How was Napoleon Bonaparte "The Son of the Revolution" and what was his legacy?

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The French Revolution attempted to bring Enlightenment principles to governance, creating a society that was rational and equalitarian. (It ultimately failed to do so, but that was the ideal.) Initially, the revolutionaries abolished religion and passed laws that radically equalized the society. Napoleon, when he took over, rolled back these more radical gestures but was still heavily influenced by Enlightenment rationalism. Two areas in which his rational ideas left a lasting legacy are in the relationship of religion to the civil state and in the legal code of France.

Although Napoleon allowed the reestablishment of Roman Catholicism in France in 1800, he showed himself to be a "son of the revolution" by not allowing the Church to regain its former power. In the Organic Articles, he required that the state have control over the church. He made sure the pope was firmly subordinate to the civil government, decreeing, for example, that no papal bull or writing could be published in France without the permission of state. He also showed himself a true child of revolution in bringing back the Church not because of a belief in God, Jesus, or the creeds but because he thought it was a rational move that would help the morale of the people and support an orderly government. To this day, civil law takes precedence over religious law in France.

In some, but not all, ways, Napoleon also showed himself a son of the revolution through his Napoleonic Code. This code revamped and centralized the existing, inconsistent legal system to make it fairer and more rational. For example, no "secret" laws could be passed: all laws had to be published. No retroactive or ex post facto laws could be passed, which were laws that made an act criminal after the fact. Many of the special privileges and loopholes that had existed beforehand were also excised in the Napoleonic Code. A fairer and more rational legal system became a lasting legacy.

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Napoleon Bonaparte was truly a “Son of the Revolution” because his career and fame were a direct result of his performance in the French Army during the revolution.

Napoleon was stationed in Corsica when the revolution broke out, where his skills as an artillery commander became highly prized by the three factions vying for control of the island. He ultimately sided with the Jacobeans, and soon gained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, commanding an entire battalion of volunteers.

He eventually came to the attention of the French government after his capture of Toulon, and soon the newly appointed artillery general was expounding his thoughts on general strategy to the governing council of Revolutionary France. As you probably know, he eventually leveraged this trust into special executive powers, which eventually made him Emperor of France.

Despite his power grab, Napoleon’s career had several important milestones that continue to affect us today. His military theories and strategies are still studied and implemented today, even in the world of modern warfare. He also implemented a system of laws known as the Napoleonic Code, which has been the predecessor of many modern systems of law and order in the western world.

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