Napoleon Makes an Impact

          Napoleon Bonaparte was a very influential figure to his own country of France, as well to all of Europe. With his dominant rule, he changed the continent socially, economically, and politically. He positively impacted social systems all around Europe, but did the most to improve the social system in his home country of France. Most importantly, Napoleon made it so all men were treated as equally as possible. This meant getting rid of nobility’s power, as well as exiling serfdom all together. Abolishing serfdom and taking power away from the nobility ensured that the common people of France a better life. Most people who occupied France at the time supported Napoleon’s actions, but one group that didn’t was the high-class nobles who were losing power. Madame De Staël, daughter to King Louis XVI’s former financial advisor, opposed this change and Napoleon’s overall rule. She voices her opinion saying, “his system was to encroach daily upon France’s liberty and Europe’s independence”. Staël only opposes Napoleon’s new social ladder because it pushes her down. He impacts all of Europe’s social systems by setting an example with France, showing other countries how the common man can rule. Along with removing nobility from power, Napoleon gave the common French citizen more rights, including the rights to property and education. Throughout his rule, Napoleon overall had a positive impact on the social systems of Europe by giving the power to the majority.

          Along with the social systems of Europe, Napoleon also greatly improved the economic systems. To bring Europe’s economy back up, he expanded trade throughout many countries. One way he did this was through building many new canals and roads. This allowed a faster flow of trade from country to country, creating much more revenue. Napoleon also encouraged new industry, which stimulated more interest in trading for new items. Another way he was able to make the economic systems better was through his territories outside of Europe. He could get materials to trade from his land in America, which he could then use for trade or to create new products. Along with trade, Napoleon established the Bank of France, as well as balanced out their budget. Napoleon had a positive influence on Europe’s economic system because during his reign, he boosted trade, simulated industry, and helped create a stable economy.


This is a picture of Napoleon making the plan to create the Canal de Saint-Quentin. Him creating canals all throughout Europe is an example of how he created economic opportunities for trade.
(Napoleon Bonaparte indicating the plan for the cutting of the Canal de Saint-Quentin)


          Although he vastly improved the social and economic systems of Europe, Napoleon’s greatest impact happened through both political and military change. He had the most influence in this area mainly because in most cases, he had control and was ruling countries in Europe. During his reign, Napoleon conquered Austria, Italy, Holland, Egypt, Prussia, Spain and Portugal (just to name a few). When had control, he had the power to change how the countries were run. One major change he introduced to France and other countries was the new system of government of meritocracy. This was a way of ruling that chose leaders through their knowledge and ability to lead, not their social status and who their parents were. This goes along with social changes Napoleon enforced because it took the focus away from the nobility and onto the common man. In The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, P.C Headley describes Napoleon as “great — intellectually towering above the princes and monarchs of many generations…. He had no rival in the tactics of war…. His imagination was under the guidance of reason, whose intuitions were clear as morning light, and as rapid in their comprehensive action.” This quote shows how he had a dominant presence in politics and military happenings all throughout Europe. Napoleon made it so Europe’s social, economic, and political systems had all been changed for the better by the end of his reign.


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