Napoleon and Nationalism Term Paper by Master Researcher

Napoleon and Nationalism
Examines the way Napoleon used the youthful French nationalism to gain autocratic power in France.
# 39628 | 780 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Oct 11, 2003 in History (Leaders) , History (European - 19th century)

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This paper discusses the shrewd use of youthful French nationalism by Napoleon to gain autocratic power at home while successfully conquering Western Europe. The paper relates that Napoleon did not tend toward a dictatorship but toward the role of enlightened despot, a reconciliation of authority and of political and social reform. The paper further shows how as a dictator, Napoleon was able to balance his authoritarian style with the popular adulation of the people.

From the Paper:

"The environment of the time was divided in a fashion, with a perceived need for a strong central authority while at the same time there was a dedication to the principles of the Revolution and to the idea of the sovereignty of the people. Napoleon was a symbol of the nationalistic spirit of the people, and he used the plebiscite to give the appearance of acceding to the popular will while becoming the sole ruler, a method designed to avoid the appearance of creating a new monarchy while actually doing so. Votes were taken in 1802 and 1804 on associated matters, and these popular votes gave the appearance of democracy, upholding the principle that all authority derived from the people. This idea was then to be vindicated by the election of Napoleon to the post of supreme power in the state. In this way the idea developed that one man might come to represent the will of the people and be invested with all the authority of the most despotic ruler in the name of democracy."

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