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The Napoleonic France and Europe Course is aimed at preparing the learner for the requirements of the Advanced Level History Paper.

From 1799 to 1815, France and Europe experienced the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte which was characterised by dictatorship and suppression of individual freedoms at home and wars of conquest in Europe

The course will cover the following:

  • Factors in the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The domestic policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The motives behind the domestic policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The foreign policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The motives behind the foreign policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Napoleon Bonaparte’s wars of conquest and the reasons for his military successes
  • Factors behind his long rule
  • Reasons why Napoleon was defeated and overthrown
  • The legacy of Napoleon’s rule on France, Europe and Beyond

 

Section 1The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
Lecture 1Lesson 1 Things to consider when studying Napoleonic France and EuropeFree Preview

Things to consider when studying Napoleonic France and Europe

 

From 1799 to 1815, France and Europe experienced the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte which was characterised by dictatorship and suppression of individual freedoms at home and wars of conquest in Europe

The Advanced Level History Paper will test your knowledge of the following:

  • Factors in the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The domestic policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The motives behind the domestic policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The foreign policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The motives behind the foreign policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Napoleon Bonaparte’s wars of conquest and the reasons for his military successes
  • Factors behind his long rule
  • Reasons why Napoleon was defeated and overthrown

 

 

Note. When studying Napoleonic France and Europe, the student must take into account the following:

  • Key debates/issues in the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Key debates/issues in the domestic policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Key debates/issues in the foreign policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Key debates/issues in the long reign of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Which country contributed the most to Napoleon’s downfall
  • Key terms used in the topic
  • Timeline of events

 

 

Key debates/issues in the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Was Napoleon’s character more important for his rise than external factors?
  • Did the rise of Napoleon effectively mark the end of the French Revolution?
  • Was it self-interest or fulfilment of revolutionary objectives that motivated the domestic policies of Napoleon?
  • Was it self-interest or fulfilment of revolutionary objectives that motivated the foreign policies of Napoleon?
  • Was it Napoleon’s own strengths or the weaknesses of his opponents that allowed him to remain in power for so long?
  • Did Britain contribute the most to the defeat and downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte?

 

 

 

 

 

Lecture 2Lesson 2 Timeline of events of the Napoleonic era and EuropeFree Preview

15 August 1769 Napolione di Buonaparte born in Ajaccio, Corsica

15 May 1779 Napoléon (now using the French spelling) enters the Military College of Brienne in France

17 October 1784 Napoléon enters the Royal Military College of Paris and graduates 21 October 1785 as a Second Lieutenant

1789-99 The French Revolution begins and ends

1793 The Siege of Toulon, where Napoléon is promoted to Brigadier General

5 October 1795 At the request of Director Barras, Napoléon crushes a royalist upraising, is promoted to General-in-Command – Army of the Interior and first meets Joséphine Beauharnais

9 March 1796 Napoléon marries Joséphine

March 1796 – October 1797 First Italian Campaigns, which include victories over the Austrians at Lodi, Arcola and Rivoli and the signing of the Treaty of Campo-Formio

May 1798 – October 1799 Egyptian Campaign, which ends with Napoléon’s hasty return to Paris

9-10 November 1799 Napoléon seizes power in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, is elected First Consul of the Republic and declares the end of the Revolution

May-June 1800 Second Italian Campaign, where Napoléon defeats the Austrians on 14 June at the Battle of Marengo

24 December 1800 Napoléon survives bomb plot

25 March 1802 Treaty of Amiens signed with England

4 August 1802 Adoption of the new constitution and Napoléon made Consul for life

3 May 1803 Sale of the Louisiana Territory by France to the United States

Lecture 3Lesson 3 Key Individuals in Napoleonic France and EuropeFree Preview

Lesson 3 Key Individuals in Napoleonic France and Europe

In this lesson we focus on some key members of Napoleon’s family principally because this helps shed light on his policies such as nepotism as well as brings to light the role they played in his rise and in his administration

