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Napoleonic Europe (1799-1815)

Study Questions

Congress of Vienna and the Hundred Days (1815)

Review Test

Why was the French army so dominant in the Napoleonic ere?

(1) Napoleon was a brilliant leader. (2) France was the most populous nation in Europe at the time. Levying a relatively large army required a smaller proportion of the overall French population than levying a similar army in other countries.

Why did Napoleon sell the Louisiana Territory to the US in 1803.

Napoleon had big dreams for empire in America. However, after putting down Toussaint l'Ouverture insubordination in Haiti, Napoleon realized that conflict in the Americas could be a huge resource drain. Plus, he knew his lines of supply, trade, and communication with a New World colony would be threatened by Britain's dominant Navy.

How did Napoleon influence European institutions?

On one hand, many Enlightenment and French Revolution ideas, such as legal equality for all classes, were spread to his empire via the Napoleonic Code. Napoleon also caused reform in enemy nations: Prussia, for instance, realized that it needed to reform if it wanted to compete with France. In Prussia, reforms happened from the "top down" under Baron Stein and Hardenberg, rather than bottom up as in a revolution by the masses.

How did Napoleon influence the development of 19th century Germany?

In response to French rule, many Germans began to dream of a powerful nation of Germany, even though Germany had always been a fragmented cluster of tiny kingdoms in the past. This movement was called nationalism. German thinkers also rebelled against French ideas, creating the intellectual movement known as Romanticism. Certain Romantics, especially Herder and Fichte, tied their anti-Enlightenment ideas into German nationalism, proclaiming a unique German volksgeist that was at the core of the German people and nation-to- be.

How unified were the European powers against France?

Not very. The various anti-Napoleonic coalitions were constantly breaking up. During the Third Coalition, Prussia stayed neutral. Austria and Prussia were often more afraid of Russia than of Napoleon. Under Metternich, Austria moved towards better relations with France. Czar Alexander I, after opposing Napoleon, signed the Treaty of Tilsit and allied with him, only to turn against Napoleon again in 1810. In reality, only Britain was constant in its opposition to Napoleon.

How did Czar Alexander I manage to destroy Napoleon's Grand Army?

In 1812, instead of fighting, Alexander's army simply retreated and retreated further back into Russia. When they left an area, they destroyed it in a scorched-earth policy. When the Grand Army pursued Alexander's forces, it had nothing to eat (it lived off the land, being to large and far from home for supply trains). Eventually, occupying a ruined Moscow, the ragged and hungry Grand Army had to return west through a horrible winter. The majority of the 600,000-700,000 men in the Grand Army died on this march.

What was the effect of the Continental System?

Napoleon hoped to strangle Britain's economy by stopping British shipping to European ports. In actuality, however, Britain managed to increase its industrial growth even without European trade, while imposing a retaliatory blockade on Napoleon's Europe. Napoleon thus could not ship goods from port to port (important in the pre-railway days) and the European economy was dramatically harmed. People became discontent with Napoleon's rule. Also, in trying to bring the Continental System to Spain, Napoleon touched off the costly Peninsular War.

What motivated Czar Alexander I?

Czar Alexander I had several (often conflicting) motivations. (1) He was jealous of Napoleon's position. Alexander envisioned himself as an "enlightened despot" as well, and considered the "upstart" Napoleon to be stealing the show. (2) Alexander had a dream of European "collective security". In this (at the time) fairly original idea, Alexander hoped that the nations could all agree to make sure that none of them ever got too powerful. If that happened, war could be prevented. (3) Alexander had his opposition to Napoleon sweetened by 1.25 million British pounds for every 100,000 troops he raised. (4) Alexander wanted Poland, which Napoleon controlled under the name of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.

How was the Polish-Saxon Question answered?

During the Congress of Vienna, Russia and Prussia made a deal. Prussia would support Russia's bid for Poland if Russia would support Prussia's bid for Saxony. Metternich (Austria) and Castlereagh (Britain) didn't know what to do, but they feared Russia would become too powerful and wreck the balance of power in Europe. Talleyrand, from defeated France, allied with Metternich and Castlereagh in secret. When word of the British-Austrian-French alliance to oppose Russian acquisition of Poland, Alexander backed down, accepting a small share of Poland. With Alexander satisfied, Prussia lost its ally in negotiations, and only was able to obtain a small area of Saxony. Both Russia and Prussia shifted their influence westward into central Europe as a result; however, the shift was not as dangerous as it might have been without the three- way alliance. Talleyrand's participation in resolving this crisis shows the power France had in the Congress of Vienna despite being the defeated power.

Who won the Napoleonic Wars?

It's hard to say. France didn't lose very much; it just returned to the way it had been in 1792. The rest of the countries of Europe had been wracked by war, but they also emerged with new influences like the Napoleonic Code and the seeds of nationalism and modernity. However, if there was one winner, it was Britain. Britain emerged from the Napoleonic period as the unquestionable lord of the seas. It had an even greater industrial base than it had before the wars. And its colonial network was vast and vibrant under the shield of British naval dominance and thriving commerce.

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