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Napoleon Bonaparte

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Napoleon Bonaparte is a widely known, extremely controversial figure when it comes to the political position of France surrounding the time after the French revolution. France had experienced a time of great turmoil for years on end and though they hoped for their liberal ideas to be expressed the endless mayhem had become monotonous and undesirable. In this way, Napoleon's entrance into French politics was strategically placed. Though his political attitude was far from what France had been fighting for, putting him in power was ideal as he brought to the French a sense of security and well-being for France. Napoleon represented to the French people what was the light at the end of the tunnel. His rule was not a progressive one, but rather, successful in setting the political system further back than it was prior to his governance, abandoning all revolutionary ideologies in the process. Napoleon was as unsuccessful emperor, visible through the stagnant political state of France at the end of his rule. Revolutionary ideals throughout the course of Napoleon Bonaparte's rule evolved backwards rather than forwards as result of his military decisions, his conception of himself and the French population, and the laws he developed during his rule.

Napoleon had always been regarded as a very talented general. In fact, his success in the military was what allowed him to rise from his humble beginnings and make himself known in France. Upon gaining power in France he used his talent as a general to constitute wars against other countries. Though it is true that France did develop a strong military with Napoleon's help, this was not what the people wanted after years of useless revolt. The wars Napoleon continued to fight against other countries made it seem like peace and progress was at France's fingertips. In actual fact, he was not solving the problems in France so much as averting them. Napoleon was not only responsible for the killings of citizens of countries but also in France itself. He created the image that he was a gracious leader by welcoming people of many different political positions into France: Jacobins or liberals, Old Regime bureaucrats, and many who had been previously exiled, including royalists. In 1804, however, he imprisoned, executed, and exiled many of these same people for Jacobin agitation or Royalist sympathies. As he stated in an excerpt from his own diary "In warfare every opportunity must be seized; for fortune is like a woman; if you miss her today, you need not expect to find her tomorrow" It is quite clear in this statement that Napoleon knew how to work situations to his advantage, using every option he had in warfare to try and further himself. This in itself is demonstrative of the type of nature Napoleon possessed. Willing to do anything to create the ideal image to the people and then when France was unaware going against the tactics and promises that merited this image in the first place. The ultimate display of how little he was looking out for France's best interests occurred in Russia towards the end of his rule. As his military marched across Russia without supplies, in poor health and growing weaker by the day, Napoleon abandoned them in their time of turmoil. Even in leaving them he was still building up his image, "I have sacrificed all of my interests to those of the country" he said. It seems that the brilliant military genius of earlier days is evidently flawed in many ways. It is clear that Napoleon himself did not want to suffer.

Perhaps one of the reasons Napoleon acted so selfishly throughout his entire reign was that he himself regarded himself as Godlike. Napoleon saw himself in a great light and therefore made it his mission to portray himself in a particularly majestic fashion. Napoleon hired artists of the period to create works of art that exemplified this view of who he wanted to be. One particular piece of artwork "Napoleon Crossing the Great St. Bernard" where he shown riding up a mountain on a horse, a virtually impossible feat, is a clear example of the image he tried to portray. His image was crucial to his success. It was this image that gained him the respect and confidence of the French people. Without it, Napoleon would never have been as successful and it is doubtful that that would have ever been voted into power. Napoleon was a very ambitious man. He knew precisely how to work the system. Though he knew that he had assigned all the power into his own hands he was sure to carefully select how much power he showed. He was careful to demand plebiscite's when he was in good standing with the people. Even in a speech he made in Italy he declared to troops and onlookers:

"Peoples of Italy, the French army comes to break you're chains; the French people is the friend of all people; approach it with


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