Napoleon video guided notes

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World History Johnson Aº 12/3-10/12 HS Page

Ellaine Chou, Max Tripolsky

  • Due date for FR project is the interval December 10-14. The project substitutes for an exam on the FR.

  • Napoleon RSG is on Schoology


  • Video is on YouTube.

  • “I love power like a musician loves music.”

  • Napoleon crowns himself Emperor, unlike other monarchs, who are crowned by some church official.

  • Born 15 August 1769

Episode One - “To Destiny



  • Napoleon growing up in Corsica

    • He loved his mother and disliked his father. Does this mean that she influenced him more?

He hated the French for conquering his native Corsica.

Not necessarily; see below.

    • How did each parent influence Napoleon? What two sides of Napoleon can we see through the effect of each parent?

      • Mother

Strong-willed, determined, and tough; not surprising after 13 pregnancies of which 8 survived.

She was hard and austere with Napoleon and his brothers and sisters. She punished children to teach them suffering, often by withholding food.

She was called “the head of a man on the body of a woman.”

      • Father

Napoleon hated his father for assimilating into French culture. But his father was adapting to a new reality, trying to support his family

  • Napoleon Goes to France

    • Napoleon is sent off to school at Brienne at the age of 9. It was five years before he saw his parents again. How might this have affected Napoleon's character and personality?

Brienne and the Royal Military College.

He learned to be independent – see below

    • In what ways did Napoleon feel like an outcast among his peers? List all the factors at both Brienne and the Ecole Militaire (Military College)

His peers saw him as an alien among a privileged elite. Napoleon was not from a wealthy family but saw opulence and snobbery; he was not a noble like his peers, but a lesser individual from a colony (Corsica).

    • Isolated and withdrawn, Napoleon does not seem to be a "leader" of his classmates. What about his situation might have been preparing him for leadership nonetheless?

He was a good artillery officer.

He wanted to learn and read widely. He did not socialize with other students.

He had a meticulous mind and was always planning and thinking.

    • Why, under the Ancien Regime was there no possibility for Napoleon to reach the top ranks of his profession?

Top positions were reserved for wealthy nobles.

    • Why did Napoleon feel his Corsican background would limit his military career?

  • Napoleon and the Revolution

    • How did Napoleon feel the French Revolution would "set him free" and "open up" French society?

He favored the Revolution’s reforms, one of which was that there would be no class distinctions.

    • What about Napoleon's experiences at this time, as well as his reading and education, might have made him sympathetic to the ideals of the Revolution?

He was shunned by French society and thus identified with the peasants. But because of his reading and education he understood the knowledge of the Enlightenment thinkers such as Rousseau.

Napoleon returned to Corsica and tried to enter politics there. He was opposed by Paoli. Napoleon led a revolt against Paoli, was defeated, and fled back to France. He was slowly identifying with France, though he felt frustrated with his life. The moneyed French nobles still shunned him. Other generals detested him, but he had established his ability and authority on the battlefield (see Toulon).

    • Why does the Battle of Toulon bring Napoleon to the attention of the French public for the first time?

Toulon, a French Mediterranean port, was occupied by the British after its citizens revolted against the Republic. Napoleon’s strategy to recapture the city was based on taking the high ground and bombarding the British fleet in the harbor. It worked.

For leading his troops to victory, he was promoted.

However, France remained chaotic. Napoleon supported order to save the Republic and opposed the Terror.

Napoleon first viewed a relationship with Josephine as a way to greater power because she was a mistress to important people. After a while, he fell in love with her.

She at first didn’t like him primarily because of his looks. But she was no beauty contest winner either and getting old. Furthermore, she had many debts. Marrying Napoleon seems the logical thing to do before she became too old and in too much debt.

She did that. But the honeymoon lasted two days.

    • What are your thoughts about the uprising when Napoleon fires cannon into a mob that wishes to restore the monarchy in Paris? Were his actions justified or not? What do they tell us about Napoleon?

Although he supported the goals of the Revolution, he opposed riots and mobs and their chaotic behavior. He saw this mob as an enemy attack to be repelled. Using the cannon worked; hundreds were killed and the revolt stopped.

During this time, Italy was controlled by other European nations.

