How was the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte different from the rule of the French monarchs?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Bonaparte's rule was different from that of the French monarchs in several ways. First, he had no claim on hereditary right to the throne. This meant that his justification for his rule was essentially his military successes. While many of the Bourbon monarchs, most conspicuously Louis XIV, had been very warlike, Napoleon was unique in that he rose to power as essentially a military dictator. Additionally, Napoleon did not base his reign on an old aristocracy, which had been largely destroyed both legally, and to some extent physically, by the Revolution. He took steps to create what might be called a meritocracy, and created a system of schools that were designed to educate citizen-soldiers and future members of the bureaucracy. On the other hand, he was notoriously unwilling to delegate authority, and made civil and military decisions on his own authority. In many ways, France under Napoleon was more absolute than under the absolutists. His rule by cult of personality, one which was based largely on military successes mentioned above, anticipated the modern dictatorships of the twentieth century. Napoleon diverged from the Bourbons in another important way, however. He justified his rule, somewhat implausibly, with the rhetoric of the Revolution, arguing that through him, many of the gains made by the Revolutionaries were continued and solidified.