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  • What is the appeal of the Napoleonic Era

    I've never had much of an interest in the 1789-1815 era outside of the Americas, so I will respectfully ask:

    Why do you all care?

    World War II was an epic struggle of Good versus evil, versus evil, and good mostly won. WWI is all about how Europe threw away everything good to engage in senseless slaughter and spread the cancer of totalitarian by weakening or destroying the major players. It's epic in the scope of the tragedy.

    But, the French Revolution was vile. It was anti-religious from the start and then betrayed by Robespierre, and only the young Napoleon could save the French state. He was the best of both the old notion of monarchy and the new one of Bourgeois liberty...for some. Napoleon was at once a statement and a tyrant. He warred incessantly, but here more for his ego than the Liberty Equality and Fraternity he publicly endorsed. But in the end, the old order deposed him and turned back the clock to 1788, which was at once a great thing and a terrible one. Nappy was an iconoclast, but aside from his vanity, there is little to make me love or hate him. I HATE Hitler, he's a good villain. I like Ike, he's a good hero as a general (broad front criticisms aside) and as a President.

    So what do you see that I do not? I ask with all respect.
    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

  • #2
    I am going to play devils advocate with you and ask you first this,
    If you are not interest in this period than why would ask, I know
    never to ask a question while one has been already posed, but to
    me you do seem to be interested in the period otherwise why
    "again" would you ask the interests or cares of others on this period.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Wolery View Post
      I've never had much of an interest in the 1789-1815 era outside of the Americas, so I will respectfully ask:

      Why do you all care?

      World War II was an epic struggle of Good versus evil, versus evil, and good mostly won. WWI is all about how Europe threw away everything good to engage in senseless slaughter and spread the cancer of totalitarian by weakening or destroying the major players. It's epic in the scope of the tragedy.

      But, the French Revolution was vile. It was anti-religious from the start and then betrayed by Robespierre, and only the young Napoleon could save the French state. He was the best of both the old notion of monarchy and the new one of Bourgeois liberty...for some. Napoleon was at once a statement and a tyrant. He warred incessantly, but here more for his ego than the Liberty Equality and Fraternity he publicly endorsed. But in the end, the old order deposed him and turned back the clock to 1788, which was at once a great thing and a terrible one. Nappy was an iconoclast, but aside from his vanity, there is little to make me love or hate him. I HATE Hitler, he's a good villain. I like Ike, he's a good hero as a general (broad front criticisms aside) and as a President.

      So what do you see that I do not? I ask with all respect.
      Because the Napoleonic Era was the era where everything everyone knew about warfare changed. War would no longer be seen as "gentleman's game", where commanders politely line up their soldiers to die. In the French Revolutionary Wars and later Napoleonic Wars the notion of "total war" was first introduced. How militaries are organized are still used to this day thanks to Napoleon (more specifically, he perfected earlier proposed reforms with his own personal genius).

      Also, WWII wouldn't have happened without WWI. WWI wouldn't have happened if the Franco-Prussian War never happened. The Franco-Prussian War wouldn't have happened if the Napoleonic Wars wouldn't have happened.

      But, the French Revolution was vile.
      How was it vile? What's wrong with overthrowing a unpopular dynasty?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Mendicant Bias View Post
        How was it vile? What's wrong with overthrowing a unpopular dynasty?
        Nothing wrong at all with overthrowing an unpopular regime, but hell the Bolsheviks did the same with Kerensky. That didn't end too well. If the Revolution had led to a stable constitutional monarchy or republic, I'd have nothing but respect for it.

        But that didn't happen. Robespierre and his ilk were disdainful of religion from the get go, and wherever anti-religious sentiment is present, there is the capacity for atrocity. No one kills with the fervor of one who does not believe they will be judged in Final Judgement. Robespierre was the first, but he was the forerunner of all totalitarian dictators that came thereafter. Religious fanatics also fall under this category incidentally.

        Problem two: a belief that human being, especially yourself, are not inclined to doing all that is wicked. Human beings are evil by nature and the first step to living with such vile creatures is the realization that A. You are evil and B. You can choose not to be evil, but only by repressing your true nature. Russo encouraged people to think human beings were good, and the results speak for themselves.

        Three: the notion of equality outside of a legal setting. The notion that all men are or should be equal is ridiculous. Some Humans are simply better than others, and all the strengths and weaknesses do NOT cancel each other. I am inferior to Einstein and superior to a high school dropout. Any attempt to negate Humankind's need to classify and create hierarchy will only stunt human growth. Whereas Jefferson imagined Meritocracy as the best way to place individuals according to their abilities, while in France the sans-cu-lots, demanding a voice in politics which they were not suited at least by education drove the first republic into mob rule. In America, from the get go, you had to be rich or own land to vote. Later that changed, I'm not sure it was a smart move.

