any of the fair rights which men were granted in excess. The determined emperor also introduced new military tactics, allowing him to triumph over opposing forces who still fought in the archaic European line formation. Yet long after the great leader of the French Empire died in exile on the island of St. Helena, his law code would become the basis for European and American laws. (And abroad, Napoleon conquered much of Europe, extending his influential ideas and laws to his subjugated nations.) Throughout his military and political career, Napoleon Bonaparte introduced new reforms that would both positively and negatively reshape the French nation and European society as a whole.
Perhaps Napoleon’s most productive reform was his Civil Code, later renamed the Napoleonic Code. This code, which was the first major revision of French laws since the Roman era, enacted many of the reforms demanded for by the Revolution, such as the end of feudalism and equality for all male citizens, and addressed new issues such as freedom of reli...

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...European continent, putting many nations on the path to a republic. Despite Napoleon’s military genius, his arrogance caught up with him, leading to his downfall at the battle of Waterloo. In the end, the French Revolution and the visions of Napoleon was left as little more than a dying spark: after Napoleon’s final exile to St. Helena, legitimate monarchs were restored to the thrones of Europe, including Louis XVIII on the throne of France. Almost 30 years of France’s history, from the start of the Revolution in 1789 to Napoleon’s fall in 1815, had been physically wiped out, leaving only ideas for the future.

Works Cited

Biskupic, Joan. “From Two Friezes, Great Figures of Legal History Gaze Upon the Supreme Court Bench” Washington Post 11 March 1998, Page H01. Retrieved from

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