Napoleonic Wars

Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon I, who crowned himself emperor, was one of the most outstanding military commanders in history.

History

Keywords

Napoleon, Napoleonic Wars, war, Bonaparte, military history, battle, France, military campaign, emperor, general, conquest, modern history, Europe, empire, strategy, atlas, countries

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Questions

  • Which was the strangest moment during Napoleon's coronation ceremony?
  • What is the name of a collection of laws that was enacted by Napoleon?
  • Which of the following battles took place earlier in time?
  • When did Napoleon become Emperor of the French?
  • Where was Napoleon exiled to in 1814?
  • Where was Napoleon exiled to in 1815?
  • Against which country did Napoleon never lead a campaign?
  • Where did Napoleon achieve his first considerable military successes?
  • In which battle did Horatio Nelson die?
  • Where did Napoleon die?
  • Where was Napoleon born?
  • When did Napoleon die?
  • What nationality was Napoleon?
  • Which of the following was NOT a factor in Napoleon's failure in Russia?
  • Which military commander was one of Napoleon's adversaries?
  • Which military commander was NOT one of Napoleon's adversaries?
  • What was the name of Napoleon's legendary army between 1805 and 1815?
  • When was Napoleon born?
  • When did Napoleon reign as Emperor of the French?
  • Which country was NOT a satellite state of France during the reign of Napoleon?
  • Which country was a satellite state of France during the reign of Napoleon?
  • Which position did Napoleon NOT hold?
  • How was Napoleon NOT referred to?
  • How was Napoleon referred to?
  • Which battle is known as the Battle of the Nations?
  • Which battle is known as the Battle of the three Emperors?
  • In which of the following battles was Napoleon defeated?
  • In which of the following battles was Napoleon defeated?
  • In which battle did Napoleon win?
  • In which battle did Napoleon win?
  • Which of the following battles took place earlier in time?
  • Which of the following battles took place later in time?

Scenes

Countries of Europe

Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the most outstanding military commanders in history. He completely redrew the map of Europe both as a general and emperor. After his coronation as emperor in 1804, he managed to expand the territory of France thanks to his successful military campaigns. Napoleon ruled not only the French Empire but also its satellite states though they were still formally independent. These states were ruled by Napoleon’s loyal marshals and relatives, for instance, his brother, Louis, became King of Holland.

This is how the First French Empire (Empire Français) was formed. It had an area of about 2,100,000 km² in 1813 and its population reached about 44 million in 1812.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, Minister of Foreign Affairs under Napoleon said the following of Napoleon’s conquests to Russian emperor Alexander I in 1808: 'The Rhine, the Alps, the Pyrenees are the conquests of the French people and the Emperor is responsible for the remainder. France does not want them.'

Military campaigns

The Coalition Wars were a series of conflicts that took place between 1792 and 1815. The coalition wars fought between 1799 (the rise of Napoleon as first consul) and 1815 (the fall of Napoleon) are referred to as the Napoleonic Wars. However, there are other opinions according to which the date marking the start of the Napoleonic Wars can be 1803 (the beginning of the Anglo-French War) or 1804 (the coronation of Napoleon as emperor).

Even though most of the battles were fought in Europe, they can be termed a 'world war' as they spanned other parts of the world including North Africa, parts of Asia and the Atlantic Ocean.

France and its allies were fighting against various coalitions (hence the name) of European countries over time. Based on the seven alliances, there were seven coalition wars:

War of the First Coalition (1792 – 1797 or 1793 – 1797)
War of the Second Coalition (1798 – 1802 or 1800 – 1804)
War of the Third Coalition (1803 – 1805 or 1805)
War of the Fourth Coalition (1806 – 1807)
War of the Fifth Coalition (1809)
War of the Sixth Coalition (1813 – 1814)
War of the Seventh Coalition (1815)

After the fall of Napoleon and the end of the wars, the Holy Alliance was established. This series of conflicts heavily influenced not only the history of Europe but the history of the entire world even well after 1815.

Napoleonic wars

Napoleon’s army, the Grande Armée (Great Army) was active from 1805 until 1815. The army’s colours were influenced by the French Tricolour (blue, white, red), and its motto was 'Valeur et Discipline' (Value and Discipline). At its height, before the Russian campaign of 1812, there were about 680,000 men serving in the army, including about 550,000 Frenchmen. Soldiers from other nations were also present in the Grande Armée.

At the beginning, thanks to Napoleon’s tactics and his well-trained commanders, the army won battles one after another, making them seem invincible.

