A Study of Primary
and Secondary Sources
Who is Napoleon?
And What is His Legacy?
Napoleon as Preserver
of the Revolution
• Napoleon believed that his work was almost a
type of god in the revolution.
• Born in Corsica poor, pretty-noble parents
• Believed in overthrowing the old aristocracy and
wanted a new strong government
• Traveled through the military ranks like butter
• He liked Robespierre.
• Believed his armies liberalized other country’s
Q: How should history judge him?
• Inconsistent, but sympathetic to the revolution
• Brave enough to defend Robespierre, honored
• Lucky, he would have never have rose above
the rank of Captain
• Leadership tainted by authoritarian control, but
• Groundbreaking, he created a new aristocracy
• His armies spread liberal ideas of government
under a constitution
Madame de Ramusat
• Napoleon believed he was needed, France believed it.
• Napoleon was using right times, in the right moment of
using his advantages.
• In Europe Bonarparte placed the imperial crown upon his
head, there was not a king that believed he wore his own
• Some see him as a military and political genius, other
sees him as an opportunist who took advantage of
• He promised to uphold both revolutionary principles and
order that made him come to power.
Q: Why do people think he rose to power?
• Her source is credible, she was a lady in-waiting
to Empress Josephine
• Napoleon opposed the same kind of factions
that divided the revolution
• He has the ability to turn situations to his
• He was on the “cutting edge” of government
change that was inevitable, monarchies were
threatened in Europe by his influence
Highlights of Napoleon’s Diary
• Only reason he has power is because of
his military success.
• Very self-centered, he thought when he
died, he would be the greatest man alive.
• He wants to keep his reputation and cares
about it more than anything.
Q: How does Napoleon want to be remembered?
• He liked to make “grand” appearances
• He’s seeking a “great” reputation
• People are “moved” by his presence (then/now)
• Conquest had made him, and will maintain him
• Friendship is not valued
• His government was a republic/equality
• His failure still made him the most powerful
monarch in the world!
• Joseph Fouche was the head of the secret
– Had salaried spies in all ranks, some of both sexes,
• Government’s Police
– Two essential objects
• Watch friendly powers
• Counteract hostile environments
• Had lots of power
– Established general commissioners
– State prisoners under control
Establishment was expensive
Q: What does this say about his bureaucracy?
• This lasted 8 years, it employed policemen,
politicians and drew opportunists
• They were paid according to importance/sources
• They were orderly, regular reports to Napoleon
• They were independent secret agents, with
foreign spies in cabinet positions & newspapers
• He monitored pass ports, and watched those
• Even nobles were spies, with daily information
It’s History and Theory
• Napoleon because his name provided a new source of
• Rule of one man had to be found
• He became a national symbol because of his victories
• Sovereignty of people had become fused with
• Adopted methods used by Jacobins to add appearance
of free choice
• As a dictator Napoleon was supported by propertied
classes; financers, commercial men, and the upper
bourgeoisie, those classes made large fortunes off the
Q: How did Napoleon Gain Power?
• He held a “modern” dictatorship that has been
compared to that of the 1930’s
• He adapted the Jacobin method – all authority is
derived from the people
• One man presents the will of the people
• His dictatorship was supported by propertied
classes, bourgeois made fortunes from it…
Who is Napoleon?
• “He who fears being conquered is certain of
defeat.” If you believe your are going to lose, you
will indeed lose.
• “Better not to have been born than to live without
glory” Strived for fame
• “I have been called upon the change the face of
the world.” Napoleon grew up believing he
would change the world.
• “To have good soldier a nation must always be
at war.” Napoleon sent a tribe to defeat young
armies to defeat his enemies (Russia, Austria,
Prussia & Britain)
Who is Napoleon?
• “When China awakes, the world will
tremble.”- Napoleon knew of China’s
power and feared because of their
Getting Stuck on Vocabulary
• Contemptuous-showing or expressing contempt or
• Authoritarian-a person who favors or acts according to
• Phalanxes-a group of heavily armed infantry formed in
ranks and files close and deep, with shields joined and
long spears overlapping.
• Plebiscite: A vote of the people (as a country)
• Reconciling: To cause to be friendly or harmonious again
• Dominion: the power or right of governing and controlling
• Deceived: to mislead by a false appearance or statement