1. The French Revolution;
There is a common agreement that Napoleon was a product of the French Revolution without which, he would have died a common man. Napoleon’s rise to power was greatly due to the progressive events of the French Revolution. He exploited the opportunities provided by the revolution to become Emperor of France, yet he was from a poor family. The French Revolution contributed in the following ways:
a) The Revolution abolished social discriminative class system and offered equality for opportunities for talented men like Napoleon. i.e., it brought the principle of career opened to talents where Napoleon was promoted.
b) The revolution cleared off all the senior military Generals of Noble class by 1792 especially during reign of Terror. this created chance for a young Artillery officer Napoleon to come to power.
c) The Revolution provided chance for Napoleon to expose his abilities and military talents. i.e., in the Italian campaign and Egyptian campaign, though he failed in
, he was considered a Hero and it increased his popularity. Egypt
d) The Revolution Government of Directory that was too weak provided a power vacuum that Napoleon used to come to power. i.e., they had failed to fulfill people’s demand.
e) The revolution created the internal and external rivalries through which Napoleon got a chance to participate. He was appointed to guard the Directory government officials in the assembly against
f) Napoleon exported the Revolutionary Ideas of Equality,
and Fraternity and by doing that, he fulfilled the aspiration of the revolutionaries Liberty
2. Napoleon’s Personality:
Right from childhood, Napoleon had a sense of responsibility, endurance the fact that he was from a poor family. Before coming out of military academy, he had began making plans to liberate
Corsica. He was aman of high organizing ability. i.e., he organized the French army using his good language and he was an orator. Napoleon believed that he had hidden power. He had ability to create friendship with people of influence. this made him popular hence, his rise to power.
3. His Education Background:
Napoleon’s rise to power can also be attributed to his education. He was educated at the military Academy in Brienne and later in
Paris in yet by that time, most people were still illiterate. This helped him in that: France
a) He read the writings of political philosophers in history and this widen his reasoning capacity and leadership skills.
b) It was from school that he developed his oratory power and ability to convince people.
c) He also got military skills from Academy and that is why he became the best young Artillery officer of the time.
d) He was mostly good in mathematics and political power. This made him popular at school.
4. Napoleon’s luck:
There were a number of events and opportunities which Napoleon did not plan but favoured his rise to power. This can be seen below:
a) It was by luck that the
Corsica Island was annexed to a year before his birth making Napoleon a Frenchman by birth hence, his rise to power. France
b) Napoleon was lucky that his father fluked a scholarship for him to study in the military academy in Brienne and later in
. Yet this was only for noble children. Paris
c) It was by luck that Napoleon survived childhood.
d) His luck made him to survive the Reign of Terror in
that swept away all the senior army Generals. France
e) His luck made him to escape from
from where he would have been killed. Egypt
f) It was by luck that the French Revolution took place and swept away all senior military officers leaving a young Artillery officer Napoleon with chance to rise to power.
g) He was lucky that the Directory government was weak and people had lost trust in them and Napoleon was the immediate option.
h) Being an in law of Barras was a great luck to Napoleon to rise to power through a successful coup.
5. The weakness of the Directory government:
The Directory government was the last government within the revolutionary period. Its weaknesses and unpopular ties paved way for Napoleon’s rise to power. It was weak in the following ways:
a) They had failed to control religious conflicts in
b) They failed to maintain law and order internally.
c) The Directors were divided by ideological differences, e.g., Abbey Sieyes opposed the war against the second coalition and wanted peace. This confusion provided chance for Napoleon to come to power ie, he was helped by Abbey sieyes to organize a coup that brought him to power in 1799.
d) The Directory government had failed to solve the problem of corruption that made them unpopular to the French men.
e) Directory government had failed to provide a strong personality to lead
at home. Napoleon seemed to offer a solution. France
6. His association with men of influence:
Napoleon’s rise to power was due to his close personal relationship with leaders of the French Revolution his involvement in the French revolution, brought him closer to the revolutionary leaders and politicians like Robespierre and directors such as Barras, Abbey Sieyes and Duccus. This led to his rise to power in that:
a) This gave him chance to exploit their weaknesses and introduce him to political science that becomes cornerstone for his rise to power.
b) His close connection made him to attend most revolutionary rallies from where he got the skills of organizing and addressing political rallies. this helped him to dominate.
c) His association won him support from Abbey Sieyes that led to the successful coup
In 1799 hence, his rise to power.
