Napoleon-Why the hate?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Krakenov, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. Krakenov Well-Known Member

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    So I've been wondering, why do so many people hate Napoleon? Apart from being more successful than many of his peers, what did he do that inspired so much fear and hatred? I honestly know very little about him, but from what I've read, he did institute some fairly decent reforms for France, so it puzzles me. Explanation please?
     
  2. Thespitron 6000 Roman Cathode Deacon

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    People hate Napoleon because Napoleon stole quarante cakes. And that's terrible.

    :D
     
  3. NoMoreSanity Well-Known Member

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    Well there's the general hate some countries like Germany and Great Britain have for him, due to them being his main enemies and all. Due to the US's more Anglo-centric relations, it's my own theory that the British opinion of Napoleon leaked over to the US media, where it's been the main negative cultural depiction of him ever since. He's still very popular in France, and Poland, what with freeing the Poles for a while and all.

    I myself like the man a lot, though I do admit he had more then his share of flaws. But even then I admire his positive qualities more then I hate his negatives. There's a lack of really good 'Napoleon wins' timelines that don't portray his reign as some pseudo-fascist nightmare, save for Zach's excellent Pax Napoleonica, which is a real shame.
     
  4. Wolfpaw Banned

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    He squandered a generation of French--to say nothing of other European peoples--in a series of relentless, expensive, and self-aggrandizing conflicts.
     
  5. NoMoreSanity Well-Known Member

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    To be fair to Napoleon, he started maybe the war with Russia at best, and the rather badly planned Peninsular War. That's a very negative misconception that irks me greatly. The Coalitions declared war on France, and Napoleon was the defender for most of his reign, and even when he was defeated the people of France practically demanded his return.
     
  6. Inhato Banned

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    Not only popular but also recognised officially. This year a monument to Napoleon was raised in Warsaw, with Polish foreign minister attending and French ambassador. French hussar unit was also at the ceremony.

    http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/article.php/16590/news
     
  7. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

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    english propaganda
     
  8. Iori ダークアビスの特使。

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    Aside from what's been said he not only continued the trend of bucking the established system, but, for a brief time, United more of Europe under a single polity than any time since the Roman Empire.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
  9. Solroc Banned

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    I actually like Napoleon, despite being American. His military tactics were some of the best of his day, excluding the Peninsular War and his march to Moscow. He helped push through a comprehensive law code that genuinely looked out for his people and made sure those who did wrong were brought to justice.

    In the end, his ego became his downfall and that's probably why I dislike him. But he really was a revolutionary at heart; however, like all revolutionaries he couldn't stay away from the poisonous taste of power.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
  10. modelcitizen note2self, no ranting ninjas

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    Everywhere he went, he liberated Jews from the ghettos.

    I have no problem with Emperor Napoleon whatsoever.

    (I mean, sure, to impose war onto human beings is not considerate, it inflicts death and destruction and suffering. But, other than that, yeah.)
     
  11. seraphim74 Incurable Polonocentric

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    He had his flaws, but he was more than just a warlord. Personally I consider Napoleonic Code his greates achievement. Yes, I know he didn't write it personally, but he ordered it to be written, accepted and introduced it. The first really modern civil code which became a basis for legal systems in many countries.
    He was also a patron of sciences: he took scientists and artists with him to Egypt and practically introduced Europe to the wonders of that ancient culture.
     
  12. Tyr air in space

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    He perverted a republican democratic revolution in one country establishing himself as emperor then, when he had the chance to spread democracy to other countries, instead chose to just replace the old monarchs with his family. That is when he didn't just annex broad swathes of Europe to France of course.
     
  13. Wolfpaw Banned

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    Eh, something like it would have been pushed for sooner or later; the Republic needed a new legal code and de Cambacérès will most likely lead the process as he did IOTL.
    His general anti-industrial attitude didn't really help France a whole lot.
     
  14. Iori ダークアビスの特使。

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    That had sort of happened before he came along.
     
  15. Yorel Well-Known Member

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    People who hate Napoleon generally insist on the fact he seized power for himself and overthrowed the First French Republic to become Emperor. To them, it was a treason of French Republican Ideals and it proves Napoleon was nothing more than a Dictator. In the late years, to my personnal horror, he has been compared to modern days Dictator, particularly Hitler: that is something that I find unfair because, even if Napoleon has bad sides, he isn't as bad as the people comparing him to Hitler think.

