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Carballo Question: Was Napoleon truly a hero of the people or just another tyrant?
Part A: Plan of the Investigation The rise in power of Napoleon Bonaparte has always been a topic brimmed with interest and controversy. After becoming the ruler of France, issues have continued to revolve around Napoleon, especially whether he had continued the spirit of the French Revolution, or had just become another monarch in history. The intention of this Internal Assessment is to identify whether Napoleon's reign expanded the civil liberties of his people, or whether he was a tyrant who refused his people their rights. This investigation will focus on primary sources regarding the private life of Napoleon and many books about Napoleon himself. This paper will include a brief summary of the Empire and the rights of its citizens, an evaluation of two sources that dealt with Napoleon personally in great detail, and an analysis of the information from research and sources, to finally arrive at a conclusion that would answer the question.
Part B: Summary of Evidence • In 1799, the French government, The Directory, ended because many prominent figures thought that the system was failing and unable to control the nation.1 • Napoleon Bonaparte was invited to join the new government, the Triumvirate. The Triumvirate was made up of three consuls who held all the power of France.2
"Napoleon: Hero or Tyrant?" History Wiz. 20 May 2009 <http://www.historywiz.com/napoleon-mm.htm>. "Napoleon: Hero or Tyrant?" History Wiz. 20 May 2009 <http://www.historywiz.com/napoleon-mm.htm>.
Napoleon. Alan. 2000. Napoleon I now held all of the power of France and was a monarch in everything but name. Napoleon created the Merit System. 7 Schom. it guaranteed individual rights (except for women and minorities) and secured property ownership. Napoleon. the French people awarded Napoleon the position of “Consul for Life. Manfred. 2 . 1998. New York: Atheneum. Robert B. Robert. The code was based on the notion that all men are created equal. 1986. 1986. Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.• The consulate ended the election system and Napoleon held the position as First Consul. New York: Basic Books. During this time. New York: Harper Perennial. not by their class. Weidhorn. just as Napoleon did. 5 Asprey.6 • In 1804. However. Napoleon established the Napoleonic Code. Napoleon achieved almost dictatorial power over France. Napoleon Bonaparte A Life.4 • In 1802. Napoleon crowned himself the Emperor of France. For creating peace in domestic and foreign affairs. He attempted to settle domestic conflicts by filling his political offices with people of diverse political beliefs. The Code of Civil Weidhorn. The code also dealt with the judicial system. However during this time. The Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon defeated the Second Coalition which settled disputes in foreign nations. New York: Basic Books.”5 • In 1804.3 • The consulate ended the feudal system and abolished class privileges.7 • 3 4 Napoleon also constituted several other codes into the French civil system. those who supported Napoleon were rewarded while those who opposed him were eliminated. it prohibited judges from making rulings of legislative value since all law making powers were in Napoleon's hand. it prohibited ex post facto laws and encouraged judges to interpret the law. Manfred. which advanced the position of men according to their ability. 2001. 6 Asprey. Napoleon believed that any man should have the chance to rise in status based on his ability. New York: Atheneum. The code took on many ideals of the French Revolution and incorporated much of ancient Roman laws.
" PBS. The purpose of this letter is to inform Napoleon's brother to rule his kingdom constitutionally and to be concerned of his 8 9 Schom. 3 . which increased the power of the national government. "Napoleon: Hero or Tyrant?" History Wiz.historywiz.htm>. New York: Harper Perennial. New York: Arcade Pub. Paris' newspapers dropped from over 60 to only 4.pbs. and the Penal Code in 1810 all dealt with civil rights. The tax system was applied equally to all. from Thompson.Procedure in 1806.pbs. the Commercial Code in 1807. Napoleon was able to extend his reach in almost every aspect of French society through a vast and extensive network of spies.10 • Any opposition to Napoleon would be eliminated by his secret police. 11 "Napoleon.. schools were available to the middle class more than it had ever been before. J.org/empires/napoleon/home.com/napoleon-mm. 23 May 2009 <http://www. He established many schools for boys the age of 10 to 16.. Although it was not mass education. London: Dent.html>.html>. 23 May 2009 <http://www. Napoleon Bonaparte A Life. the Code of Criminal Instructions in 1808.9 • Napoleon realized that education was an important factor for people to achieve success and to find men capable of working in the government. Alan. PBS. The promoting process in military and civil services were based on merits and accomplishments. Frank. Napoleon's Letters. Napoleon also censored the press. 1998. If he disapproved of any plays or any playwrights." PBS. 1954. 12 "Napoleon. 20 May 2009 <http://www. This is a letter from Napoleon Bonaparte to his brother written in 1807. the play would be destroyed and the playwright's career would be over.org/empires/napoleon/home. 10 McLynn. PBS.M. from 1799 to 1814. 2002. comp.11 • Napoleon also controlled the theaters of France. Napoleon a biography.8 • Napoleon attempted to centralize the French government.12 Part C: Evaluation of Sources Source 1: A letter from Napoleon to his brother.
