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Mr. C.
6th Feb 2005, 17:30
How about some personal views on the major leaders of the Napoleonic era (to keep some interest in the forum); starting with Boney himself.

Personally I admire the man and thought he was brilliant. :cool: He was an outstanding general and leader. He was also quite shrewd and progressive, at least in certain areas. His "Napoleonic code" was an amazing achievement.

I also applaud his desire to be a counter balance to England. Remember, it was England who had gobbled up most of the world for itself, ruining Dutch attempts to be a major colonial power and throwing them out of the "New World" as well as the French. Both were "allowed" by the English to keep only minor possessions, though profitable, while England kept the lion's share for itself. :( Greedy English so and sos!

I think England's insistence on being able to dominate the seas and therefore control much of the worlds wealth irked Napoleon as well as others and was what kept the conflict going as well as many years later prompting WW I.

Arctic_Wolf
6th Feb 2005, 21:23
The British empire was an empire, it conquered and subjegated large parts or the whole of other countries in order to further its home. All empires are like that, no country has ever taken another for the benefit of the conquered country it always goes back to the conqueror. This was the case with Alexander, this was the case with Rome, this was the case with the Turks, this was case with the Spanish, this was the case with the French, the English, the Dutch then Britain(a bigger England) and now with the USA. Napoleon was just as greedy as Caesar or any other Empire builder. Brilliant and gifted they all may be but it has never been motivated by anything more than greed and/or a lust for power.

I'm not defending British Imperialism but if there wasn't a British empire there'd be a French empire or maybe a super Spanish Empire, just because we won doesn't mean we were the only ones playing.


P.S To point the blame for WWI at the UK is competely ridiculous.

LordUxbridge
7th Feb 2005, 14:50
Agree with everything you say there Artic Wolf.

However, back on track...I admire Napoleon for a number of reasons, his military genius, his logistical skills, his civic and political achievements (The Code Napoleon is still the basis for legal systemd throughout continental Europe, and the Continental System, it could be argued, was an early forerunner of the EU). But lets not forget: the man was a megalomaniac and a military dictator. Hundreds of thousands died under his leadership. While we should recognise his avchievements, we should always bear this in mind.

LU

Lonewulf44
7th Feb 2005, 16:33
Agree with everything you say there Artic Wolf.

LU


I agree with a large part of it, although the comparison to the British Empire or Napoleon's to that of the current United States is a very contracted and skewed view of the word or the idea of 'empire'. Mr. C's criticism of these past countries comes seems to forget that it's only natural for a country and therefore it's leaders to look out for the best options for itself. Expanding a countries power, trade, prestige, capital, or whatever is something that every country does, just on different scales. Someone also said something about the greedy English, that seems ridiculous. Countries look out for themselves and their own interests, it's the methods and acts of enacting on that, which can come into question.

Arctic_Wolf
8th Feb 2005, 00:17
I didn't mean the US as an imperial power the like of the British empire or the Holy Roman empire, I should have made that a bit clearer, but whether we like it or not american corporations and media almost completely dominate the world. I agree that it is taking the term 'empire' and stretching it, but empires have always been about controling wealth right? Empires as we normally think about them, the ones in the past, are about controlling land, therefore the wealth, in the USA corporations don't usually bother much with the land and sort of control the wealth directly, if you see what I mean.

However maybe I had best get back into history before we get too political and are beaten down by the facist regime... oh damn :)

Well, we've heard about Napoleon, now how about the Iron Duke, Arthur Wellesley? I don't know that much about this period as perhaps some of you do, though it's odd, don't you think, that some people call Napoleon the Italian, as he was from Corsica, but they often forget the fact that Arthur Wellesley was born in Dublin and the British Monarch at the time was German.

Lonewulf44
9th Feb 2005, 16:51
but they often forget the fact that Arthur Wellesley was born in Dublin and the British Monarch at the time was German.

