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This was the high point of the empire. Britain, protected by the English Channel and its navy, was persistently active , and rebellion of both the governing and of the governed broke out everywhere. Napoleon, though he underrated it, soon felt his failure in coping with the Spanish uprising. The alliance arranged at Tilsit was seriously shaken by the Austrian marriage, the threat of Polish restoration to Russia, and the Continental System.

The very persons whom he had placed in power were counteracting his plans. With many of his siblings and relations performing unsuccessfully or even betraying him, Napoleon found himself obliged to revoke their power. Caroline Bonaparte conspired against her brother and against her husband Murat; the hypochondriac Louis, now Dutch in his sympathies, found the supervision of the blockade taken from him, and also the defense of the Scheldt , which he had refused to ensure.

The very nature of things was against the new dynasties, as it had been against the old. After national insurrections and family recriminations came treachery from Napoleon's ministers. Talleyrand betrayed his designs to Metternich and suffered dismissal. By consequence of the spirit of conquest Napoleon had aroused, many of his marshals and officials, having tasted victory, dreamed of sovereign power: Bernadotte , who had helped him to the Consulate , played Napoleon false to win the crown of Sweden.

Soult , like Murat, coveted the Spanish throne after that of Portugal, thus anticipating the treason of The country itself, though flattered by conquests, was tired of self-sacrifice. Amidst profound silence from the press and the assemblies, a protest was raised against imperial power by the literary world, against the excommunicated sovereign by Catholicism, and against the author of the continental blockade by the discontented bourgeoisie , ruined by the crisis of Even as he lost his military principles, Napoleon maintained his gift for brilliance.

His Six Days Campaign , which took place at the very end of the Sixth Coalition , is often regarded as his greatest display of leadership and military prowess. But by then it was the end or "the finish" , and it was during the years before when the nations of Europe conspired against France.

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While the Emperor and his holdings idled and worsened, the rest of Europe agreed to avenge the revolutionary events of Napoleon had hardly succeeded in putting down the revolt in Germany when the Tsar of Russia himself headed a European insurrection against Napoleon. To put a stop to this, to ensure his own access to the Mediterranean and exclude his chief rival, Napoleon made an effort in against Russia.

Despite his victorious advance, the taking of Smolensk , the victory on the Moskva , and the entry into Moscow, he was defeated by the country and the climate, and by Alexander's refusal to make terms. After this came the terrible retreat in the harsh Russian winter, while all Europe was concentrating against him. Following his retreat from Russia, Napoleon continued to retreat, this time from Germany. After the loss of Spain, reconquered by an allied army led by Wellington , the rising in the Netherlands preliminary to the invasion and the manifesto of Frankfort 1 December [14] which proclaimed it, he had to fall back upon the frontiers of ; and then later was driven yet farther back upon those of —despite the brilliant campaign of against the invaders.

Paris capitulated on 30 March , and the Delenda Carthago , pronounced against Britain, was spoken of Napoleon. The Empire briefly fell with Napoleon's abdication at Fontainebleau on 11 April After a brief exile at the island of Elba , Napoleon escaped, with a ship, a few men, and four cannons. The King sent Marshal Ney to arrest him.

Upon meeting Ney's army, Napoleon dismounted and walked into firing range, saying "If one of you wishes to kill his emperor, here I am! However, he was defeated by the Seventh Coalition at the Battle of Waterloo. He surrendered himself to the Coalition and was exiled to Saint Helena , a remote island in the South Atlantic, where he remained until his death in Napoleon gained support by appealing to some common concerns of French people.


  • Dominique Jean Larrey!
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Napoleon attracted power and imperial status and gathered support for his changes of French institutions, such as the Concordat of which confirmed the Catholic Church as the majority church of France and restored some of its civil status. Napoleon by this time however was not a democrat, nor a republican. He was, he liked to think, an enlightened despot, the sort of man Voltaire might have found appealing. He preserved numerous social gains of the Revolution while suppressing political liberty.

He admired efficiency and strength and hated feudalism, religious intolerance, and civil inequality. Enlightened despotism meant political stability. He knew his Roman history well, as after years of republicanism, Rome became an empire under Augustus Caesar.

The morning after Tilsit

Although a supporter of the radical Jacobins during the early days of the Revolution more out of pragmatism than any real ideology , Napoleon became increasingly autocratic as his political career progressed and once in power embraced certain aspects of both liberalism and authoritarianism—for example, public education , a generally liberal restructuring of the French legal system , and the emancipation of the Jews—while rejecting electoral democracy and freedom of the press. Europe in , with the French Empire at its peak before the Russian Campaign. This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors here.

