Napoleon Bonaparte: Pragmatic Use of Power Essay

Napoleon Bonaparte: Pragmatic Use of Power Essay

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Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsican and Republican, General and Emperor, came from relatively humble beginnings to reshape France and shake the world. Most people remember Napoleon as the dictator who ruled France with an iron hand, who made an ill-fated invasion of Russia and who lost the Battle of Waterloo effectively ending his reign. The circumstances surrounding his rise to the Consulate and eventually Emperor of the French is less known. Eric Hobsbawn said in his book Age of Revolution 1789-1848 that, “Power was half thrust upon him, half grasped by him when the foreign invasions of 1799 the Directory’s feebleness and his own indispensability.” The truth of Hobsbawm’s assertion is what we will attempt to discover.
Napoleon had distinguished himself in two campaigns during the Revolution, The siege of Toulon as artillery commander and on 5 October, 1795 or 13 Vendémiaire year IV in the revolutionary calendar. The first earned him distrust from the Directory after the fall of Robespierre ad his cohorts as Napoleon was appointed to the post at the behest of Augustin Robespierre, younger brother of Maximillien Robespierre, the architect of the Terror. However the second, defending the National Convention from a direct attack by royalists, earned him fame and the support of the Directory. Following the events of 13 Vendémiaire Napoleon was promoted and given command of the Army of Italy. This was Napoleon’s first step towards real power.
Distinguishing himself against the Austrians during the Italian campaigns gave Napoleon an increased reputation as the ‘First soldier of France’. This was an important distinction as each successive victory for him increased his own reputation rather than the Directory’s. Following the capture of ...


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...im” , I believe that he is absolutely correct. Napoleon did not go seeking power over a nation but when he was given the opportunity to seize it and saw that there was a need for it, he did not hesitate.



Works Cited

Frank McLynn, Napoleon: A Biography, (New York, Arcade Publishing, 1988).
Philip Dwyer, Napoleon: The Path to Power, (New Haven Ct.: Yale University Press, 2008).
Georges Lefebvre, Napoleon From 18 Brumaire to Tilsit, 1799-1807, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969). Martyn Lyons, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Legacy of the French Revolution, (London: The MacMillan Press, 1994), pp. 26.
William Watson, Tricolor and Crescent, (Westport, CT.: Greenwood Publishing 2003), pp. 48.
Iradj Amini, Napoleon and Persia, (London: Taylor & Francis, 2000).
Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Revolution 1789-1848, (London: Weidenfield and Nicholson, 1962), pp. 74

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