What was the impact of the Napoleonic Wars?


Quick Answer

The Napoleonic Wars changed the landscape of war, politics and national borders. They introduced the ideas of Total War, military camouflage, civil liberties, constitutional limits on monarchy, independence from colonizing nations and a unified Europe.

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What was the impact of the Napoleonic Wars?
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Full Answer

Warfare, which was previously treated as more of a sport between kings, increased dramatically in scope. Previously, armies of 30,000 were considered large, but by the end of these wars around 1815, armies of 500,000 had been fielded, and more than 3 million Frenchmen had been involved in the war. At Leipzig alone, nearly 150,000 men were killed or wounded.

Napoleon's vision was to free Europe from the tyranny and oppression of monarchs and place government in the hands of the people. Although Napoleon did not achieve his vision completely, his wars effectively ended feudalism and ushered in the modern state, which catered heavily to the middle class. The Napoleonic Code, a precursor to modern civil law, prohibited privileges as a birthright, secret laws, and ex post facto application of new laws. It also forced judges to interpret the law by prohibiting non-judgements where the law was considered insufficient.

The Louisiana Purchase, a large expansion of U.S. land, was made because Napoleon faced a defeat in Haiti that rendered this land much less useful to France. A revolution in Latin America also began as a result of Spain's weakened power.

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