Napoleon in France (Post-Revolution)

During the Revolution , Napoleon rose quickly in the army.  By 1799, he had become a political leader and he helped over throw the Directory. He set up a 3 man governing board known as the Consulate. Yet another Constitution was created and Napoleon took the title ‘First Consul’. In 1802, he had himself named consul for life.

Two years later, Napoleon had enough power to name himself Emperor of France. Napoleon consolidated his power by strengthening the central government. The slogan order, security and efficiency replaced the revolution slogan of liberty, equality and fraternity.

Napoleon encouraged new industry, set up public schools under strict government control and he created the laws called the ‘Napoleonic Code. However, he undid some of the changes that happened during the revolution.

From 1804 until 1814, Napoleon’s reputation grew and by 1810, his Empire was the strongest it had been. Napoleon redrew the map of Europe and annexed (added) some areas to France. Napoleon controlled much of Europe through his forceful way. He abused his power through nepotism, by giving friends and relatives jobs or powerful positions.

Britain remained outside of France’s Empire so, in 1805, Napoleon prepared to invade Britain. Napoleon attacked Britain’s Commerce and he closed European ports to British goods.Britain responded with a blockade, where goods were stopped coming in or out and in the end, Napoleon failed to defeat Britain

There were a number of challenges to Napoleon’s Empire.

1.Spread of Nationalism: Many Europeans who had welcomed the ideas of the French Revolution, now saw Napoleon and his armies as foreign oppressors. They resented the Continental System and Napoleon’s effort to impose French Culture. Nationalism unleashed revolts against France.

2.Resistance in Spain: In 1808, Napoleon replaced the King of Spain with his brother. He introduced reforms that sought to undermine the Spanish Catholic Church. Many Spanish resisted the invaders and the Spanish tried to drive the French out through guerrilla warfare.

3.War with Austria: Spanish resistance encouraged Austria to fight against the French.

4.Defeat in Russia: The Russians were unhappy with the economic effects of Napoleons Continental System. In 1812, nearly all of Napoleon’s 400,000 troops sent on a campaign in Russia died, most from hunger and the cold of the Russian winter.

In 1812, Napoleon’s forces were defeated in Russia. Russia, Britain, Austria, and Prussia formed a new alliance against a weakened France. In 1813, Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Nations in Leipzig. In 1814, Napoleon abdicated (stepped down from power). He was exiled to Elba, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1815, Napoleon escaped his exile and returned to France. But, in June 18, 1815, British and Prussian armies defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Napoleon was forced to abdicate again, and was this time exiled to St. Helena, an island in the South Atlantic. In 1821, Napoleon died in exile.

Napoleon left a legacy after he died. The Napoleonic Code, for example. Napoleon turned France into a centralized state with a constitution, more people had the right to vote, to property and education.



The Congress of Vienna met for 10 months in September 1814 until June 1815. The chief goal of the Congress was to create a lasting peace through a balance of power, while still protecting the monarchy.

To achieve this goal, there were a number of changes. The map of Europe was redrawn and France was surrounded by strong countries. Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain extended their wartime alliance and agreed to work together to prevent more revolutionary uprisings. This congress created a framework for peace for the next 100 years


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