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Napoleon, dictator or hero?

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Poll Question: Is Napoleon a dictator or a hero?
Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
4 [21.05%]
4 [21.05%]
10 [52.63%]
1 [5.26%]
0 [0.00%]
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    Posted: 04 Oct 2012 at 03:49
Hmm...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Oct 2012 at 06:31
I say both of them because he ended the French Revolution (I mean the bad one). But, his methods of becoming  leader, and his mentality make him a Dictator
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Oct 2012 at 06:39
Undoubtedly a dictator (calling yourself 'Emperor' doesn't stop you being a dictator), and equally a hero at least to the French. He wouldn't have the tomb he has otherwise.

So both of them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Oct 2012 at 07:26
Why the fascination with M Bonaparte?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Oct 2012 at 07:50
Dictator to all, hero to French and tyrant to Spanish. His cruel policies in Spain resulted with thousands of Spanish insurgents openly executed in open streets. Which even more consolidated hatred of Spanish.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Oct 2012 at 20:09
Clearly both.
He ruled with an iron fist and shaped Europe after his desires. However, since many of those desires were modernising and secularising he is also a hero. He was hated and defeated for being a dictator, but most of his reforms continued because he was also a hero.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2012 at 14:09
I fail to understand the difference between a 'hero' vis-a-vis a dictator. Indeed, I fail to see how either category checks, blocks, or even supports the other. Was not the Duke of Alba (Alva) both a hero (to the Spanish) and a dictator (to the Netherlanders)? Did he not execute some 18,000 people in the space of a few years?

Napoleon wasn't just one or the other. And saying he was both still ignores key parts of his personality. He was one of the architects of modern Europe. He created some countries (Belgium) and guaranteed others (Poland). He was the motor pushing the adoption of France's Civil code, which begat most modern European legal codes, He popularized the idea that Armies should be based upon the mass available via conscription, and the study of his battles and campaigns became the basis for modern military science. He even founded Egyptology. In history, he has to rank up there with Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan.


Edited by lirelou - 05 Oct 2012 at 14:09
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mamal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2012 at 14:24
He was a  hero to French, and a dictator to other subjects. He was a brilliant general.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote rider Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2012 at 20:30

To be fair, I would not classify Napoleon (and what impolite way to refer to a General only by his forename!!) as a hero. A classical hero at least. For his actions, he might be rather called a legend for the French, but a hero, no, not as I see a hero.

A dictator? By which definition again -- I would say he had the approval if not the legality of being a dictator if we mean it in the old Roman sense (and that truly is the sense in which I like to take the word, for the other meaning -- of a tyrant, is that specific one, or even the use of the term "autocrat"). And even here, a tyrant would not discriminate between his own and others (unless his own was a small group which kept him in power) and his repressions would more forcibly enforced throughout the domain... So, no, again. [Perhaps we can see a tendency towards tyranny as we progress through his years.]

What he was was a good general and a leader who inspired enthusiasm, and who had the temerity to order things done -- but that part makes him no different from thousands of other people who have ever lived. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2012 at 21:27
The French like to think that the revolution shaped their society and history.
 
In my opinion this is wrong, it was Napoleon. In that sense no person in history changed a country like him and his effect extending so long after he fell from grace.
 
 
As for the question, a dictator absolutely yes. A hero depends on who you ask.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Oct 2012 at 21:35
I don't understand the bit about 'creating Belgium'. Belgium (Belgica Regia) along with the rest of the Netherlands was annexed to the French Republic, later the Empire of the French, until the Kingdom of the Netherlands was established after Napoleon's defeat: Belgium then split off in 1830 (and Luxembourg split off from Belgium in 1839). 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Oct 2012 at 04:52
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity Paradigm of Humanity wrote:

Dictator to all, hero to French and tyrant to Spanish. His cruel policies in Spain resulted with thousands of Spanish insurgents openly executed in open streets. Which even more consolidated hatred of Spanish.
 
