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Adam Zamoyski's Napoleon: A Life

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  • jf42
    replied
    Benign? Probably not. There was a war on

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  • Massena
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post

    I think that's what the French propaganda machine broadcast.

    Bonaparte later shared with Metternich: "Never would I have been such a fool as to make a descent upon England, unless indeed a revolution had taken place within that country. The army assembled at Boulogne was always an army against Austria. I could not place it anywhere else without giving offence, and, being obliged to form it somewhere, I did so at Boulogne, where I could while collecting it also disquiet England." q. in Esdaile Napoleon's Wars

    Austria. finally provoked by Napoleon creating himself King of italy and the subsequent annexation of Genoa, Parma & Piacenza, was the last reluctantly to join the Third Coalition, following Britain and Russia's earlier lead. The march into Bavaria was not to acquire territory but to pre-empt a French advance across the Rhine, while Russian troops marched west.
    And where did that idea come from? Do you actually believe that Austria's move into Bavaria was benign? Both Prussia and Austria were competing for dominance in Germany and Great Britain was behind Austria's move westward in order to get the Grande Armee away from the Channel.

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  • jf42
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post



    As for Austria in 1805, their behavior was pretty much the same thing that Napoleon is routinely condemned for. Austria intended to invade France at that time too.
    Bavaria wasn't a threat to Austria and really neither was France.
    The French army was preparing to invade England and posed no threat to Austrian
    I think that's what the French propaganda machine broadcast.

    Bonaparte later shared with Metternich: "Never would I have been such a fool as to make a descent upon England, unless indeed a revolution had taken place within that country. The army assembled at Boulogne was always an army against Austria. I could not place it anywhere else without giving offence, and, being obliged to form it somewhere, I did so at Boulogne, where I could while collecting it also disquiet England." q. in Esdaile Napoleon's Wars

    Austria. finally provoked by Napoleon creating himself King of italy and the subsequent annexation of Genoa, Parma & Piacenza, was the last reluctantly to join the Third Coalition, following Britain and Russia's earlier lead. The march into Bavaria was not to acquire territory but to pre-empt a French advance across the Rhine, while Russian troops marched west.

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  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post
    Well clearly it is necessary to define one's terms. I would argue that 'invade' is not a neutral term in the context and implies aggressive intention. I believe that in certain instances it is being used in a misleading way. Was the march of the allied army into France in 1814 an invasion or ensuring an invader was not only fully expelled but defeated. Did the Austrians invade Bavaria in 1805 or were they exercising customary rights of passage in preparation for a confrontation with France?

    As for ' liberate' that is Paul's dog and yours. Restoring the political status quo following military invasion and anexation of power, is one question, debating the merits of absloute monarchy or of a particular dynasty is another.

    "Invade" does imply aggressive intention and, as such, I think accurately describes the intentions of the coalition forces. The invasion was clearly justified given the state of war between the parties.
    As for Austria in 1805, their behavior was pretty much the same thing that Napoleon is routinely condemned for. Austria intended to invade France at that time too.
    Bavaria wasn't a threat to Austria and really neither was France.
    The French army was preparing to invade England and posed no threat to Austrian (or Russian ) interests.

    The Austrians were interested in removing French influence and control from Germany and Italy and replacing it with their own.

    My ultimate point remains that Napoleon's behavior wasn't unique in any way, he was just far more successful at it.
    Perhaps too successful for his own good.

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  • jf42
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post

    I would point to the various revolts that took place after liberation from Napoleon that were brutally suppressed by the victors.
    That would be illuminating

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  • jf42
    replied
    Well clearly it is necessary to define one's terms. I would argue that 'invade' is not a neutral term in the context and implies aggressive intention. I believe that in certain instances it is being used in a misleading way. Was the march of the allied army into France in 1814 an invasion or ensuring an invader was not only fully expelled but defeated. Did the Austrians invade Bavaria in 1805 or were they exercising customary rights of passage in preparation for a confrontation with France?

    As for ' liberate' that is Paul's dog and yours. Restoring the political status quo following military invasion and anexation of power, is one question, debating the merits of absloute monarchy or of a particular dynasty is another.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post

    The Bourbons were on their thrones at the start of the war; in France as a matter of succession in the C16th and in Spain as a result of Louis XIV machinations. in the early C18th. Napoleon's deposition of the Spanish kings did not negate the Borbons being the legitimate Kings of Spain. The case of the Bourbons of France is obviously more problematic but in 1814 Napoleon abdicated, he had presided over France continuing as a monarchy and, for better or worse, the legitimate line was restored; 'via foreign bayonets,' I would say, is a misleading oversimplification.

