1) How did Napoleon come to power?
Napoleon took advantage of the chaos waging after the French Revolution and used it to rise to power. In what is known as the "Coup D'Etat" Napoleon became the first modern dictator. His sudden seizure of power was accepted because he had charisma, exceptional military tactics, and France was finally ready for stability after the chaotic French Revolution.
2) What changes did Napoleon make in government and administration?
Napoleon introduced firstly the Napoleonic Code, whose set of laws is still partly used by the French Government today. He also became Emperor of France, and could not be remove from power. He established two National Assemblies with members chosen by Napoleon from candidates elected by the people. All laws were made by the Assemblies.
3) What reforms were made under the Consulate?
Napoleon's largest reforms were under the legal system. Inside his new legal system he introduced the plebiscites as a form of democratic decision-making. His new laws unified all laws in France and were called the Napoleonic codes.
In education, Napoleon was the first to introduce public schools. He created four grades of school, and made science and math the most important subject in secondary school.
Furthermore, he uphold some of the values of the revolution, such as those proclamed in the Declaration of the Rights of the Man.
In Religion, he repaired Church and State relationships with the Concordat of 1801, and made the Catholic Religion official in France while though securing religious freedom.
In the society, he removed special privileges, and got rid of feudalism. He offered the nobles stability, but did reestablish their privileges.
Napoleon also reorganized the army and created the Legion of Honour.
4) How did Napoleon make his position secure?
Napoleon always made sure to stay on the good side of the Revolutionists. He upheld most of the rights they had gained during the revolution and did everything he could to satisfy them. Furthermore he crowned himself Emperor of France, which meant that he couldn't be removed from power. By crowning himself, he made clear to the CHurch that he only had the power to be removed and not anybody else.
5) What was the nature of Napoleonic rule under the empire?
Napoleon's rule was a dictatorship, since his Coup D'Etat, but it developed into Monarchy when he became emperor.
6) To what extent was Napoleon a dictator?
Even though Napoleon seized power, and was not elected, his governmental system seems to contain many characteristic of a democracy. For example, the Constitution that he sets up is a form of representative democracy, with many bodies in government such as the Council of State, who help draw up a legislation. The Legislature votes on that Legislation in secret. However the voting was not as liberal as it may seem since Napoleon could override the decisions at will. The voting was also not universal suffrage, and therefore not directed to the whole population, but the initial idea of voting goes against a full dictatorship. Therefore, Napoleon's dictatorship was not exclusive as it still contained many elements of a democracy.
7) Discuss Napoleon's rule during the Hundred Days.
The fact that the French Monarchy had been restored had upset a big part of the French population, which made Napoleon seem like a saviour to many once again. At first Napoleon claimed to be looking for peace. He offered to sign treaties with his former enemies and to join with them in order to overthrow the French Monarchy. The Powers o Vienna though were not intrigued by his words.
Meanwhile Napoleon reorganized the French Army, using his former veterans and prisoners of war.
By 20 March, Napoleon was in Paris with an army of 140,000 regular troops and a volunteer reserve of about 200,000. He was not prepared to fight on French soil so he took battle to his enemies.
8) Why was Napoleon successful in Europe until 1807?
Firstly he was completely devoted to his army. He was extremely popular among his men, and his unique figure could charm anyone into cooperation. His presence inspired his men, and the fact that he was both head of state and commander-in-chief gave him absolute power. Napoleon's attacks started small, at first avoiding battle at all costs. His soldier were not mercenaries, but mere patriots, wanting to serve their Revolution. Then Conscription was introduced in 1793, and Napoleon used to create the Grand Armee. This was the point where his genius showed, and his real strategic abilities were used. His men remained loyal, and his army national, and while his battles were so victorious he was able to even dictate his own terms on the vanquised.
9) What were the reasons for Napoleon's success?
The devotion to his men, and his new, original military tactics were the main reasons for his success.
10) What made Napoleon a great general?
He was devoted to his troops, who adored him. He led them himself into battle many times. Napoleon used his experience to develop new tactics, and his genius to gain victories without even trying. He developed slowly surprising his enemies.
11) What were the relative weaknesses of Napoleon's enemies?
Napoleon moved his troops along the battlefield much faster, while his enemies stuck to the original, overused tactics of war. They were predictable while Napoleon wasn't.
12) What factors help explain Napoleon's downfall?
Napoleon himself stated in 1805 that ‘I will be good for six years more; after that even I must cry halt.’
Even before 1805, his health was poor, and his reactions were failing. His armies' quality decreased fast, and the fact that he was facing continuous warfare didn't help his condition.
Napoleonic warfare also required large numbers on the battlefield and a willingness to accept a high level of casualties. In order to fill the gaps Napoleon was forced to recruit less skilled men than he did initially. His army became both less sophisticated and a waste of lives. The casualties from the invasion of Russia were difficult to justify, and the situation worsened when the whole of Europe allied against him.
Napoleon's character was another factor. His allies didn't trust him and his inability to defeat Britain worsened his image.
13) In what ways does Napoleon's defeat in Russia contribute to his eventual downfall?
The casualties of Russia couldn't be justified, and both his allies and people started distrusting him. The Peninsular war and the Continental system, were two ways he used to improve his situation, even though they really backfired.
Napoleon was beated at all fronts and his weakened army couldn't handle the strain.
14) What factors contributed to the more effective allied military performance in 1803-1814?
Napoleon's armies were still powerful with trained, hardened men that were utterly devoted to their leader. His tactic were still original and unpredictable, and his enemies were far behind in strategy. He was feared and respected.
15) To what extent was Napoleon an Enlightened Despot?
Napoleon was an enlightened despot due to the fact that his reforms were the first of their kind, and are still used today.
His changes on the legal system remain today, education after him was never the same, and Paris became suddenly one of the most beautiful and decorated cities of Europe. Most of the changes his made were beneficial to both France and its people.
16) Do you agree or disagree with the statement made by some historians that Napoleon's eventual downfall was inevitable from the start? Give evidence to support your claim.
Napoleon's downfall was to some extent inevitable, but Napoleon's actions made it faster.
Firstly, when Napoleon very knowingly tried to take over the whole of Europe he inevitably created many powerful enemies. His armies might have been undefeated then, but they slowly lost their quality. Europe overpowering Napoleon was inevitable, but his own mistakes brought everything down faster than expected.
His ego kept him from seeing mistakes. The invasion of Russia and the Continental system were two mistakes that could have been avoided and were largely responsible for Napoleon's fall.
Also the choise of strategy he had created many longterm problems like casualties and size of army, which he couldn't handle well, since he had gotten himself into a series of continuous wars.
Therefore even though Napoleon's downfall was inevitable his mistakes sped up the process.