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

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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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.

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