equality. The purpose of this letter is to express Moreau's disapproval and to inform Napoleon of his tyrannical reign. It is valuable to this research because it shows how Napoleon cared about the happiness and the equality of his subjects. it provides an account of Napoleon's tyranny and what his subjects thought about him. Moreau described Napoleon as a tyrant who betrayed the purpose of the French Revolution. This letter is especially valuable because it is a first person account of Napoleon's reign. Napoleon also advised his brother to use the Napoleonic Code so that the subjects will be able to enjoy liberty. The limitation narrowed the perspective to only Napoleon’s side. Napoleon advised his brother that the throne must be based upon the trust and affection of the people. Moreau stated in the letter. the letter does not represent what his subjects think.subjects' happiness. One limitation is that this letter only shows what Napoleon thought about his subject. who had a perspective that no ordinary citizen could have. For example. “You pretend that my countrymen are happy. However Moreau later led a conspiracy in overthrowing Napoleon and was condemned in imprisonment. but failed to show the positive changes. This source is extremely valuable because it is a private letter with advises written to someone that Napoleon trusted. It is unquestionable that Moreau was angry and frustrated while writing this letter. This is a letter to Napoleon written by Victor Moreau. In the letter. and prosperity. his anger showed only one perspective of the situation and exaggerated of what was actually happening in France. The letter is also written from someone who used to be Napoleon's trusted assistant. Source 2: "Letter From Moreau to Bonaparte. and satisfied with your 4 . Moreau was a French general who had an important role in helping Napoleon to power. and not fully the whole situation." New York Evening Post [New York] 14 May 1804. but rather what Napoleon thought they thought. However. one limitation of the source is the level of bias. That limitation narrowed the scope of the whole situation to only negative statements about Napoleon and his empire. therefore it limits the chance that Napoleon will lie.
J. Napoleon was a champion of rights who fought for his nation. As a leader chosen by the people. and prosperity”13. Many historians criticized that Napoleon abused the trust of the people and set up a government that was no different from the former monarchs. In addition. any political opposition against Napoleon would be ruthlessly eliminated. In exchange. While claiming that he wanted to provide his citizens with more freedom.government. Napoleon vowed to the citizens of France that he would assure them their rights. which would provide him with information about any attempts of conspiracies. an example is the Napoleonic Code of 1804. Napoleon abused the nationalistic feelings of his citizens in order to increase his power as a tyrant. Napoleon would protect his people against invaders and foreign nations.” Moreau only stated negative and accusative statements against Napoleon without any proof. On the contrary. and never abuse his power as the monarchs had. 5 . Napoleon provided his citizens with a set of laws that would assured his citizens these rights. Part D: Analysis Napoleon came to power as a hero of the people. Napoleon's Letters. who was a strong military general and protected France against foreign nations. This act of oppression and tyranny was no different from former monarchs. Napoleon declared himself the emperor of France for life. many historians claimed that these civil codes were merely a cover up for what the despot had set up. equality. London: Dent. 1954. as well as closing down plays which he did not favor. Did Napoleon go against his word? According to the French and many historians. Napoleon also limited freedom of speech by closing down any newspapers that opposed him. which is shown in Napoleon's letter to his brother. As Moreau 13 Thompson. Napoleon secretly had an extensive network of spies everywhere within France..M. While to other historians. It is certain that Napoleon cared about his people and he wanted to provide them with “liberty. comp.
whether Napoleon was a democratic leader or whether he was another despot. 6 . Napoleon was a vital step toward greater and more democratic ideals of today. While the citizens of France were blinded by the lingering nationalistic feelings of the French Revolution. if Napoleon was a hero favored by his citizens. spreading it throughout France and his empire. Mussolini. Although Napoleon created many set of civil codes that were meant to ensure his citizens with equal rights.wrote in his letter. They argued that Napoleon ended the French Revolution while keeping most of its ideals. Historians who favored Napoleon responded by saying that Napoleon's actions implanted the seeds of liberalism and equality throughout Europe. However. and Stalin. while his conquered nations did nothing to help. destroyed any plays. other nations most likely saw through Napoleon's dictatorship and his ambition of conquering Europe. Napoleon was feared and detested by his conquered nations14. while other subject nations despised Napoleon." New York Evening Post [New York] 14 May 1804. This later led to his downfall during the invasion of Russia. Napoleon censored the press. why did he have to wait for supplies all the way back from France?. In historical context. who abused the nationalism feelings of their nations in order to gain what they wanted. he was in fact a tyrant who abused the nationalism of his nation. Napoleon secretly limited these rights to become almost non-existent. This investigation is important in its historical context because it provides a greater understanding in both perspectives. Part E: Conclusion Despite Napoleon being popularly viewed as a hero of the people. became the foundation of later nations who desired equality for its citizens. and ruined any playwrights that he did 14 "Letter From Moreau to Bonaparte. It is unquestionable that many of his codes. such as Hitler. opponents to this view also claimed that Napoleon was a model for later tyrants. Perhaps this was because only France had the feeling of nationalism that Napoleon needed to raise his power as a tyrant. such as the Napoleonic Code.
M. 1998. 2000. Manfred.. 2001. Napoleon's reign had a great impact on Europe and society today. "Napoleon.com/napoleon-mm. The Napoleonic Code became a model for later civil codes. Weidhorn. J.org/empires/napoleon/home. New York: Arcade Pub. 2002. However. 1986. London: Dent.pbs. Napoleon.. Napoleon a biography.historywiz. Napoleon's Letters. New York: Basic Books. Robert B. 20 May 2009 <http://www. "Letter From Moreau to Bonaparte.not like. Napoleon Bonaparte A Life.html>. and the spirit of equality spread from France throughout Europe. Part F: Sources and Word Limit Word Count: 1880 Asprey." PBS. New York: Basic Books. Asprey. Thompson. Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. New York: Harper Perennial.htm>. comp. and he eliminated any political opponents that were a threat against him. Schom. Although Napoleon was in fact a tyrant. These were all characteristics of a tyrant and characteristics of the monarchs that Napoleon once vowed to destroy. 23 May 2009 <http://www." New York Evening Post [New York] 14 May 1804. "Napoleon: Hero or Tyrant?" History Wiz. 7 . PBS. New York: Atheneum. McLynn. he planted the seeds of liberalism and equality throughout his empire which now became the foundation of today's society. 1954. he destroyed the freedom of speech through his network of spies set everywhere in France. Robert. Alan. Frank.
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