        My basic contention is that the French Revolution, unlike the American one was an unmitigated failure, one that unfortunately has had many imitations, all of them bad.

        As to why I'm asking the question, it's for perspective. For me, history is a narrative. I want a good story and nothing inspires me about this era except maybe Wellington. He was a badass. So I ask how YOU see it so I can get perspective.
        How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
        275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Wolery View Post
          Nothing wrong at all with overthrowing an unpopular regime, but hell the Bolsheviks did the same with Kerensky. That didn't end too well. If the Revolution had led to a stable constitutional monarchy or republic, I'd have nothing but respect for it.

          But that didn't happen. Robespierre and his ilk were disdainful of religion from the get go, and wherever anti-religious sentiment is present, there is the capacity for atrocity. No one kills with the fervor of one who does not believe they will be judged in Final Judgement. Robespierre was the first, but he was the forerunner of all totalitarian dictators that came thereafter. Religious fanatics also fall under this category incidentally.

          Problem two: a belief that human being, especially yourself, are not inclined to doing all that is wicked. Human beings are evil by nature and the first step to living with such vile creatures is the realization that A. You are evil and B. You can choose not to be evil, but only by repressing your true nature. Russo encouraged people to think human beings were good, and the results speak for themselves.

          Three: the notion of equality outside of a legal setting. The notion that all men are or should be equal is ridiculous. Some Humans are simply better than others, and all the strengths and weaknesses do NOT cancel each other. I am inferior to Einstein and superior to a high school dropout. Any attempt to negate Humankind's need to classify and create hierarchy will only stunt human growth. Whereas Jefferson imagined Meritocracy as the best way to place individuals according to their abilities, while in France the sans-cu-lots, demanding a voice in politics which they were not suited at least by education drove the first republic into mob rule. In America, from the get go, you had to be rich or own land to vote. Later that changed, I'm not sure it was a smart move.

          My basic contention is that the French Revolution, unlike the American one was an unmitigated failure, one that unfortunately has had many imitations, all of them bad.

          As to why I'm asking the question, it's for perspective. For me, history is a narrative. I want a good story and nothing inspires me about this era except maybe Wellington. He was a badass. So I ask how YOU see it so I can get perspective.
          To each his own I suppose. I'm not here to change your philosophical viewpoints on the Revolution or Napoleon, but I say that every person has a particular interest in some point in history. Some, like me, have interests in multiple periods of history, but my specialty is the Napoleonic and Revolutionary Era.

          The only thing I'm going to contest in that post is Wellington being a bad-ass. He might have been, but if you look at the feats of Napoleon's Marshals such as Lannes, Davout, Soult, and Ney, and Napoleon himself, along with Coalition generals like Kutusov and Blucher, you'll find a lot more tales of bad-assness than just Wellington.

          Comment


          • #6
            Wolery,

            There are no easy way to answer your question, but I will try.

            Why I love the Napoleonic Era?

            - Epic battles;
            - Thousands of fantastic stories (many, many examples of extreme courage and devotion);
            - Beautiful uniforms;
            - Great leaders and commanders (not just Wellington*);
            - High drama;
            - The elan and panache of the Napoleonic soldier;
            - The cavalry in all its glory;
            - The events of the Napoleonic Era affected most parts of the world;
            - General conscription came into practice giving rise to large armies and the concept of "Nation in Arms";
            - France was defeated, but the ideals of the Revolution helped create many other democratic revolutions around the world in the 19th century.

            I could go on and on and on...

            * Napoleon, Nelson, Davout, Lannes, Archduke Charles, Blucher and many others.
            My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

            Comment


            • #7
              I visit this forum, not due to the time period and the events therein, but because of the other people who visit here .
              How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
              Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

              Comment


              • #8
                Agree with Zouave's post, cannot really add anything else to it except, the period is massive, so much to learn, i got into the period because of Nelson and it went from strength to strength and now i am truly hooked. And am i right in stating that there have been more books written about Napoleon than any other historical figure? or did i imagine that, someone please enlighten me.
                Last edited by Post Captain; 29 Mar 10, 13:23.
                Never Fear the Event

                Admiral Lord Nelson

                Comment


                • #9
                  I too agree with Zouave, especially on points 6 & 7. Well said sir

                  Another reason is the art,

                  If you cannot be fascinated by this,


                  (Apologies for the cruddy reproduction)

                  then I can say no further.
                  One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions - Admiral Grace Hopper

