napoleon bonaparte

Written by Adeena Noor 12:59 pm Opinion, Published Content

Napoleon Bonaparte: The Devil in Disguise

Revered for his military prowess and contributions to the French Revolution of 1789, Napoleon Bonaparte has been considered no less than a hero by some. The de facto leader of the French Republic as First Consul from 1799 to 1804, and then Emperor of the French, from 1804 until 1814 and again in 1815, Napoleon’s ambition was second only to his lack of empathy. Sharing the same view as his critics, Adeena Noor exposes Bonaparte’s cruel and unscrupulous ways.
About the Author(s)
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Ms Adeena Noor is currently studying IB at Headstart Kuri in Islamabad.

Becoming Emperor

Napoleon Bonaparte was a mastermind, creating an image for himself that projected him as the “angel of peace” when he was the exact opposite in reality. Don’t get me wrong; he did plenty of good, and some continue to see him as a saint. In spite of the good he did, the bad outweighed the good. Napoleon was a general in France’s army during the French Revolution of 1789.

On 2nd December 1804, Napoleon crowned himself as the first emperor of France. The people of France were incredibly desperate to have someone in charge that they turned a blind eye to his faults. Don’t let his image sway you, for he committed the cruelest of crimes.

The French had a bloody revolution to end the monarchy, and that’s exactly what Napoleon Bonaparte brought back when he crowned himself emperor. He rewarded his supporters and showered his family with wealth, positions, and privileges. Not only did he end the freedom of the press but he also reduced the very few rights women had.

He shut down nearly every newspaper and press in France while he ruled; the only ones still allowed were under his control. Napoleon made a promise to the people of France, to be better than the monarchy before him, but in the end, he just fell into power.

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Napoleon even restored slavery in France in 1802, stripping an estimated 300,000 people of human rights and dignity for the next 46 years. It is regarded as a colonial strategy that intended to both sustain and expand the French Empire.

A Callous General

Napoleon was worshipped by his troops, but he didn’t return their devotion. During the Egyptian campaign of 1798-1801, Bonaparte’s failed battle against the city of Acre (Now Akko in modern Israel) left his troops poorly supplied and weakened by diseases. He later ordered his plague-ridden soldiers to hasten up and retreat to Egypt, which resulted in most of them dying.

He then abandoned the remainder of his army (about 30,000 men) in Egypt to fend for themselves while he secretly escaped to France. It should be noted that the people of France gave him a hero’s welcome instead of exiling him. Later, in 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte ignored the advice of those closest to him and invaded Russia. He went in with 600,000 men and only came back with roughly 93,000.

Bonaparte lost over 500,000 soldiers, men who believed in him. He got sons, husbands, and brothers killed, all for the sake of more power. In other words, he made the rookie mistake of taking on more than he could have handled. Most men didn’t even die a warrior’s death but met their end by starvation, sickness, and harsh weather.

During the Egyptian campaign of 1799, Bonaparte laid siege to the city of Jaffa. Once the city had been captured, he allowed his troops to spend at least 2 days raping and slaughtering its inhabitants, including elderly women and children. War is violent and bloody, but even war has ethics. Bonaparte, however, let his men rape and slaughter innocent civilians and children, throwing those ethics aside without sparing a second thought.

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The Bloody Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon didn’t cause every battle, but he was responsible for more than enough. The Napoleonic wars that ran from 1803-1815 are among the bloodiest wars in history, their casualties varying from 3.5 million to 7 million. That’s not how a hero is remembered but rather how a villain is. Napoleon left France in a weaker position than it was before he became emperor. France soon ran out of money due to the wars raging all over Europe.

All the money went to Napoleon and the military, which wasn’t any better than the old monarchy’s ways of using the money on fancy parties and clothing. Some people would disagree here and say that it was money that helped France win the wars, but there wouldn’t be any wars if it wasn’t for Napoleon Bonaparte.

On 23rd June 1940, Adolf Hitler visited Napoleon’s grave, and upon leaving he said “That was the greatest and finest moment of my life.” Reporters and civilians started making connections that Napoleon was supposedly Hitler’s inspiration.


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