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Flag Imperial Coat of arms. Roman Catholicism Calvinism Lutheranism Judaism. So far, the Prince had done all that honour and affection could demand of him. But, unfortunately for his fame, instead of withdrawing into private life, he listened to the prayers of his wife, who keenly felt the loss of her title of "Serene Princess.

This and the fact that, as senior of the Marshals, Berthier had led his fellow Marshals to meet the King at Compiegne, caused the Prince of Wagram to be regarded as a traitor by Napoleon and the Imperialists. Moreover, the Prince Marshal now saw in Napoleon the disturber of the peace of Europe, so when the Emperor suddenly returned from Elba he withdrew from France, and retired to Bamberg, in his father-in-law's dominions. It is commonly supposed that Berthier committed suicide, but the medical evidence shows that his fall was probably the result of giddiness arising from dyspepsia.

The Emperor's Friend: Marshall Jean Lannes (Contributions in Military Studies)

It was on June ist that the accident happened. He was watching a division of Russian troops passing through the town, and was much distressed by the sight, and heard to murmur, " My poor country! If the Prince of Wagram had been there, it is more than conceivable that the scales would have fallen other than they did ; for it was the indifferent staff work of Soult and the bad drafting of orders which lost the French the campaign.

Of this, Napoleon was so firmly convinced that he never could efface it from his memory ; again and again he was heard saying, " If Berthier had been here I should never have met this mis- fortune.

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It was this failure to return which so embittered the fallen Emperor against the Prince of Wagram, and led to those cruel strictures on his character to which he gave vent at St. Moreover, Napoleon, so great in many things, was so jealous of his own glory that he could be mean beyond words. Even in the early years when he heard people praising Berthier's work in , he told his secretary, Bourrienne, " As for Berthier, since you have been with me, you see what he is — he is a blockhead. Helena, forgetting his old opinions, " Berthier has his talents, activity, courage, character — all in his favour.

Look at women. He undoubtedly chose to be second to Napoleon ; he served him with a fidelity that Napoleon himself could not understand, and he won his great commander's love and esteem in spite of the selfishness of the Corsican's nature. I do not indulge in useless sentiments, and Berthier is so uninteresting that I do not know why I should care about him at all, and yet when I think of it I really have some liking for him.

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It was this belief in Napoleon which in time obsessed the Prince of Wagram's mind, which killed his own initiative and was responsible for his blunders in and at Leipzig, and turned him into a machine which merely echoed the Emperor's commands. In Berthier's eyes it was no reproach, but a testi- mony to his own principles, " that he never gave an order, never wrote a despatch, which did not in some way emanate from Napoleon. Helena, " His character was undecided, not strong enough for a commander-in-chief, but he possessed all the qualities of a good chief of the staff : a complete mastery of the map, great skill in reconnaissance, minute care in the despatch of orders, magnificent aptitude for presenting with the greatest simplicity the most compli- cated situation of an army.

From his earliest childhood Joachim was a horse-lover and a frequenter of the stables ; but his parents had higher aims for their bright, smiling, intelli- gent darling, and destined him for the priesthood. The young seminarist was highly thought of by the preceptors at the College of Saint Michel at Cahors and the Lazarist Fathers at Toulouse ; but neither priest nor mother had truly grasped his dashing character, and one February morning in Joachim slipped quietly out of the semi- nary doors and enlisted in the Chasseurs of the Ardennes, who were at the moment billeted in Toulouse.

Two years later this promising recruit, having fallen foul of the military authorities, had to leave the service under a cloud. A post as draper's assistant was a poor exchange for the young soldier, who found the cavalry service of the royal army scarcely dashing enough, but the Revolution gave an outlet which Murat was quick to seize.

In Paris, Joachim soon found that the royal road to success lay in denouncing loudly all superior officers of lack of patriotism. Soon there was no more brazen-voiced accuser than Murat. In the course of a year he worked his way out of the "Garde Constitutionnelle," and by April, , he had attained the rank of captain in the 12th Chasseurs.

Meanwhile, he had been selected as aide-de- camp by General d'Ure de Molans. Having seen no service, he owed his appointment largely to his conceit and good looks. Blue-eyed, with an aquiline nose and smiling lips ; with long chestnut curls falling over his well- poised head ; endowed with great physical strength, shown in his strong, supple arms and in the long flat-thighed legs of a horseman, he appeared the most perfect type of the dare-devil, dashing cavalry soldier.