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The nature and significance of the Napoleonic Wars

To explore the meaning of the Napoleonic Wars

By Zheng toPublished 2 years ago 8 min read

The Napoleonic Wars were part of the French Revolution and the continuation and development of the French Revolution in the European continent. The Napoleonic wars in the first half belonged to the siege against the feudal political forces in Europe, while the Napoleonic wars in the later period were the expansion of Napoleon's personal ambition.

At that time, capitalism was on the rise, and the feudal monarchies of agrarian Europe were still very powerful. Although Britain has carried on the modern evolution, because of its incomplete reform, it still continues the old tradition of feudal times in its foreign policy. So the traditional powers on the continent were extremely uncomfortable with the new French republic. Napoleon's appearance saved the French revolution. He led France to crush the encirclement and suppression of the Anti-French alliance and protected the fruits of the revolution. But because of his time, the emperor Napoleon became a very aggressive new nobility, was rejected by the feudal aristocracy of the whole Of Europe, the Napoleonic wars in the end inevitably lost.

The impact on Europe

The Napoleonic Wars had the most profound and visible impact on Europe. The whole continent was trampled under his feet, the Russians were forced to burn Moscow and the Pope was put under house arrest. The point of the front is unstoppable. Napoleon's foreign wars brought unprecedented havoc to the European people, and Napoleon became the overlord of Europe.

But the Napoleonic Wars were, after all, a product of the French Revolution. The bourgeois revolutionary ideas of equality, freedom and fraternity put forward by the French Revolution spread to the feudal countries conquered by Napoleon with the Napoleonic wars, giving the people in those feudal countries ideological weapons to oppose feudalism. Napoleon in his conquest of countries and regions, and foster local bourgeoisie advanced individuals establish republic, applies a system of the French revolution, revolutionary principles and napoleon's "civil code", so that the French revolution of freedom and equality ideas take root among the people of all countries in Europe, greatly impact the European feudal order and feudal system.

Napoleon defeated the Third Coalition and occupied the left bank of the Rhine and many small states. From there, he drove away feudal princes and bishops, abolished corvee, feudal tribute and tithes, abolished the feudal hierarchy of privileges, and proclaimed equality and freedom for all citizens. The later Rhine League, joined by 16 states, generally implemented bourgeois reforms, introduced the Napolean Civil Code, and abolished the Holy Roman Empire, which had lasted for more than 800 years. The Napoleonic Wars first accelerated the development of capitalism in the Rhine region, which laid a solid foundation for Rhine to become a world-renowned industrial base. Napoleon's defeat of Plutu also made Plutu subjected to the baptism and transformation of French bourgeois revolution. Facing the danger of subjugation, Prussia embarked on bourgeois reforms in order to revive the nation. The Napoleonic Wars merged Germany from more than 300 small states into more than 30 big states, creating conditions for the German national unification. Engels once wrote, "Napoleon did them a great service by clearing the cattle pens of Augias in Germany, and by building civilized highways."

The Republics of Liguria and The Alpine-South established by Napoleon in Italy had constitutions that largely accepted the principles of the French revolution. They abolished the privileges of the feudal aristocracy, confiscated ecclesiastical lands, instituted equal citizenship, proclaimed freedom of the press, and even adopted the tricolor as the national flag of the republics. Later, although the Republic of the Alps south changed into the Kingdom of Italy, but did not change the class essence of its bourgeois regime. The kingdom is still loved and supported by the advanced members of the Italian bourgeoisie. They "always cherished the Kingdom of Italy as the first stage towards national unity and independence".

In Poland, Napoleon established the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, where the Constitution also provided for the application of the French Civil Code. Napoleon made the Polish civil class legally equal to the nobility, abolished serfdom, subordinated the church to state power, and reformed the social administration. In this way, the idea of French revolution was also rooted in the polish people, which created the premise for the development of capitalism in Poland.

In Belgium napoleon first freed it from the yoke of Austria and absorbed it into France, exposing it to the full influence of the French Revolution. Napoleon's construction in Belgium laid the foundation for the shape of modern Belgium. After napoleon's occupation, Belgium completely removed the disadvantages of feudalism and cleared away the obstacles to the development of capitalism. Therefore, Belgium's acceptance of France had a more profound practical impact.

