Intro

Napoleon was extremely worried about his empire after his death. Without a heir, the empire would collapse. He divorced his current childless wife and maried another, Marie Louise who gave birth to Napoleon II.

  • Napoleon’s Costly Mistakes

    Napoleon’s desire for power ended up destroying his empire. By trying to crush Britain, Napoleon made some disastrous mistakes.

    • The Continental System
      • In November 1806, Napoleon blocked of the British ports. This was the Continental System, intended to force Great Britain to become self-sufficient and destroying the economy.
      • This plan failed as the blockade did not hold. Smugglers sneaked through, allies refused, and even some family members disagreed.
      • The blockade weakened trade to Britain but did not destroy it. Also, Britain responded by blocking off France. The British navy was more successful, stopping neutral ships to check and tax. This policy also affected American ships, leading the US Congress to declare war. Though this was was 2 years long (War of 1812), it was not major in weakening Britain.
    • The Peninsular War
      • Another costly mistake was using Spain as a route for military troops. This angered the Spanish people, and Napoleon decided to get rid of the Spanish king. The new king outraged the Spanish people, who formed guerrilas, small bands of fighters. They ambushed French troops and fled. The British sent troops to help the Spanish. Napoleon lost nearly 300000 men in this Peninsular war.
      • The loyalty of the spanish people to their country was a great threat against Napoleon. Many countries under his rule felt like he was a foreign conqueror and rebelled.
    • Invasion of Russia
      • This was the worst mistake. Napoleon decided to invade Russia, sending more than 420000 soldiers from his Grand Army. The Russians retreated, burning and destroying any sources of food on the way. However, Napoleon reached Moscow. The Russians let him reach but he found the city burning up. The Russians rather destroy their city than surrender it. Finally, the French began to retreat. However, the harsh winter and lack of food killed many people. This retreat killed many soldiers, leaving only 10,000.
  • Napoleon’s Downfall

    Enemies quickly began attacking while Napoleon was weak. Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Sweden all joined against him.

    • Napoleon Suffers Defeat
      • Napoleon created a new army, but this army was not ready in time. They were quickly defeated.
      • Napoleon wanted to keep fighting but his generals refused. Napoleon was exiled to an island and was forgotten.
    • Louis XVI’s brother became the new king. However, he was unpopular and news of his troubles spread to Napoleon. He escaped and went back to France, where he was welcomed by thousands of volunteers for his army. Soon, he became emperor again.
    • The European nations soon attacked. Two days later, Napoleon’s troops gave up, chased away.
    • This was Napoleon’s last battle, called the Hundred Days. This time, he was shipped to an remote island in the Atlantic, where he lived alone for six years.
    • Napoleon was a brilliant leader but he lost millions of lives. He was a great military commander but his defeat led to many freed countries to develop their own government.
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