    The people who made such assumptions tend to forget the mess the French Revolution was before Napoleon seized power... I'm personnally not a big fan of the First Republic who, to me, was only a Republic only in name. The Terror was a glorified dictatorship, as well as the bloodiest and shamest part of the Revolution: to me, it's Robespierre who should suffer a comparison with Hitler, not Napoleon. Robespierre has admirers to this day... Nevermind the fact that he basically sent to the Guillotine everyone thought to be an ennemy of the Revolution, including some old friends like Danton. As for the Directory, it's nothing more than an oligarchic corrupt regime that maintained itself via several coup d'états to me... A regime that would probably have fallen early had it not been for Napoleon! He saved their butts during the 13 Vendemiaire, and his Firts Italian Campaign effectively brought victory to France while it was supposed to be only a diversion. And who negotiated the advantageous peace terms? Napoleon, once again.

    Another card that is played against Napoleon is that he reinstuted Slavery. That wasn't his best idea and everyone agrees on it: Slavery is bad. But even Napoleon recognised he had made a mistake: in the Mémorial de Sainte Hélène, his biography, he even says it was his "greatest mistake". People never heard this part and some even assume that Napoleon is a racist bastard. Nevermind the fact that Napoleon also did things to integrate the Jews into French society... I recently discovered that the integration of Jews had its flaws, but the French Jews still have the pretty solid organization Napoleon gave them and are quite well integrated to this day. And if Napoleon had been a racist, why did he intergrate the Jews?

    Then there is the Napoleonic Wars. When People do not admire Napoleon's strategy, they criticize the cost of such wars. They also accused Napoleon of not knowing when to stop waging war and conquering... However, as NoMoreSanity said, Napoleon never made the first move in most of his wars. The Third, Fourth and Fifth coalitions declared war on him first, making him technically the defender. But because Napoleon crushed his opponents during those wars (Austerlitz during the Third Coaltion, Iena-Auerstedt during the Fourth and Wagram during the Fifth), he seems like the agressor. People also tend to see Britain as the hero of the Napoleonic Wars but the British were opponents of Napoleon from Day 1: it's British gold that financed all the Coalitions. The British didn't want a French-dominated Europe: that is understandable, but it means they were as much not wishing to stop the war as Napoleon was.

    Of course, I'm a big fan of Napoleon and the above summary is biased in favor of Napoleon. But there are others mistakes the Emperor did that are worth being hated: the Peninsula War started because Napoleon thought he needed a vassalized Spain... Crowning Joseph was an horrible mistake that neglected the opinion of the Spanish people. His disastrous Russian Campaign sent thousands of soldiers to their deaths and everyone know agrees he rushed his preparations. And there is also the conscription he used that forced every country under his domination to give soldiers to the Grande Armée... And people hate conscription, that is well known.

    But at the same time, Napoleon made very good things. His legislative works are impressive: not only did he made the Code Civil for Civil Rights & Laws, but several other legislative codes such as the Code Pénal in regards to crimes. People generally don't give a damn about that, even if these codes served as the basics of the modern-day French Fifth Republic (with a few necessary adjustments added by time of course). Napoleon also created institutions that are still used by France to this day. And, even if you're not a fan of war, Napoleon is pretty much a kick-ass strategist. To who people think when they are asked to name the best strategist of all times? Napoleon, hands down.

    The best way to sum up this would be a comparison of French Historian Max Gallo. To him, Napoleon is like Janus, the twin-headed Roman God. He has a bright side (military glory, legislative actions, savor of the Revolution) and a dark one (reinstuting slavery, unstopable conqueror, his ego).

    His popularity in France remains high but it tends to decrease. December 2, 2005 was the year of the 200th anniversay of Austerlitz: France didn't celebrated it. Shame, because there was a big talk about the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Iena... done by the Germans!

    As for Poland, it's only natural for the Poles to love him: even if it failed in the end, he resurrected their country for a short time. Poland had been partitionned between Prussia, Austria and Russia by the time Napoleon came around. He had no personnal reason to create the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, but the Poles love him for that. Why would they cite his name when singing their national anthem if they didn't?

     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011
  16. Plumber Hagamos los EEUU Ackbar Mauritania!

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    English propaganda, and the victors write history.
     
  17. Devolved Well-Known Member

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    Did the English write the all the French, German, Russian and Spanish history books for them?

    I didn't know that.
     
  18. Iori ダークアビスの特使。

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    He was saying two seperate things.
     
  19. Devolved Well-Known Member

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    I know:rolleyes:

    The idea that Napoleon is seen by some in a negative light just because the winners wrote many of the books is plain silly.

    Also no conquering dictator since Alexander the Great has had such hero worship as Napoleon.
     
  20. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

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    I thought the French were also capable of writing books.

    There's a lovely story about an attempt to draw up a standard European history textbook for all schools in the Common Market. It broke down over the Battle of Waterloo. British historians all wrote about how Wellington won Waterloo, Gerrman historians all wrote about how Blucher won it - and French historians all wrote about how Napoleon came second!!