In the Netherlands, during the Napoleonic period, the Netherlands changed its name several times, from the Republic of Batavia, the Kingdom of the Netherlands to becoming part of the French Empire. But no matter how the name of the country changes, its influence on the ideas of the French Revolution remains constant. The Netherlands had successful fiscal and educational reforms and adopted the Napoleonic Code. After the fall of Napoleon, the Netherlands regained its independence, but many of the Napoleonic reforms continued.

Napoleon cleaned up the feudal system of Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium and other European countries by means of war, creating conditions for the development of capitalism in Europe.


In the following letter, written by a young Jacobin soldier to his mother in 1793: when our country calls us to her defense, we must rush to her, as I rush to a good dinner. Our lives and talents do not belong to us. Everything belongs to the country, to the motherland. I do know that you and some other residents of our village do not hold these views. Neither you nor they are aware of the call of a downtrodden country. But bred in freedom of conscience and thought, I have always been a Republican in my soul, though I have had to live under a prince; As far as I am concerned, the principles of love of country, liberty, and Republic are not only engraved on my mind, they are assimilated into my heart, and they will remain in my heart as long as god, the ruler of all creation, will allow me to keep these essential things.

This sense of national connectedness has spread from France to neighbouring countries. It spread to neighbouring countries through the natural spread of nationalist ideology, and also as a reaction to French aggression and domination. Napoleon's first defeat was largely due to the awakening of national consciousness in the occupied countries, which led to the final collapse of Napoleon's rule.

In Italy, as the old national boundaries disappeared and people began to see themselves as Italians rather than Tuscans or Piedmontese, an idea of national self-consciousness began to emerge. And interprets the words of an Italian patriot from the heart; He wrote in 1814: "I say this in pain, because no one more than I realized that we should express gratitude to napoleon, no one know better than I wet Italian soil and make it back to life the value of every drop of the generous French blood, but, I have to say that a true word: see the French leave is a kind of large, say a joy."

Nationalism began to manifest itself strongly immediately after 1815, when the resolution of the Congress of Vienna left millions of peoples either divided or subject to foreign domination. This was true of the Germans, Italians, Belgians, Norwegians, and many peoples of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. The corollary was a series of national revolts that broke out across Europe after 1815. The Greeks successfully revolted in 1821 and won their independence from the Turks. Similarly, the Belgians rebelled in 1830 and got rid of Dutch rule. After three ineffective uprisings in 1820, 1830 and 1848, the Italians established an independent, unified state between 1859 and 1871. Under Prussian leadership, the Germans defeated Austria in 1866, France in 1870-71, and then established their German empire.

The impact on other regions

The Napoleonic Wars contributed greatly to the modern political system, especially the republican system, and contributed greatly to the awakening of modern national consciousness.

The effects of the Napoleonic wars were not confined to continental Europe. Through commerce and war, civil codes, nationalism, and the republic spread beyond Europe. The widespread spread of nationalism is one of the driving forces for the final disintegration of the colonial rule of western industrial countries in vast Asia, Africa and Latin America. In terms of the China we are most familiar with, nationalism is still mentioned to this day. We do not feel that we are the survivors of the Qing Dynasty, the Republic of China or the people of the Republic, but Chinese people. In America, from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century, the Independence movement in Latin America, in the former Colonies of Spain, Portugal and France has emerged 17 independent countries. In Asia, from the early 20th century to the middle of the 20th century, countries such as Turkey, India and China shook off their colonial, semi-colonial and semi-feudal societies and entered the path of normal national development. In Africa, many colonies gained political independence after World War II.

Europe, the center of the modern world, has witnessed three major wars in modern times that have affected the world, although all of them have brought death and untold suffering. But the Napoleonic wars gave the world more than war. The revolutionary spirit he preached and the revolutionary fruits he contributed greatly promoted the freedom and liberation of all mankind. The human rights and freedoms of the Revolution and the legislative spirit and political structure of the Republic. Can't be obliterated.


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