The Grand Armée can be divided into infantry, cavalry and artillery. Numerous battles were decided by the heavy cavalry but the artillery was also crucial. The Garde Impériale (Imperial Guard) and foreign troops were also essential parts of Napoleon’s army. Engineers, messengers, medical staff and people responsible for logistics also supported the army.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica. Before he turned 10, Napoleon left for France and studied in a military school in Brienne for five years. In 1784 he went on to attend the military academy in Paris, from where he graduated in 1785.

He became a lieutenant in a French artillery regiment in 1786. While constantly educating himself, he served in garrison towns until the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. Napoleon climbed military ranks continuously. His first major military success came as a captain in 1793, when he freed Toulon. He was then promoted to brigadier general.

Napoleon was becoming more influential. In 1796, he married Josephine de Beauharnais. Two days later he was appointed commander of the "Army of Italy". The Little Corporal, as Napoleon was called by his soldiers, won victories one after another and his popularity skyrocketed.

After launching a coup in 1799, Napoleon became first consul, establishing a de facto military dictatorship in France. In 1802 he became consul for life, and in 1804 the French Empire was established when Napoleon crowned himself emperor in the presence of Pope Pius VII.

He continued his military campaigns; his power peaked in 1810. Wanting to establish a dynasty, Napoleon divorced Josephine and married Marie-Louise, the daughter of Austrian emperor Francis I.

The first time Napoleon suffered a major loss of prestige was during the Russian campaign of 1812. This also proved that his army was not invincible. After he was decisively defeated in the Battle of the Nations, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba. However, he escaped and returned to France less than a year after his exile.

But the 'Hundred Days', that is, the period after his return, ended catastrophically for Napoleon with his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. He was forced to abdicate and was not permitted to retain his title. He was exiled again, this time to Saint Helena, an island in the South Atlantic Ocean controlled by the British.

There was no way back from his second exile; Napoleon, who was often referred to as 'the cannibal' or 'the Corsican ogre', died on the island in 1821. The cause of his death is still debated.

Animation

Continental System

One of Napoleon’s greatest rivals was the United Kingdom, which he could not defeat militarily. As a result, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree on 21 November 1806 by which he installed the Continental System in order to weaken the British economy. In addition, it was also a response to the UK’s blockade imposed on north French coasts.

Napoleon’s goal was to exclude the United Kingdom from European trade. He prohibited British and neutral ships coming from the UK to enter French ports or ports of France’s allies (e.g. Holland, Spain etc). Moreover, he declared that British goods confiscated in Europe are regarded lawful prizes. Prussia, Denmark, Sweden and Russia were also forced to join the blockade. The Continental System not only affected the economy of the United Kingdom but also that of other countries. (The United Kingdom was not as negatively affected as other European countries.) Due to the economic crisis developing in the early 1810s, Napoleon made the blockade even stricter, causing considerable tension.

The first country to remove the blockade was Russia, thus giving the French a reason to attack them. With the downfall of Napoleon, other countries also lifted the blockade, mostly in 1814. One of the positive consequences of the Continental System was that European countries deprived of colonial goods were forced to develop new industries.

Narration

Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the most outstanding military commanders in history. He completely redrew the map of Europe both as a general and emperor. After his coronation as emperor in 1804, he managed to expand the territory of France thanks to his successful military campaigns. Napoleon ruled not only the French Empire but also its satellite states though they were still formally independent.

The Coalition Wars were a series of conflicts that took place between 1792 and 1815. The Coalition Wars fought between 1799 and 1815, that is, between the rise of Napoleon as first consul and his fall, are referred to as the Napoleonic Wars.

Even though most of the battles were fought in Europe, they can be termed a 'world war' as they spanned other parts of the world, including North Africa, parts of Asia and the Atlantic Ocean. France and its allies were fighting against various coalitions (hence the name) of European countries over time.

Initially, the French army won victories one after another, creating a myth of their own invincibility as well as that of Napoleon. Napoleon’s power peaked in 1810. The first time he suffered a major loss of prestige was during the Russian campaign of 1812. This also proved that his army was not invincible.

After he was decisively defeated in the Battle of the Nations, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba. However, he escaped and returned to France less than a year after his exile.

But the 'Hundred Days', that is, the period after his return, ended catastrophically for Napoleon with his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. He was forced to abdicate and was not permitted to retain his title. He was exiled again, this time to the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.

After the fall of Napoleon and the end of the wars, the Holy Alliance was established. The Napoleonic Wars heavily influenced not only the history of Europe but the history of the entire world.

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