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Napoleon And The Downfall Essay

722 words - 3 pages

Napoleon Bonaparte is often remembered for his part in leading France against a series of alliances in the Napoleonic Wars. He had, without question, an incredible sense of drive and determination. He claimed victory in most of his battles and at one point he had control of most of Europe. In 1804 he restored monarchy to France and crowned himself Emperor. (Spielvogel 2007) Napoleon's power and success up until 1808 apparently blinded him to his own limitations. Napoleon made three key mistakes which ultimately led to his downfall in 1815; Napoleons quest for Nationalism and association to himself instead of France, embarking in the economically destructive Continental System, and his faded attempt to invade Russia.
Nationalism-
Napoleon viewed Nationalism as essential to maintaining the loyalty of the French to his command. After all, it was the spirit of nationalism that had inspired its armies in a remarkable series of victories that had especially benefited Napoleon and allowed his rise to power. The trick was for Napoleon to build a personality cult around himself so that the French people would identify him with France itself and therefore make loyalty to him equivalent to loyalty to France. However, by identifying national loyalty with one man, Napoleon inadvertently weakened the promising force of nationalism and thus his own power.

Continental System-
The Continental System was the blockade that Napoleon designed in 1806 to paralyze Great Britain through the destruction of British commerce in hopes to make Europe more self-sufficient. While it sounds great in theory, it was too ambitious and too devastating for European economies to work effectively as it prevented all trade and communication between the nations. Unfortunately for Napoleon, the Continental System was not secure enough as the British managed smuggle cargo into Europe. At times, his own allies, including his brother Louis, disregarded his order. In turn, the blockade more so hurt the economies of France and other lands under his control more than it hurt Britain.

Invasion of Russia-
Napoleon set out to invade Russia in June 1812 to punish the Czar for selling grain to...

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