Thursday, October 10, 2013

Napoleon Bonaparte undeniably left a resounding impact on all of Europe. His actions of conquering other countries, changing governments, stripping down old social orders, and instating new economies was revolutionary.

Each country Napoleon conquered, he removed the old monarchy, or the Ancien Regime, which were governments ruled by hereditary kings. He abolished the old monarchies and allowed for more of a free-form government. This allowed for more prosperity and freedom in the people of these countries. This government system lasted until Napoleon was defeated. However, when the old monarchies were reinstated, there was much resistance against the form of government that was "going backwards." The old monarchies were too weak to defend against attacks, and they were not ideal for the people.

Napoleon completely redesigned the social orders, not only in France, but also in conquered countries. He was opposed to the rich, upper class having a large sum of the money, and oppressing the poorer classes. This made him vastly unpopular with the bourgeoise of every country. One member of nobility in France,  Madame de Stael said that, "his profound contempt for all the intellectual riches of human nature: virtue, dignity, religion enthusiasm; in his eyes they are 'the eternal enemies of the continent.'" This shows the opinion that the upper class had for him because his removal of many arts and leisure activies from society primarily affected the rich. When the old rulers were removed, many of their laws went with them. People in the countries he conquered had more freedom and rights than they did under their old rulers. For this reason, Napoleon was seen in a positive light by many of his conquered people.
This depiction of Napoleon clearly shows a powerful, respected ruler
This made them very reluctant to changing back to the old government when Napoleon was defeated. The freedom they felt under Napoleon laid the seed for many revolutions that were to come later.

Napoleon's impact on other countries also included economic reforms. In the Ancien Regime the economies were strictly operated by the government and most of the money was controlled by the upper class. This meant that the lower classes were suffering under the strict laws of trade that prevented them from making as much of a profit as they could. One of Napoleon's generals, Marshal Michel Ney says, "The times are gone when the people were governed by suppressing their rights." Under Napoleon, the trading was much more open and the wealth was distributed more between the people. For all of these reasons Napoleon is seen often in differing lights; sometimes as a great leader in reforms, and sometimes as a ruthless conqueror. Regardless of your opinion, it is evident that he had a tremendous impact on the world.

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