What Impact Did Napoleon Have on Europe?

Napoleon ended the French Revolution, created the Napoleonic code of civil law and waged conquest throughout Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon’s ideals of freedom, social equality and abolishing European feudalism impacted many European nations.

Ended the French Revolution The French Revolution was a tumultuous time in France. Political upheaval was constant as the people of France suffered through a successive cycle of regimes taking power and then failing. Napoleon ended this when he took power. He gave the country a strong economy backed by silver and gold. He established religious freedom and low prices for basic foods to keep the citizens from starving. Not only did he improve life in France but he established legal precedents for civil law that are still recognized today. All of Napoleon’s accomplishments helped him maintain his power and stability.

Napoleonic Codes These legal precedents, referred to as the Napoleonic codes, divided civil law into three distinct categories: personal status, property and the acquisition of property. This system influenced many of the legal systems that would subsequently develop throughout the Atlantic Ocean.

The Codes involving personal status included the establishment of all male citizens as equal and disregarded the previous establishment of rule by class and nobility. Also, the Code enforced freedom and civil rights. Also, it put women below men, who were in charge of all matters surrounding family property and children. The Code also established property rights as well as the process for contracts.

Although Napoleon wrote the Code for France, many other countries adopted similar translations following its initial implementation. It is still actively in place in some Latin American countries. Napoleon recognized his contribution to the countries around the world as his most timeless and enduring.

Conquests and Ideologies Napoleon was also one of the greatest generals in military history. He conquered many European nations and spread ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity throughout Europe. The leaders of competing empires did not like this, as it challenged the feudalism and aristocratic status quo that protected the higher echelons of society. Despite Napoleon’s eventual defeat and exile, he had a supreme impact on the shaping of European politics.

Napoleon’s Exile In 1814, Napoleon was exiled to Elba, a Mediterranean Island. He was forced into exile when he miscalculated an invasion of Russia. Within the year, Napoleon escaped and regained his power as Napoleon I, but quickly lost the Battle of Waterloo and exiled a second time to Saint Helena as a British prisoner. During the second exile, Napoleon died of causes which are still undetermined, but some believe it was stomach cancer. While he was on Saint Helena, he was on an island with no chances of escape.

Napoleon’s Contributions to Elba Interestingly enough, Napoleon’s time in exile in Elba was not completely in isolation or without its merits. His mother and sister lived there in big mansions, and he had lovers. Napoleon even improved the infrastructure of the island, increased agriculture. He also improved the school and legal systems. The people of Elba still commemorate Napoleon to this day with a parade on the day of his death during his exile in Saint Helena.