i agree. That short little man thought he was all that in a bag-o-chips. I don't think he was much of a hero to ALL of France, they still finally got mad at him and threw him out several times to some of the smallest islands I've ever seen.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Oct 2012 at 11:22
A dictator and psychopath. He is the model on which were made most dictators of the 20th century, from Franco to Mussolini and from Hitler to Stalin. I remember that the dumb and cruel dictator of my own country, Pinochet, used to have a figure of Napoleon, as many of those dictators. Remember that Hitler went to Paris to see the tomb of his idol. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Esopo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2013 at 19:24
It really depends. For some people he was a hero, for others a tyrant.
For most of the french, he was the greatest french hero, for the spaniards and the british he was the Devil (for the british because he represented both social revolution and european strongmen like Charles V and Louis XIV). For italians, even if he invaded us many times, he was and still is a positive figure, for he destroyed a stagnat system which oppressed the peninsula modernizing it and starting the Risorgimento. How do americans consider him though? he was an ally more than an enemy for them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2013 at 07:45
Hero or not, he was a budding dictator. Otherwise known as the Emperor.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Drakoblare Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Mar 2013 at 22:37
I really would not call him a dictator. Aint there supposed to be a democracy first? We all know that the picking of rulers during that time was a joke in France.

He was a hero in my book.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Mar 2013 at 06:19
#3: A dictator and a hero at the same time!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laurentius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2014 at 23:46
At the end of the 18th century, very few countries had ever tasted true democracy. A lot of blood had been shed in France over a decade and Napoleon offered the stability that the Directoire couldn't provide. The transition from absolute monarchy to democracy was a long one and the Empire (and thus Napoleon I's dictatorship) was perhaps a necessary step. It certainly restored the nation's pride in itself. 

At the same time, Europe needed shaking up. Life was good for the social elite but not so good for the masses. After Napoleon's final fall in 1815, the Bourbons hoped to return to a pre-1789 France but there could never be any turning back, not for France nor for the rest of Europe. One thing for sure is that he was a better military commander than all of the French kings put together. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2014 at 07:40
Napoleon gave the base for civil low in many European countries. As a lawmaking, he was certainly a Hero
But his untamed ambitions lead to unparallel bloodshed all over Europe.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2014 at 07:43
Originally posted by Laurentius Laurentius wrote:

At the end of the 18th century, very few countries had ever tasted true democracy. A lot of blood had been shed in France over a decade and Napoleon offered the stability that the Directoire couldn't provide. The transition from absolute monarchy to democracy was a long one and the Empire (and thus Napoleon I's dictatorship) was perhaps a necessary step. It certainly restored the nation's pride in itself. 

At the same time, Europe needed shaking up. Life was good for the social elite but not so good for the masses. After Napoleon's final fall in 1815, the Bourbons hoped to return to a pre-1789 France but there could never be any turning back, not for France nor for the rest of Europe. One thing for sure is that he was a better military commander than all of the French kings put together. 


With fall of Napoleon and Congress of Vienna, the absolutism of Russia, Austro-Hungary and Prussia was cemented for decades.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laurentius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2014 at 09:04
I don't disagree with you but I have to admit that I am of two minds. He did great things for France but it's true that a lot of people died at his hands outside of France (captured Turkish soldiers in Egypt being executed rather than held in custody, for example). Napoleon knew that he would win the (French) people over through his military victories. Prussia's defeat at Jena was the start of that state's determination to become a major power, so one can say that Napoleon III's defeat at the hands of the Prussians in 1870 was a result of his uncle's victory in 1806. France's crushing of Germany in 1919 was revenge for 1870 and Hitler's humiliation of France during the occupation was payback for the Treaty of Versailles, but a military commander can't ever imagine just how much one victory can create enough hatred to cause 150 years' worth of hostility.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2014 at 15:34
The fight for hegemony in Europe will continue even if Napoleon will not come to existence at all. This is a nature of human beings. There was a hard fighting between France and Holly Roman Empire (not Holly and not Roman- as somebody said I think it was Voltaire)before Napoleon and it will continue anyway as those two big nations were on collision course in their image of Europe.
Defeat of Napoleon cemented status quo in Europe creating stagnation in social development.
This stagnation was only shattered by Crimean War and rapid industrialisation of continental Europe which created another tension between the great player.
So, in my opinion, Napoleon or not, wars between France and Germany (or Prussia alone) were inevitable.

