Reasons for Napoleon's Success

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Reasons for Napoleon's Success

· One of Napoleon's great strengths as leader was the devotion of his

men. His soldiers adored him.

· Despite his generally unprepossessing appearance, when he wished to

charm he could quickly win over anyone he met, however initially

hostile they might be. Within a couple of days he had completely

captivated the officers and crew of Bellerophon taking him to St.

Helena in 1815, much alarming the British government.

· One Admiral at that time exclaimed, "If he had an obtained an

interview with His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, in half an hour

they would have been the best friends in England!"

· His contemporaries had no doubt about the charismatic quality of

leadership. His great adversary Wellington said to him that the moral

effect of his presence in the field and worth an additional force of

40,000 men to the French army. This he ascribed to Napoleon's dual

position as both head of state and commander-in-chief, which gave him

unparalleled control over events, but also to his great personal

popularity with the army.

· One of Napoleon's own generals explained this popularity by saying

that it "was by familiarities that the Emperor made his soldiers adore

him, but it was a means available to only to a commander whom frequent

victories had made illustrious; any other general would have injured

his reputation by it".

· By the use of theatrical and emotional language in his bulletins and

Orders of the Day, Napoleon formed a special bond between himself and

the army. He played on the ideas of military glory, of patriotism and

of comradeship, while giving at the same time the impression that he

had a deep paternal concern for his men. To this they responded with

real devotion.

ii) The Changing Nature of War

· The majority of the eighteenth-century wars were fought with more or

less evenly matched, mainly mercenary armies, very similar to each

other in training, equipment, composition and strength.

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