Napoleon’s Family

Joseph Bonaparte 

  • He was Napoleon’s older brother and a soldier too
  • Thanks to Napoleon’s nepotistic strong sense of family loyalty, Joseph was made King (first of Naples (1806–08)
  • After that he was made king of Spain (1808–13)
  • Just like Napoleon, Joseph also supported the French Revolution and served in the government as a foreign diplomat
  • He was also a member of the Council of Five Hundred during the time of the Directory which governed France from 1795 until it was overthrown by Napoleon in 1799
  • During the era of the Consulate where effective power was in the hands of Napoleon, Joseph used his diplomatic skills to help negotiate the Treaty of Lunéville (with Austria 1801) and the Treaty of Amiens with England (1802)
  • Napoleon made Joseph king of Naples in 1806 and used his rule to introduce reforms that included the abolition feudalism and other educational, judicial and financial reforms
  • In 1808 Napoleon made him king of Spain where he faced resistance from his subjects who waged guerrilla war to remove him and the French

Napoleon II, King of Rome

  • This was Napoleon’s son and heir, born to him by the Austrian archduchess Marie Louise
  • He was referred to from birth as the King of Rome
  • Napoleon abdicated in his son’s favour in 1815, and the boy was recognized as Napoleon II for a few weeks before the Allies restored the Bourbon monarchy to the throne
  • He lived the rest of his life in Austria and died at the young age of 21

Caroline Bonaparte 

  • She was a younger sister of Napoleon
  • She married Joachim Murat who was one of Napoleon’s trusted generals

Joachim Murat

  • He was one of Napoleon’s most loyal and powerful generals
  • Murat was instrumental in achieving some of Napoleon’s early military victories
  • He cemented his relationship with Napoleon by marrying Napoleon’s younger sister Caroline
  • He was made King of Naples after Joseph Bonaparte was sent to become king of Spain
Lecture 4Lesson 4 Key Individuals ContinuedFree Preview

Lesson Four Key Individuals Continued

French Politicians

Robespierre

  • He was an extremely radical Jacobin who presided over the Reign of Terror- the bloodiest period of the French Revolution from 1793 to 1794
  • It was during the Robespierre’s tenure that Napoleon got his many promotions along his way to greatness
  • Napoleon was sufficiently close to Robespierre that he was imprisoned after the fall of Robespierre

Paul Barras

  • Was widely viewed as a corrupt politician who was however credited with helping Napoleon’s rise to the summit of the French military and politics
  • As a deputy in the National Convention, he was posted to Toulon as a political officer where he first met Napoleon Bonaparte who was a young and ambitious army officer fighting the rebels and their British allies
  • As a member of the Directory he called upon Napoleon to supress a Jacobin uprising against the government
  • He was by this time Napoleon’s mentor and introduced him to his former mistress Josephine who became Napoleon’s first wife
  • He played a significant role in the overthrow of fellow Directors and helped facilitate the creation of the Consulate in which Napoleon became the First Consul

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes

  • Sieyes had been liberal member of the Clergy when Louis XVI summoned the Estates General in 1789
  • He had supported the Third Estate and written the famous, inflammatory pamphlet titled What Is the Third Estate?
  • Sieyes plotted with Napoleon and led the coup that overthrew the Directory and replaced it with the Consulate
  • He served as one of the Consuls before paving the way for Napoleon to assume greater powers

Joseph Fouche

  • He was a schemer with very few to match his skills
  • He rose from school teacher to head internal security under Napoleon
  • As Napoleon’s Minister of Police he used spies and agents to help keep Napoleon in power
  • He was useful to Napoleon to the extent that even when he was twice fired for scheming against Napoleon, he was twice re-hired

 

Section 2The Rise of Napoleon BonaparteFree Preview

Lesson 5 Reasons for the Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

The internal locus: the importance of Napoleon’s own qualities

Internal factors focus on Napoleon himself looking at factors like his military achievements, his ambition, his leadership qualities and his popularity

