Napoleon Bonaparte was the most famous man
of the 19th century. At the peak of his power, he personally controlled
more of the European continent than anyone since the great emperors of Rome. Today, most people see him as an ambitious
little man with an outsized ego. Others see him as a forerunner of the great
aggressor of the twentieth century, Adolph Hitler. This portrait is as flawed as it is unfair. Napoleon Bonaparte was born on the 15th of
August, 1769 on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. Ironically, the island, long connected to
the city-state of Genoa, Italy, only became part of France the year before he was born. But for this twist of fate, Napoleon would
never have been a French citizen, let alone its emperor. His parents sent him to the mainland at the
age of nine where he studied to be a soldier. His facility in mathematics, organization,
and map-reading marked him for future success. The French Revolution, with its overworked
guillotine, provided a unique opportunity for advancement—that is, for anyone who
could keep his head (literally). Napoleon did. He became a general by the age of twenty-four. At the age of twenty-six, he achieved a series
of stunning victories in Italy against an Austrian army that had come to destroy the
revolution and return the French royal family, the Bourbons, to the throne. These victories made him a national hero. As shrewd a politician as he was a general,
by the first month of the new century, at the tender age of 30, Napoleon was the undisputed
leader of France. He crowned himself emperor on December 2,
1804, turning the French Republic into the French Empire with a Bonaparte line of succession. Napoleon’s establishment of a French empire
only increased the fears of the royal houses of Europe and of France’s historical enemy,
Britain. As a result, in September 1805, Austria invaded
Bavaria, a French ally, and Russia joined the attack. Napoleon and his Grande Armée roundly defeated
them at the Battle of Austerlitz. The Prussians were the next to test Napoleon,
declaring war on him in 1806. The Austrians tried again in 1809. Napoleon didn’t start any of these wars,
but he won them all. When Russia broke an uneasy peace in 1812,
Napoleon decided to invade. But this proved his undoing. His catastrophic winter retreat from Moscow
cost him more than half a million casualties. The end came in June 1815 at the Battle of
Waterloo, where the combined European armies, led by the Duke of Wellington, decisively
defeated Napoleon’s forces. The battle could have gone either way. Wellington himself described it as “the
nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life.” In all, Napoleon won 46 of the 60 battles
he fought, drawing seven and losing seven. His record clearly marks him as one of the
greatest military commanders of all time. Yet, while Napoleon is best remembered for
his military exploits, it’s his political reforms—both inside and outside of France—that
had the most lasting effect. In France, he established the Code Napoleon,
a distillation of 42 competing and often contradictory legal codes into a single body of French law. He modernized the French educational system
and created the Sorbonne, which became one of the great universities of Europe. He promoted a building boom in Paris, a city
whose architecture continues to enchant us. The bridges he built across the Seine and
the sewer system he constructed beneath the city still function today. To Europe, Napoleon brought the best fruits
of the French Revolution: concepts of equality and meritocracy. He liberated the Jews from the ghettos to
which they had been confined for centuries, leading to an explosion of artistic, scientific
and economic innovation from this long-oppressed minority. It’s hard to assess Napoleon because he
was responsible for all these good things while also being responsible for much that
was bad. But we can say this with certainty: To compare
him to the murderous, oppressive dictators of the 20th century like Hitler and Stalin,
or their tin-pot versions like Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gaddafi, is a gross injustice. Napoleon was sui generis—unique unto himself—and
proof positive that one man, given the right circumstances, can change history. I’m Andrew Roberts for Prager University.

100 thoughts on “@realNapoleonBonaparte

  1. Not going to lie, I thought this video was interesting. I didn’t know that Napoleon didn’t start many of the wars he fought.
    Unlike our typical dictator he didn’t do things at the expense of his own people. He made a bad call attacking Russia but he didn’t leave his country crippled like other dictators do when they leave. He actually saught to better his country unlike Hitler or Stalin who only wanted power.
    History didn’t kill him off as a coward or a scoundrel instead he died a general who had successfully helped his country.

  2. Sorry, but a forerunner to the centralized modern state who had no respect for regional independence and who sought to unite Europe is no hero. A dictator is still a dictator.

  3. The "funny" British historian don't say nothing about the first defeat of Napoleon, that suceed in Spain. Is
    surprising that never Spain exists…

  4. It doesn't fully reconcile with my knowledge of Napoleon's biography.
    Probably most famous and (to some extent) successful political and military leaders of the past were so because of their being ruthless with no regard to human life and lying. Probably N. was not an exception.
    Success of contemporary business magicians cuts any discussion of their ugly character.

  5. This is the great tragedy and blessing of history. After a century or so, the fog of bias falls away and the lens of scholar reveals the real person and their exploits. One wonders, what history will think of our current leaders.

  6. the problem i have is the Napoleonic code says "guilty until proven innocent" rather than the other way around as it is in the US. That kind of makes things suck a lot more in europe, even today, because the EU uses that system.

  7. Seriously what? A whole generation knew nothing but war because of this man. Napoleon, one of history's greatest killers.