Napoleon appreciated the troops that fought for him. Any of them can aspire to greatness. He cares about his soldiers, unlike other commanders, who believed that soldiers were supposed to serve whether they wanted to or not.

    • What are some of the military strategies for which Napoleon would become famous? In what ways do Napoleon's tactics mark the end of the rules of warfare as played by the Ancien Regime, and usher in modern warfare?

Napoleon commanded French army in Italian Alps to challenge Austria. He was at first ridiculed by other generals, but they soon respected him, realizing that he was in charge.

The army was destitute, no food and supplies. Napoleon inspires them, enthralls them with his acting and passion.

He had his troops attack the Piedmontese (Piedmont was a city-state in northwest Italy), allies of Austrians. He kept the enemy guessing by spreading out his forces to hide his intentions. Then at his signal, he massed his forces rapidly and overwhelmed the enemy. He routed the enemy in six battles.

He did not follow the noble code, in which warfare was a game: fighting when ready only. Napoleon keeps fighting.

The Austrians fled.

    • What are some of the ways that Napoleon inspires loyalty in his troops? What makes him a charismatic general?

With the spoils of the victory, he paid his troops.

He had charisma, a presence, which motivated his soldiers because of all the rapid victories.

He was at front line, at the battery, always with the troops. He is unafraid.

This inspiration allowed his men to capture a bridge at Lodi (“Lo-dee”) that a rear-guard Austrian force had fortified.

He got dirty and grimy, like the other soldiers. They called him “The Little Corporal.”

Something happened then – a spark in him. He felt that he was destined for greatness.

Episode Two - “Mastering Luck”



  1. According to Napoleon, how do great men become great?

By mastering luck; to be lucky.

But what the vulgar call luck is really a stroke of genius.

Josephine wanted to stay in Paris; she was involved with an army officer. But she did eventually, and reluctantly, leave for Italy to join Napoleon at his request.

  1. Through what means was Napoleon able to establish the legends of his invincibility?

  2. How does Napoleon make sure that his image spreads throughout Europe?

Many victories in Italy against Austrians, shown in paintings and articles to publicize his exploits. He ordered a painting after every victory and dictates the details: characters, frame size, etc.

He created his own history. He founded his newspapers and wrote for them, extolling his virtues.

  1. How did the Italian image of Napoleon change from that of a liberator to that of an invader?

He burned towns whose residents opposed him.

He looted Italy for gold and silver, paintings and sculpture.

After Austria sued for peace, he dictated the terms of the treaty himself without instructions from Paris. Would he be a future diplomat?

Now, only Great Britain was at war with France.

  1. The people of France were awestruck by Napoleon and his military successes. What were they hoping he could do in France?

He was a national hero in France. Could he bring order into the chaotic situation with fragile governments, such as the Directory. But he waits, wanting more military victory.

  1. By 1797-98, which nation was the only remaining enemy of France?

Great Britain

  1. Where did Napoleon go in order to strike at that prior named nation?

Egypt, to disrupt British trade routes to India (via the Suez Canal).

  1. For what purpose?

Others thought he was crazy.

But he quickly captured Alexandria and headed toward Cairo and the Mamelukes, fierce, fearless warriors of the Turkish Empire that controlled Egypt.

He faced 10,000 Mameluke warriors, who charged the French Army. The French held their fire until 50 paces separated the armies. The Mamelukes with swords (medieval weaponry) faced the French army with cannon and rifles. It was a slaughter in one hour.

Bad news: British fleet destroyed the French fleet at Alexandria, stranding the French army in Egypt.

  1. How was Napoleon able to “open up” Northeastern Africa to scientific circles of France and the rest of Europe?

Being isolated in Egypt, he had scientists (that he had brought with his army) study this ancient land and its marvels: archeology, biology, etc. Found artifacts such as Rosetta Stone, new species.

In response to a declaration of war against the “infidels,” in Syria, he attacked Jaffa but was repelled at Acre, both by casualties and bubonic plague. His army was dispirited. But he glorified the incident.

  1. What was Bonaparte’s dream upon his return to France in 1799?

He abandoned 30,000 troops. France was in disarray; Great Britain and Austria were at war again.

He arrived to a hero’s welcome, despite the failure of his military intervention in Egypt and Syria.