Outstanding military abilities

  • Napoleon’s control of the army and ability as a military leader was extremely significant in his rise to power
  • His military exploits made him popular among the military and the general populace
  • By October 1795, Napoleon had distinguished himself well enough to be appointed commander-in-chief of all armies within the boundaries of France
  • Less than a year later in March 1796, he was also appointed commander-in-chief of the French Army in Italy
  • It was in Italy where he achieved military victories that won him fame and helped launch his political career
  • In an age where national prestige was highly valued, Napoleon rose to prominence on the strength of his military achievements
  • He offered France military success in the revolutionary wars especially against Austria in the Italian campaigns and established French power in Italy and brought rewards that included territorial enlargement, art treasures looted from Italy as well as reparations from the defeated Austrians

Control of the army

  • Napoleon’s control of the army which was cultivated by military victories and shared hardships in battles was important in the launch for his political career
  • The army facilitated his rise to power by crushing opposition on his way to achieving power
  • He used the army used to crush a revolt by Council of Five Hundred against his proposal to assume power after abolishing the Directory in 1799 and to arrest those who dared oppose him and his brother Lucien Bonaparte
  • He also gained support because of his ability to put down insurrection and disorder within France
  • Napoleon first came to prominence in December 1793 after master-minding the defeat of the British garrison at Toulon which had been assisting counter-revolutionary elements in the civil war in 1793 Again in October 1795, he commanded the troops of Paris in crushing an royalist uprising against the Directory

 

 

 

Dogged, steely ambition

  • Ambition is one important ingredient for success and Napoleon certainly possessed loads of it and worked to fulfil his ambition
  • According to the well-known French historian Georges Lefebvre Napoleon had an “irresistible impulse towards action and domination which is called ambition”
  • Napoleon himself reportedly fully confessed that he was ambitious stating that “It is said that I am ambitious, but that is an error: or at least, my ambition is so intimately allied to my whole being that it cannot be separated from it”
  • It was this ambition that led him to change sides so often and align himself with those who were in the ascendancy

For example, he changed from being

Section 3Domestic Policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
Lecture 6Lesson 6 Domestic Policies of NapoleonFree Preview

Critical Questions on the Domestic Policies of Napoleon

  • Which of the policies were influenced by Ancien Regime?
  • Which of the policies were influenced by the French Revolution?
  • Which of the policies were completely new?
  • What were the motives/aims of Napoleon’s domestic policies?
  • Which of Napoleon’s policies was his greatest?

 

The Domestic Policies of Napoleon

In studying the domestic policies of Napoleon Bonaparte, we can devise categories to make life easier:

Administrative/Political Domestic Policies:

  • France was divided into organisational departments and each department had a Prefect who was appointed by Napoleon and represented Napoleon.
  • The administration was highly centralised and Napoleon was the ultimate authority.
  • Napoleon also created a department of internal affairs which passed information from and to the ten ministries.
  • Napoleon demanded regular ministerial reports.

Creation of a police state.

  • Napoleon set up a spy system kept thousands of citizens under continuous surveillance.
  • The spy network fell under the Ministry of Police which was headed by Joseph Fouche
  • The spies kept the minister informed and in turn, he informed Napoleon.
  • The Ministry of Police was also responsible for press censorship, prison surveillance and monitoring food prices.
  • Those suspected of crimes against the state were tried before special courts, imprisoned, put under house arrest or sent to penal colonies.
Lecture 7Lesson 7 Domestic Policies of Napoleon ContinuedFree Preview

Lesson 7 Domestic Policies of Napoleon Continued

Creation of Empire

  • In 1804, due to his successes at home and abroad and citing a royalist plot on his life, Napoleon made himself the Emperor.
  • There was an overwhelming endorsement from the Senate, Legislature and a plebiscite also confirmed the establishment of the empire.
  • December 2, 1804, Napoleon became the hereditary Emperor of the French title at the coronation ceremony at the Notre-Dame Cathedral where he seized the crown from the Pope’s hands and crowned himself.
  • Napoleon subsequently created a court of officials around his dynasty.
  • His relatives as well some of his marshals were given imperial titles and were assigned territorial duties within the expanding French Empire.
  • In 1810 Napoleon married an Austrian Princess Marie Louise to cement his status among the monarchs of Europe.

