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The Napoleonic Wars
Transcript of The Napoleonic Wars
End of the Terror
People of all classes had grown weary of "The Terror." They were also tired of the increasing prices of bread, salt, and other necessities.
1795- Moderate leaders in the National Convention drafted a new plan of government. It placed power firmly in the hands of the upper middle class and gave power to a group of five men called "the Directory."
They were moderates, corrupt, and made themselves rich. Despite this, they stabilized France and gave it a new commander of the army- Napoleon Bonaparte.
He was born in 1769 on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
1785- When he was 16 years old, he finished school and became a lieutenant in the artillery. During the French Revolution, he joined the army of the new government.
He was only 5 feet 3 inches tall.
Napoleon's Final Defeat
The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of Napoleon's bid for power, called the "Hundred Days" (the number of days Napoleon was in power during his second reign).
This time, the British shipped Napoleon to St. Helena, a remote island in the South Atlantic. He lived in exile for six years before he died of a stomach ailment in 1821.
Napoleon's defeat opened the door for the freed European countries to establish a new order.
End of the Terror
In July 1794, fearing for their own safety, some members of the National Convention turned to Robespierre. They demanded his arrest and execution.
The "Reign of Terror," the radical phase of the French Revolution, ended on July 28, 1794, when Robespierre went to the guillotine.
French public opinion shifted dramatically after Robespierre's death.
Hero of the Hour
October 1795- The royalist rebels marched on the National Convention. A government official told Napoleon to defend the delegates.
Napoleon agreed and within minutes, the attackers fled in panic and confusion.
Napoleon became the hero of the hour and was hailed throughout Paris as the savior of the French republic.
1796- The Directory appointed Napoleon to lead a French army against the forces of Austria and Sardinia. Crossing the Alps, the young general swept into Italy and won a series of battles.
In order to protect French trade and disrupt British trade, he led an expedition to Egypt, which was a failure. The French were pinned down in Egypt and the British navy, under Horatio Nelson, defeated the French navy.
1799- The Directory lost control of the political situation and the confidence of the French people. When Napoleon returned from Egypt, his friends urged him to seize political power.
Early November 1799, he took action, surrounded the national legislature, and drove out most of its members with his troops.
The remaining lawmakers voted to get rid of the Directory and establish a group of three consuls. Napoleon was one of the consuls.
Napoleon quickly took the title first consul and assumed the powers of a dictator. It was a coup d'etat, or "blow to the state."
At the time of the coup, France was still at war. Britain, Austria, and Russia joined forces in 1799 to drive Napoleon from power.
As a result of war and diplomacy, all three nations signed peace agreements with France. By 1802, Europe was at peace for the first time in ten years. Napoleon was free to focus his energies on restoring order in France.
Lived 1769 to 1821. His small stature and thick Corsican accent made him the frequent target of mocking at military school. He ignored those who bullied him and concentrated on his studies.
His strongest subjects were history, geography, and math.
1784- It was determined Napoleon should join the military and attended the Ecole Militaire in Paris.
He was a bad soldier, but an excellent artillery officer. His instructors knew he would be great someday.
Napoleon Rules France
At first, Napoleon pretended to be the constitutionally chosen leader of a free republic. In 1800, the people voted for a new constitution that gave Napoleon all of the power.
He did not want to bring France back to the days of kings, but kept many of the laws in place during the Revolution.
He supported laws that strengthened the central government and helped achieve the goals of the Revolution.
Restoring Order at Home
His first task was to stabilize the French economy. He did this by setting up an efficient tax collection system and a national bank.
Napoleon took steps to end inefficiency and corruption in the government. He dismissed corrupt officials and created government-run schools called the lycées.
These lycées were open to male students of all backgrounds and those who graduated were appointed to government offices based on merit.
Napoleon disregarded changes to religion as introduced by the Revolution. The clergy and many peasants wanted to restore the position of the Church in France.
Napoleon signed a "concordat," or agreement, with Pope Pius VII. It established a new relationship between church and state.
The concordat recognized the influence of the Church, except in national affairs. It gained Napoleon the support of the Church and the people.
It was Napoleon's comprehensive system of laws that gave France a uniform set of laws and eliminated many injustices.
These laws limited liberty, promoted order, and authority over individual rights.
There was no freedom of speech or the press and slavery was restored in the French Caribbean.
Napoleon Crowned as Emperor
1804- Napoleon decided to make himself emperor and was supported by French voters.
He was crowned at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The pope was supposed to crown him, but Napoleon took the crown from the pope and crowned himself.
By doing this, Napoleon made a statement--he was more powerful than the Church.
Napoleon creates an Empire
He imagined an empire that included Louisiana, Florida, French Guiana, the French West Indies, and Haiti.
1789- The Haitians demanded the same rights that the French fought for during the Revolution. Enslaved Africans wanted the same. Civil war started and Toussaint L'Ouverture, the leader of the enslaved Africans, took over.
1801- Napoleon tried to take the colony back and failed.
Loss of American Territories
After losing Haiti, Napoleon gave up his hopes of an empire in America.
He offered to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States and the United States bought it for $15 million.
The money from the sale gave Napoleon more money for his wars and the land given to the U.S. challenged Great Britain's control of North America.
Napoleon turned his attention to Europe. He already annexed the Austrian Netherlands and parts of Italy and set up a puppet government in Switzerland. He wanted to conquer all of Europe.
In reaction, Great Britain persuaded Russia, Austria, and Sweden to join an alliance against France.
