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Napoleon Bonaparte: Savior of the revolution?

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Napoleon Bonaparte: Savior of the revolution?

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  • December 5, 2005
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Napoleon Bonaparte, a great leader, brilliant mind, efficient administrator, but savior of the revolution? Many historians argue that question. Before we can delve into that we must first examine what exactly were the ideas of the French revolution. The main ideas that constituted the revolution were equal treatment under the law, one degree or another of centralization of the government, elimination of feudal rights, religious tolerance and careers open to talent not birth. With these goals in mind we will now take a look at how napoleon "saved" these ideas from fading away into the back minds of the world and more importantly from having the Bourbons come back into power and return France back towards its ancient regime.

Napoleon Bonaparte stated that in order to save the revolution he must now end it. This meant that the ideas and goals of the revolution were now complete and need to be implemented before France goes back to the old regime. By taking the ideas of the revolution napoleon was in a way pioneering democracy.

This is very clearly evident in this quote by Napoleon, speaking to the council of state in 1802 he explains "I govern not as a general but because the nation believes that I have the civilian qualities necessary to govern. If I did not have this opinion, the government could not stand." (Holmberg)

The centralization of the government was quite a necessary task during the unstable time of Napoleon. With out the strong central government and leadership that Napoleon provided the ideas of the revolution could not have been implemented. Although Napoleon himself did not always adhere to his laws as he believed he was above them. He did this for the good of France to preserve his authority and ruling. But more importantly he was above the law so he can execute his plans with out problem.

During Napoleons conquests he brought his code Napoleon to foreign lands, thus expanding the idea of religious freedom, equal treatment, careers...