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What impact did Napoleon have on Europe and the world?

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Napoleon's conquest was largely fueled by nationalism, which was a relatively new idea that then took hold of Europe in the 1800s and contributed to late colonial efforts around the world. After Napoleon was defeated, the borders of Europe were redrawn to create a more stable balance of power. These nations shifted to more conservative governments to prevent similar revolutions and rebellion. Importantly, Napoleon's fighting with Spain and Portugal disrupted management of their colonies in the Americas, leading to many of those countries' independence. Napoleon also sold the Louisiana Territory to the US, which contributed to the country's rise to power in the Americas and the world.

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Napoleon dominated Europe from about 1800 to 1815. He was the dictator of France and conqueror of much of Europe. His years in power marked the second part of the French Revolution, which began in 1789.

The French Revolution, which resulted in the death of the French monarch and his queen, was a threat to all the kings and emperors in Europe. After 1815, the victorious powers (Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia) vainly tried to turn back time by returning Europe to its pre-1789 era. They sought to extinguish revolutions, secure monarchy everywhere, and restrain the fervent nationalism that had been unleashed by France.

Another result of the Napoleonic era is that the world became more secular. At his coronation, Napoleon snatched the crown from the pope and put it on his own head. Also, the Papal States were weakened.

Napoleon is best remembered for his extraordinary military prowess. In order to finally defeat him at Waterloo, the allied powers had to emulate Napoleon in some ways. For example the allies also resorted to mass conscription. As a consequence, armies became much larger, and the battles became much bloodier. Warfare was no longer carried out by a small cadre of professional troops. In this way, Napoleon's military campaigns presaged the world wars of the twentieth century.

Evaluating Napoleon and his legacy is problematic. His brilliance was matched by his ruthlessness, and countless thousands of French soldiers died during his wars.

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Napoleon had a profound influence on Europe.  After France's defeat, European leaders convened at the Congress of Vienna and redrew the map of Europe.  Europe enjoyed a time of significant peace due to the Continent being ruled by a balance of power.  Britain realized that it was in its best interest for this balance of power to exist.  It was not until the formation of the modern German state in 1871 that this balance shifted.  While there were nationalist and peasant uprisings against the nobility in the years following Napoleon's collapse, these were put down violently in order to avoid another situation in which another Napoleon could come to power.  Napoleon also made the rest of Europe and the United States reexamine their warfare tactics.  Napoleon was successful through his use of mobile artillery units and cavalry.  Linear warfare (soldiers lining up and firing at each other) would still dominate the battlefield for the next fifty years after the fall of Napoleon, but more emphasis was placed on getting improved firepower in place faster in order to take advantage of one's enemies.  

Napoleon had a profound influence on the world as well.  He sold the Louisiana territory to the Americans, and this allowed a fledgling country room to grow.  Napoleon also tried to play the Americans against the British, and this may have partially led to the War of 1812.  Napoleon's battles are still studied today in order to examine what morale and logistics can do for an army.  

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Napoleon impacted both Europe and the world in a number of ways.  When thinking about Napoleon’s impact, we have to realize that he did not necessarily intend to have the impacts that he did.  Instead, much of his impact came about inadvertently or even in response to his actions.

One of the biggest impacts that Napoleon had was that he caused a major backlash against his ideas and against the prospect that a single country could dominate Europe.  After Napoleon’s fall, the leaders of the countries of Europe got together at the Congress of Vienna.  They changed the borders of the various countries of Europe in hopes of creating a large number of countries with relatively similar levels of power.  This would make it harder for any one country to dominate Europe again.  Another reaction to Napoleon was the move towards more conservative governments in most of Europe.  The leaders of the European countries were worried that the ideas of the French Revolution would spread to their own countries.  Therefore, they enacted laws and set up systems that made it harder for liberal ideas to take hold in Europe.  This led to such things as the failed revolution in Germany in 1848.

Another major impact that Napoleon had came about when people actually followed his ideas.  Perhaps the most important of these was nationalism.  Napoleon relied on and promoted the idea that French people should feel proud of their country and should feel connected to it.  He used this nationalism to help create his huge and dedicated military force.  This influenced people in other countries, leading to the rise of nationalism in those countries.  The forces of nationalism helped to bring about, for example, the later unifications of Italy and Germany.

Napoleon also introduced the idea of liberalism and the laws of the Napoleonic Code to many European countries.  The ideas of liberalism inspired many people to want to change their countries' systems (for example, in the German revolution mentioned above).  The Napoleonic Code improved the legal systems of many European countries.

Around the world, Napoleon had less of a direct impact.  He did indirectly impact the Americas in important ways.  When his armies conquered Spain and Portugal, they disrupted those countries’ ability to rule their colonies in Central and South America.  This helped cause the wars of liberation in those areas in the 1800s.  In addition, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States, thus making the US much larger and eventually much more powerful.  The nationalism that Napoleon fostered also had its impact in other countries of the world, eventually leading many colonized countries to rebel against their colonial rulers.

Napoleon did not affect Europe and the world in the ways that he probably intended.  Even so, he did have a significant impact on Europe and on the world as a whole.

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What impact did Napoleon Bonaparte have on today’s world?

Napoleon Bonaparte was Director, Consul, and eventually Emperor of France from 1799-1814, and then 1814-1815 (more on that later). Historians regard Napoleon as an egotistical military genius whose greed for power drove him to conquer almost all of Europe and then lose it again within 15 years. 

His lasting effects on today's world include his Napoleonic Code, his influence on Haitian and Latin American independence movements, and his sale of the Louisiana Territory to the United States. 