  8. He also Granted full Religious freedom
    Which Ended the Vendee war

    Something that's not taught in school was Catholicism was outlawed by the French Revolution punishable by Death.

  9. Best Quote from Napoleon Bonaparte

    I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”

    Such TRUTH

  10. Somewhat accurate. There was a lot of ignored details that put everything more in perspective, such as the complete trade blockade with England. Portugal and Russia ignored this blockade and both got invaded. Napoleon completely destroyed Spain after the invasion of Portugal and destoyed the already declining Spanish Empire. The 1812 Russian invasion was covered sort of in the video… but it doesn't explain why Napoleon had to retreat. Also, his imperialistic ambitions to build a pan-European dynasty was clear. He installed his brother as king of Spain, etc. The German states became vassals, and he had significant power over parts of Italy. Not to mention the invasion of Egypt where he cowardishly left his army to die.

  11. He also sacked the Christian artifacts at the Island of Malta, went to Egypt for no good reason (having his own men pack winter jackets for the desert) and got a lot of skilled fighters dead while profiting off of the immoral execution of about 1/7th of France's Catholic population by the immoral MOB of france.

  12. It's great to see Napoleon receive his due. Likely one of the most misunderstood or deliberately maligned persons of history. Napoleon, like Alexander and Caesar before him, was simply incredible and I never cease to wonder at his achievements.

    His most dubious acts, including the kidnapping and execution of the duc d'Enghien in 1804 had large consequences and his killing of the Turkish prisoners near Jaffa. The numbers executed are disputed and often quoted at 2000, though it may have been more or vastly less. In any case many of these were those Napoleon had released early, with a promise to never fight again against him, so…

    His most egregious error in my opinion, was installing his brother on the throne of Spain and in so doing, losing a reliable ally and setting in the motion the Spanish ulcer and ultimately the rise of his nemesis, Wellington, who without Spain, would never have scaled Britain's military ladder. Also, with another 250,000 troops he likely, never would have lost his power in Central Europe, even with the Russian debacle.

    I think Napoleon was less tyrannical, far more intelligent and politically and militarily speaking, vastly superior to any of the Monarchs in Europe at the time. It is objectively, very difficult to condemn Napoleon and laud the rest of the ancient Monarchs in Europe, especially since, as pointed out above, most of the Napoleonic Wars were defensive in nature and not aggressive as is generally portrayed.

  13. An interesting and thought-provoking take on Napoleon. An introduction to a more balanced appreciation of the good and bad of his reign.

  14. Little known fact Napoleon was cheated out of the US Presidency in 2009 when “president” Obama spread rumors about him using social media and fake news sites.

    If you voted for Napoleon please consider voting for me in 2036. Some have told me it’s too early to start campaigning for 2036 but it’s never too early to spread the truth. I hope you consider following my campaign on YouTube.

  15. Also, he was mocked for being shorter than average, and this led to the idea of a "Napoleon complex": a short person trying to compensate for short stature by being overly aggressive. Some historians concluded that Napoleon was 5 feet 7 inches tall, which was actually about 1 inch taller than the average adult male of that time period. Also, a 2007 study suggests that shorter men are less likely to lose their tempers than taller men! It's very strange how inaccurately Napoleon has been depicted in many ways.

  16. He was a human rights advocate long before the UK or the United States. He wasn't short, either. Napoleon was a far better man than most world class leaders.

  17. Why are there black kings at 2:02? This is European history. There weren't any black kings worrying about Napoleon. You'd have to stretch it and say the Ottomans and Egyptians are being represented there, despite having minimal interest in the conflict (Napoleon did run amok in Egypt, though). This is a pretty bad episode from Prager, and a weird time of year to glorify Napoleon, the man who lost despite having the strongest empire in the world. Almost every victory with Napoleon was Pyrrhic, leading to his eventual downfall despite a "great" record.

  18. French are the only people to overthrow a King and wind up with an Emperor (and his insane family). Beethoven was very impressed with the Nappy but was so became convinced that he was nothing but a dictator who was simply interested in himself. For that he re-named one of symphonies that he had named after Napoleon. The Emperor was so bright he made the same mistake as Hitler by invading Russia and never attempted to conquer England calling them "a nation of shopkeepers" It would be nice if we were told how he managed all these great military victories. Was it strategy or simply overwealming the enemy by losing fewer men than they did. Creative weapons? Improving infantry tactics? Ya got me.

  19. It’s remarquable how this video, while claiming to do justice to an often caricatures character, actually still does his history a disservice. No man rules alone, and that is the case for Napoleon too. His generals and advisors are as responsible for the consequences of his rule as the man himself. In general, great man history never really works. No one rules alone; no one should get all the recognition; and that is true for both great people and terrible people. And Napoleon is in the unique case of being part of the two categories

  20. His influence wasn't limited to europe. Putting the king of spain in jail allowed half a continent to become independent in the 19th century

  21. Napoleon was the first the Stop the Spanish inquisition. Once removed, by the British. The inquisition was not stopped again, till Franco……

    I always founded it terribly ironic, how English (and by default American) history views him.
    When he did many things for the betterment of the world, in a few short years. Then the British empire did in 300 years. Arrogance shows it's self in many ways.

