Role of Nationalism In the Deafet of Napoleon (Help Please!)




 
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August 27th, 2004  
GuyontheRight
 

Topic: Role of Nationalism In the Deafet of Napoleon (Help Please!)


Hey guys, Im really having problems with an essey question I have to answer to complete this packet I have been required to do for an AP History Class Im taking. Most of the information has come easy to me, but Im really struggling with Issues regarding Napoleon, this being the first time Ive studied the man and the events surrounding his rule. That being said, Ive been given the following question to answer:

Quote:
"Nationalism is the element that ultimatley led to the downfall of Napoleon." Assess the validity of this statement using specific examples to support your argument.
I know already about the role of Spanish nationalism in response to Napoleon giving his brother rule there, but am basically lost when It comes to details on It's role In the big scheme of things. Should I include Nationalism In the "scourched-earth" like tactics the Russians used when he invaded?

Thanks for your help!
August 27th, 2004  
gladius
 
By enlarge Napoleon was the main promoter of Nationalism. He use it to rally the French people to his cause. This spread to the countries he occupied, which led to his downfall when they formed against him, for the cause of their own nationalism.
August 27th, 2004  
godofthunder9010
 
 
You look at Nationalism as the motivating factor in Russia's scorched earth (ie "if you want this grain for you army, you can go screw yourself"). Nationalism is the motivating factor for Great Britain's stubborn resistance when the odds were completely stacked against them. Sweden and Prussia are both motivated by their pride in their respective countries.

I'm a bit puzzled by the question since one of the great secrets of Napoleon's success was French and German nationalism. (He took the hundreds of kingdoms in current western Germany and combined many of the tiny pieces together. It is argued that this sped the process of the unification of Germany).

Another way to look at is this:
Napoleon: "I will unite all of Europe as one single great nation."
People of Europe: "No thanks, we're happier being separate countries because of our pride in being [British, Spanish, German, Swedish, Russian, etc]"

Yeah that's the best I can come up with, I think it's a lousy question.
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August 27th, 2004  
GuyontheRight
 
I agree, it's a hard question to formulate a collage level essey on. Thanks for the help anyway!
August 27th, 2004  
papatango
 
The issues of nationalism always come around when we discuss the attempt to create some kind of unified Europe. We must never forget that Napoleon, tried to do the same thing that many others tried in the past. Create on large European super-state, at the image of the Roman Empire. This was attempted by Charlemagne, Emperor of the Francs, Charles the V of the Austro-Hungarian-Hispanic union, and of course by the like of Hitler.

Because this unifying effort is always cantered in one nation, the idea ends up being blocked by the nationalism of other areas, usually peripheral nations or states, or boycotted by the nations which are left out of the block.

Napoleon might have considered unifying Europe under one flag, but there should be no doubt about his ideas. That unified Europe would end up being a French-speaking, French-Culture oriented Europe.

One of the problems of the attempts to create unified states is that when one nation tries to impose it’s methods or policies, the others will always resent that.

Spain is actually a complicated place to study nationalism, because up to 1715, only one hundred years before the Napoleonic wars, the country had internal borders and different monetary systems. There was a considerable separation between the Crown of Castile and the Crown of Aragon, the two main nations within Spain. Many claim, that the Napoleon’s invasions, was in fact the cement that allowed Spain to become more unified that it was, because both the Castilian and the Aragonese, were actually fighting against the same enemy. Therefore, while contributing to defeat Napoleon, with an almost endless war, both Spanish nations were actually creating a Spanish nationalism, which at the time was difficult to find.

On the other side of the Iberian Peninsula, was Portugal, which originated the whole problem. Spain and France were allies, and Napoleon was obsessed with Britain. As long as there were open harbours to the British products, it would be impossible to destroy the British power. As a result of that Napoleon convinced the Spanish to allow the French to cross Spain, in order for France to take over Portugal.

Napoleon, created a plan to divide Portugal, into three different kingdoms, on of them (the Algarve) to be given to the Spanish general “Godoy”. Divide and rule, was the French way.

Attacking Portugal resulted in flashing the Portuguese nationalism. Having an unprepared army, Portugal couldn’t resist the best army in Europe, the French. So, when the French were reaching Lisbon, they were faced with an ambassador from the Prince-regent of Portugal, with a message stating: “… His majesty, the Prince-regent, regrets not being able to receive the right honourable general of the emperor of the French, but urgent matters of state, forced him to leave to Brazil…”.