Indeed, it's a subject that is very little known, and is quite interesting when you get to the period covering the First World War. Was'nt aware of the Wellesley being born in Dublin though.....learn stuff all the time!

haradrim
10th Feb 2005, 01:03
I think that Napoleon Bonaparte was a brilliant tactician and charismatic leader who could sway public opinion in his favor. But in my opinion Louis Davout was even better when it came to matters of combat (he wasn't very diplomatic). He proposed a plan for retreat in Russia along a different route and beat a Prussian army of 56,000 to a standstill with his single corp. Unfortunately due to his lack of popularity with Napoleon he was charged with the defence of holding hamburg and held out until ordered to by Louis the XVIII. To conclude this somewhat off-topic answer i'll say nappy was brilliant but their were better. Though i will say that he was infinetly more charismatic than Davout.

Tenjo_Kalle
10th Feb 2005, 02:06
Im not an expert on Napoleonic history but I think it is very possible to argue that Napoleon was not the only one responsible for all the wars during his period in power.

Because other great powers were afraid that the ideas of the french revolution would spread to their countries they attacked france sometime in 1790s. They were afraid because it would mean that the leading classes in those countries would loose their power.

They lost the wars though and Napoleon raised in ranks throughout these wars as he was an exeptionally good commander.

Soon enough more wars started and the biggest troublemakers were britain pouring gold into other empires pockets so they would help britain against france. France won against coalition after coalition. Isnt it strange that if Napoleon was such a megalomaniac he let for instance austria keep the ability to raise armies to fight him time after time. I dont know if austria declared war against Napoleon 4, 5 or 6 times but the fact that they could muster resources to do so is odd.

Napoleon, for his time was not a bigger tyrant then any other king or emperor. In fact I think many things he did was very "modern" and good - such as the code napoleon mentioned by someone above.

Kalle

Mr. C.
10th Feb 2005, 02:56
Countries look out for themselves and their own interests, it's the methods and acts of enacting on that, which can come into question.

This was what I was pointing at with my criticism of Britain. Its tactics in it's own empire building were definitely questionable. It was hardly into "sharing the wealth" with its neighbors as its destruction of the Dutch and the thrashing it meted out to the French demonstrate. It controlled almost a quarter of the earths land mass for god's sake. You can't do that in a gentlemanly fashion.

And Arctic wolf, there actually was a French Empire; and a Spanish, Austrian and Russian. It's just that the British did more to try and constrain them, via the royal navy, which ended up with its taking the lion's share of the worlds wealth.

Having said all that, I do love English history and have visited England 5 times. My next trip I intend on seeing Nelson's HMS Victory because I admire him and the British navy. I love the people, the culture and I admire its spirit. I do try to view history from a broader viewpoint however. I was just pointing out that I could understand how old Nappy would be upset by a country who insisted that it "rule the waves" as Britain did.

And as far as WWI, it was the British-German naval race that prompted the expansion of what could have been a localized event (which was what the Kaiser wanted). Britain insisted on maintaining definitive naval superiority over any two combined major powers, which was a longheld policy. When it realized it couldn't compete with Germany's growing shipbuilding capacity it decided to weigh in against Germany whether Germany had gone into Belgium or not. It had had an understanding with France that it would come to its aid long before Austria's Archduke was assassinated. Everybody did have their own axe to grind in that conflict, but Britains involvement ensured a world war.

Arctic_Wolf
10th Feb 2005, 22:25
This was what I was pointing at with my criticism of Britain. Its tactics in it's own empire building were definitely questionable. It was hardly into "sharing the wealth" with its neighbors as its destruction of the Dutch and the thrashing it meted out to the French demonstrate. It controlled almost a quarter of the earths land mass for god's sake. You can't do that in a gentlemanly fashion.

Yes but you are picking Britain out specifically, of course Britain didn't share its wealth with anyone, but did the French share theirs? Did the Spanish? Does the USA? No, no and no. Like I said earlier, just because britain was bigger does not mean that they were the only ones. The way you seem to portray it, I don't think you mean it but this is what comes across, is that the world was made up generous utopia communities that the big British monster tried to gobble up. Britain was a big monster yes, but all it was gobbling up was smaller monsters.