7. His own Ambition:
Napoleon was born naturally ambitious man. Right from childhood, he used to wear uniforms of soldiers. He would reveal to fellow children that he would become a soldier and win all the battles. He also remarked, “My ambition is so natural like the blood that flows in my veins and cat’s claws which are designed to climb upwards not downwards.”He was also fond of listening to war stories of soldiers and his ambition led to his rise to power in the following ways;
a) Ambition made him to go for Italian campaign and Egyptian campaign. This helped to increase on his popularity in
France, hence, his rise to power in in 1799. France
b) Ambition made him to organize a coup against Directory government in 1799.
c) His ambition made him to associate with men of influence like Robespierre, Barras, Abbey Sieyes etc that led to his rise to power.
d) Event before he came out of military academy, he had planned to liberate his people of
8. Annexation of Corsica from
The annexation of
Corsica Island a year before his birth made him to be born a French man entitled to hold and office in . If it had not been so, he would not have been born a French man but Italian and would not claim any office in France . France
9. His family background:
Napoleon was born to a poor family who used to have one meal a day. While in his military Academy, Napoleon faced lonely life and concentrated on military training among the sons and daughters of the rich. One time he sold his only watch to survive while at the military academy. His poor family background led to his rise to power in the following ways.
a) Such hard conditions made him hard working, very ambitious and had to concentrate on studies. That is why he was the best in Mathematics and Political Science.
b) This experience made him to hate social class division in
and the need to promote equality. France
c) This condition made him very strong in the battle fields and a hard soldier who enjoyed fighting and could easily walk long distances without food or water.
d) By the fact that he was supposed to be Italian citizen, He later forged French citizenship which enabled him to acquire military training in the
. French Academy
10. Military Genenous:
Napoleon’s military Geneous was also another factor that brought him to power. During his training in the military Academy, he was the best young Artillery student and that is why he was called back after expulsion from the Academy. Even in wars that he fought, Napoleon proved that he was beyond other ordinary persons. This helped him in the following ways:
a) it was from his military Geneous that he protected the gains and the achievements of the French Revolution.
b) It was also his military Geneous that he protected Directory government officials from the popular “Whiff of grapeshot” the Philosophies that he used to re activate the morals of his soldiers reflects his geneous.
, the way he managed to escape from the British ambushes that had surrounded him shows his military geneous. Egypt
d) His military Geneous en able him to succeed in the Italian campaign and that gave him popularity.
11. Improvement in Science:
The role of Scientific and military advancement was crucial to his rise to power. The Scientific and new innovations brought in better maps, roads weapons and more mobile Artillery. It made it easier for Napoleon to organize a coup, made him to succeed in the whiff of grapeshot which earned him promotion and popularity hence, his rise to the throne in 1799.
12. His marriage to Josephine:
Napoleon’s marriage to Josephine also contributed to his rise to power. In 1796, Napoleon married Josephine who the daughter of one of the Directors in the Directory government called Barras. The marriage gave Napoleon greater privileges and powerful connection to leaders of the directory government. It should be noted that the influence of Napoleon’s father in law i.e., Barras that gave him the privileges to command the French troops in the Italian campaign. Marriage also made him respected man and mature person hence, increased popularity.
13. The role of his father
The role of Napoleon’s father Charles Bonaparte was also influential in his rise to power. His father inspired him to work hard and like his professional career as a soldier, fluked a scholarship for him to study in Brienne in
Italy and later in Paris in where he got the necessary military skills, oratory skills etc. France
14. The Brumaire Coup D’tat, on the 18th Nov, 1799.
The Brumaire coup was the immediate event that marked the rise of Napoleon to power. Napoleon conspired with other Directors.ie Barras and Abbey Sieyes helped him to organize a coup and over threw the Directory government. This created apolitical vacuum through which Napoleon rose to power.