NapoleonBonaparte’s success as a military leader and conqueror can also be seen inanothergreat leader, Julius Caesar.
Both Napoleon and Caesar achieved great glorybybringing their countries out of turmoil. It was Caesar, that Napoleonmodeled himselfafter, he wanted to be as great, if not greater than Caesar.Looking to the past, Napoleonknew what steps to take in order to achievesuccessNapoleon devoured books on the art of war. Volume after volume ofmilitarytheory was read, analyzed and criticized. He studied the campaignsof history’s mostfamous commanders; Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Frederickthe Great and his favoriteand most influential, Julius Caesar (Marrin 17).JuliusCaesar was the strong leader for the Romans who changed the course ofhistoryof the Greco – Roman world decisively and irreversibly.Caesar was able tocreatethe Roman Empire because of his strength and his strong war strategies(Duggan 117). Julius Caesar was to become one of the greatest generals,conquering the whole of Gaul.
In 58 BC, Caesar became governor and militarycommander of Gaul, which includedmodern France, Belgium, and portions ofSwitzerland, Holland, and Germany west of theRhine. For the next eight years,Caesar led military campaigns involving both the Romanlegions and tribesin Gaul who were often competing among themselves. Julius Caesarwas a Romangeneral and statesman whose dictatorship was pivotal in Romes transitionfromrepublic to empire (Duggan 84). Caesar’s principles were to keep his forcesunited; to be vulnerable at no point, tostrike speedily at critical points;to rely on moral factors, such as his reputation and thefear he inspired,as well as political means in order to insure the loyalty of his allies andthesubmissiveness of the conquered nations. He made use of every possibleopportunity toincrease his chances of victory on the battlefield and, inorder to accomplish this, heneeded unity of all his troops (Duggan 117).From the time that he had first faced battle in Gaul and discovered hisown militarygenius, Caesar was evidently fascinated and obsessed by militaryand imperial problems. He gave them an absolute priority over the more delicateby no less fundamental task ofrevising the Roman constitution.
The needin the latter sphere was a solution which wouldintroduce such elements ofauthoritarianism, which were necessary to check corruptionand administrativeweakness (Grant, Caesar 61).The story of all his battles and wars has beenpreserved in Caesar’s writtenaccount, Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, originallypublished in 50 B.C. For thisperiod, Caesar is the only existent sourceproviding first-hand descriptions of Britain.
While no doubt self-servingin a political sense when written, Caesar’s account isnevertheless regardedas basically accurate and historically reliable (Frere 68). Caesar wasappointed dictator for a year starting in 49 B.C., for two years in 48B.C.
,for ten years in 46 B.C. and finally dictator for life in 44 B.C. Taking overasDictator for life, enabled Caesar to gain unrestricted power.
He wasable to run a strongmilitary and even though he was considered only a dictatorhe wrote laws that actuallymade him have the same powers as a king. Theconspirators saw the problem that hadarised and so they planned the murderof Caesar on the Ides of March. Caesar was killedand there was another triumvirate(government ruled by three) formed. Caesar was astrong military leader thathad showed strength and courage to take over the town and hewas able to forma civilization that was strong militarily and politically (Grant, Caesar187).Caesar was one of the great generals of history; his name became synonymouswithleadership, hence the titles Kaiser, and Tsar.
Having been promotedover the heads of older officers, Napoleon’s unbroken runof victories overthe armies of both Austria and Piedmont established his credibility as acommander,while his concern for his previously ill-equipped soldiers won their loyalty.Duringthe storming of a bridge at Lodi, he fought alongside his troops, and earnedfromthem the nickname of “the little corporal” (Castelot 68). Under thenew government Napoleon was made commander of the French army inItaly. Duringthis campaign the French realized how smart Napoleon was. He developed atacticthat worked very efficiently.
He would cut the enemy’s army in to two parts,thenthrow all his force on one side before the other side could rejoin them(Weidhorn 86). Napoleon read Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars andtook note of thepropaganda he used. Napoleon would also use favorable descriptionsof battle to sellhimself to the Directory and to the people. Letters werewritten that showed Napoleon asthe victor even when he lost battles in Egypt.The factualness of these letters were nevertested but proved to be a forcein showing his strength and ability to lead an army againstfar bigger enemies(Marrin 99).Napoleon returned to find the Directory was a mess. He, inhis selfish way, sawthis as the perfect time for self-advancement.
