Essay on Napoleon Bonaparte

This essay has a total of 2895 words and 13 pages.

Napoleon Bonaparte



Napoleon Bonaparte


Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769. He was born on the small Italian Island
of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea. He was born at a very hectic time. Corsica was
trying to gain independence when French troops invaded. He was born during a war, and he
will die because of one.

When he turned ten his parents sent him to a military school, just outside of Paris. He
devoted himself to learning and gaining experience to military tactics. All of this work
eventually paid off. When he was sixteen, he became a lieutenant in the artillery. By
the time he was twenty-four, he was a general. Revolution broke out the same year. He
joined the military of the French Republic.

In October of 1705, a government official told Napoleon to defend the palace where the
National Convention took place. He, with his small army, defeated the thousands of
royalist in minutes. He is declared a hero. In 1796, the Directory appointed him to
command a French army. He marched into Italy and liberated it from Austria, although some
say he conquered it.

The Directory was not doing very well. In 1799, it accused the French people of being
corrupt. Napoleon seized this opportunity to take it over. On November 9, 1799, he
staged a coup d’ état and 500 soldiers took over one chamber of the National Legislature
and drove out the members. The second chamber voted to end the directory. France was now
in the hands of three officials. They were known as consuls. Napoleon modeled his
government after the ancient Roman government. Napoleon named himself First Consul. In
1800, he and his fellow consuls set up the plebiscite in which the citizens had the right
to vote yes or no on an issue.

On December 2, 1804, Napoleon crowned himself emperor. The plebiscite made this so. The
Pope crowned him himself. People thought he was a godsend. He greatly changed the
economy of France by making many of reforms. He set up a bank, let émigrés back into
France, let there be freedom of religion, freed slaves, and set up the Napoleonic Code.
From the revolution France gained rich farmland, helped economy, and paid and fed
soldiers. Most of all they gained their freedom from England. Back at home the Directory
Government of France was in a downfall. France needed a new leader to impose order in
France. So graciously, Napoleon stepped in as head of the military, and an executive
power in France. Soon enough common people were more then happy to see a positive change,
after ten years of instability, war, and an economic downfall. After a brief existence of
a triumvirate in France, Napoleon became Napoleon I, emperor of France. It was Napoleon’s
obligation to write the new constitution on France, and insure confidence in the common
people of Europe.

Napoleon then created the Four Orders of France
The people outside of France thought differently about Napoleon. They hated him. In
order to extend France’s power. He took over parts of Italy and set up a government in
Switzerland. The British declared war on France afraid that he was going to take over
Great Britain.

Napoleon wanted to take over all of Europe, and he almost did. He won a series of
battles; The Battle of Ulm, The Battle of Austerlitz, The Battle of Jena, and The Battle
of Friedland. These were some of his more famous battles. Napoleon was a military
genius, on land that is. The Battle of Trafalgar was his first loss because it was on
water. The commander of the British fleet was Horatio Nelson. He was the Napoleon of the
sea. In October 1805, he destroyed Napoleons thirty-three ships with his twenty-seven.
Losing this battle forced Napoleon to give up his plans to invade Great Britain.

The Grande Army, which was now 200,000 strong, was assembled in camps all along the
English Channel coast. This was all in preparation for the invasion of Britain. However,
the French navy could not lure the British Fleet away from their defensive position.
Napoleon could not secure temporary control of the English Channel to ensure his army's
safe crossing. He faced the newly concluded Third Coalition of Britain, Austria, and
Russia, which concluded in April 1805). Napoleon was forced to abandon his plans to
invade Britain. On August 25, 1805, the Grand Army of seven Corps was ordered to march
south towards the Danube and then east on Vienna. Meanwhile, the allies planned a three
front attack against Napoleon; the British would recapture Hanover. Next, an Austrian
army with Russian support under the command of General Mack would invade Bavaria, which
was a French ally. Lastly, an Austrian army under Archduke Charles would free Northern
Italy from Napoleon and launch an attack on southern France. While an invasion against
Naples and raids on the Dutch coast were planned. Unfortunately for them, the allies had
seriously underestimated Napoleon.