One of Napoleon’s major effects on today’s world is through his Napoleonic Code. The Code was one of the first times since the fall of the Roman Empire that any European nation’s laws were codified, or written down in an official document. Before that time, the laws in many European countries were contained in many documents—or not written down at all—making it almost impossible to enforce laws uniformly throughout the country.

As Napoleon conquered areas Germany and Eastern Europe, he brought the Code with him. The Code was also exported to French colonies in the Caribbean and Latin America. Later on, after Napoleon’s empire fell, parts of the Code remained in those areas and became the basis for their own law codes. Therefore, many of the legal traditions in today’s Europe, Caribbean and Latin America started with the Napoleonic Code.

What was in the Napoleonic Code? This document is similar to the US Constitution, in that it describes the rights of the individual. It guarantees the equality of most adult French males (as in the Constitution, while yet preserving slavery).

However, the Napoleonic Code actually removed a lot of individual rights that had previously been guaranteed French citizens after the French Revolution. Most notably, the Code placed limits on freedom of speech and the press. Women were considered children in the eyes of the law and were not allowed to own property or have the legal custody of their own children. Finally, slavery, which had been abolished (ended) 10 years previously, was re-introduced into French colonies in the Caribbean.

One of those colonies was Haiti, which became the site of the largest and most successful slave revolts in history. The Code was partly responsible for the Haitian Revolution, in which Haiti became independent and France lost an important colony.

This loss was one reason behind the second of Napoleon’s most influential actions—the sale of the Louisiana Territory to the United States. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the US, adding the much of the Plains and Midwest to the national map.

Additionally, when Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808—six years after the Haitian Revolution—Spain was left unstable, opening the door for unhappy Spanish colonists in South America to revolt. Napoleon, then, also effects today’s world by influencing independence movements in Haiti and much of South America.

Napoleon was eventually defeated by a coalition of European countries, led by England, in 1814. He was sent to a prison on the island of Elba, in the Mediterranean Sea, not far from mainland France. Napoleon was able to use his charisma to convince his prison guards to help him escape back to France. Once there, he rallied his former troops to support him and was able to re-conquer France for a period of 100 days.

He was famously defeated for the final time when he attempted to invade Waterloo, Belgium. To this day, an event that causes someone’s personal or professional downfall is called “his Waterloo.”

You can find a short biography of Napoleon in this Homework Help answer. 

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

Napoleon Bonaparte was a well-known ruler and military strategist. He served as a French military commander at a base in Italy. Following his homecoming after the revolution, Napoleon found a destabilized government. Consequently, he saw this as an opportunity to lead a coup d’état in 1799, which led to him becoming the first consul of France.

Napoleon was significant in rebuilding his county from the aftermath of the revolution. As a result of his military background, he was more than able to lead France. This is because the country had not only socio-political conflict to manage, but also foreign threats, such as Britain. For instance, in 1805, Napoleon was victorious in taking down a coalition attempting to seize France that comprised of Britain, Austria, and Russia.

Overall, Napoleon had a profound impact on Europe due to his influence in almost all European nations. His influence lead to boundary shifts that lead to formation of European states that still exist. Furthermore, he pushed for nationalism and integration of continental leaders to discuss key issues. The emperor is also believed to have personified the aims of liberty, equality, and fraternity spearheaded by the French revolution. Moreover, he enacted the Napoleonic Code applicable to all territories under his rule. To date, some European nations follow several key principles of the Napoleonic Code.

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

Napoleon had a profound impact on the development of nineteenth century European history. His desire for global domination, and especially for France to be the dominant power across the European continent, led to lasting innovations in the art of war. For example, he was the first to concentrate firepower on specific targets on a battlefield. He also developed the art of the fast-moving maneuver or quick strike by mobile battalions, a style of warfare later used to great effect against France by Hitler in World War II. In addition, he innovated the art of destroying rather than merely defeating enemy armies, leading to the "total war" concepts of the twentieth century.

The vast waves of death and destruction Napoleon caused across central Europe destroyed the Holy Roman Empire, paving the way for the rise of Germany some decades later. It also caused deep resentments against the French by the Germans during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that would lead to further wars.

The levels of destruction on the European continent after fifteen years of war left it reeling; as a consequence, Great Britain, which did not suffer invasion, became the dominant world power (it also developed the premier world navy), a first-place position that the country held for the rest of the nineteenth century.

On other notes, Napoleon's legal reforms led to a more rational and just legal system in France, and his interest in culture led to the founding of the Louvre and a fascination with antiquity that spread across Europe.

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

The fifteen years Napoleon was in power sparked a time of perpetual war throughout Europe. It was Napoleon’s goal to establish his personal presence as a strong power within France and to create a French-dominated kingdom in Europe. He selected certain countries, including Great Britain and then later Austria and Prussia, as those he spent the most time and effort in trying to conquer. He was frequently victorious, although his strategic choices were often not the most practical, particularly in the number of troops and weapons deployed.

Other than his military campaigns, Napoleon’s rule produced three main achievements that impacted France and the rest of Europe:

  • Revolutionary changes within France, including new laws and an integrated government that fostered equality and employed officials according to their skills, not family privilege;
  • Advanced revolutionary legislation in France to much of western Europe, lessening the power of the Catholic Church and ending aristocratic regimes in several countries;
  • Causing permanent changes in European borders, dividing countries and creating new political reforms as it generated a growing sense of patriotism and self-government in these regions, including Spain and Poland.
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What impact did Napoleon have on France and the rest of Europe?

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.

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

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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