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Napoleon Bonaparte

Study Questions

Waterloo and Saint Helena

Review Test

Why did France send Napoleon to lead the Egyptian campaign? Why was there an Egyptian campaign at all?

The Directory sent Napoleon on the Egyptian Campaign in 1798 mostly to get him away from Paris; he was becoming very popular after the Italian campaign, and his ambition was obvious. The point of the Egyptian campaign was to threaten Britain's trade route with India by gaining control of Egypt. The effort was actually fairly disastrous. Few were aware of this in the midst of the domestic tumult of 1799, however.

Why was the Directory upset by the conclusion of the Italian campaign?

The end of the campaign marked Napoleon's first clear acts of political autonomy and power over and against the Directory. He negotiated the Treaty of Campo Formio with the Austrians without the Directory's consent; he again took the political initiative when the Directory couldn't afford to pay the Campaign's troops, and Napoleon appropriated their pay from the territories they occupied. (This also increased Napoleon's popularity among the masses.) Napoleon's most flagrant defiance of the Directory, however, was in his refusal to respect the original purpose of the Italian Campaign itself: the French government's plan behind the campaign had been not to keep the Italian territories it won, but rather to hold them temporarily hostage, giving them back to Austria only in return for control of Belgium; Napoleon, however, countermanded the Directory yet again by demanding Belgium without giving back the Italian territory. Napoleon was getting out of the Directory's control, and the Directory knew that as well as anyone. However, they had no choice but to welcome him home as a hero, even as he disobeyed their orders and radically undermined their authority. The force of Napoleon's popularity was already apparent.

Why was Napoleon thrown in jail during 1794?

In 1794, the Directory overthrew Robespierre's government, which had instituted a Reign of Terror. Because Napoleon had been promoted by Robespierre after his key role in the siege of Toulon, many suspected him of being a Jacobin.

In what ways did Napoleon's formative years and education prepare him for his future role as French Emperor? Were there any early signs of his future greatness?

Napoleon's youth provided few hints at his future career. Napoleon did not graduate at the top of his class at the Ecole Militaire. He did, however, spend considerable time reading classics, history and geography while in Valence.

Describe the changes Napoleon made in France as First Consul and then Emperor.

Napoleon established lycees (high schools) and universities, started the Bank of France, and overhauled the legal system with the Napoleonic Code. He also signed a Concordat with Rome.

Why did Napoleon so quickly sell the valuable Louisiana Territory to the U.S.?

For one, his government needed the money. However, Napoleon was worried about getting involved in a conflict with the U.S. He knew such a conflict would divert needed resources away from his military efforts in Europe, and he also knew that a war with the U.S. would be an invitation for the British Navy, which dominated the seas, to harass his supply ships crossing the Atlantic. Although France appeared strong at the time, it was still recovering from the chaos of the Revolution years, and Napoleon knew this. Thus Napoleon's sale was far from a hasty moneymaking method; it was a carefully calculated instance of strategy.

Did the Continental System work?

Not really. It didn't bring England to its knees, and it caused unrest throughout much of Europe. Moreover, in trying to impose the system on Spain and Portugal, Napoleon touched off the costly Peninsular War.

How did the Russians manage to defeat Napoleon's Grand Army during the Russian campaign of 1812?

Instead of confronting the Grand Army, they repeatedly retreated deeper into Russia, destroying the land they left behind under a scorched-earth policy. This weakened Napoleon's army, which was used to living off of the land they occupied. The Grand Army was trapped deep in Russia when winter began, and it was the harsh Russian winter that truly defeated Napoleon's army.

How did Napoleon's actions encourage British social stability?

In Britain, opposition to Napoleon ("Old Boney") became almost a national religion. While the British lower classes were suffering during the Industrial Revolution and might have rebelled otherwise, the opposition to Napoleon's control of almost all of Western Europe greatly unified Britain and prevented such a rebellion from happening.

During the Hundred Days, from what part of French society did Napoleon draw most of his support?

Returning to France, Napoleon drew most of his support from the workers and peasants. They loved him not so much because he was an "Emperor", but because they believed he was a true son of the Revolution who would never undo the Revolution's reforms, something many feared Louis XVIII might soon do. Furthermore, Napoleon pledged himself to constitutional government in hopes of winning more support. The aristocracy and the middle class were unsure of how to feel about Napoleon's return. However, since he had the support of the lower classes, the aristocracy and middle class said little, waiting to see what would happen.

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Wrong date.

by kbbaby224, November 18, 2013

It wasn't in 1814 that he abdicated this throne. He abdicated his throne in 1815

response to abdication

by brianohhh, November 22, 2013

To the comment above.
Actually - Napoleon did sign an abdication on April 4, 1814, after the Allies ganged up on him and invaded France successfully. In 1815 he was sent to St.Helena after he had escaped from Elba and was defeated at Waterloo.

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Waterloo Error

by brianohhh, November 22, 2013

The article makes a massive and typical blunder in stating Napoleon fought 'the British army' at Waterloo. In fact Wellington's army was made up of various nationalities; British, Dutch, Belgian, various German states. Of the 68,000 strong army of Wellington, just over 24,000 were actually British.

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