Welcome to episode 1 of the Napoleonic Wars History, which I hope you will enjoy reading. In this episode we will look at how the massive Napoleonic empire began, its origins and why it started.
The Napoleonic Wars were a set of conflicts between Napoleonic France and the alliances of other European powers. The wars spanned from 1800 to 1815 during which Napoleon was a feared leader of France and a time in which people admired him greatly, just as much as they hated him.
Prior to the Napoleonic wars however, France saw The French Revolution span from 1792 to 1799 and can in a sense be included into the Napoleonic wars, making it one long war.
How it Started
The French Revolution prior to the Napoleonic Wars was undoubtedly a key reason for the continuing wars within Europe. The French Revolution was a social resistance beginning in 1787 continuing to 1799. The people sought to change the relationship between the rulers and those they governed, to change the political power structure.
It was during the time of the bourgeoisie (merchants, manufacturers, professionals) who had gained financial power yet were excluded from political power. However, those socially lower than them had very few rights if any and were poor. There was a clear class divide. The monarchy was soon viewed as no longer divinely ordained, so when the kin wanted to increase the taxes on the poor including new classes, revolution was the inevitable outcome.
The French uprooted the monarchy and the feudal system in place. This was caused by the disgust at the aristocracy mentioned above and the policies of the King – King Louise XVI. The King was guillotined as was his wife. The beginning of democracy or liberty, which shapes society today and the idea of which persevered through the Napoleonic wars. The will of the people succeeded.
A time of huge inflation not unlike today. Bread prices skyrocketed and was likely the main food source for many households. Couple this with soaring taxes.
On the 18 May 1803 Britain declared war on France and so the wars began following the revolution. The Bourbons were overthrown by Napoleon but would later resume power after his downfall.
As you can see huge dissatisfaction in the French Revolution outcomes resulted in Napoleon taking the lead of the French people seeking to conquer Europe. The wars were initiated by other monarchies to help ‘win’ the crown back for the Bourbons. Napoleon on the other hand did not want this monarchy, nor did the people.
They wanted democracy which would not exist for many years. They wanted liberty but the ruling elite used war to defeat them. Does this sound familiar? If they had have lost power, the world may look very different today and it is possible Britain might not even have a monarchy.
At the height of Napoleons French Empire he had successfully conquered most of Europe. Without the Napoleonic wars the Napoleonic code would not have come about. Without the French Revolution there would be no current democracy.
Despite being 200+ years ago, the ideas are still standing strong. Today we see the unbalance between the ruling elite, the monarchy and the rest of us – the poor. No matter what, we will not see a power struggle like this again unless it is a world war and given the technology and weapons today would be catastrophic. They are afraid to become normal people and have to remain in control in their reptilian like ordered organisations. Think about what they have and haven’t done. Then look at what Napoleon did.
The beginning of a huge European and even worldwide Empire, the Napoleonic wars were interesting, and are hugely moving when you take the time to learn about them. This series will continue to explore this period. Next, we will look at the inital war after Napoleon took power. We will even look at some of the huge navel battles, involving hundreds of ships, hundreds of feet wide and high. Until then thank you for reading.