Well, my fellow historians and fans of French history, we reach the end. Louis XVI has been sent to the guillotine, as have the majority of the radical Jacobins. The Directory has been overthrown, and Napoleon has been exiled for the final time. Here are some final questions and answers to end off this wonderful series. I thank Ken for helping me post a couple of these, as I’ve been busy with Publish Your Mind. And I hope to be a little more active in my next History Republic series. Let’s move on, shall we?
What do Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin have in common?
Napoleon Bonaparte, perhaps one of the most controversial leaders in history, in today’s world is compared to several other forceful leaders such as Alexander the Great, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. But what exactly do these four men have in common other than being known to be, essentially, dictators?
Well, for one, none of these four men were born in the country they ended up controlling. Alexander the Great, a Macedonian, ruled Greece. Adolf Hitler, born in Austria, controlled Germany. Joseph Stalin, born in Georgia, dominated over Russia. And Napoleon, born in Corsica (although a newly acquired French territory, it still can be considered more culturally dominated by Italy during this period of time), rose to power in France.
Now, Napoleon Bonaparte has been labeled as this military genius. However, what most people tend to forget or never even hear about is Napoleon was this control freak that demanded more and more from his life. Several times he would try to commit suicide because he wasn’t good enough. He rose to power in the French Military, and one of the main reasons the Directory would fail would be because Napoleon was busy raging conflict in Egypt at the time, so the Directory couldn’t really handle wars closer to home. Napoleon’s great military history would eventually lead to shame and exilation, in which he comes back and (pardon my French, haha), shit goes down.
Was Napoleon’s actions beneficial or contradictory to the original ideals of the French Revolution?
The whole part of the French Revolution was to create equal rights and fair laws for all citizens of France. They overthrew King Louis XVI due to the idea of an absolute monarchy symbolizing everything they hated. They progressed forward to Maximilien Robespierre, and the incorruptible one ended up being worse than what they got rid of. On to the next trial, the Directory. Failure everywhere. And then you get to Napoleon. Napoleon, the popular military strategist who, even though he was an atheist himself, reestablished religious connections with the Catholic church. He allowed religious freedom. He “allowed” freedom. However, much like Louis XVI’s letres de cachet, something we talked about months ago, Napoleon had a secret police force that would arrest anyone who was suspected to be against the emperor/dictator.
Napoleon’s power was way higher than Louis XVI’s power ever was. But the people were happy.
Was Napoleon’s foreign policies or domestic affairs more successful?
Napoleon is remembered in history as being this military and strategy genius. Sure, he’s also remembered for his failures in Russia and Waterloo, but wouldn’t his foreign policies be better? Wrong. Napoleon’s concordat allowed France to rekindle the relationship with the Catholic church, the relationship that was spoiled after Robespierre. This made the people extremely happy. Plus, the Napoleonic Codes gave people new “rights” they hadn’t had before. He may have been a military genius, but once he became emperor of France, he went downhill on the battlefield fast.
Is perceived freedom actually freedom?
This one is up to you. If a leader, such as Napoleon, allows you to have religious freedom just to keep you happy and “freedom of press” (as long as you aren’t writing about Napoleon), are you really free? How is it freedom of press when Napoleon himself approved everything before it went in newspapers? How is it freedom of religion when Napoleon essentially became the pope of France, as Pope Urban was a pushover, and started appointing his own bishops? How is it freedom of rights when a secret police force watches every movement of the people in secret (insert clever NSA comparison here)? But if you’re happy….is it freedom?
Thank you for reading The French Turmoil- Vive La France! Perhaps I’ll revamp the series and extend it with more details at a later date if Ken wants me to, as I have a bunch of notes I didn’t get to include. But, for now, I bid you adieu. Vive La France!