And Arctic wolf, there actually was a French Empire; and a Spanish, Austrian and Russian.

I know, thats why I posted this list of some of the major empires,


This was the case with Alexander, this was the case with Rome, this was the case with the Turks, this was case with the Spanish, this was the case with the French, the English, the Dutch then Britain(a bigger England)

I was saying that Britain has the biggest Empire, yes, but if it didn't then someone else would be doing the same thing. For example If Britain hadn't booted France out of North America and taken India from under their boots then France would have done that to Britain and you'd be here saying the same things you are now about the French.


It's just that the British did more to try and constrain them, via the royal navy, which ended up with its taking the lion's share of the worlds wealth.

Just as the USA does today with it's Mega-Corporations. I'm not defending Imperialism at all, but if it wasn't britain it would just be someone else.


Having said all that, I do love English history and have visited England 5 times. My next trip I intend on seeing Nelson's HMS Victory because I admire him and the British navy. I love the people, the culture and I admire its spirit. I do try to view history from a broader viewpoint however. I was just pointing out that I could understand how old Nappy would be upset by a country who insisted that it "rule the waves" as Britain did.

I'm glad you like English and British history, and I see what you say about Napoleon, but anyone who's country isn't on top always tends to be a bit annoyed at the country that is. The anti-americanism across the world is evident for this, it isn't really anything special.


And as far as WWI, it was the British-German naval race that prompted the expansion of what could have been a localized event (which was what the Kaiser wanted). Britain insisted on maintaining definitive naval superiority over any two combined major powers, which was a longheld policy. When it realized it couldn't compete with Germany's growing shipbuilding capacity it decided to weigh in against Germany whether Germany had gone into Belgium or not. It had had an understanding with France that it would come to its aid long before Austria's Archduke was assassinated. Everybody did have their own axe to grind in that conflict, but Britains involvement ensured a world war.

The way I see it is that it, and this has been backed up by years of books and TV Documentaries I was too lazy to switch off, is that Germany began to very powerful indeed, and the Kaiser seeing all this new power at his disposal wanted to fit himself out with an empire just like his 'cousins' in Windsor Castle,

Kaiser: "What Germany could really do with now is an Empire. The german people deserve it.
Advisor: "But where shall we go? Your cousins in Britain own most of the good bits."
Kaiser: "Ooh look, France. They could do with conquering, it'd certainly look good on the map, whats the best way to get to France, Flanders wasn't it?
Advisor: "Yes sir, but the Belgans won't let us through."
Kaiser: "So? We'll conquer them aswell. Won't that be nice."
Advisor: "But sir, they have a treaty of protection with the UK and you've already pissed them off a treat with this new ship-building scheme."
Kaiser: "But they're family, I'm sure they'll understand."
Advisor: "The Royal family aren't the pow-"
Kaiser: "I'll hear none of it, prepare my armies."

mdr
11th Feb 2005, 09:39
Personally and imho the view of the UK as a power mad Imperial super state (particulary at the of the Napoleonic Wars) is a tad simplistic.

Relatively little of India for instance or Africa was under direct UK control.
Certainly there were elements within the government that were expansionist but the majority were not due to the cost!

There was certainly no "official" Imperial drive - Britain must conquer the world. The British Empire to me was one created by accident out of the desire for trade and protecting it. Unlike Napoleon / French .....

btw not that I am suggesting the the British Empire was necessarily a "good thing" but it was hardly a result of meglomanaical tendencies unlike others.

Remember that India at this time was really controlled not by the crown but by the East India Co - a private company. Some interesting analogies could be made there I am sure. (Iraq & Haliburton for one).

Napoleon had his chance of peace in 1803-4 and ultimately decided against it. (Peace of Amiens) Nuff said. :)

Tenjo_Kalle
11th Feb 2005, 09:56
France signed peacetreaties many times during Napoleons time only to be attacked again. Not saying Napoleon and the french were the nicest guys around but brits were just as good warmongers as the french. And it should be remembered that in the first place it was the other kingdoms/countries that declared war upon the french due mostly to fear of the ideas of the revolution.

