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Napoleonic era: Introduction
- Napoleon was a French citizen who managed to cease power to control France in 1799.
- He ruled France for about 14 years.
- Napoleon was born on the Island of Corsica an Italian state under the control of the French rule and he was the fourth son of Carlo Mania Di Bonaparte and Maria Leticia Ramolino.
- Napoleon was appointed a lieutenant and commanded an artillery brigade in 1793.
- During the French Revolution Napoleon crushed the opposition and the uprising that took place in 1799 which aimed at overthrowing the dictatorship of Robespierre.
- He was a good orator who could easily manipulate his soldiers through his speeches for example at the Egyptian campaign.
- He had a good personality and was also acknowledged as the world’s best military general.
- Napoleon was a good fighter who went at the forefront in the battle field in times of war.
- He succeeded the directory government soon after its downfall due to the coup de-tat of Brumaire.
- The rise of Napoleon is mainly attributed to the weakness of the Directory government.
Factors that led to the Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
1. Weakness of the directory:
- It was not effective as it depended upon the army and Napoleon was the chief of the army.
- It failed to deal with unrest in 1799 and failed to continue the war in Europe when Napoleon was in Egypt.
- When Louis XVI was killed, many European nations became France’s enemies therefore
- Napoleon began to gain popularity as he managed those enemies.
- Napoleon completed all his duties ordered by the directory which increased his popularity
- which happened at the same time with unpleasantness of the Directory leading to his rise.
2. Support for stable rule:
- The French people longed for a leader who was capable of consolidating the gains made
by the French Revolution.
- Napoleon proved to possess qualities of leadership and could win the respect of people in
- They gladly accepted his change as they trusted he was able to get rid of national
calamities and people were tired of war so they wanted peace.
3. Napoleon’s Strength Character
- Napoleon had the ability, energy and ambition remarked by Sieyes in 1799 that he was a man who knew everything, wanted everything and was able to do anything.
- Napoleon’s massive intelligence showed that he had the brains to grip all kinds of the situations for example he won the battles regardless of the limited resources, small army and poor equipment.
4. Napoleon’s military Ability
- Apart from his character, Napoleon was a military genius as displayed by his success in the Egyptian campaign, he was able to gain the support and loyalty of his troops and win battles.
- He had great military strategies that enabled him to face an enemy and attack at their weakest point as seen by the Duke of Wellington that his presence in the battle field was worth a difference of 40000 men.
5. Italian Campaign
- This campaign was a vital cause for Napoleon’s political rise.
- Austria was a prominent enemy of France, hence France had to confront him on a conflict regarding to some states that were in Italy.
- The directory appointed Napoleon as a military general against Austria in 1796 and he had to engage in the Italian campaign with the French troops.
- In 1796 Napoleon led the French army on the Italian Campaign and first speedily attacked Sardinia
- She defeated and imposed a treaty on her.
- He then turned to powerful Austria which he brutally defeated and gained greatest victory there.
- The Italian campaign gave Napoleon the opportunity to display his military tactics.
- In 1797 Austria surrendered and they signed a treaty of Compoformio.
- Napoleon acquired a lot of treasures and artifacts which he used in the restoration of France.
- The defeat of Austria during the campaign resulted in the creation of the Republic of Northern Italy.
Terms of the Treaty of Campoformio, April 1797
- France gained Lombardi and Belgium.
- Austria was granted supremacy on Venetia, Dalmatia and Eretria.
- France was also given territories in the west side of Rhine River.
- German affairs and problems were to be solved by the Roman Empire and France.
Egyptian Campaign, 1798
- After the Italian campaign, the Directory started pushing for an assault in England. France had the desire to weaken the economic and trade root of Britain.
- Moreover the attempt to destroy Britain economically was for personal reasons as he saw the shadow of unemployment and loss of influence approaching as his armed forces in Italy were rearing against their successful struggles against Austria.
- Napoleon was overjoyed by his own success thus he asked the French government to march into Egypt and raise the French flag. Napoleon took the army to the tip of Egypt near river Nile and he hoped to cut an important transportation line of the British goods and services.
- In his first attempt Napoleon was too crush the Egyptian army but the moment he reached the Nile his army was crushed marking the defeat of Napoleon, the assault of Napoleon was championed by the British Admiral Horatio Nelson.
- At this point Napoleon had no choice but to retreat and head back to France but when he reached home he received a royal welcome in Paris making him more popular than ever.