Edited by Goral - 08 Jan 2014 at 15:35
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laurentius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2014 at 19:41
I'm not sure I agree. Louis XVIII wanted his throne and was happy to behave and not make any trouble with the rest of Europe. Napoleon was instrumental in many victories for the revolutionary army and without him France would most likely have been defeated and handed back to the Bourbons. He certainly did speed up the process towards change across Europe. It would have happened eventually but when? As for the Crimean War, France's involvement was part of Napoleon III's plan to give back to France its status as a major player on the European scene and to overturn 1815's Treaty of Vienna. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Penderyn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2014 at 03:11
A hopeless vulgarian on the lines of Hitler but worse, who had huge political and military gifts.   Unqualified disaster!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2014 at 14:34
Originally posted by Laurentius Laurentius wrote:

I'm not sure I agree. Louis XVIII wanted his throne and was happy to behave and not make any trouble with the rest of Europe. Napoleon was instrumental in many victories for the revolutionary army and without him France would most likely have been defeated and handed back to the Bourbons. He certainly did speed up the process towards change across Europe. It would have happened eventually but when? As for the Crimean War, France's involvement was part of Napoleon III's plan to give back to France its status as a major player on the European scene and to overturn 1815's Treaty of Vienna. 


Well... I agree to disagree...
The Franco-German animosity is well entrenched in history of both countries.
There ware numerous wars from the very beginning of existence of these two states.
This will be no general change in attitude towards each others regardless if Napoleon exist or not, however I must say that his existence (and achievements as well as failures) did galvanise some historical processes.
Just look at the number of wars between those two countries...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_France

Only recently, thanks to Franco German reconciliation we can have Europe as it is today.

Edited by Goral - 09 Jan 2014 at 14:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2014 at 15:32
Quality posts Laurentius & Goral. Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laurentius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2014 at 01:26
I just found an interesting quote in "Napoléon ou la destinée" by Jean-Marie Rouart (Gallimard 2012):

Visiting the burial site of the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau in 1801, he said, "Perhaps many people would be better off if he and I never existed." 

This is a rough translation of the phrase but it was a display of Napoleon's recognition of the impact his actions had on the people of Europe. Rousseau was one of the philosophers of the Century of Enlightenment whose ideas convinced many people in France that change was possible, although he died eleven years before the outbreak of the Revolution.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote beorna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2014 at 04:55
Originally posted by Goral Goral wrote:


Well... I agree to disagree...
The Franco-German animosity is well entrenched in history of both countries.
There ware numerous wars from the very beginning of existence of these two states.
This will be no general change in attitude towards each others regardless if Napoleon exist or not, however I must say that his existence (and achievements as well as failures) did galvanise some historical processes.
Just look at the number of wars between those two countries...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_France

Only recently, thanks to Franco German reconciliation we can have Europe as it is today.


Pardon, no offense, but a Franco-German animosity is nonsense. These French-German enmity was invented by the nationalist Ernst Moritz Arndt in the early 19th century after the Liberation Wars. And nationalists used it in the following decadesIn all those wars Germans fought on the French side, too and not only against France. Even during the napoleonic wars germans in several regions welcomed the French and their revolutionary ideas.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2014 at 19:08
Originally posted by Laurentius Laurentius wrote:

I just found an interesting quote in "Napoléon ou la destinée" by Jean-Marie Rouart (Gallimard 2012):

Visiting the burial site of the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau in 1801, he said, "Perhaps many people would be better off if he and I never existed." 

This is a rough translation of the phrase but it was a display of Napoleon's recognition of the impact his actions had on the people of Europe. Rousseau was one of the philosophers of the Century of Enlightenment whose ideas convinced many people in France that change was possible, although he died eleven years before the outbreak of the Revolution.

He was a great man with a lot of failings. He certainly had same doubt about his actions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Laurentius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jan 2014 at 20:11
Sorry for not replying to your recent post, Goral; I didn't receive the notification and only just noticed it now.

Winston Churchill was very active in the strengthening of ties between France and Germany after WWII, conscious that without peace between these two countries, there would be no European Union.
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