He believed that he was destined for greatness.

In Paris, he refused to see Josephine and wanted to divorce her. Josephine was determined to get him back. They reconciled, but he continued to have affairs with other women.

  1. How was the Directory swept aside in November 1799 and what was Napoleon’s role?

France was chaotic: high government debt, highwaymen and bandits rampant …

He allied with Sieyes for a coup in Parliament. Napoleon was to be a support role.

Goal was to dissolve Parliament appoint a provisional government to draft a new constitution. This takes a long time, and Napoleon gets impatient. He enters the Parliament with bayonetted soldiers, a violation of the law and is shouted down.

Lucien, Napoleon’s brother, takes charge of the chaos. Soldiers charged and Parliament Deputies fled.

Coup d’état Burmaire

  1. What was Napoleon’s role in the new Provisional Government?

A new provisional government was established by a few revolutionaries, who made Napoleon an official in this news government. But he outmaneuvered others and makes himself head of state as the provisional First Consul for life, so he couldn’t be replaced [at least while he was alive]. There were two other provisional Consuls, who had to name their replacements when they quit.

He re-wrote the constitution to make him First Consul for life.

  1. What does Napoleon mean when he says, "I am the Revolution"?

The revolution is over. I am the product of the Revolution. The chaos of the Revolution is over; order will prevail.

Napoleon’s life is a description of the Revolution – making a humble man into a leader.

  1. What role had and would war play in Napoleon’s career and ascent to power?

Keep and consolidate his power

Portrait of him crossing the Alps show him large compared to the horse. In fact, he rode on a mule.

  1. What did Bonaparte’s campaign over the Alps and defeat of the Austrians (again) bring to the continent (at least within the last 10 years)?

Defeated Austria and forced a treaty. Britain also signed a treaty.

Peace came to Europe for ten years.

Then he re-wrote the constitution to make him First Consul for Life, just short of being an Emperor.

  1. Napoleon says, "A newborn government must dazzle and astonish." What does he mean by this and how will his new government do these things?

Now, could Napoleon govern?

Built parks, bridges, roads, and canals. In other words, do good things for the people, sharing accomplishments with the people.

Legal and social reforms, all done speedily, to make France a modern nation: Bank of France, new system of schools.

All of Europe was awed.

  1. As the political leader of France, how did Napoleon improve the following:

    1. Infrastructure

    1. Economy

    1. System of Law

Abolished feudal privileges. New code of law.

  1. What was Napoleon’s view of the purpose of religion?

No personal use, but he understood its political value, something that everyone did.

Signed concorde with Pope, establishing Catholicism as predominant religion.

  1. What remaining ideal(s) of the Enlightenment and the Revolution did Napoleon embrace in his France?

Equality of opportunity; people can rise to greatness regardless of birth status and ancestors.

  1. Which ideal did he not embrace or allow?

  2. Why

Liberty; he crushed all rebellion and talk of liberty.

French wanted a “benevolent” monarchy, but France was really a police state, with many spies everywhere. He would shut down plays and newspapers.

  1. It is said that the new government was "rule for the people, but not by the people." Why do you believe Napoleon wanted his government this way?

To keep him in power?

He worked seven day/week but did relax at Malmaison with Josephine.

Conflict between France and Britain would be inevitable; land (France) vs sea (Britain). Britain had a huge navy and was very wealthy. The previous treaty was more of a truce.

War developed slowly; Britain was reluctant to invade and France’s navy was bottled up by British ships.

  1. Napoleon wanted his work to endure forever, so he appointed himself Emperor. Why would becoming an emperor make his work live long after he was gone?

He wanted to be like other European monarchs. To make his empire endure, he would ensure that his work last forever. [Evidently he thought that this could not occur while he was First Consul.]

To crown himself Emperor, there was a huge ceremony, attended by the Pope, as though God was confirming the principles of the Revolution. He crowned himself, then crowed Josephine as Empress.

Episode Three - “Summit of Greatness”



  1. List some of the historians’ descriptions of Napoleon and his personality.

“Good at math, nothing more.”

  1. What was Napoleon planning to do in 1805?

Cross the English Channel to invade Great Britain.

Britain had a “pathetic army,” so Napoleon was confident.

