Napoleon’s Empire Collapses



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World History 9
Notes: Chapter 23, Section 4 “Napoleon’s Empire Collapses”
Napoleon’s Costly Mistakes


  1. (Mistake #1) What was the Continental System? What did Napoleon hope to do to Britain with the Continental System? Why did it fail?

Continental System was a blockade to prevent all trade and communication between Europe and Great Britain. Napoleon hoped to destroy Britain’s commercial and industrial economy, but he claimed it was to make Europe self-sufficient. It failed because the blockade was not tight enough and some of Napoleon’s allies ignored it. Britain responded with its own blockade, and they had a stronger navy. They forced all ships bound for Europe to sail to British ports to be searched and taxed.


  1. (Mistake # 2) What was the Peninsular War (who fought in it, why, what was the result)? How did guerillas help defeat the French army?

Napoleon tried to get Portugal to accept the Continental System by sending troops through Spain. Called Peninsular since it was fought on the peninsula where Spain and Portugal were located. Spain didn’t like that, so Napoleon made his brother king. The nationalistic feelings of the Spanish led to guerilla warfare by Spanish peasants that lasted six years. They were helped by Britain. Napoleon couldn’t fight the guerillas since there was no open battle; just hit and run ambushes. 300,000 of Napoleon’s men died.

  1. Why did many of the countries conquered by Napoleon turn against him?

Nationalism, loyalty to one’s country, did not want a foreign conqueror.



  1. (Mistake #3, the biggest) Why did Napoleon invade Russia? What was the Grand Army? What was the scorched-earth policy and why was it so effective against Napoleon’s army?

How did the weather destroy Napoleon’s retreating army?
Invaded because tsar refused to stop selling grain to Britain and because Napoleon and tsar both had eye on Poland. Grand Army was more than 420,000 soldiers that Napoleon led on march to Russia. As Russian army pulled back to east, they burned grain fields and slaughtered livestock. Effective because it left Napoleon’s army without food. Napoleon waited in Moscow till mid-October and then decided to turn back to France. By then, the Russian winter was about to start. The freezing cold and snow left Napoleon’s army exhausted, hungry and cold. Only 10,000 soldiers were left.

Napoleon’s Downfall


  1. What countries joined together to fight Napoleon and why were they able to defeat him?


Britain, Russia, Prussia, Sweden, and Austria. Able to defeat him because his new army was untrained and ill-prepared for battle



  1. What did the victors (winners) do with Napoleon?

Exiled him to island of Elba



  1. How did Napoleon regain the throne? Why do you think the French were happy when Napoleon returned?

Louis XVIII was not popular; Napoleon seized opportunity to regain throne by escaping from Elba and returning France where volunteers joined his army. French were happy because they didn’t want another king or because they Napoleon had once led them to greatness and they still thought he could do it again.



  1. Where was the Battle of Waterloo and what was the result?

Fought in Belgium, fought the British under Duke of Wellington, who were helped by Prussia. Napoleon defeated.


  1. What were the Hundred Days?

The time that Napoleon was emperor after his escape from Elba and his defeat at Waterloo.



  1. What happened to Napoleon after his defeat at Waterloo?

British shipped him to St. Helena, an island in the South Atlantic where he died.



  1. Do you think Napoleon was a great leader? Why or why not?


Yes because he restored stability to France after revolution.

No because he caused turmoil in Europe and led to deaths of thousands.

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