 

Economic Domestic Policies:

  • Bank of France was established in February 1800.
  • The central bank was responsible for the issuing of bank notes.
  • The currency was stabilised by giving the new central bank a monopoly of issuing notes and backing them with gold and silver.
  • The bank also offered grants to entrepreneurs.
  • Direct taxes were stabilised while indirect taxes were also imposed, increasing with the passage of time to include taxes on wine, playing cards, carriages, salt, and tobacco and salt.
  • Collection of taxes was made more efficient through the creation of a central Director of Taxation stationed in Paris and in control of deputies from each departments.
  • According to Nicholas Stark, Napoleon established a department of “840 professional tax collectors whose sole job was the levying and collection of taxes, and who received a fix income”.
  • Protective tariffs were instituted to protect French industries from cheaper foreign imports.
  • Price controls on food (bread and flour) were introduced in 1812
  • The export of corn was firmly restricted in order to avoid shortages.
Section 4Evaluating the Domestic Policies of Napoleon Bonaparte
Lecture 8Lesson 8 Evaluating the Domestic Policies of NapoleonFree Preview

Lesson 8 Evaluating the Domestic Policies of Napoleon

There are several ways of evaluating the domestic policies of Napoleon and the student should be able to demonstrate that they are aware of the different arguments scholars have made.

The student must be able to give reasons to support those arguments as well making arguments of their own which they should be able to justify.

 

Critical Questions on the Domestic Policies of Napoleon

  • Which of the policies were influenced by Ancien Regime?
  • Which of the policies were influenced by the French Revolution?
  • Which of the policies were completely new?
  • What were the motives/aims of Napoleon’s domestic policies?
  • Which of his policies can be said to have been the greatest?

 

Which of the policies were influenced by Ancien Regime?

Concordat

One of the defining features of the Ancien Regime was the close relationship that existed between the government and the church (the Roman Catholic Church).

The church gave religious justification to the rule of the Bourbon monarchs by emphasizing that their authority came from God (in other words, the kings ruled by Divine Right and therefore their authority could not be questioned or challenged).

Beyond this, the church was given a special position in the state as the First Estate where they controlled so many aspects of the lives of French people.

Roman Catholicism was the state religion and the church controlled vast amounts of land, controlled education as well the registration of births and deaths.

The special church-state relationship was destroyed during the French Revolution by the revolutionaries who attempted through the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1790 to bring the church under the control of the government and took over the land which had been owned by the church.

Lecture 9Lesson 9 Evaluating the Domestic Policies of Napoleon ContinuedFree Preview

Lesson 9 Evaluating the Domestic Policies of Napoleon Continued

 

Which of the policies were influenced by the French Revolution?

Code Napoleon

Some of the key features of the Code Napoleon that were influenced by the French Revolution:

  • The French legal system was made uniform.
  • There was equality before the law.
  • Individual freedoms and rights to private property were guaranteed.
  • It confirmed peasants and the bourgeoisie’s rights to land they acquired during the French Revolution from 1789 to 1799.
  • Liberty of conscience was confirmed and the state was secularised,
  • The abolition of feudalism was confirmed.
  • Freedom of work and equal opportunities were

Differences with the French Revolution

Under the Code Napoleon:

  • Authority of the father over the family was re-established.
  • The father had total control over family property and that of the wife.
  • Property inheritance laws were set up.
  • Civil marriages had to be state registered.
  • Divorce laws were set up, restricting grounds for divorce.
  • Women and children were legally dependent on their husband or father.
  • Divorce was made more difficult to obtain than during the Revolution
  • Women could not buy or sell property or begin a business without the consent of their husbands.
  • Income earned  by  wives  went  to  their husbands
  • Penalties for adultery were far more severe for women than men

 

 

Lecture 10Lesson 10 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were motivated by Personal Glory/self-interest?Free Preview

Lesson 10 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were motivated by Personal Glory or Self-interest?

