29 Jul 2019
GS Paper 1
Napoleon was the child of the French Revolution. Comment. (250 words)
- Briefly mention about French Revolution.
- Mention the fundamental principles of revolution.
- Mention some of the pro-people steps taken by Napoleon.
- Conclude the answer by giving a criticism of Napoleon.
- The French Revolution was a watershed event in modern European history which attempted to bring enlightenment principles to governance, creating a society that was rational and egalitarian. This revolution led to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.
- Robert Asprey in his book, The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, perceives him as an heir to “ liberal vision” of the French Revolution, but he also recognises Napoleon as “a survivor of the Great Terror”.
- The role of Napoleon in French Revolution and aftermath is highly debatable in the European history.
- Napoleon can be regarded as the child of the French Revolution as during the initial period he promoted some of the ideas and aims of the revolution. French revolutionaries had the vision of making the people free by ending “absolute monarchy” which was supported by Napoleon and paved the way for his uprising.
- The earlier government (Monarchy) did not support the welfare of the people. As the new leader of France, Bonaparte introduced a new system of government aimed at making the society equal.
- During the early phase, he was able to preserve the basic principles of the French Revolution i.e. Equality , Fraternity and Liberty.
- He also introduced the famous Napoleonic Code, which included criminal code, military code & code of civil procedure and commercial code.
- Napoleon Bonaparte abolished “serfdom and feudalism” in the country in order to make the people free.
- Napoleon set up an elaborate system of schools, called lycées, which is still in use, and was a proponent for universal education.
Although Napoleon was a product of the French Revolution and maintained the image as a “son of the Revolution”, but idealism always fell to pragmatism as Napoleon’s main purpose was creating a strong unified France which gradually made him a despotic ruler.