Was Napoleon an heir of the Revolution?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Napoleon never claimed a connection to the French Revolution and even opposed worker's unions as "Jacobin institutions," but it could be argued that his empire was responsible for the spread of the revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The Napoleonic Code ended all feudal rights and privileges, promoted individual property rights, and replaced the traditional religious code of law with a more secular approach. It also banned secret laws and ex post facto laws to ensure equal enforcement of the law to all people. These legal reforms provided more individual legal and property rights to French citizens. Napoleon also attempted to create a social hierarchy based on merit rather than birth. He offered amnesty to the nobles who fled France during the revolution, but did not return their lands to them. Napoleon allowed those who acquired nobles' land after the emigration of the nobles to keep their personal property. While Napoleon was not a supporter of the revolution, his reforms created a society that was more equal and free than the birth-based nobility and feudalism of pre-Revolutionary France, in accordance with the ideals of the Revolution.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial