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French Revolution: Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

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Last updated date: 04th Dec 2023
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The French Revolution - Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte is known for his highly ambitious military and political leadership in French. He gained his popularity during the French Revolution as he gave rise to several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary wars. He was emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815. Napoleon strived to manage European and other international affairs for a period of 10 years while leading France against a series of conspiracies in the Napoleonic Wars. He remains one of the most eminent and debatable politicians in human history.


What was the French Revolution?

The French Revolution that started in 1787 and ended in 1799 was a period of social disruptions. This period entirely changed the relationship between the rulers and those they governed and to reconsider the nature of political power. The period continues in a back-and-forth process between revolutionary and reactionary forces.


Major Cause of French Revolution

The major cause of French Revolution are:

  • France was governed by absolute Monarchy.

  • A strict social class system survived.

  • The government was completely bankrupt.

  • Bad harvesting, Inflation, and Unfair Taxation caused civil unrest.

  • The political aim of the nobility and middle class threatened the monarchy.

The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte During the French Revolution?

When Napoleon was just 30 years old, he became the eminent political leader of  France in November 1799. Napoleon Bonaparte was an indirect outcome of the French Revolution. As usual, there was political and economic stability in France during the revolution and there was a struggle for power. Napoleon took advantage of the situation and became commander with the help of the army. Napoleon declared himself the king of France in 1804. He was an excellent general and he conquered and dominated all the neighboring countries except Britain and Russia with the help of his army. He was remembered for his restoration of  order to France after a fierce and disorderly ten years of French revolution. He finally succeeded in bringing the order back in the region of economics, society, law, and religion.


What are the Different Factors That Led To the Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte?

Following are the factors led to french revolution: rise of napoleon bonaparte:

  • One of the main factors that contributed to Napoleon’s rise to power was the French Revolution. It was believed among the scholars that Napoleon was a product of the French revolution, without which he would have died as an ordinary person. This remains a historical fact because Napoleon’s rise to power was immense due to the changes and progressive events of the French revolution. He managed to avail all the opportunities offered by the revolution to gain his popularity from a poor Corsican to an Emperor of France. Due to this, he is known as the child of the French revolution. The role of the French revolution in the Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte is as follows:

  • Decision to eliminate the discriminative social class system during the French Revolution generated several opportunities for talented men like Napoleon. Prior to the French Revolution, poor peasants like Napoleon could not be promoted beyond non-commissioned rank or hold a public office. However, the revolution brought career opportunities to talents where Napoleon was promoted from rank to rank, which gradually increased his popularity, leading to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799. Therefore, it should be considered that the French revolution completely eliminated the discriminative social class system. Napoleon would have remained a common man  throughout this life because of his poor background.

  • The French revolution led to senior army officers’ exile and death, especially during the period of terror. The revolution created a scarcity of senior army officers, and due to this Napoleon was recalled in the army in 1792, yet he had earlier on been dismissed. Due to this, Napoleon gained quick promotions leading to his rise to power. Other than the death of senior politicians, including Mirabeau, Danton, and Robespierre left a political vacuum that Napoleon occupied. If these men would have survived up to 1799, there would have been no political vacuum, and Napoleon’s rise to power would have been a different story.

  • The revolutionary ideas used by  Napoleon within and outside France made him a renowned liberator. He got an opportunity to learn revolutionary literature from the writings of Rousseau. With a view to liberate the ill-treated people of Europe, including France, he hoisted the revolutionary flag and sung the beautiful songs based on the revolution. He preached the revolutionary beliefs of liberty, fraternity, democracy and equality. This urged Italians and Germans to salute and assist him dishonestly as a “Political messiah.” These revolutionary ideas also convinced Frenchmen that Napoleon was the best person who could raise the revolution’s principles and provided him internal support that facilitated his rise to power.

  • The need to export the foreign wars generated during the French revolution gave Napoleon wide opportunities to exploit his abilities. The most renowned opportunity was the 1796 Italian campaign that enabled Napoleon to gain his popularity amongst Frenchmen and Italians. This was initiated by his victory in the war against Austria in Italy. The war enhanced his self-reliance and aspiration because this led him to sleep for the first time in the palace of kings.

  • Napoleon’s marriage with his wife Josephine also led to his rise to power. In 1796, Napoleon married Josephine. She is the daughter of one of the directors within the Directory government “Baras”. Napoleon's marriage with Josephine gave him greater opportunities and powerful connections with leaders of the Directory government. It was due to the guidance of Josephine’s father Baras” that gave him the opportunity  to command the French troops in the Italian campaign, besides there were many other senior and experienced officers than Napoleon. This was because Barras rerouted the French force’s command from any of the senior commanders to Napoleon just because he favoured him as his son in law. Besides, the marriage made Napoleon a fully fledged and loyal man who gained more respect and popularity in France.

FAQs on French Revolution: Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

1. What was the significance of the French Revolution?

The French Revolution entirely transformed the social and political structure of France. It put a complete end to the French monarchy, feudalism, and took political power from the Catholic church. Although the French Revolution ended with the rise of Napoleon, the ideas and reforms did not die.

2. What was the major outcome of the French Revolution?

The major outcome of the French Revolution was the end of the Monarchy. The revolution ended when Napoleon Bonaparte took power in November 1799. He was declared as an emperor in 1894. The French Revolution and Napoleon began a new period  not only for France but also for Europe and beyond.

3. What are the short term effects of the French Revolution?

The short term effects of the French Revolution are:

  • The end of Monarch caused initial disorganization.

  • France was attacked by other Foreign countries.

  • Napoleon seized power and emperor of France.

  • The beheading of Royals and sovereignty of terror give rise to in

4. What are the long term effects of the French Revolution?

The long term effects of the French Revolution are:

  • Napoleon's army defeated other countries and changed many traditional political and class systems.

  • French armies spread nationalism and informative ideals to other countries.