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Evaluate Napoleon -- Was he a success or a failure? Support your thesis with five well-developed examples.
Despite his Italian origin and short stature, Napoleon Bonaparte rose to become not only the greatest leader of France but also one of the most innovative and successful military commanders in all history. The emperor was beloved by his military and respected by his citizenry.
After his education at Brienne and École Militarie, Napoleon initiated his military career as an artillery officer. Eight years later he became a brigadier general with the success of the recovering of the port of Toulon from England, thus holding the power to control hundreds of soldiers at the youthful age of 24.
At the Battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon demonstrated his overpowering military tactic of "Divide and Conquer." Through the use this technique, Napoleon was able to overcome the far more massive and far more powerful armies of Russia and Austria. This tactic dictates that the army must separate the enemy into two or more groups but fight as one distinct army. In this way, Napoleon defeated two larger armies causing the enemy to have many more casualties than his own military.
Napoleon along with his colleagues overthrew the French government and helped to establish the Consulate where he would be seated as the first consul. The Consulate served to abolish hereditary privilege, which many of the Revolutionaries fought sought. After the abolition of the Consulate and the establishment of the Napoleonic Code Napoleon stated, "without distinction of birth or fortune" would anyone ever receive a political position. Rather, citizens would receive consideration for positions of high office based solely on merit. Also, under the new law, everyone was equal. In this way Napoleon was successful; for, the Third Estate was pleased in that their goals for the Revolution and the Cahiers de Dolences were finally redressed. However, Napoleon upset those of noble blood, because, rather than simply inheriting a position, they would now have to compete with hose of lower class in order to assume the office.
The soldiers under Napoleon most definitely appreciated the empire and its military conquest. Upon his return from exile on Elba, Napoleon was marked an outlaw by the Congress of Vienna. The Congress and the restored French monarchy ordered that Napoleon be apprehended by the French military; however, Napoleon's soldiers remained loyal to their former commander.
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The loyalty expressed by the soldiers is similar to the situation in which the army under Napoleon was suffering great losses in Russia. Rather than risking the loss of their military commander in their own flight, Napoleon's elite French guard, on horseback, sacrificed themselves to the oncoming Russian attack to protect their leader in escape.
Overall, because Napoleon suffered defeat due to one erroneous decision, to continue through Russia, despite the approaching winter, he is often considered a failure; however, this military genius intercepted France from its downward spiral towards oblivion and restored it to a world power and a military threat. All of these tasks were completed with the loyalty of the military and the respect of the people.