  1. What were some of the possible ways by which Napoleon and his army would get there?

Lots of ships; but the Royal Navy was very powerful. Napoleon deduced that an invasion was not feasible.

  1. How did the British characterize Napoleon?

But British thought he was an upstart.

Yet they feared Napoleon.

  1. Napoleon changed his plans and who did he go after instead?

  2. What did Napoleon represent to the rest of Europe as he began his new campaign?

Instead, he turned his attention to Austria and Russia, which were allied with Britain.

He had experienced, seasoned soldiers, who were feared by other nations. They moved quickly, over 30 miles/day, 8 or more hours/day, usually ahead of their supply trains.

  1. What descriptions do you have for Napoleons “La Grande Armee”?

Fight for riches, glory of France, and devotion to Emperor

Good-looking uniforms [?]

  1. Describe the so-called “Cult of the Commander” and some of the traits of Napoleon which helped to build his image and the loyalty of his soldiers.

His soldiers idolized him and craved a few words.

He talked easily with any soldier. He wore plain clothing. He’s a soldier like all the others.

He was tireless, riding all day, reading reports after a few hours of sleep.

  1. How were Napoleon and his army able to achieve early success in their campaign while being outnumbered by at least two to one?

Enemy forces were widely dispersed. Hit one place quickly before they can consolidate. He isolated an Austrian Army, inflicted heavy losses, and forced their surrender in a few days.

  1. What city did Napoleon occupy soon after his initial victory?


Emperor Francis 1 fled on Napoleon’s arrival.

  1. What disaster dampened the mood of this victory and occupation?

British fleet destroyed the entire French navy at Trafalgar.

  1. What situation faced Napoleon in November - December 1805?

Cold weather was coming. Russian troops were on their way. The French army was isolated in Vienna; it’s a long way to Paris. Prussia threatened to declare war. Russian and Austria consolidated their forces.

  1. Describe some of the ways that Napoleon was able to achieve such a decisive victory at Austerlitz?

Russian Czar, Alexander I, was jealous of Napoleon and hated him. But this made Alexander rash and subject to Napoleon’s tactical genius.

Napoleon would take command the battlefield and make the enemy attack when and where he wanted [and spring his trap].

Turn an apparent weakness into a strength. He makes the enemy think he’s weak at a certain place. He abandoned the high ground to allow Russians to occupy the heights and think they had the advantage. Czar wanted an immediate attack but his generals were wary of a trap.

Russians though French campfires were the soldiers burning their tents and equipment and materials in advance of retreat.

Napoleon brought reinforcements from Vienna rapidly to build up his weak right flank. As the Russian troops came down from the heights to attack, hidden French troops circled and took the weakly defended heights.

  1. How did the leaders of the two defeated allied armies respond to their defeat at Austerlitz?

Alexander was at a loss – he didn’t know what to do. He no longer was in command of his troops.

As Russians retreated, Austrian Emperor Francis I came to sue for peace.

  1. What characteristics of Napoleon’s military skills lent him the description of “an artist”?

To Napoleon, military campaign were like art: he took given events and creates opportunities…

  1. Six months after Austerlitz, Napoleon made the comment that in order to keep the empire and his place at the head of the it, he would need to continue his ____________________ of Europe.

Napoleon was also preparing for war. He needed to continue his conquest of Europe.

Next, he defeated the Prussians.

He brought his code of civil law to conquered nations. But he did not rule in the name of liberty. Liberty was for a privileged few that had the capacity to appreciate it.

  1. He would now be tested by the army of the ________________ Empire and after his victory, he brought his system of law and the spirit of the French Revolution to this imperial city: ________________.



  1. Napoleon believed that his ________________________, the ______________________ of France and the __________________________ of the Revolution were all one in the same.

Glory [all three blanks]

  1. What 3 things did Napoleon love?

Order, authority, well-run organizations

  1. Describe some of the characteristics of Napoleon’s “work ethic” and his ability to get so much done.

Worked 24/7

Napped for short time when he commanded it

Excellent memory


Took care of his health

Quick meals

  1. How did Napoleon turn the control of his empire into a family affair?

Made his siblings and mother royalty – kings, princes, princesses and queens of conquered territories.

