What impact did Napoleon have on France and the rest of Europe?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Napoleon Bonaparte played an important role during the French Revolution and its transition. His technical prowess, backed by important wins, earned him strategic positions within the military. He managed to rise to the pinnacle of national leadership after he assumed the position of Emperor of France.

Napoleon helped Jews and Protestants living in Catholic countries where they were confined in ghettos. Despite opposition from the Catholic nations, Napoleon maintained his position to uphold the equitable rights of the different religious groups.

The Napoleonic Code is possibly one of the most important reforms instituted by the leader and statesman. The Napoleonic Code was a set of civil laws, which later formed the basis of civil laws in many different countries across the globe. The Napoleonic Code established the rules of due process in civil law.

Napoleon reformed the country’s education system and established secondary schools to standardize education in France.

He embarked on infrastructure projects by constructing roads and a sewer system. Napoleon is also responsible for the introduction of the first central bank in France.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although Napoleon was a controversial figure, and his most dramatic achievements were his military successes, which were quite extraordinary, his most long-lasting achievements were probably the civil reforms which codified some of the ideals of the French Revolution and permanently changed the nature of French civil society. The core of these changes was encapsulated in the "Napoleonic Code,"which he helped created with four jurists. It enshrined the concepts of "liberté, égalité, et fraternité," which still form the national motto of France. 

Some of the central elements of the code were:

  • Equality of all people under the law
  • Abolition of the nobility
  • Civil rights
  • Property rights
  • Separation of church and state
  • Due process and fair trials for people accused of crimes

The Napoleonic code is the basis of the legal system in many of the world's democracies.