On September 10, 1805, General Mack invaded Bavaria and occupied the city of Ulm with his
85,000 men. Next, he waited for his reinforcements from Russia to arrive. The Grande
Army's awesome march was totally unexpected. It was September 30th, when Mack realized he
was in danger of being encircled by Napoleon’s Army. A series of clashes were fought.
The first was at Wertingen, along the River Iller. Two more battles were fought; one at
Hasslach and another battle at Elchingen was fought. By October 15th, Mack was almost
surrounded. He was hoping to stall long enough for 50,000 Austro-Russian reinforcements
under Kutusov to arrive. Mack then decided to compromise with the French. When it became
clear that the Russians were still to far away to help, Mack sadly surrendered his army of
30,000 soldiers on October 20th, 1805. This great victory was achieved, not through a
major battle, but through a legendary maneuver, the inspiration for the blitzkrieg
(Chandler). The next stage of the Austerlitz campaign was only a pursuit by the French
Army of Kutusov's forces. Kutusov managed to somehow escape the clutches of the French
until he met up with Buxhowden's Army of 30,000 Russians on November 20th, near Olmutz.
On November23, Napoleon’s 53,000 troops under his direct command called a stop at Bruenn
or present day Brno. By the time they reached Austerlitz, Napoleon was reinforced with
Bernadotte and Davout's armies and managed to field an amazingly large army of around
73,000 men.

The following battle, the Battle of Austerlitz, was on December 2nd 1805, and was one of
Napoleon's masterpieces. Though severely outnumbered, Napoleon managed to defeat the
Austro-Russian army, which thereby caused the destruction of the Third Coalition. Through
a series of deceptions, Napoleon tricked the Allies into thinking that his army was small
and weak and could easily be defeated. The Allies had fallen right into his trap and were
lured to attack the French right flank. The allied attack began at dawn, although the
battlefield was shrouded in mist.

When Napoleon judged that the Allies were fully committed on attacking his flanks, he gave
Soult the order for the allied center, which was located on the Pratzen Heights, to be
stormed. By 11am, the French were in control of the Pratzen Heights. When Lannes judged
that the time was ripe, he ordered forward his infantry, which advanced gloriously,
despite terrible losses. Back on the Pratzen Heights, the many desperate Allied
counterattacks made no progress. Finally, the Russian Imperial Guard Corps, under Grand
Duke Constantine was thrown into the fray, the last roll of the dice (Chandler). The
Russian Imperial Guard, which consisted of 3000 Grenadiers and 15 squadrons of Guard
Cavalry, assaulted the Pratzen Heights once more, routing the 4th Ligne and 24th Legere
Regiments. The gap in the French line was filled by the French Imperial Guard chasseurs á
cheval and the grenadiers á cheval. A fierce battle took place between the French and
Russian guard cavalry. Suddenly, the Russians retreated because the French had the upper
hand, by a very thin margin. With control of the centre, Napoleon ordered his troops to
destroy the over-extended Allied left wing. The only escape route for the Allies was
southwards, and many retreated across the frozen Lake Satschan. Austerlitz cost the
French 9,000 casualties. The French army took 20,000 Prisoners Of War and 15,000
casualties. They forced the Austrians to sign a treaty.

Austria had been soundly defeated at Austerlitz in 1805. Sensing prime opportunity,
Napoleon demanded and obtained the Prussian territories of Cleves, Ansbach and Neuchatel.
In return, Napoleon offered Hanover to Prussia, but the treaty had not been ratified.
More humiliation then followed, the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine threatened
Prussia's absolute control over German affairs. The final straw was Napoleon's offer of
Hanover to Great Britain in return for peace. Napoleon went too far this time. Prussian
honor was at stake and the army was mobilized on August 10th, 1806. So, began the Battle
of Jena.

The French "battalion square" formation swung 90 degrees westwards towards the Prussian
concentration. On 13 October, Lannes V Corps discovered 30,000 Prussian troops around
Jena. Napoleon sent orders for all Corps to concentrate there by 14 October. To cut off
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