Josephine was jealous of Napoleon’s mistresses. But Napoleon thought it was no big deal. Having lovers was the prevailing system for monarchs.

Napoleon made economic war on Britain with an economic blockade – nations were forbidden to trade with Britain.

  1. In 1806, Napoleon continued war by marching towards this still in existence, continental empire.


  1. How was the fighting between these two adversaries described?

Brutal, many casualties. Not truly combat, but butchery. Russian army was destroyed.

  1. How was the fighting finally settled?

Met on a raft in the middle of the river dividing Russia from Europe.

  1. What common ideal brought peace between Alexander and Napoleon?

The agreed to equally hate Great Britain and made peace on this basis. They would ally and force Britain to sign a peace treaty.

Each paid the other many compliments. Napoleon thought he had charmed Alexander, but the Czar had no intention of living up to the agreement.

1807: French Empire reached to Russia and south to Italy – 70 million people. He believes that he’s infallible. He is proud of his rise from lowly lieutenant to Emperor in 38 years. He is intoxicated with power.

Episode Four - ““The End”



  1. Describe Napoleon's campaign in Spain, the successes and the failures

Spain devoutly Catholic, embracing counter-Reformation. He thought Spanish would welcome him. They didn’t.

  1. How did it appear that Napoleon's power was getting in the way of his judgment, especially in handling the events in Spain

He didn’t understand Spanish mentality – love of their country as much as he loved France.

Madrid riots, 150 French soldiers killed. French retaliated, killing thousands of Spanish. Start of savage war with torture and atrocities on both sides. No decisive victory after five years in Spain.

Napoleon wouldn’t listen to advice. He acted like a Roman Emperor…

  1. How did Napoleon solve the issue of not yet having a male heir to his throne?

Sacrifice marriage for greater glory of France. Napoleon tells Josephine that their marriage is over.

He looked for a fertile woman. He found her in Marie Louise Hapsburg of Austria, who really didn’t want to marry him. But she yielded to her father’s will.

She did give him a baby boy, who Napoleon adored. His son made him a doting father at the cost of his emperor duties – he was getting soft. Furthermore, Marie Louise cried and pouted when Napoleon told her he was leaving to conduct the wars.

But, there was still war in Spain and problems with Russia not obeying France’s Continental blockade, which was ruining the Russian economy. Negotiations failed to resolve this issue.

  1. Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812 is one of the most tragic and storied periods in military history. How did each of the following play a part in the disastrous result?

The invasion was begun against his advisors.

His army totaled 600,000, French and their allies.

He predicted war would be over in 20 days and in one large battle. But he Russians refused to give battle. But the Russian army was much smaller. While they retreated, the French army lost soldiers to disease, desertion, summer heat, and exhaustion.

    1. The weather

The summer heat

    1. Napoleon's foreign allied troops

They fought only because their king was allied to Napoleon – no incentive

    1. Brutality of battles such as Borodino

A direct frontal assault, unlike Napoleon’s earlier tactical genius. The forces battle all day to a standstill before the Russians withdrew but refused to talk peace.

    1. Evacuation and burning of Moscow

Russian abandoned Moscow. Napoleon entered to a burning city. Russians still refused to negotiate

    1. Russian winter of 1812-13

Napoleon and troops left Moscow in fall in 1812 as the winter weather came early.

Soldiers fought cold and starvation.

    1. The Cossacks

Horse soldiers harassed Napoleon’s flanks with hit-and-run attacks, picking away at his army. His army was dying.

  1. After the disastrous Russian campaign and subsequent military defeats, what was happening to Napoleon's invincibility and his hold on power?

Rumors of coup in Paris.

Of the original 600,000 invasion force, only 93,000 returned.

Britain, Sweden, and Prussia gathered to fight France

Battle at Liepzig , he was defeated, but still fought on

Allies invaded France in 1814, including old ally Austria. France was outnumbered over 4 to 1.

  1. What was Napoleon finally forced by some of his top officials to give up?

His closest advisors refused to fight. Napoleon renounced his throne.

He took poison but it didn’t work. He would live to see the un-doing of all his conquests

  1. Where did he go the first time he went into exile?

At age 45, a British ship took him to the island of Elba, a villa by the Mediterranean Sea. He became emperor of that Island.

