Was Napoleon an enlightened revolutionary or power hungry tyrant?
WasNapoleon an enlightened revolutionary or power hungry tyrant?
NapoleonBonaparte born in 1769 in Corsica, France attended a military academyand ended up to be one of the most effective leaders in Europe’shistory. As the French Emperor, Napoleon was a successful militaryleader who led his armies to victory. With his military skills, hewas able to bring some form of order, solidarity and stability inFrance (Hodge 115). Though a valuable statesman and a reformer whowas able to spread ideals regarding the French revolution, he ledFrench armies in a bid to conquer the whole of Europe that onlystopped when other European nations ganged up to defeat him. Thisputs Napoleon as a power hungry tyrant whose main desire was toconquer the whole of Europe, rather than bring an enlightenedrevolution.
Napoleoncan also be considered as neither an enlightened revolutionary nor atyrant, but an authoritative individual who gave France a form ofenlightened dictatorship masked by the presence of democratic ideals.This is considering the fact that he advocated for reforms that werebased on the principles of enlightenment, while on the other hand,his principles could not allow for the revolutionary concept thatpower lies with the citizens. This was seen by his emancipation ofthe Jews with many claiming that he had continued slavery on anotherfront, masked by his proclaimed democratic principles (Hodge 127).
Napoleonwas much more of a power hungry tyrant than an enlightenedrevolutionary bearing in mind that though he stood for reforms, whathe aspired at the end of it all was the benefit for his lieutenants.Moreover, his revolutionary ideals were followed by bloodshed, with afocus to fight the forces in most of Europe monarchies (Hodge 130).In line with this, sovereign power resided with the monarch ratherthan with the citizens. This was seen by the fact that Napoleonserved his followers by subduing traditional obstacles to acentralized form of government in a bid to exact his authority.
Napoleonto some extent can, however, be considered as an enlightenedrevolutionary, considering that he neither engaged in mass murders,setting up of concentration camps for his opponents, neither was heinvolved in any form of genocide. It’s also worth noting thatNapoleon enjoys a huge acknowledgment as a statesman who was able tostrengthen France and exported his principles to many parts ofEurope.
Napoleonis also an enlightened revolutionary in various respects, with regardto, what he did for France as its emperor. This is seen byconsidering the fact that he attempted to represent the country’snational glory, as well as, preserve the achievements of therevolution he brought to France, in a manner that affirmed hisprinciple of authority. This is in that Napoleon offered leadershipthat appealed to the whole nation by advocating for the abolition ofclass and privilege and promoted social order based on equality forall people. It’s also worth noting that Napoleon was a charismaticleader in that he was capable of unifying the whole nation just bythe force of his personality (Hodge 187). This is seen by the factthat he was enlightened enough to based his politics on parties whichbecame synonymous in the eyes of his opponents by having a populistauthoritarianism.
Hodge,Carl C. Encyclopediaof the Age of Imperialism, 1800-1914.Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2008. Internet resource.