    Saying Britain invaded Spain is simply not correct. From 1808, Britain fought as an ally of Spain to expel the French. This successfuly achieved, Wellington pursued the retreating French army onto its home ground to ensure victory. To describe that as 'invasion,' again would be misleading. The war aim was to defeat the French and expel them from Spain, not to occupy French territory for its own sake.

    A balance of power is just that. One can't have balance in one area and not another. That would not be a balance.

    You asked me which invasions. I explained the what I was referring to. I agree that arguably the Brits didn't "invade" Spain, but the fact that spain and England were allies didn't provide a lot of protections for the Spanish populace. Since Spain's legitimate rulers were locked up in France, they hardly could have invited the Brits to land/invade. Additionally, I question whether the various juntas governing much of Spain actually recognized the Bourbons at that point. I will defer to Messena on that point though.

    The Bourbons were the legitimate rulers of Spain, but putting them back in power wasn't a "liberation". It was merely a change in despots.
    At best, the French "oppressors" were simply replaced by Spanish "oppressors".

    The British "invasion" of France was militarily and politically justified. But it was an "invasion" nonetheless.
    I am not questioning Britain's moral right to invade France at that point.

    The "balance of power" was designed to stop European nations from going to war. It was not to give the continental powers a "balance of power" in the commercial field. The division of spoils at the Congress of Vienna did little other than to benefit the victors.
    I seem to recall that the division of spoils nearly led to war with Austria, England and France on one side and Prussia and Russia on the other.

    The balance of power protected the winners and no one else.
    I would point to the various revolts that took place after liberation from Napoleon that were brutally suppressed by the victors.

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  • jf42
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post





    The Bourbons were placed on their thrones in Spain and France via foreign bayonets. No one in either nation was "liberated" in the sense of the word we use now.

    Britain invaded Spain and later France

    Britain wanted a military balance of power (which was reasonable) but not a commercial or political balance of power.
    The Bourbons were on their thrones at the start of the war; in France as a matter of succession in the C16th and in Spain as a result of Louis XIV machinations. in the early C18th. Napoleon's deposition of the Spanish kings did not negate the Borbons being the legitimate Kings of Spain. The case of the Bourbons of France is obviously more problematic but in 1814 Napoleon abdicated, he had presided over France continuing as a monarchy and, for better or worse, the legitimate line was restored; 'via foreign bayonets,' I would say, is a misleading oversimplification.

    Saying Britain invaded Spain is simply not correct. From 1808, Britain fought as an ally of Spain to expel the French. This successfuly achieved, Wellington pursued the retreating French army onto its home ground to ensure victory. To describe that as 'invasion,' again would be misleading. The war aim was to defeat the French and expel them from Spain, not to occupy French territory for its own sake.

    A balance of power is just that. One can't have balance in one area and not another. That would not be a balance.


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  • Stonewall_Jack
    replied
    Originally posted by Massena View Post
    This volume arrived this week and while I haven't finished it yet there is some interesting comments and positions by the author in the book so far.

    First, it is an easy read and is over 700 pages in length.

    Second, the following comments are worthy of note:

    'Until very recently, Anglo-Saxon historians have shown reluctance to allow an understanding of the spirit of the times to help them see Napoleon as anything other than an alien monster. Rival national mythologies have added layers of prejudice which many find hard to overcome.'-xiv.

    'Napoleon did not start the war that broke out in 1792 when he was a mere lieutenant and continued, with one brief interruption, until 1814. Which side was responsible for the outbreak and for the continuing hostilities is fruitlessly debatable, since responsibility cannot be laid squarely on one side or the other. The fighting cost lives, for which responsibility is often heaped on Napoleon, which is absurd, as all the belligerents must share the blame. And he was not as profligate with the lives of his own soldiers as some.'-xv.

    'In the half-century before Napoleon came to power, a titanic struggle for dominion saw the British acquire Canada, large swaths of India, and a string of colonies and aspire to lay down the law at sea; Austria grab provinces in Italy and Poland; Prussia increase in size by two-thirds; and Russia push her frontier 600 kilometers into Europe and occupy large areas of Central Asia, Siberia, and Alaska, laying claims as far afield as California. Yet George III, Maria-Theresa, Frederick William III, and Catherine II are not generally accused of being megalomaniac monsters and compulsive warmongers.'

