I choose Napoleon Bonaparte as my historical figure because he is remembered as a strong influential leader of France that built a legacy for the people to prosper in. He was the first Emperor of France and accomplished many endeavors. He was able to advance France rapidly in 16 years. He emerged from his social background as a minor nobility, to lead an entire country despite the social classes. Upon graduating the French Military Academy, Bonaparte spent the first decade of his career rising through the ranks and outshining his fellow officers as he achieved his rank of General. Overall he was able to establish an overwhelming display of France’s power throughout the European nations with is his military force, the Grande Armee.
From the perspective of the French people, i believe that he was a strong and efficient leader. When he came into power, he effortlessly ended the revolutionary and unstable government. Napoleon was a forward thinker and was always looking towards the future. He spent the time imagining what his current actions would do to the future and how they would lead him to his goal. He was a very curious man who wanted to understand how things worked, like the enemy’s terrain, supplies, and tactics. Napoleon did not rush into war because he knew his victories lied in tactics, not brute force. According to history.com, Napoleon determined that France’s naval forces were not yet ready to go up against the superior British Royal Navy. Instead, he proposed an invasion of Egypt in an effort to wipe out British trade routes with India. Napoleon’s troops scored a victory against Egypt’s military rulers (History.com) I think that Napoleon’s leadership style was of a skills approach, although he did fit the aspect of the great man theory. He was commended for his military prowess, and experience to make better decisions in the face of destruction.
Many people in France at the time were struggling with the mix of education, religions and social classes. Napoleon held strong beliefs on people deserving what they worked for, and in order to carry out what he wanted, he needed to change the education system to reflect that. Napoleon set out to make France the greatest nation of Europe. To do this, he proposed many changes and projects, ranging from a complete re-do of the nation’s legal system. (Markham) He was also able to work with the Pope to address the issue of education and religion which allowed some religious schools to reopen. He was able to expand government necessities to his people and create a balance between the social classes.
I think that he was overall very successful and brilliant. His critical thinking skills were polished, and he utilized them efficiently in the necessary situations. He took the time to learn from history’s mistakes and efficiently applied them to his own strategies. He was able to analyze strategic movements to reach his end goal. He was a good motivator, although using negative words to encourage those under his command. In his wars, he lost an estimated 2,500,000 men dead and showed little sorrow at having done so. He was ruthless, self-centered, and arrogant, and yet had the ability to make his men love him even when he sent them to his deaths. (changingminds.com) Napoleon knew how human nature worked and used it to push people towards their common goal, although it resulted in deaths.
In his time, he accomplished very much, ranging from helping to improve his countries society to gaining influence in the European countries. I believe that many things have changed since his leadership since there are no longer any ongoing wars or the need to conquer other countries to spread power. Overall I think that he was France’s greatest ruler. If I could, I would love to be able to have as many skills as he did, and the dedication to achieve it. I would also like to adopt his ability to motivate others since I can help move others towards a goal but not the strength to keep going in the face of adversity. I believe that Napoleon was a great historical leader.
Channing, William Ellery, and Walter Scott. Analysis of the character of Napoleon Bonaparte: suggested by the publication of Scott’s Life of Napoleon. 4th ed., Boston: Printed; London: Reprinted for Edward Rainford, also sold by R. Hunter and John Miller, 1828.
Nineteenth Century Collections Online, https://tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/8Nmtp4. Accessed 17 Nov. 2018.
History.com Editors. Napoleon Bonaparte November 9, 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/france/napoleon
History.com Editors. Napoleonic Code approved in France February 9, 2010, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/napoleonic-code-approved-in-france
Markham, J. David. The Revolution, Napoleon, and Education International Napoleonic Society https://www.napoleon-series.org/research/society/c_education.html