  1. Did exile put a stop to his personality? Examples?

He then begins to act like an emperor, head of state, setting up a government, designed a flag, made laws and regulations.

Often he would gaze at Corsica. But he became bored with life on Elba

Josephine’s death – he didn’t leave his villa for two days.

  1. What problems emerged in France while Napoleon was away?

How did Napoleon respond?

Allies installed Bourbon king, Louis XVIII on the throne, who was eager but a weakling.

He slipped off the island with a handful of soldiers and landed back in France.

  1. What was the reaction of many of his former troops, as well as the French public?

Confronted by a regiment of French soldiers, he won them over. A week later, he was in Paris. King fled.

  1. What did Great Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia do in response to Napoleon's arrival in France?

Allies united to declare Napoleon at “outlaw.”

  1. What were Napoleon's intentions with the advance of his army into Belgium and towards Waterloo?

Drive a wedge between British and Austrians before Prussians arrived.

Napoleon sent a force to intercept Prussians.

  1. How did the start of the Battle of Waterloo demonstrate that Napoleon was not the same military mind that he was a decade or so before?

He postponed his attack because wet grounds made it difficult to move artillery. However, this never stopped him before.

  1. How did the situation for at Waterloo go from bad to worse for Napoleon? Some of the details of the battle?

A direct frontal assault at the center of Wellington’s line. But the French artillery could not reach French lines because Wellington’s troops took cover behind a ridge.

Meanwhile, the Prussians advance units were arriving. Napoleon ordered a cavalry charge, under Ney’s command, at Wellington’s line. British formed defensive squares.

At end of the day, Napoleon saw Prussian soldiers emerging from the dust, just as the English center appeared to collapse.

Napoleon called for his Imperial Guard, his best soldiers, up to this point held in reserve. The Guard came close to the British line. Hundreds died and they eventually fell back.

Panic spread among French troops. Then the Prussian arrived under Blucher to reinforce Wellington. Napoleon tried to rally his men but then fled the battlefield.

He lost because he didn’t believe he could win in. Napoleon saw the futility of opposing all of Europe.

He abdicated the throne for the second time. He wanted to live in Britain. Britain said no.

  1. Where was Napoleon sent the second time he was exiled?

He and his followers were sent to St Helena, an isolated island in the South Atlantic; 10 x 6 miles.

  1. How was his experience here different from his time on Elba

He was not an emperor but a prisoner. 2,000 soldiers and two ships circling the island constantly.

He lived in a bungalow.

He was bored living there. The island was damp and often humid.

He read and wrote; argued with English governor. He ranted and raved about his life.

  1. What did Napoleon set himself to do and accomplish as he wasted away on the island?

He dictated his memoirs to transform his real life into a legendary life. He exaggerated his accomplishments, justified all his actions, good or bad, right or wrong.

He ate and read in his bathtub.

He died 5½ years after coming to St Helena at age 51.

His downfall had made him a martyr, a legend, a Christ-like figure (according to him). His writings created loyal followers who idolized his memory.

  • Mr Johnson

    • After abdication, Napoleon’s son Napoleon II was proclaimed emperor, but Louis XVIII took over. Napoleon II died at age 21 of tuberculosis in Austria.

    • Napoleon III (nephew) came next, but there were many changes in government in the 19th century. Most of the time France was a constitutional monarchy like Britain. France was no longer a great military power, losing to the Prussians in 1870, Germans in WW I and WW II.

    • Google search on “French Military Victories” yields no results!

  • Other announcements

    • Napoleon RSG due tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec 11)

    • Project due this week

    • Final is 120 or 140 multiple choice questions, worth a total of 100 points

    • 15-question Napoleon-French Revolution Quiz this week – OPEN NOTES

Directory: sites -> default -> files -> classnotes
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files -> Oh Freedom! Teaching African American Civil Rights Through American Art at the Smithsonian
files -> Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site’s interpretation of Al Capone’s cell, c. 2013. Al Capone Approved Source for Tour Content Developed by Annie Anderson May 2013 Draft 2 For Web Guiding questions
files -> Dr amanda wise & dr jan ali commonwealth of Australia 2008
classnotes -> Sped notes by: Tony Moy

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