Napoleon: Hero or Tyrant? Essay

Napoleon: Hero or Tyrant? Essay

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Napoleon Bonaparte: Hero or Tyrant?
Napoleon Bonaparte was an interesting ruler in that he was compromised of attributes of both a tyrant and a hero. Napoleon had a strong following throughout his reign and even during his two exiles. He was the emperor of France between 1799 and 1815, following the fall of the Directory. Despite the efforts of the French Revolution to rid the country of an autocratic ruler, Bonaparte came to power as Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte I in 1804. He claimed that he preserved the goals of the Revolution, which can be easily argued as his rule became more dictatorial as it progressed. Despite his departure from some of the gains of the Revolution, he overall was a hero for the French people. Through his military ventures, political changes and social reform, Napoleon proved himself as a hero. This is not to say that there were aspects of his reign that were tyrannical, but he was overall beneficial for France.
Napoleon’s military career is what eventually led to his prominence. Napoleon began his military career above most of the other men his age. He rapidly made his way through the ranks eventually gaining a great support system. As the directory leaned more and more heavily upon the military, a coup d’état developed. Because of his military expertise, he immediately became first consul of France. The empire of France was soon to grow once Napoleon was in reign. In the 1790s the French army was near one million men, an advantage in the Austrian wars as well as future ventures. Wars raged with other European countries in the early 1800s. Napoleon was able to beat the continental coalition, thus gaining territory for France. France annexed some of Italy but also controlled states such as Spain, Holland ...


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...arly successes and his military brilliance classifies him as a hero in this sense. His political reign was also one of debate. Although he awarded many rights, he challenged them with other restrictions. Overall, France was stable following the horrid Reign of Terror but it also awarded more rights than in the old regime. Finally, the social aspect of France could prove Bonaparte to be either heroic or tyrannical as well. Many social changes transgressed during his reign. For instance, there was an increase in education and an end to feudalism, however Napoleon ruled the imperial catechism and was emperor for life. Overall the social changes were an improvement from the old regime, therefore classifying his as a hero for his time period. Overall, Napoleon was a hero in all three aspects of French life, although there were many aspects which were tyrannical as well.

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