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Posted on May 1st, 2014, by


            It is known that Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous French military commander and effective leader, had a great number of achievements which are highly valued not only in France, but also in other countries of the world. These achievements include his numerous military triumphs as well as many political, social and economic reforms that had enormous impact on the other countries of the world. It is found that Napoleon Bonaparte, as an effective leader, practically altered the face of France, although his numerous military conquests were regarded as short-termed conquests (Goodlad 3). However, his reforms in political, social and economic spheres of the country had a long-term effect in France even after Napoleon’s downfall. According to Chateaubriand, the greatest French writer, historian and politician, Napoleon Bonaparte can be regarded as the mightiest breath of life which ever animated human clay (Landau 112).


It is not a secret that one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s greatest achievements in his life was his fame as an outstanding military leader and commander. It is found that his excellent commanding skills helped him to gain the victory of five coalitions, in the period from 1792 to 1809, and to put the end to the Holy Roman Empire that existed more than 850 years (Goodlad 3). The secret of Napoleon Bonaparte’s success in his military operations lies in the fact that Napoleon had special relation to his soldiers. He treated them equally and considered them as the most important instrument in the army. It is known that he provided his soldiers with good provision, regular payments and different financial incentives (Blaufarb 31). Napoleon Bonaparte as an effective military leader used his own strategies and developed new military tactics which helped his army to gain the victory over his enemies many times. According to the historical records, Bonaparte’s army was often outnumbered in many battles with the army of coalitions, but this fact did not influence Bonaparte’s military success. He won the battles because he used well-developed battle tactics and strategies. For example, the Battle of Austerlitz can be regarded as a main example of his genius in military strategy and tactics. Napoleon’s army that consisted of about 72,000 men managed to decisively defeat the Austro-Russian army of more than 85,000 soldiers. The results of the battles were overwhelming. It is found that about 9000 French soldiers were killed or wounded in that battle, while the Austro-Russian army lost about16,000 soldiers. In addition, the French army captured more than 12,000 soldiers, while the Allies’ army captured only 573. Besides, the Allies’ army lost 50 artillery standards and 180 artillery pieces, while the French army lost only one standard. However, Napoleon was successful not only on land, but also at sea. It is known that he decided to set up a special blockade the Continental System which used to prevent many European countries from trading relations with Britain, but it was not successful (Goodlad 4).


Napoleon Bonaparte’s achievements in social and economic spheres influenced further development of France. As Napoleon did not support any religious faith, France was not influenced by the only religion of Catholicism and there were many other religions in France. However, in 1801, Napoleon Bonoparte signed the Concordat with Pope Pius VII according to which Catholicism was regarded as the religion of the majority of people in France. He allowed Protestants to worship freely in France if they were loyal to France (Landau 54).The other significant social reforms of Napoleon were the abolition of feudal rights in the country, nobility restoration, changing some constitutional laws and construction of the so-called Code Napoleon which rewrote the constitutional rights of the French. Under his code, it was forbidden to use privileges based on birth and government jobs were given to the most qualified of people of the country. It is known that the Napoleonic Code provided many fundamental changes in the civil law system. The laws were written in a much clearer way and were more acceptable (Landau 64). Napoleon Bonaparte also controlled the media in the country. For example, there were more than 70 newspapers in 1799, but in 1804, there were only 4 newspapers in France. But what is more important is that Napoleon wanted to suppress freedom of speech in France which was known as one of the principles of revolution. The secret police force was used to keep a watch on his political opponents.  Everyone who was against his reforms was arrested as a political criminal. Napoleon improved education system of France and established both primary and secondary schools in all parts of the country.  In order to solve some significant financial problems, Napoleon Bonaparte improved tax collection method that was focused on the centralized government control. In 1800, the French leader established a new financial institution, the Bank of France, with the major goal to stabilize the country’s economy. He also redistributed land to peasants and improved agriculture (Landau 87).


Napoleon’s political achievements are focused on his serious changes in the political system of France. It is known that Napoleon Bonaparte abolished democracy in the country and was crowned as the Emperor of the French in 1804. He introduced political treaties which served his interests. He crowned his relatives in order to make them the rulers of the conquered countries that were used as satellite states for support of his wars of conquest (Landau 114).


Napoleon Bonaparte’s achievements had enormous impact on the world, including Western culture and world history. Although Napoleon Bonaparte was a dictator, his leadership style was used in many countries of the world (Collins 84). After the Napoleonic Regime in France, the situation in the world changed because of the new position of France that had its central banking system, a new constitution which provided more rights and freedoms, including the freedom of religion. The Code Napoleon, which completely changed the civil law of France, had significant impact on the law of many other Western Cultures. Although this new code discredited the French Revolution, it guaranteed new rights to the ordinary people and established absolutely new legal basis for the further relationship between the ordinary people and the inherited aristocrats. However, he ruined both monarchy and democracy and developed his dictatorship (Blaufarb 37).

In addition, Napoleon Bonaparte affected the culture of many countries.  It is not a secret that Napoleon I, the Emperor of the French, is considered to be a cultural icon that is associated with such qualities as ambition, great political power and brilliant military tactics and strategy. Moreover, Napoleon is chosen as an important character in many literary works, such as Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and other works. There are many songs about Napoleon and the Napoleonic wars, including Tori Amos song Josephine, Ani DiFranco’s song Napoleon, the song “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay and a number of other songs (Blaufarb 36).

Moreover, Napoleon Bonaparte was known as a central historical figure in the consciousness of some famous British writers of the Romantic period. He had a profound influence on their way of thinking and writing, and was regarded as a powerful symbolic and even mythic historical figure. Among them are William Wordsworth, George Gordon Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and William Hazlitt (Blaufarb 34).


In conclusion, it is necessary to say that Napoleon Bonaparte had positively affected the world. Napoleon made all people realize that the ruling of royalty and aristocracy in society was irrelevant. He helped to see the ideals of democracy and to evaluate freedom. Napoleon exhibited his power and his desire to rule the world. Today the military strategies and tactics developed by Napoleon Bonaparte are studied and discussed in many army staff colleges. The leadership style of Napoleon is analyzed by many present day leaders and politicians.

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