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"Cruel despot or wise reformer? Napoleon’s two faces..." Topic

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692 hits since 6 Sep 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 11:52 a.m. PST

…go on view.

"A young, well-read and highly intelligent Frenchman comes to power, defeating an ultra-rightwing group. He has ambitions to reform France and place his country at the heart of a unified Europe. Britain, with its constant demands for free trade with the continent, is a constant irritant. French exiles who have taken refuge in London must be lured back, he declares. Sound familiar?

British historian Andrew Roberts says his description could fit French president Emmanuel Macron and his predecessor Napoleon Bonaparte equally well.

Nearly 200 years after the man his English enemies called Old Boney died on the remote, British-owned, South Atlantic island of St Helena, where he was exiled after the battle of Waterloo, Bonaparte continues to fascinate, especially in the UK.

Across the Channel, however, the Corsican-born Bonaparte divides opinion between those who view him as a military and political genius and others as a warmongering despot…"
Main page


Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 12:09 p.m. PST

military and political genius and others as a warmongering despot…"

Those two are not mutually exclusive.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 12:41 p.m. PST

I trust the exhibit has a little wax museum display of the Great Reformer's prisoners in Vincennes? Perhaps a small sampling of the art treasures hauled back to Paris from every private collection he could reach? Of the agents of reform rifling church poor boxes in Germany, and dividing the estates of the German nobility--among his own newly-created nobility? Of so simplifying justice in much of Germany that it could only be conducted in French? Perhaps his series of seven official maps of Marengo, each one making him look even more brilliant?

Oh. And when exactly did the Directory become "an ultra-rightwing group?" As opposed to the man who brought back hereditary monarchy?

I won't even trouble to list all the changes brought about by French revolutionaries which the article lists as Napoleon's reforms. Next to Napoleon's customary thievery, it's pocket change.

Praise the general to the skies: I'll join you. But we've had quite enough of that sort of political reformer.

USAFpilot06 Sep 2017 1:22 p.m. PST

Like many great leaders throughout history he was a combination of both.

basileus66 Inactive Member06 Sep 2017 1:46 p.m. PST

This thread has all what it is needed to start a Napoleonics Flame War (TM).

Nick Bowler06 Sep 2017 2:08 p.m. PST

An interesting perspective of Napoleon's last few years: link

21eRegt Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 7:06 p.m. PST

@basileus66, you are correct which is why I refrained from responding as I wanted. However, a serious, non-inflammatory question: does anyone know whether the riches looted during the years of triumph were ever returned to their "rightful" owners? Not sure how courts would try to handle it. No universal legal system to prosecute, etc. "Your soldiers stole my statue!" "So, your family stole it from the Egyptians/Aztecs/fill-in-the-blank."

nsolomon9907 Sep 2017 3:57 a.m. PST

Guys, c'mon, really, must we? We've done this type of thread to death before with disastrous results. Lets not go down this path yet again, it will end in tears, it always does.

Tango, NOT thanking you for this one!

Brechtel19807 Sep 2017 6:21 a.m. PST

It isn't Armand's fault that some people wish to pick a fight over an OP or topic.

Armand was merely posting an article that some of the members might be interested in.

So, while an argument might ensue, it's no reason to blame anyone who merely posts something of interest. And there is no requirement to answer the OP and it isn't necessary to post something that might cause virulent contention.

It is up to everyone else to keep it civil and as factual as possible. That's where the contention usually arises.

As usual, Armand, well done and an interesting find.

Brechtel19807 Sep 2017 7:46 a.m. PST

Here is an article that might be of interest along the same subject lines as the OP:


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 11:00 a.m. PST

Thanks Kevin!.

"Only the thief mistrusts about his condition …"

It is ridiculous and very rude to accuse me to seek a confrontation by a thread about Napoleon … that is left in the hands of every adult who reads it … if there are someone who is not in a position to contribute some good detail or comments on the subject … he should avoid it and never accuse others of bad faith … that speaks badly only of the accuser …


Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 11:57 a.m. PST

If people really like reading this kind of stuff: link

Brechtel19807 Sep 2017 12:01 p.m. PST

Excellent posting Armand and I completely agree with your assessment.

Brechtel19807 Sep 2017 12:10 p.m. PST

If people really like reading this kind of stuff…

Madame de Stael?

You've got to be kidding…

'I understand that Madame de Stael, in her novel, has disguised both herself and me as women.'-Talleyrand.

She was against the Vaudois revolution in 1798 because it endangered her family's income: 'Let them have anything they want save the suppression of feudal dues.'

Goethe believed that Madame de Stael had 'no conception of the meaning of duty.'

And, finally, another gem from Talleyrand: 'She is such a good friend that she would throw all her acquaintances into the water for the pleasure of fishing them out again.'

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 12:25 p.m. PST

Madame de Stael was couple of Montholon in England?….


Personal logo Whirlwind Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 12:35 p.m. PST

Yes Kevin, she opposed Napoleon and thought he was a tyrant. That was kind of the point.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 1:16 p.m. PST

This thread has all what it is needed to start a Napoleonics Flame War (TM).

We've become much more civilised on the years. It's not like we're talking about removing statues to Napoleon or his generals after all.

Napoleon remains a highly complex figure with both good and bad points. In that he is human. There are far worse figures in history who have been commemorated.

Brechtel19807 Sep 2017 1:37 p.m. PST

…she opposed Napoleon and thought he was a tyrant…

No, she opposed Napoleon because she made a play for him and he rebuffed her. She was also insulting to Josephine.

That was the point. Madame de Stael was an egocentric Swiss who proclaimed republicanism in public and cared little for it in private.

She had been exiled from Paris by the Directory for subversive activities. Napoleon allowed her to return during the Consulate, but later exiled her again from Paris because she attacked, in writing, the French Constitution. He did not exile her from France, however.

Lord Byron noted that while she was in England how 'she harangued, she lectured, she preached English politics to the first of our English Whig politicians, the day after her arrival in England; and…she preached politics no less to our Tory politicians the day after. The Sovereign himself, if I am not in error, was not exempt from this flow of eloquence.'

Madame de Stael's influence is way overrated for the period, and her ignorance is quite plain to see if not to understand. De Stael was for de Stael, no more no less and is not a good reference for the period.

Le Breton08 Sep 2017 8:20 a.m. PST

wise despot and cruel reformer ?
despotic reformer and cruel wiseman ?

The taking estates and giving to friends part is both over-stated and understated.
In almost every case, the siezed lands had be held under feudal titles either by members of the ruling house of the conquored state or the Catholic church. The were annexed to the " Domaine extraordinaire de l'empereur", an equally feudal claim of title in the name of the French imperial family. From the revenues of these lands, Napoléon made "dotations" as rewards for imperial service. The "donataires" got only the revenue stream, not any form of title and certainly not specific estates to live on.

However, the amount of this kind of thing was huge – over 4000 dotations were made on Westphalia, starting at typically 4,000 FRench francs per year, This took out the country the 20% of national revenues that had formerly been paid to the local rulers and the Church. The Grand Duchy of Warsaw was similar.

All the dotations were reversed after Napoléon fall. Most of the donataires got a much smaller (typically 1,000 French francs) annual pension from the French government starting n the early 1820's.

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