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Rise and Fall of Nazism and Napoleon

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Essay title: Rise and Fall of Nazism and Napoleon

Hitler and Napoleon are arguably two of the most influential and powerful leaders in the history of mankind. They both had their times of glory, but both also had a very ugly side. At the end of this essay, I will compare and contrast the two, but before I can do that, we need to have a little background on them.

In late 1793, Napoleon drove British forces out of the French port of Toulon, and went on to win many dazzling victories, defeating the Austrians. With each military victory, he became more ambitious. In 1799, he moved from successful general to political leader; he overthrew the weak Directory and set up a three man governing body, the Consulate . In 1802, he had himself named consul for life. Two years later he had accumulated enough power into his hands to earn the title Emperor of the French. Napoleon restored prosperity by modernizing finances. He regulated the economy and set up a school system. He made peace with the Catholic Church in the Concordat of 1801, which kept the Church under the state's control but recognized religious freedom for Catholics. Napoleon, unlike most rulers, won support across class lines. The Napoleonic Code was one of his most lasting reforms. It embodied Enlightenment principles such as the equality of all citizens before the law, religious tolerance, and advancement based on merit . This new code did, however, undermine the power and rights of women. By 1810, his Grand Empire reached its greatest extent. Napoleon annexed the Netherlands and Belgium and parts of Italy and Germany under French power. Napoleon once said "A man such as I cares little for the life of a million men" , sharing his opinion about military casualties. Napoleon's presence on the battlefield was "worth 40,000 troops" said an anonymous person.

Britain alone withstood the onslaught of Napoleon's troops, so Napoleon waged an economic war with them through the Continental System. He closed European ports to British goods, but Britain responded with its own blockade of European ports. The Continental System, however, failed to defeat Britain, because its powerful navy kept vital trade routes to the Americas and India open. The restrictions on trade in Europe sent prices soaring because of a scarcity of goods.

Many Europeans who welcomed Napoleon's ideas nevertheless saw Napoleon's armies as foreign oppressors, opposing Napoleon's effort to impose French culture and the Continental System. In 1812, Alexander I of Russia backed out of the Continental System. Napoleon responded with the deployment of 600,000 troops into Russia. To avoid battles with Napoleon's forces, the Russians retreated eastward, burning villages and crops as they went. This left the French hungry and cold as winter came. Napoleon entered Moscow in September and realized that he couldn't feed and supply his troops through the long and harsh Russian winter. In October, he decided for them to turn homeward; the 1,000 mile retreat from Moscow turned into a desperate fight for survival. Only 1/6th of the troops deployed survived. Napoleon rushed back to Paris to raise a new force to defend France, but his

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