Do you think Napoleon was a hero or a villain and why?
It’s an essay I have to do for Social class and I would like some opinions.
Napoleon was a hero without equal nearly all of the negative things you hear about him are British propaganda. All of the “bad” things he did can be attributed to the British, they started most of the wars he fought and refused all peace offers. Look at France and its dependencies from 1801-1803, Napoleon was so popular with his reforms that he was made First Consul for life. This was through a plebiscite by the citizens of France yet the monarchs of Europe said he was not the legitimate ruler of France, how much more legitimate can it get than being elected by the people? Napoleon centralized the government, took control of food production to ensure food was available cheap and began large scale government projects across the country. He also created a new civil code for France as well as training the most advanced army in Europe. Some villain huh? Now those were some of the good things he accomplished so now I’ll tell you some of his mistakes and measures that he was forced to take because of the war.
The thing that he was most disliked over was conscription. Well Napoleon had two choices, conscript citizens into his army and defeat Britain and the other monarchs of Europe or surrender France over to the royalists and betray the trust the French and his allies put in him. Besides had the coalitions agreed to one of the numerous peace attempts he made then there would of been no need for conscription.
Somehow people have this idea that Napoleon was far to hard on his defeated enemies. Ok so if someone broke a treaty that they had agreed to with you would it be safe to say your gonna be mad and make them pay for it? Well believe it or not Napoleon was almost ridiculously lenient with his treatment of his enemies. After winning at Austerlitz he let the Russians leave in peace and made the Austrians promise to respect the treaties they had already agreed to, give up the Tyrol to Bavaria and pay 40 million francs in war payments. The money was not taken as a punishment but to help pay the debt that was accumulating in France due to the war. Next the Prussians decided, for no good reason, to declare war on France even after Napoleon offered them the rich German state of Hanover. Napoleon quickly marched his army to Prussia and annhialated the Prussian army before they knew what happened. But even before he could finish the war with Prussia the Russians decided to repay Napoleon for his kindness by joining the Prussians fighting against him. After several bloody battles Napoleon won, once again he dictated good terms, the Russians would close their ports to British trade until they agreed to a peace as well as reconizing the Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon was rather more demanding with the Prussians they lost almost all of their Polish territory, everything west of the Elbe river, and paid war costs of several hundred million francs, it was only at the requests of his advisors that Napoleon did not dethrone the Prussian king. By 1809 The Austrians once again decided it was time to betray Napoleon just because they felt their army had recovered, they invaded Bavaria. Well Napoleon had to defend his allies and so he mobilized his army and beat the Austrians out of Bavaria and after some costly battles the Austrians sued for peace. The Austrians had to pay war costs and lost some territory, pretty good considering Napoleon could of carved that empire to peices. So try and tell me Napoleon was hard on the countries he defeated.
Many people say he abandoned his army in Egypt and Russia, well their missing the big picture. By the time Napoleon left Egypt there was nothing else he could do for his soldiers, he had brought them back from enemy territory to the relative safety of French controlled Egypt, this is besides the fact that he was a general at this point and recieved word from the Directory to return to France. In Russia Napoleon bravely lead his soldiers out of Russia and into Lithuania before leaving. There was only so much that he could do for his army by remaining at the front lines, by that point his place was in Paris rallying the country and building a new army to defend his empire.
His reforms on liberties were more half and half, but you have to remember some rights we have today were new ideas back in the early 1800s. Yes Napoleon did enforce rather strict censorship however he was also in a life or death war with Britain for over ten years, even the U.S. in world war two imposed censorship, so its something thats not uncommon during war. Another thing Napoleon is accused of is restricting woman’s rights. Well lets see he made it so divorces were legal, gave widows of soldiers a pension and kept some of the rights gained by women during the revolution. It must be remembered that Napoleon was raised in Corsica during his youth and in Corsica woman mainly stayed at home and were very respectable, this sharply contrasted with the mindset of Parisian woman during the Revolution where orgies were dail