 

Like any or most human beings, Napoleon would have been driven by the pursuit of personal glory and a sense of personal fulfillment in undertaking some of the domestic policies he embarked on

Below is a list of domestic policies that could have been motivated by self-interest and personal glory:

Creation of Empire

  • In 1804, due to his successes at home and abroad and citing a royalist plot on his life, Napoleon made himself the Emperor.
  • December 2, 1804, Napoleon became the hereditary Emperor of the French and at the coronation ceremony at the Notre-Dame Cathedral he seized the crown from the Pope’s hands and crowned himself.
  • By this action, Napoleon demonstrated his firm belief that he was a self-made ruler who had achieved power through his efforts and not through some divine force and therefore he did not see the need to be crowned by anyone else.
  • Napoleon subsequently created a court of officials around his dynasty.
  • His relatives as well some of his marshals were given imperial titles and were assigned territorial duties within the expanding French Empire.
  • In 1810 Napoleon married an Austrian Princess Marie Louise to cement his status among the monarchs of Europe.
  • All these measures pointed to man who was out to cement his own legacy.

 

 

 

Lecture 11Lesson 11 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to establishing Peace and Stability while creating efficiency in government?Free Preview

Lesson 11 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to establishing Peace and Stability while creating efficiency in government?

In this lesson, we look at the domestic policies of Napoleon which could have been motivated by the need for efficiency in government as well as creating peace and stability.

The following list of policies by Napoleon suggest the need for efficiency, peace and stability:

Administrative re-organisation

  • France was divided into organisational departments and each department had a Prefect who was appointed by Napoleon and represented Napoleon.
  • The administration was highly centralised and Napoleon was the ultimate authority.
  • Napoleon also created a department of internal affairs which passed information from and to the ten ministries.
  • Napoleon demanded regular ministerial reports.

 

Creation of Empire

In 1804, due to his successes at home and abroad and citing a royalist plot on his life, Napoleon made himself the Emperor.

This could have been motivated by the need to strengthen his personal hold over France but it would have also helped to enhance efficiency in government as well as ensuring peace and stability

  • There was an overwhelming endorsement from the Senate, Legislature and a plebiscite also confirmed the establishment of the empire.
  • December 2, 1804, Napoleon became the hereditary Emperor of the French and at the coronation ceremony at the Notre-Dame Cathedral he seized the crown from the Pope’s hands and crowned himself.
  • Napoleon subsequently created a court of officials around his dynasty.
  • His relatives as well some of his marshals were given imperial titles and were assigned territorial duties within the expanding French Empire.
  • In 1810 Napoleon married an Austrian Princess Marie Louise to cement his status among the monarchs of Europe as well as create and cement alliances which were necessary to prevent war.
Lecture 12Lesson 12 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to create Prosperity?Free Preview

Lesson 12 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to create Prosperity?

Among other things, Napoleon would have been motivated to ensure France became even more prosperous than it had ever been before.

The following policies would have been motivated by the need to ensure France became prosperous.

Economic Domestic Policies:

  • The Bank of France was established in February 1800.
  • The central bank was responsible for the issuing of bank notes.
  • The currency was stabilised by giving the new central bank a monopoly of issuing notes and backing them with gold and silver.
  • The bank also offered grants to entrepreneurs.
  • Direct taxes were stabilised while indirect taxes were also imposed, increasing with the passage of time to include taxes on wine, playing cards, carriages, salt, and tobacco and salt.
  • Collection of taxes was made more efficient through the creation of a central Director of Taxation stationed in Paris and in control of deputies from each departments.
  • According to Nicholas Stark, Napoleon established a department of “840 professional tax collectors whose sole job was the levying and collection of taxes, and who received a fix income”.
  • Protective tariffs were instituted to protect French industries from cheaper foreign imports.
  • Price controls on food (bread and flour) were introduced in 1812
  • The export of corn was firmly restricted in order to avoid shortages
  • Napoleon banned workers’ trade unions and introduced passbooks to limit workers’ freedom of movement
  • Public works were started to provide employment and improve the cities especially Paris through the construction of bridges, museums and widening of roads among other things.
  • He guaranteed property rights including the bourgeoisie and peasants’ rights to land they acquired during the French Revolution from 1789 to 1799.
  • On several occasions (as noted by Vincent Cronin in his biography), Napoleon personally intervened during economic problems for example, during the crises winter of 1806-07, he personally spent 2 million francs to buy up silks from Lyon, and another 1 million on cloth from the district of Rouen. More than that, in 1811 he secretly advanced money to pay the weavers of the city of Amiens.
  • Napoleon’s government sponsored prizes, opened research institutes and held exhibitions to help stimulate growth in agriculture.
Lecture 13Lesson 13 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to ensure the greatness of France?Free Preview

