Napoleon was a betrayer of the revolution who was overcame by personal ambition that he forgot the main principle of the revolution which was liberty and equality.
The French revolution began in 1789 when the peasants felt irritated and betrayed and decided to take action against the oppressive government. After ten years of war, Napoleon Bonaparte began his liberation for France however, his liberation turned to be a dictatorial government which he aimed to rule over Europe.
The French revolution was meant to bring equality to the people. However its turn to dictatorship by one general napoleon Bonaparte was no coincidence. Napoleon was overcome by his temperament and his genius such that he was unable to embrace peace and moderation. His victories in many wars and quick rise and gaining trust of his troops made him forget the real and original intention of the revolution. As a result, in no way can he be called a child of the revolution because even after being among its pioneers, he spearheaded the vices that led to the neglect and abandoning of the very principles that the revolution was seeking.
His success in the many battles he fought made him who he was but ruined him through the policy that he formulated of conquering and expanding his territory. This was his greatest downfall and the greatest betrayal to his mission; a mission that the revolution was to bring equality. His conquest made him a dictator who named himself emperor and overthrown the republic through a coup de tat. He betrayed the principle of liberty when he began a new mission of conquering other states and continent to expand his empire and betrayed fraternity by disposing other monarchs and appointing members of his family to hold such leadership position. In so doing, though he saw himself as a child of the revolution, he had gone so far away from the intended purpose of the revolution and therefore can be labeled no otherwise than a betrayer.
His ambition betrayed the principle of the revolution. Napoleon together with Abbe Sieyes, another ambitious member of the directory engineered a coup de tat in 1799 which was successful and they took on the leadership. He was made the first consul and the government of France a military dictatorship through the constitution of the year VIII. He was granted a life time first consul which meant that his position would be hereditary. However, he was not satisfied with his position and he therefore, lead by his ambition sort to expand his empire. His previous military victories made him believe he would conquer. This shows his betrayal to the revolution. The revolution was meant to seek the freedom of the peasants from the oppressive government but Napoleon was not contended by the victory but went further to overthrow the government and wishes to extend his boundaries to conquer the whole of Europe and Egypt in Africa. In doing saw, he disrupted the possibility have peace in Europe. This is evident in his plans to invade Britain and the way he went against the agreement with Russian emperor Alexander I and invaded his territory in 1810.
Napoleon Bonaparte turned the French revolution into a dictatorship because he was a temperament man who could not adapt to peace and moderation. Napoleon crowned himself emperor of France in 1804 and compiled the code napoleon which to present is the base of France law. He came to power because his name provided a new source of authority. This was easy to accomplish because he was such an influential leader due to his various victories against many militaries of European countries, this made him a symbol of national greatness. Napoleon took the advantage to establish his dictatorial regime. Together with Sieyes and another man of Brumaire carried out a coup de tat which made him the ruler. He went on to establish a hereditary regime which was provided for by the constitution. This is against the rule of democracy where it is achieved by the rule of the majority.
Napoleon regime was a military dictatorship or bourgeois dictatorship. When he made his expeditions in Egypt and Russia, many people were killed and he ordered Turkish soldiers to be executed as well as his soldiers who were struck by the plague. He was a one-man ruler, who practiced military dictatorship, political freedom was suppressed. His obsession for power drove him to want to extend his power. His quest for power made him the dictator he was. He said that, “My mistress is power; I have done too much to conquer her to let her be snatched away from me”. This shows how far he would go to gain more power as well as protect it. His belief of how special a soldier and a military leader played a huge part in his establishment of his dictatorial regime.
In a number of ways, Napoleon projected the strategy of the twentieth century dictators. He concentrated power in his own hands, suppressed opposition and sort to mould public opinion by controlling the press and education. In 1806, an imperial catechism was established which required schoolchildren to memorize and recite Napoleonic indoctrination. Such recitations are such as,
“Christians owe to the princes who govern them and owe in particular to Napoleon 1 our emperor, love, respect, obedience, fidelity, military service and the tributes laid for the preservation and defense of the empire and of his throne; we also owe to him fervent prayers for his safety and the spiritual and temporal prosperity of the state”.
Napoleon betrays the revolution by regulating the public opinion. According to the letter written by Napoleon to Joseph Fouche, the minister of police, he reveals his intention to regulate public opinion. He intended to limit the people from expressing their opinions and views. By doing saw Napoleon was betraying the revolution which sort to find answers to all this and achieve public freedom. Napoleon says in his letter, “Repress the journals a little; make them produces wholesome articles. I want you to write to the editors of the . . . newspapers that are most widely read . . . I shall suppress them along with all others”.
Napoleon betrayed the principle of liberty that was among the principle under which the revolution was established. He appointed his brother to be the king of Westphalia. Napoleon believed that liberty would come with the preservation of order and the consolidation of the triumphs of the revolution. He therefore sacrificed liberty to give citizens their rights. When he wrote the letter to his brother, he said that he needed to have the trust of his subjects. He asked him to ensure that his subjects enjoy some degree of liberty, equality and prosperity. It was not realistic for Napoleon to establish liberty when France was in chaos. His attack on Egypt and Russia does not in any way support his desire for liberty which was a major policy and principle of the revolution. Napoleon’s policies were not entirely revolutionary. And his aim was to consolidate rather than advance. Instead of making France a better place, he went ahead with his quest for power to establish a bigger empire. He was driven by the spirit of revolutionaries, dictatorship and personal ambition to conquer. In so doing, he violated the principles of the revolution.
People have different opinions about Napoleon’s accomplishment in the French revolution. Some praise his achievements claiming that he was the foundation of the French laws. However, I feel that napoleon betrayed the revolution in which he personally started. He betrayed the principles of the revolution as well as the people, the army, men, women and children who he sought to liberate from the oppressive government. He became the monarch of France by making himself the emperor through the constitution that made him a lifelong dictator with hereditary throne so that even in death, his family would rule. Despite running an efficient government, he centralized the powers so that he became a stronger ruler than a king. Additionally, he was ruthless to his oppose and regulated the power of the press so that he could not be criticized. He also failed to uphold equality and liberty together with establishing Napoleonic indoctrination. In doing all these, Napoleon betrayed the revolution.
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