The Importance of Napoleon to

Length: 7 Pages 1659 Words

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND THE NAPOLEONIC WARS TO MODERNITY The French Revolution and Napoleonic years are very important to European history because they mark a time of great change and transformation, a time when Europe was in the thrall’s of its rise to modernity. Two of the aspects of modernity brought to light during the French Revolution were the increasing importance of the middle class and the idea, though not necessarily the practice, of political liberty. However, some of strides made in France toward modern liberty were almost completely erased only a few years after the Revolution by Napoleon Bonaparte, who brought his own thoughts on modernity to Europe with the advent of nationalism and total warfare. One of the other ways in which the Revolution affected the rise of modernity was by asserting the importance of the middle class and masses. Before the revolution, France was made up of three estates: The First Estate was the Church, which made up 1-2% of the population, the Second Estate was the nobility which made up less than 2% of the population and the Third Estate was the commoners, which made up approximately 96% of the population. Whereas the First and Second estates enjoyed luxur Continue...

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Those in the Third Estate grew tired of the unjust laws and taxes they were forced to live by and decided to take a stand, eventually making their mark in French society. By confiscating the Church property, the government lost sight of what a "free society is. Napoleon repressed liberty and restored absolutism in France, erasing some of the liberal gains that the Revolution had fought so hard to implement Though Napoleon was not liberal, his more centralized bureaucracies and Secret Police Force he gave Europe a glimpse of greater efficiency of modernized institutions and laws. The love of France and the idea that the advancement of the nation was the most important thing nearly extinguished completely the liberal ideals of freedom and equality, setting precedence for modern nationalism. Napoleon implemented an army of officials who were subject to his will, in each French village creating a centralized state. Instead of following through on their proclamation of liberty, 28 days after the signing of the Declaration the Assembly confiscated all church property, proving they had no intentions of following the Declaration. A Brief History of France: 1750-1950. Though the Church was responsible for many abuses, seeking to build a free society by undermining property rights was not a good way to declare liberty and equality. This stunning changeover of power acted as a starting point for the modern notion of the middle class and masses having an important place in society. The French Revolution brought in conscription and modern nationalism. When Napoleon came into power, he erased the notions of free speech, freedom of the press and freedom to form political parties. Gilecki, Nickolas, "Analysis of the French Revolution. Like all great periods in history, the Revolution and Napoleonic years were full of rises and falls, successes and failures, but the end result was a society forever free of the medieval structures of Europe, heading towards 19th century liberalism, and nationalism, in other words, modernity.


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