Napoleon As The Betrayer To The French Revolution

1309 words - 5 pages

Napoleon as the Betrayer to the French Revolution

Napoleon Bonaparte has remained one of history's most furiously
debated characters. This is because there has been much speculation
and many differing interpretations of his actions as leader of France
from 1799-1815. Most historians tend to have been torn between the
portraits of Napoleon as the heir of the Revolution or as the
destroyer of the Revolution's most sacred principles. However, a third
opinion has emerged that suggests that Napoleon made revolutionary
ideas practical and therefore acted as a bridge between the Ancien
Regime and the lofty ideals of the Revolution.

Napoleon can be seen as the defender of the French Revolution for
several reasons. When the Revolution broke out in 1789, Napoleon
approved of its rational ideals and carried several of these through
to the Consulate he created in 1799. In fact, Napoleon's Consulate
retained many of its features of the previous two constitutions for
the Directory set up after the Revolution. Napoleon continually used
plebiscites to justify his actions, which implies that his rule was
not one of total autocracy. The legal system was reformed with the
Code Napoleon, which was one of Napoleon's greatest achievements. The
Revolution had wanted to produce one code of laws for the entire
country, which is exactly what Napoleon did. In this way he can be
seen as the 'Son of the Revolution' carrying the teachings of liberty
and equality forward, as he continually asserted that liberty and
equality were at all times his chief concern. Napoleon confirmed the
abolition of the remains of feudalism and ensured that the absolute
monarchy swept away by the French Revolution in 1789 would never
return again in that form. Napoleon even administered reforms the
French Revolution had failed to do. Napoleon realised that religion
was of great importance to the people of France. He managed to agree
to a Concordat between France and the Pope that recognised Roman
Catholicism as France's principle religion and sees the Pope as the
head of the Roman Catholic Church. However, Napoleon managed to
introduce further terms that effectively made France in charge of
religion.

The view that supports Napoleon as the defender of the Revolution is
Napoleon himself! Emmanuel de Las Cases, who accompanied Napoleon into
exile on St. Helena, was the author of Napoleon's main biography, "The
Legend of Napoleon". In his writings, Napoleon became the founder of
the Revolution and the protagonist of its achievements. He preserved
the principles of liberty and equality, confirmed the destruction of
feudalism, united the fractions within France and propagated the
principles of the Revolution abroad. In the 1830s and 1840s, the
Napoleonic Legend arose in France. People in France yearned for the
excitement and...

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