Napoleon boldly took on the challenge of this grand alliance. In a series of brilliant battles, he crushed the opposition.
The British and their allies could never predict Napoleon's next move and often took heavy losses. His victories prompted him to thank his troops after the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.
Eventually, Napoleon's victories forced the rulers of Austria, Prussia, and Russia to sign peace treaties. The rest of Europe was run by Napoleon's relatives.
Napoleon's successes allowed him to build the largest European empire since the Romans.
His only enemy left undefeated was the great naval power, Great Britain.
The Battle of Trafalgar
It was the only major battle Napoleon lost and was more important than all of his victories on land.
This naval battle took place in 1805 off the southwest coast of Spain.
The British commander, Horatio Nelson, was as brilliant in warfare at sea as Napoleon was on land. Nelson split the larger French fleet and captured many ships.
The Results of Trafalgar
A French sniper killed Great Britain's naval genius, Lord Nelson.
The battle ensured the British navy's supremacy for the next 100 years.
It forced Napoleon to give up his plans to invade Great Britain.
Napoleon's efforts to invade Great Britain resulted in many losses.
The French Empire
During the first decade of the 1800s, Napoleon's victories gave him control over Europe. The only free countries were Great Britain, Sweden, Portugal, and the Ottoman Empire.
He controlled Spain, the Duchy of Warsaw, and many German kingdoms using puppet governments.
Russia, Prussia, and Austria were loosely attached to Napoleon's empire because of alliances. They were easily controlled.
The empire lasted from 1807 to 1812.
Napoleon's Empire Collapses
Napoleon worried about what would happen to his empire after his death. He feared it would fall apart unless he had an heir whose right to succeed him was undisputed.
His wife, Josephine, failed to bear him a child. He divorced her and formed an alliance with the Austrian royal family by marrying Marie Louise.
1811- Marie Louise gave birth to a son, Napoleon II, whom Napoleon named the king of Rome.
Napoleon's Costly Mistakes
November 1806- Napoleon set up a blockade to prevent all trade and communication between Great Britain and the rest of Europe. He called this policy the "Continental System" because it was supposed to make continental Europe more self-sufficient.
Napoleon's goal was to destroy Great Britain's commercial and industrial economy.
The blockade failed and smugglers could get through to Europe from Great Britain. Napoleon's allies also ignored the blockade and so did his brother Louis, the king of Holland. The blockade only weakened British trade. It did not destroy British trade.
The British Blockade
The British responded to Napoleon with their own blockade. Because the British had a stronger navy, they were more capable than the French, making the blockade work.
To enforce the blockade, the British navy stopped neutral ships bound for America. They searched and taxed these ships. This was a cause of the War of 1812.
The Peninsular War
1808- Napoleon sent an invasion force through Spain to get Portugal to accept the Continental System. The Spanish were upset and Napoleon made his brother, Joseph, the king of Spain. The Spanish revolted.
Spanish Guerillas (peasant fighters) fought the French army for six years. Napoleon could not defeat them because after they ambushed the French, they fled into hiding.
The British sent troops under the Duke of Wellington to aid the Spanish and the French lost 300,000 men. Other European countries did the same. This weakened the French empire.
The Invasion of Russia
1812- Napoleon invaded Russia. It was his biggest disaster.
Even though Alexander I was Napoleon's ally, he refused to stop selling grain to Great Britain. The two countries also were competing for control of Poland. The alliance broke down.
June 1812- Napoleon invaded Russia with more than 420,000 soldiers.
Alexander pulled his troops back, refusing to take part in an unfair battle. While retreating, the Russians practiced a "scorched-earth policy". This involved burning grain fields and killing livestock so that nothing was left for the enemy to eat.
The two sides fought at the Battle of Borodino and the Russians withdrew. Napoleon moved toward Moscow only to find it in flames. The Russians burnt it instead of allowing the French to capture it.
Napoleon stayed in the ruined city for one month before deciding to return to France. During the retreat to France, Napoleon got caught in the middle of Russia's winter. By the time Napoleon returned to France, he only had 10,000 men left.
Once Napoleon's empire weakened, Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Sweden formed a new alliance against him. Austria betrayed Napoleon and declared war on France despite their alliance.
To meet this challenge, Napoleon raised a new army in a few months. This new army was untrained and unprepared for battle.
Napoleon Suffers Defeat
October 1813- Napoleon faced his enemies outside the German city of Leipzig. The French army quickly lost.
January 1814- The allied armies pushed toward Paris. Two months later, King Frederick William III of Prussia and Czar Alexander I of Russia led their troops in a victory parade through Paris.
Napoleon wanted to fight on, but his generals refused.
April 1814- Napoleon accepted the terms of surrender and gave up his throne.
Napoleon in Exile
The victors gave Napoleon a small pension and exiled (banished) him to Elba (an island near Italy).
Louis XVIII, the brother of the recently beheaded king, became the king of France. He was unpopular with the peasants and problems arose in France.
The Hundred Days
1815- Napoleon heard about Louis XVIII's problems and saw it as an opportunity to regain power.
March 1815- Napoleon escaped from Elba and landed in France. Crowds came to welcome him back. Thousands of volunteers joined his army, Louis XVIII left the throne, and Napoleon was emperor again.
The Final Battle
The European allies quickly grouped their armies together.
The British army, led by the Duke of Wellington, prepared for battle in Waterloo, Belgium.
June 1815- Napoleon attacked at Waterloo and the British held their ground. Eventually, the Prussian army arrived and joined the attack. Two days later, Napoleon's army weakened and the allies chased them off the field.