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He put his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne, but Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, invaded Spain and the French forces eventually withdrew.When Josephine proved unable to bear children, Napoleon reluctantly divorced her and in 1810 married the Austrian Emperor’s daughter, Marie Louise. By 1810, England and Russia were the only major powers outside the French Empire.
On 2 December 1804, backed by the Senate and the people, and to thwart efforts by Royalists to assassinate him, Napoleon consolidated his power still further, and was declared Napoleon I, Emperor of the French.
However, his imposition of the progressive Napoleonic Code over his successive European conquests, effectively dismantling the centuries-old conservative European social order, arrayed all the monarchies of Europe against him, and war soon returned.
Exiled to the tiny British island of Saint Helena in the southern Atlantic Ocean, he dictated his memoirs and died on , officially of stomach cancer but possibly, as many historians now believe, of poisoning. Often considered the father of modern Europe, Napoleon’s legacy goes far beyond his military genius, and is subject to a wide variety of interpretations.
Although he promoted the ideas of equality, meritocracy, religious freedom and a common system of law throughout his empire, he was an absolute ruler, suppressing many with whom he disagreed.
He won at Borodino on 7 September and entered an abandoned Moscow, which was soon engulfed in flames ignited by Russian partisans.
Napoleon withdrew, and the campaign cost him 90 percent of his army.Nonetheless, the Napoleonic Code remains the basis of French law, and it was the primary influence on nineteenth-century civil codes throughout continental Europe and Latin America.Napoleon’s sale of the Louisiana Territory to the United States helped lead to that nation’s greatness, and he had a profound influence on the rise of European nationalism: his efforts on the Italian peninsula and in the German principalities foreshadowed the unification of both Italy and Germany.He was then made brigadier general, at age twenty-four.On 5 October 1795, Napoleon’s ultimate triumph of force was foreshadowed when he used artillery to fire upon a Royalist mob—his famous “whiff of grapeshot”—to protect the Revolutionary government in Paris.Napoleon conquered Prussia and signed a treaty temporarily ending hostilities with Russia in 1807.In 1806 he established the Continental System, an economic blockade of England that lasted six years, doing economic damage on both sides but ultimately failing to break the island nation.In 1805, abandoning plans to invade England, Napoleon moved his Grande Armee to central Europe to meet oncoming Russian and Austrian armies.His greatest victory was the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805—although it was diminished somewhat by Nelson’s earlier destruction of the French fleet off the coast of Spain at Trafalgar.In 1801 he smoothed relations with Rome by signing the Concordat with Pope Pius VII, bringing Catholicism back to France while, over the Pope’s objection, maintaining freedom of religion.The 1802 Peace of Amiens with England allowed Napoleon to concentrate on domestic reforms, including a nationwide infrastructure improvement program and the first moves in Europe toward universal public education.