    'Napoleon is frequently condemned for his invasion of Egypt, while the British occupation which followed, designed to guarantee colonial monopoly over India, is not. He is regularly blamed for re-establishing slavery in Martinique, while Britain applied it in its colonies for a further thirty years, and every other colonial power for several decades after that. His use of police surveillance and censorship is also regularly reproved, even though every other state in Europe emulated him, with varying degrees of discretion or hypocrisy.

    Interesting comments and conclusions regarding Napoleon and the period in general, don't you think?
    Ill have to take a look at that. 700 pages might take some time.

    A few notes.

    There was a # of Englishmen whom respected Bonaparte in the 19th century. We must keep in mind the times of Romantisicm, arguably one of the greatest periods in human history....when the humanities and different cultures gained a huge interest all across Europe. Especially in the 19th century which in part saw Christian Europeans both Catholic and Protestant work to end slavery worldwide. While the French Catholics and English protestants were freeing slaves , here in the United States black Christians and even Muslims were enslaved by fellow Christians whom were white people hailing from European backgrounds.

    It is clear that English support of Bonaparte harks back to Englands greatest days that of course being during the times of King Arthur and Richard I... When love and respect played a commanding role in society. We have to remember also that Queen Victoria of course admired the Catholic history of England, so in 19th Century England we would have other Englishmen whom admired their own history. We can never let those English Protestant supremacists or for that matter English Catholic supremacists dictate the historic discussions.

    Often the anti Bonaparte folks are anti Catholic and such thinking gets away from a civilized mindset.


    Bonaparte like some of Englands great figures such as Richard I and Francis Drake have their detractors, but history records Bonaparte, like that of Richard I and Sir Francis as heroes of history that stood for liberal causes. Bonaparte was not perfect, but Bonaparte was admired by Egyptian Muslims, Drake(one time slaver that saw the light) was admired by Africans whom had escaped from the clutches of the Spanish Empire..These were the Cimarron people Drake encountered in Panama in the 16th century. Richard I was a fighter, but in the end forgave even his own killer. Bonaparte no doubt was influenced by that English spirit of the Round table, its clear as a sunny day because after all Bonaparte was about liberty and equality. While Bonaparte did have his controversies, in the end Bonaparte was for freedom one merely need to look at the self writings and Diary of Bonaparte.


    https://shannonselin.com/2018/09/sup...oleon-england/

    https://www.questia.com/library/4379...ife-in-his-own

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Dec...of-the-Citizen

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Napoleonic-Code

    In short, both the British and French fought to end slavery in the 19th century. And the modern day rivalry between some Brits and French or between pro and Anti Bonaparte folks of today does not negate the accomplishments of the French and English people of the 19th century. Those whom are so vehemently critical of Napoleon should stop and realize that in fact Bonaparte reminds us of some of Englands great figures of history.
    Last edited by Stonewall_Jack; 23 Oct 18, 11:41. Reason: added a link

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  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by Gooner View Post

    The intent to destroy Britain was clearly there and in the event Napoleons statement proved prescient.



    I disagree that France ceased to be a threat to Britain's survival from 1805 - Napoleon endeavoured to rebuild his fleet and by basing it in Antwerp he had better positioning for invasion. Also he had the potential and ambition of adding other continental fleets to his own. It was only an unceasing and a hugely expensive commitment to the navy and to the war that allowed the British to maintain their naval dominance.

    Prior wars between Britain and France had never been about annihilation and usually at the end of them just a few colonies ended up being exchanged.


    I agree that France remained a potential threat after 1805. But I don't believe it was an actual threat any longer.
    I completely agree with the second point.

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  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post

    Couple of points. Well, four.


    1)I believe the British army was instrumental in expellling the French from Portugal and Spain. The fact that the Borbons and Bourbons were a worthless lot was the problem of those nations. Britain was not exporting social revolution. That was some other guys.

    2) Britain did not want to dominate Europe; a fair amount of the world outside Europe- commercially- yes; but in Europe Britain wanted a balance of .power; precisely because she could not sustain a large army. After the Great French War, Britiain was heavily in debt.

    3) Which invasions do you have in mind?

    4) Even if the invasion threat diminished after 1805, the Continental System was aimed squarely at Britain's well being.


    England wanted to dominate Europe commercially, I believe their efforts to do so, in part, led to the formation of the Second League of armed neutrality.
    I am not critical of British efforts to dominate commercially. It is a simple fact and clearly was in their best interests.