So inNovember of 1799 he overthrew theDirectory. Napoleon set up a governmentcalled the Consulate. He was the first of threeconsuls. Three years laterhe made himself first consul for life. Everyone in France lovedNapoleon atthat time.
Then he started increasing his power (Marrin 81-82).Napoleonstarted calling himself Napoleon I, instead of General Bonaparte. He hadcompletepolitical and military power in France. But he still hadn’t built up his greateasternempire. The Austrian’s had been defeated at Marenegro.
The German states andEnglandwere tired of fighting so they signed a peace treaty of Aimens in 1802. Thiswasthe first time since 1792 that France was at peace with the whole world.During the next14 months of peace Napoleon drastically altered Europe andreshaped France. He becamepresident of the Italian Republic, he reshapedSwitzerland with France. He annexedPiedmont, Parma, and the island of Elbato France (Marrin 82-86). Through his military exploits and his ruthlessefficiency, Napoleon rose fromobscurity to become Napoleon I, Emperor ofFrance.
He is both a historical figure and alegend, Napoleon was one of thegreatest military commanders in history. He has alsobeen portrayed as a powerhungry conqueror. Napoleon denied being such a conqueror.He argued that,instead, he had attempted to build a federation of free peoples in a Europeunitedunder a liberal government. But if this was his goal he intended to achieveit byconcentrating power in his own hands (Castelot 96).
However, in thestates he created,Napoleon granted constitutions, introduced law codes, abolishedfeudalism, createdefficient governments and fostered education, science,literature and the arts (Castelot 97).Emperor Napoleon proved to be a superbcivil administrator. One of his greatestachievements was his supervisionof the revision and collection of French law into codes.The new law codes,seven in number, incorporated some of the freedoms gained by thepeople ofFrance during the French revolution, including religious toleration and theabolitionof serfdom. The most famous of the codes, the Code Napoleon or Code Civil,stillforms the basis of French civil law (Marrin 90).
Napoleon should have learnedfrom Caesar’s one mistake of having too muchpower, because it would eventuallycause him to be exiled to the island of Elba.TheGrand Alliance had crushedNapoleon’s Grande Armee. Napoleon tried conquering all ofEurope, but notall of Europe wanted to be ruled by a military dictator. Instead, theywantedthe return of the Bourbon empire, where peace could be restored and powerlimitedso no ruler could take matters into his own hands again. Too much powereventuallybecame the downfall of Napoleon as it did Caesar. People became fearful anddidnot like that one person could control all of Europe.
In the beginning theyweresupportive because he ended the wars and fighting, but now he broughtit back whichmade his citizens oppose him and what he stood for (Weidhorn193).Napoleon and Caesar took their struggling nations out of turmoil andgavethem order, and for that the people loved them. Caesar put an end tothe Gallic and Civilwars that Rome was involved in, with that, he enteredinto power . Napoleon took Franceout of the French Revolution by overthrowingthe then government, the Directory. Napoleon instated a new government theConsulate and crowned himself first Consul andthree years later, Consul forlife, Caesar became all powerful when named dictator for life.Both men knewin order to be a successful leader, they had to have the full support of themilitary.Power and territory were increased, because there armies were always thebiggestand responsible for putting down any revolts that might occur.
Caesar introducedpropagandaand Napoleon followed his lead. Favorable accounts were written whichprovedto give them a political edge, and the support of the people. Caesar was afriendof his people and gave many lands to his soldiers and to the poor,he built bridges, roadsand waterworks. Napoleon was also civil in the beginningof his reign, abolishingserfdom, passing laws and granting universal malesuffrage. Both men were well likeduntil they abused there powers and privileges.
They fell for the same reason, too muchpower. Caesar was murdered becausehis role as dictator came to close to being a kingand Napoleon did not knowwhere to draw the line and his army eventually turned againsthim.NapoleonBonaparte was able to rise to power because of another great generalthatcame before him, Julius Caesar. Napoleon was a success because he looked tothepast, and emulated Caesar; he built up his army, conquered most of Europe,became adictator for life and eventually fell from power, because like Caesar,he did not knowwhere to draw the line. BIBLIOGRAPHYCarlyle,Thomas.
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