Prompt 1: According to this exert from our online textbook (above), “Napoleon’s own personality proved to be the greatest danger for the future of his empire.” The text also references his three disastrous mistakes. What are his three disastrous mistakes? Give a detailed description of each mistake and use it prove or disprove the text’s theory about Napoleon’s personality. Use your own words…no cutting/copying and pasting answers. Your response to this question should be approximately 4-5 paragraphs in length.
- Answer prompt 1 here
Napoleon's three biggest mistakes were setting up a blockade, the Peninsular War and invading Russia. Although a smart, handsome and determined general, he allowed his ego and pride to get the best of him.
In November of 1806, Napoleon blocked ports to prevent trade and communication with the European continent (including Great Britain). This policy is known as the Continental System so that it could make Europe more sufficient. This failed and set Napoleon's demise. With the help of the British, people like smugglers were able to bring in cargo into Europe. Also, Napoleon's allies disregarded the policy (such as his brother, Louis, who was the king of Holland)... And the most destructive of these events was when Britain enforced their OWN blockade. Since the British had a way better navy than the French, the French were totally powerless compared to the British, even when the British went to war with America (War of 1812) over their ships being taxed.
In an effort to force Portugal to accept the Continental System, Napoleon, in 1808, sent a huge army through Spain. The Spanish were outraged, so Napoleon threw out the Spanish king for a French king. The Spanish flamed into nationalism and religious pride. The Spanish were Catholic and worried that the new French government was going to attack the Catholic Church. For over 5 years, Spanish peasant fighters (with the aid of the British) used guerrilla tactics to fight and annoy the French army. About 300k French soldiers were lost in what this event is now coined as the Peninsular War. This war also influenced other conquered folks to fight back.
The last mistake Napoleon made was invading Russia. Even though the Tzar of Russia, Alexander I, was allied with Napoleon, he refused to stop selling grain to the British. This infuriated Napoleon and led him to start an invasion of Russia. In June of 1812, Napoleon and his army of over 420k invaded Russia. Alexander I, smart and tactical, implemented a scorched-earth policy, which is destroying all of the property of a certain city/place so that the enemies cannot benefit from it (this includes food). On September 7, 1812, Napoleon and Alexander I's army, respectively, finally met and attacked each other. The event that this happened in is known as the Battle of Borodino. After hours of fighting, the Russians dropped back while the French moved on. The French eventually arrived at the city of Moscow, which was completely in ruins. The French had nothing to benefit from in the Russian capital, as Alexander I destroyed the city as to not leave anything for the enemies. After a few weeks of waiting, the French retreated. This took a horrendous toll on the Grand Army, losing over 10,000 men in the process (mostly due to starvation and hypothermia).
Prompt 2: Using the map above along with your text, give your own detailed summary of Napoleon’s 1812 Russian Campaign. Write using complete sentences or give detailed chronological bullet points. You could even create a flow chart/timeline to give your summary.
- Answer prompt 2 here
- June 1812 - Invasion begins in Russia by Napoleon crossing the Neman River.
- Army splits up after Vilna. The other army goes through the city of Polotsk while the other army goes through the city of Glubokoye.
- Broken-off army meets in Vitebsk/Smolensk, where more than 18,000 have fled/died (including in the city).
- Sept. 7, 1812 - Battle of Borodino. 30k lost (on Napoleon's side). Waiting period starts after reaching Moscow a week later.
- October 18, 1812 - Napoleon leaves Moscow to go back to France.
- November 1812 - Napoleon's army reaches the city of Smolensk (in their retreat). 24,000 march on.
- Army in Polotsk (about 30,000) arrive in Borisov with the 20,000 survivors. Many drown after trying to cross the Berezina River.
- December 6, 1812 - 10,000 make it out of Russia after crossing the Neman River.
Napoleon’s enemies take advantage of his weakness-> After Napoleon’s defeat against the country of Russia, the great powers of Europe, including Sweden, England and Spain decided to declare war on France. This also included Austria, although Napoleon was married to an Austrian lady.
Leipzig-> Napoleon, after being declared war against several strong European nations, managed to come up with a totally new army (although new, but majority full of inexperienced fighters). On October 1813, Napoleon marched on to the German city of Liepzig. His army was easily crushed.
Elba-> Napoleon, on April 1814, was exiled to the island of Elba, a small island of the coast of Italy. Due to the news of Louis XVIII's unpopularity with the French people, he escaped Elba on March 1, 1815 and sailed away for a chance of power again in his motherland of France.
Louis XVIII-> Louis XVIII was a French king who, as soon as he took the role of leading France, fell into unpopularity. He was unpopular among his subjects and peasants. Within days, he was crushed by Napoleon, who came back to seize French power.
Napoleon’s Escape-> Napoleon, with the desires of becoming powerful in France again, escaped to France to organize an army to defeat Louis XVIII.
Waterloo--> Near the village of Waterloo, Napoleon attacked the Duke of Wellington (Britian) on June 18, 1815. The Prussian army soon arrived to help in the attack against the French. Two days after the battle had begun, the French were chased away by the British and the Prussians.
100 Days and St. Helena-> The 100 Days marked Napoleon's re-emergence to France. Battle of Waterloo is played during this period. Europe did not want to take any chances with Napoleon and exiled him to a lonely island in the Atlantic: St. Helena. He died there.