Saturday, May 5, 2012

Napoleon Bonaparte, the warrior and his code


History is very interesting and teaches us many things – it is replete with stories of successful people.  In olden days, it was more of great military leaders who conquered far off lands by their valour.  Here are some quotes attributed to a famous military leader who conquered much of hope : 

ü      A leader is a dealer in hope.  
ü      A revolution can be neither made nor stopped. The only thing that can be done is for one of several of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories.
ü      Four  hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.

Often history is tainted also  - this worldwide was portrayed as symbolizing military genius and political power, had thousands of books  discussing him and hundreds of films portraying him.  In Tamil, also we have an actor by his hame.  British Press portrays him as a dangerous tyrant and a man much smaller than average height.  

Little known fact is that he is also associated with a civil code which for bade privileges based on on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified. 

It is indeed  ‘Napoleon Bonaparte’ [1769 – 1821] the famous French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.   He was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815.  He was born in Corsica to parents of noble Genoese ancestry, and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France.   After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states. Napoleon's campaigns are studied at military academies throughout much of the world.

The Peninsular War and 1812 French invasion of Russia marked turning points in Napoleon's fortunes. His army was badly depleted and never fully recovered. He  was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, although this claim has sparked significant debate, as some scholars have held that he was a victim of arsenic poisoning.

He died on this day [5th May – 191 years ago – in 1821] – not yet 52 years old.  

The Napoleonic Code, is the French civil code, established under Napoléon. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified.  It was drafted rapidly by a commission of four eminent jurists and entered into force  in 1804.  There had been legal codes earlier, still it was the first modern legal code to be adopted with a pan-European scope and it strongly influenced the law of many of the countries formed during and after the Napoleonic Wars.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting piece of history learnt when I followed IPL to your blog -
    Saravana

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