How Did Napoleon Affect Europe?


Quick Answer

Napoleon's influence on Europe included the spread of nationalism, shifts in world power, major redrawing of political boundaries and the diffusion of Napoleonic ideas of governance. The political climate of Europe following Napoleon's downfall was very different than it had been prior to his rise to power. The political forces and ideologies resulting from the Napoleonic era influenced European politics in the following two centuries, contributing to the World Wars.

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How Did Napoleon Affect Europe?
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Full Answer

For centuries prior to the French Revolution, France had been the dominant political power on the continent. After the Napoleonic Wars, the country was weakened and drained. It never returned to the status it once held; Britain assumed the role of chief superpower.

The Napoleonic Wars also deeply weakened the authority and military power of Spain, which at one time had also been the world's major superpower. This debilitation led to wars of revolutions throughout Spanish America and Spain's eventual loss of these colonies.

The Napoleonic regime spread the ideology of nationalism. In Italy and Germany, city-states and fiefdoms began consolidating into nation-states. The spirit of nationalism would in part motivate the great wars of the 20th Century. Moreover, the nationalist, totalitarian leaders of the 20th Century would implement many of the governing tactics used by Napoleon himself: censorship, propaganda and the military state.

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