  22. British and French historians may have the rest of Europe fooled, but you don’t fool the United States of America! Napoleon was NOT great. Napoleon was responsible for some of the worst military disasters in military history. Egypt was a disaster. Spain was a disaster. Russia was the worst military disaster of all time. Napoleon left a France defeated, occupied and forced to pay reparations. French historians are biased and want to say that Napoleon was great in order to glorify their own history when in fact, in the end it was Napoleon and France that were conquered. A British historian wants to portray Napoleon as a genius because if Britain defeated the genius Napoleon, then they are even more genius. These historians are biased, and don’t let them fool you. Give me Washington. Give me US Grant. Give me Douglass McCarthur. Men who soundly defeated their enemies, and understood the true principle of war…seek peace after you defeat your enemy. Napoleon always sought more and more war.

  23. Who is this dumb son of a bitch? If anyone's ever read any of the personal Memoirs of Alexandre Dumas you'd know that Napoleon is the most notorious racist in French history. Napoleon segregated French society. He stripped black Frenchmen of their citizenship and under Napoleonic law black Frenchman could not own property. Alexandre Dumas father was stripped of his military rank and all of his property because of Napoleon.

    The French Republic abolish slavery in 1794, Napoleon re-establish slavery in 1802. The only difference between Napoleon and Hitler was the Holocaust.

  24. Napoleon is a murderer:
    – Imposed the continental system which destroyed the economy of Europe.
    – Forced several young people into war ultimately killing +millions among military and civilians.
    – Created a welfare state that evolved into communism/socialism.
    – Transformed the educational system into an indoctrination camp.
    … etc …

  25. You glossed over his barbarism in Egypt and his cannonading young French officers defending their country and a lot more. He was a psychotic megalomaniac with a penchant for cruelty that was unequalled in his day. Better that he had never been born.

  26. During the advent of Napoleon, we see how Democracy easily degenerates into despotism… Polity>Republic>Democracy>Despotic

  27. Ahh the French. Napoleon is arguably the only respectable successful French war general/leader to ever exist. Other than that, the French have essentially always been losers.

  28. Maybe a video about the Haitian Revolution, and the importance of Politics over Force? (France encouraged Haitian-exclusion from trade when they won Independence from France under the guise of preventing the spread of "slave revolution")

  29. What non historian would say about their childhood hero. This is anti fact at best. He invaded many countries to place his own family members on the throne. Video did not touch spain, which some accounts make the germans look civilized. He invaded Hamburg and started war with russia. It sad this sadistic egomaniac will be up held by fools.

  30. * Mathematics
    * Organization
    * Map-Reading

    Wait, what? No Applied Lesbian Dance Theory , Gender Studies , or Feminism ??…

  31. Elements of Napoleon's military genious are still studied and though they are seemingly understood in the classroom, it seems that few military commanders are able to translate and apply them where battles happen even though they would be of great advantage to do so.

    It really gives a studied warrior a feast for thought.

  32. Napoleon destroyed entire nations and killed everyone who spoke against him. Surely, there is absolutely nothing that compares him to the dictators of the 20th century.

  33. Wow this totally changed how I thought of Napoleon. Dude was actually a somewhat decent guy and not all we people say he is. Do your research as always I suppose

  34. Well he sure was cruel, murderous, and oppressive to the Germans, Spanish, and the Russians two of whom he invaded and broke multiple treaties. His tactics also acted Austerlitz shifted from maneuvers and getting the swift blow to just sending thousands to die (Wagram, Aspern-Esling, Borodino, Leipzig, and Waterloo). He also signed off on assasination and sent out execution orders to relatives of Louis who lived in different countries and would often kidnap them to "put them on trial" in France. He also destroyed his national as well as many economies in Europe when he tried to implement his Continental System (prompting the Iberian and Russian campaigns). He also usurped his power by forcing his way into the Directory and forcing them to sign over their power to the Three Citizens of France before eventually he swallowed and consolidate his power to being the sole Emperor.

    Though he wasnt as murderous and created such Holocausts as the 20th century dictators he was nonetheless a dictator himself who equally murdered, usurped, and destroyed anyone in his path to be the French Empire and to expand France's reach beyond her historical borders. You don't get to unite Europe by not being a god send or a person who is in their own special category.

  35. Fun fact, Napoleon never spoke French perfectly. He first spoke Corsican, then Italian, then partial French. Basically he to the greatness of Italy to himself and gave it to France.

  36. I'm surprised they didn't take time to mention his height was normal for his time and that he didn't merit his moniker being used for "Napoleon Complex".

  37. Who are these people comparing Napoleon to Hitler? Never heard or read any historian, or anyone for that matter, make that genuine as a genuine comparison

  38. Crazy that PragerU would make a video praising a military dictator seizing power illegitimately, didn’t think they would be your kind of people

  39. I've never heard anyone compare bonaparte to any of those dictators. He was no washington and no Hitler and I don't think anyone claims he was.

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