The Russians gave Moscow to Napoleon, the Portuguese gave him Lisbon, but the Portuguese capital changed to the city of Rio de Janeiro, which was the Portuguese capital city up to 1821. To avoid loosing their independence, the Portuguese even changed their capital to South America. Needless to say, Napoleon was extremely irritated, and warned the Portuguese government that he would never accept a colony in Europe.

After the Portuguese issue, the French were far away from home, and the terrible roads transformed the whole campaign into a disaster. British troops came to the rescue, and the French were defeated. The attempt to take Portugal, would be made four times, with the same success. Defeat of France.

At this time, the political situation in Spain was in turmoil. While the French were in Spain (as allies of Spain) there was a coup and a new king was elected, with the support of the people (Fernando the 7th the son of the king – Charles the 4th). The supporters of Napoleon keep their lives with the support of the French army. Napoleon sends a notice to the Spanish royal family for them to go to the city of Bayone, in the border between France and Spain, and orders Fernando the 7th to give back the throne to his father(Charles the 4th), and after that, his father (Charles the 4th), gives the crown of Spain to Napoleon, whom offers it to his brother.

The Spanish people, especially in Castile, which had rebelled and wanted Fernando 7th as king, don’t want to accept the new situation, and thus the war starts. The Spanish rebellion against the French, therefore has a lot to do with the in-satisfaction of the Spaniards against king Charles the 4th which was seen as a feeble king. A feeble king gave the crown to the French, and the resentment against the king adds to resentment against the French, for the humiliation.

The answer nevertheless was not unified. Spain was never a unified nation. The resistance starts throughout the country, with the creation of something called (Junta governativa). Each part of Spain, each of the nationalities actually started it’s own war against the French. When the “juntas” were declared, the movement expanded to South America, were Juntas were created as well. The Napoleon invasion is therefore in the origin of the creation of various nationalisms, and in the end , to the creation of South American borders as we known them today.

In the case of Spain, and this is just a curiosity, the various nationalisms, and the extreme divisions within the country, actually helped Napoleon. Yet, the fierce resistance, throughout Spain, and the guerrilla warfare, made the French presence unbearable.

From the war, there are various figures which appeared as icons of the popular resistance, as “Agustina de Aragón”, which represent the capacity of the people to fight back.

The “nationalisms” were vital for the defeat of Napoleon, yet, I believe that without the support from Britain, the disorganized and non-centralized structure of the Spanish resistance, would be (in the end) irrelevant. But of course, the British, unlike the French, were supported by the people, guaranteeing the communication between the armies, while they made it difficult for the French to do the same as much as they could.


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Regarding the “scorched earth policies” please bare in mind that the people will not burn their houses, because they expect to be back. The scorched earth is always a policy imposed by the generals in order to deny the enemy the access to resources. Nationalism of the people (national spirit of the population), may be suicidal, but does not destroy land or property.

Hope having been of any help, although probably you will have more questions than answers after reading this.

Regards
August 27th, 2004  
Damien435
 
 
Nationalism was a huge problem in Spain. They were technically independent but the leader of Spain was a puppet of Napolean. When Napolean decided to invade Portugal he marched his army right through Spain, well the spanish did not like that and Napolean got bogged down in a guerilla war. And yes, nationalism did cause the break up of the empire, which was at the height of it's power for only 3 years 1806-1809 I think, or was it 1809-1812, I am not sure exactly when the break up started. But yes, Russia was what inevitably caused the defeat of Napolean, regardless of what happened at Waterloo, if those 500,000 men would have been going against the English at Waterloo it would have been a land slide victory for Napolean.
August 27th, 2004  
godofthunder9010
 
 
Well, as with any history class, its a matter of regurgitating the biased opinions of the teacher. If they think Nationalism was Napoleon's greatest downfall ... he's an idiot IMO, but I guess you'd have to improvise an answer. Sure, Nationalism was a giant factor in things, but it helped Napoleon more than it hindered him.
August 28th, 2004  
GuyontheRight
 
It's a nationally graded exam, and It's being taught In High School, so the teacher is not as big as an issue...
August 28th, 2004  
godofthunder9010
 
 
Hit the question from both sides then. Tell how it help Napoleon and how it hurt him as well. Lots of details always helps.
August 28th, 2004  
Damien435
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by godofthunder9010
Well, as with any history class, its a matter of regurgitating the biased opinions of the teacher. If they think Nationalism was Napoleon's greatest downfall ... he's an idiot IMO, but I guess you'd have to improvise an answer. Sure, Nationalism was a giant factor in things, but it helped Napoleon more than it hindered him.
I know, nationalism hadn't taken hold yet, I don't think it had much to do with napolean losting, he had a diverse Army, Spanish, Frech, Prussian, Austrian, very diverse.