                  "The eunuch should not take pride in his chastity."
                  Wu Cheng'en Monkey

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have to agree with a lot of what has been said plus I'd like t add the following:

                    >It is the first war from which we have memoirs written by ordinary soldiers readily available. Whilst there may be memoirs written by soldiers etc in the wars that preceed it the number of Napoleonic memoirs provides a great source of information.
                    >The first 'modern' military history (I refer to Napiers work on the peninsular campaign, of which my brother owns a first edition the little ) was about the Napoleonic era, its status may be up for debate but at least in the UK the number of people involved made it the first war that ordinary people took a real interest in.
                    >It was a war that arguably created modern Europe, it started the process of aligning the borders and forming the nations we know today in the wake of Napoleon.
                    >From a UK point of view it filled flags with battle honours, despite two world wars most regimental museums, silver collections etc are still dominated by the wars against Napoleon
                    >All the bright flashy uniforms, it was the beginning of a fantastic century for military fashion, fantastic stuff!
                    "Little pigs, little pigs, I've come to nick your tele!"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have to agree with Zouave, and in a way also with the Noodle in a way .
                      For example, if you study the Peninsular war, which is my special area of interest, you can already read aboud

                      -high drama
                      -action
                      -atrocities
                      -gallantry
                      -battles
                      -heroes
                      -etc.............................

                      Alone this staff already fills books, such as

                      -Sir Charles Oman's History of the Peninsular war in four volumes (or was it five?) each of them over 1000 pages long.
                      -95th Rifles by Mark Urban
                      -The 18th Hussars in Spain
                      -The Spanish Ulcer by David Gates
                      -The Peninsular War by Charles J. Esdaile
                      -Salamanca 1812 by Dr. Rory Muir
                      -Napoleon's Cursed War by Ronald Fraser
                      -The Fatal Knot by Laurence Tone
                      -Inside Wellingtons Peninsular army by Rory Muir
                      -Wellington's battles, Wellington's army, Wellington's spies, etc.
                      -certain memoires such as Dorset soldiers
                      -Letters of two hussars
                      -the memoires of Riflesmen Harris
                      -novels such as most of the Sharpe books and films
                      -some of the Harvey books by Allan Mallinson (excellent staff)

                      This is just a short list (admittingly, very one sided) about a small part of the Napoleonic wars. There has been written so much about it. There are also countless books about uniforms, tactics, organisation, etc..... Now, if that is not fascinating, I don't know what is.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chukka View Post
                        I too agree with Zouave, especially on points 6 & 7. Well said sir
                        Originally posted by Chukka View Post


                        Another reason is the art,

                        If you cannot be fascinated by this,


                        (Apologies for the cruddy reproduction)

                        then I can say no further.


                        Got to be one of the more 'imaginative' renderings of the battle of Waterloo, but my favourite of them all!
                        It's got everything...
                        Highlanders, mounds of dead Curryasars and their mates trying to break our squares. I've got a massive print of this painting hung in the wargames room, over-painted to look like oils, and framed in the grand manner.
                        Wolery, if you can look at this picture then break into a yawn, be assured, the Napoleonic Wars ain't for you mate!

                        Last edited by Von Richter; 29 Mar 10, 06:16.
                        The long toll of the brave
                        Is not lost in darkness
                        Over the fruitful earth
                        And athwart the seas
                        Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                        Unquenchable forever.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hmmm...

                          I guess the real issue is that I don't have a dog to root for in the fight. Britian was the light of political liberty in Europe (not saying much before the repeal of the Corn Laws), but everything they did was to benefit themselves, not spread liberty. The French CLAIMED to spread liberty at the cost of political servitude. Not to mention they'd never allowed Germany and Italy to unify if they'd won.

                          In WWII I root for America. In World War I I root for Germnay cause I think they got screwed. Who am I supposed to root for? I see no good guys or bad guys. It's like trying to capture the narrative in a game of Risk. I'm one of those people who need a hero and a villian to make the story compleling. Nappy is a hero and a villian at the same time, in more or less equal measure.

                          Who should I be rooting for?
                          How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
                          275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wolery View Post
                            Who should I be rooting for?


                            His Grace the Duke of Wellington!
                            The long toll of the brave
                            Is not lost in darkness
                            Over the fruitful earth
                            And athwart the seas
                            Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                            Unquenchable forever.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Von Richter View Post


                              His Grace the Duke of Wellington!
                              Yes, von Richter is right. Don't become a Nappy lover (no offence intended). Root with Wellington, the first soldier in Europe. If you like, you can also root with Blücher, who is pregnant with an Elephant!!!!

                              Comment

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