Lesson 13 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to ensure the greatness of France?

Just like individual human beings, countries have always competed to be the greatest and leaders have always done their best to ensure theirs is the greatest country.

Among other things, Napoleon would have been motivated to ensure France became even greater than it had been before. Greater in Europe and greater than Britain in every respect.

The following policies would have been motivated by the need to ensure France was the greatest nation.

 

Careers Open to Talent

The idea was fully premised on the revolutionary principle of equality as the Declaration of Rights of Men and Citizen stated the equality of citizens from birth.

If France was to become the greatest country, economically, politically and in all respects, its talented citizens had to step up and achieve in their chosen careers.

And for them to achieve it was necessary to free all careers from any restrictions and allow the most talented to succeed.

  • In simple terms anyone or everyone could rise to any position regardless of whether they were born a peasant, bourgeoisie, middle class or noble.
  • What mattered for appointment to any position was merit and talent not family background.

 

 

 

 

Lecture 14Lesson 14 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to ensure the greatness of France among other nations- continued.Free Preview

Lesson 14 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to ensure the greatness of France among other nations- continued.

Just like individual human beings, countries have always competed to be the greatest and leaders have always done their best to ensure theirs is the greatest country.

Among other things, Napoleon would have been motivated to ensure France became even greater than it had been before. Greater in Europe and greater than Britain in every respect.

The following policies would have been motivated by the need to ensure France was the greatest nation.

 

Code Napoleon

The stability, progress and greatness of any country is built on a solid foundation of a good legal system and France lacked clearly recognisable and written laws.

The Napoleonic Code was motived by the need to sort out the chaos and confusion that prevailed in the laws of France.

Through the Code, Napoleon established order, equality, uniformity and certainty which was necessary for the development of a prosperous and therefore great nation.

It is also worth noting there were laws that defined labour relations and the Code Napoleon also settled the land question in favour of those who had acquired it during the French Revolution.

This certainty in the law was crucial to creating a prosperous and therefore great nation.

Lecture 15Lesson 15 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to implement the ideals of the French Revolution?Free Preview

Lesson 15 Which of Napoleon’s domestic policies were the motivated by the need to implement the ideals of the French Revolution?

Although Napoleon established an empire, introduced press censorship and maintained a repressive system that went against the revolutionary principles of liberty, equality and fraternity, he probably did much more than anyone else to implement the ideals of the French Revolution.

The following is a list of his policies that gave a practical meaning to the ideals of the French Revolution:

Careers Open to Talent

The idea of Careers Open to Talent was fully premised on the revolutionary principle of equality as the Declaration of Rights of Men and Citizen stated the equality of citizens from birth.

The revolutionary principle assumed equality of opportunities and that ability rather than birth should determine how far a person could rise in any career of their choice.

  • In simple terms anyone or everyone could rise to any position regardless of whether they were born a peasant, bourgeoisie, middle class or noble.
  • What mattered for appointment to any position was merit and talent not family background.

 

Concordat

The settlement was meant to reconcile the Roman Catholic Church and the French government which had been destroyed by various measures that were implemented by the governments during the French Revolution from 1789 to 1789.

These included the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, confiscation of church land as well as the attempts to de-Christianise France. 

The Concordat succeeded in bringing the church under the control of the state just as the revolutionaries had intended with the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1790.