    The Bourbons were placed on their thrones in Spain and France via foreign bayonets. No one in either nation was "liberated" in the sense of the word we use now. The Congress of Vienna saddled numerous small European nations with kings they did not want.
    The spoils were divided up. (see Norway for instance)

    Britain invaded Spain and later France as well as any the overseas possessions of the nations it was at war with.
    (Not just France)

    Britain wanted a military balance of power (which was reasonable) but not a commercial or political balance of power.

    I agree that the Continental system was aimed at Britain's well being and was a threat, but it wasn't a threat to its existence.

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  • Gooner
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post

    I have no problem with Britain opposing Napoleon or France. I think it was quite reasonable under the circumstances.
    However, Napoleon's words came before he was in charge and long after the war had started.
    The intent to destroy Britain was clearly there and in the event Napoleons statement proved prescient.

    Britain had every right to protect what it saw as its national interests and sovereignty. But so did France. And after 1805 Napoleon was no longer a threat to English survival.

    Napoleon didn't create a new threat to Britain, he was just a greater threat because he was so successful.
    England and France had been at war more than not in the 50 years before Napoleon came to power in 1799. France and England were going to fight until one conquered the other regardless of who was in charge of France.
    I disagree that France ceased to be a threat to Britain's survival from 1805 - Napoleon endeavoured to rebuild his fleet and by basing it in Antwerp he had better positioning for invasion. Also he had the potential and ambition of adding other continental fleets to his own. It was only an unceasing and a hugely expensive commitment to the navy and to the war that allowed the British to maintain their naval dominance.

    Prior wars between Britain and France had never been about annihilation and usually at the end of them just a few colonies ended up being exchanged.

    Leave a comment:


  • jf42
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post



    I’m sorry, but the Brits “liberated” exactly no one.


    Britain wanted to dominate Europe every bit as much as the French at the time, but wanted to do it commercially.

    So British crimes are acceptable because they were fewer in number?
    My point is that the Brits behaved exactly as every other invading army.

    After 1805 Napoleon was no longer a threat to English survival.
    Couple of points. Well, four.


    1)I believe the British army was instrumental in expellling the French from Portugal and Spain. The fact that the Borbons and Bourbons were a worthless lot was the problem of those nations. Britain was not exporting social revolution. That was some other guys.

    2) Britain did not want to dominate Europe; a fair amount of the world outside Europe- commercially- yes; but in Europe Britain wanted a balance of .power; precisely because she could not sustain a large army. After the Great French War, Britiain was heavily in debt.

    3) Which invasions do you have in mind?

    4) Even if the invasion threat diminished after 1805, the Continental System was aimed squarely at Britain's well being.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cambronnne
    replied
    Originally posted by Gooner View Post

    Sorry, for Britain the war(s) were a lot more than simply seeking to protect its commercial and political interests.

    " In late 1797 Bonaparte declared to the Directory Government that France 'must destroy the English monarchy, or expect itself to be destroyed by these intriguing and enterprising islanders... Let us concentrate all our efforts on the navy and annihilate England. That done, Europe is at our feet.'"

    It was a war for national survival.
    I have no problem with Britain opposing Napoleon or France. I think it was quite reasonable under the circumstances.
    However, Napoleon's words came before he was in charge and long after the war had started.

    Britain had every right to protect what it saw as its national interests and sovereignty. But so did France. And after 1805 Napoleon was no longer a threat to English survival.

    Napoleon didn't create a new threat to Britain, he was just a greater threat because he was so successful.
    England and France had been at war more than not in the 50 years before Napoleon came to power in 1799. France and England were going to fight until one conquered the other regardless of who was in charge of France.

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  • Gooner
    replied
    Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post

    I agree that Britain declared war for "good reasons". It was simply seeking to protect its commercial and political interests.
    Britain was not interested in freeing anyone from any alleged tyranny, it just wanted a more pliable tyranny in place throughout Europe.

    I also agree that the French soldier wasn't kind to the civilian populace, just like every other soldier at the time. Including the British as the Spanish could attest. And the Danes probably didn't think well of the Brits following the attack on Copenhagen. The point being that the French acts you condemn were hardly unique.
    Sorry, for Britain the war(s) were a lot more than simply seeking to protect its commercial and political interests.

    " In late 1797 Bonaparte declared to the Directory Government that France 'must destroy the English monarchy, or expect itself to be destroyed by these intriguing and enterprising islanders... Let us concentrate all our efforts on the navy and annihilate England. That done, Europe is at our feet.'"

    It was a war for national survival.

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