Role of Nationalism in the Downfall of Napoleon
Nationalism is the devotion of people to the interests of its nation or the love of one’s country to stay independent. Nationalism played a major role in the downfall of Napoleon in that he wanted an empire and his opponents wanted independence.
As Napoleon was conquering lands and creating a vast empire his troops stressed in the far lands that they conquered life, liberty and equality. Even though Napoleon did not realize it triggered nationalistic feelings among the conquered nations.
Spain who was an ally of France, disobeyed Napoleon’s decree. Then in 1808 Napoleon overthrew the Spanish royal family and made his brother Joseph king of Spain. But everything that Napoleon did such as put in a foreign ruler, take away noble privileges offended Spanish pride and created nationalistic feelings. The people of Spain revolted in 1808. The French troops stopped the riots, but the nationalistic spirit was not lost. For the next five years there was warfare in Spain. British troops came to aid Spain. This led to the defeat of Joseph, death of thousands of French troops and it inspired patriots and nationalists of other lands to resist Napoleon. This war between 1808 and 1813 is called The Peninsular War.
In Germany, anti-French feelings broke out. But the French invasions carried German nationalism beyond the small ranks of writers. In 1807 writers attacked French occupation of Germany. This nationalistic feeling spread to the Prussians. In 1806 the Prussians were defeated by the French troops. To drive the French out of Prussia there would have to be a spirit of cooperation and loyalty. To accomplish this there would have to be social and political reforms. A reformer said that if social abuses were eliminated the Prussians could fight with national honor. Military reforms improved the Prussian army. In the War of Liberation(1813), the soldiers showed great feelings of patriotism...
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