A Betrayer Child
A Betrayer Child
Understanding of a period, an event or a person is strictly related to understanding of their previous conditions. Without analyzing the Revolution ideas and motivations, we cannot decide if Napoleon was a betrayer or son of the Revolution. Initially, we have to look at the Revolution and its aim. Revolutionary ideas, based on the ideas of the Enlightenment. Against the policies of the King and the bad economic conditions of France people tried to find a new solution. At the beginning they do not questioned the monarchy itself, but they questioned the legitimate source of the King’s power. Revolutionary movement want to limit the King’s power and construct a new France based on the Enlightenment ideals. This lead to a lot of change on monarchical France.
Firstly, we see the collapse of the one man’s — the King’s — authority. Secondly, we see the change of the status of Church on the State politics. Religions lost its legitimacy over the political authority. Secularization steps started to see in this period. The powerful aristocracy and its position in the politics also changed. Undoubtfully Napoleon improve himself under this condition of history. Although he betrayed the ideals of the Revolution, he protects and developed some of the Revolutionary policies when he rules the country. In the time of the Revolution, economic problems and failures in the relations with other countries became a key for Napoleon. He took the advantages of fractures of the Revolution and its policies and used his military success to legitimize his status as a ruler. While Napoleon provided the stability of France both economically and politically, on the other hand, he destroyed the achievements of it. Before everything, Napoleon’s type of regime was the enemy of the ideas of the Revolution. He declared himself as Consul and then in 1802 he declared himself as Consul for life. This is the starting point of an empire. As Douglas Johnson argues that “Bonaparte’s success corresponded to a certain moment in the life of France when there was a need for the security of strong government and possibly even a turning against the parliamentary government of the Directory. Bonaparte guaranteed the conquest of the Revolution.”.
Although Napoleon was a betrayer of the Revolution and became an emperor, we cannot argue that he continued the policies and structure of a kingdom. The gap between the Napoleon’s ruling and the Church is one of the basic structural point which is similar to the Revolution. Although he made an agreement with the Church which named as Concordat, he aimed to defeat the authority of the Church over the policy on the contrary of the King. With the Concordat he aimed to control their power on his own hands, and with being in a balanced relation, he wanted to improve his legitimacy and authority. Also, Napoleon was against the power of the aristocrats, so he defeats them and made useless their power on the political authority. He creates a new type aristocracy which was not based on the blood tie, but based on the services for the State. He improves the education system of France, lycées and universities gain importance to have political power in which there was no domination of the Church. All these developments distinguish Napoleon from a king. Although the importance of these differences, the reality of that Napoleon was an emperor, the one man of the country, makes Napoleon a betrayer. Again, as Douglas Johnson suggest that “Bonaparte seeking a religious pacification. But there was also a new element: that of the State’s authority as interpreted by Bonaparte.”
To conclude, it is obvious that Napoleon was a son of the Revolution. He was not a representative of the ideals of the Revolution but a student of it who learned and used both ideals and failures of it. To strengthen his authority, he destroyed almost all the achievements of the Revolution and the liberty of the press was abolished and all newspapers which could be classified as political were suppressed. he continued his success and authority by using also some of the basis of the Revolution, as a clever but betrayer son, to get rid of a kingdom’s failure.