Kalle

Lonewulf44
11th Feb 2005, 16:50
Kaiser: "What Germany could really do with now is an Empire. The german people deserve it.
Advisor: "But where shall we go? Your cousins in Britain own most of the good bits."
Kaiser: "Ooh look, France. They could do with conquering, it'd certainly look good on the map, whats the best way to get to France, Flanders wasn't it?
Advisor: "Yes sir, but the Belgans won't let us through."
Kaiser: "So? We'll conquer them aswell. Won't that be nice."
Advisor: "But sir, they have a treaty of protection with the UK and you've already pissed them off a treat with this new ship-building scheme."
Kaiser: "But they're family, I'm sure they'll understand."
Advisor: "The Royal family aren't the pow-"
Kaiser: "I'll hear none of it, prepare my armies."

While, the Kaiser has his faults (many!) if you look at transcripts from his messages to the Czar, he was anything but enthusiastic about the First World War. As for an empire, of course he wanted on, any European, or world power at the time wanted one. Not that uncommon. Look at the Belgians and how they regarded their Congo province. As for someone else’s criticism of the UK’s management of the empire, I just don’t know what you would expect different. And, for the United States again…. while the influence of the United States culture and economics is worldwide, I don’t think there are any huge American corporations controlling the world in any sense. American standards and policies are worldwide, but they just shape(d) not rule(d) the globe. In fact American dominance in those spheres is declining if you ask me. And for the wealth, the United States over its roughly 220-year history has been far greatly than any comparable country in its position.

Lonewulf44
11th Feb 2005, 16:53
QUOTE from mdr

"btw not that I am suggesting the the British Empire was necessarily a "good thing" but it was hardly a result of meglomanaical tendencies unlike others."



I disagree, I think especially with us being about to take the past 2,3 centuries in hindsight, the British Empire brought about numerous positive things. Yes, there were a lot of negative and even bad things, but weighted against the good, I think it pales in comparison.

Arctic_Wolf
12th Feb 2005, 21:08
While, the Kaiser has his faults (many!) if you look at transcripts from his messages to the Czar, he was anything but enthusiastic about the First World War. As for an empire, of course he wanted on, any European, or world power at the time wanted one. Not that uncommon. Look at the Belgians and how they regarded their Congo province.

That was my whole point earlier. What you are commenting on was just a simplified thought of mine on the cause of the Great War, I wasn't singling Germany out imparticular as Mr. C. was to Britain.


And, for the United States again…. while the influence of the United States culture and economics is worldwide, I don’t think there are any huge American corporations controlling the world in any sense. American standards and policies are worldwide, but they just shape(d) not rule(d) the globe.

What if the US stopped trading with the carribean, collapse. What if the US Corporations in Malaysia packed up and left, Malaysia's economy stalls and declines. Whether or not America rules the world is debateable, but the control it has on the world is evident almost anywhere you go.

Lonewulf44
14th Feb 2005, 16:25
That was my whole point earlier. What you are commenting on was just a simplified thought of mine on the cause of the Great War, I wasn't singling Germany out imparticular as Mr. C. was to Britain.

Correct, I was just commenting and agreeing with your thoughts.




What if the US stopped trading with the carribean, collapse. What if the US Corporations in Malaysia packed up and left, Malaysia's economy stalls and declines. Whether or not America rules the world is debateable, but the control it has on the world is evident almost anywhere you go.

Well, I can't really argue as I see your point. In that sense I have to agree. More and more though, there are considerable influence coming from European and Japanese companies as well. They might not have the overall worldwide stretch, but their presence is growing. Again, point taken.

Arctic_Wolf
14th Feb 2005, 18:28
You know, I didn't think it was possible, what has happened here on these humble IG forums is a real discussion, on politics and history no less, that has not completely dissolved into a flame war.

Lets all give ourselves a pat on the back and we can hold our head high.

Mea_cupla
14th Feb 2005, 19:41
Hello All!

New kid on the block here so to speak! - Interesting discussion folks!

For it's what it's worth a few points...

The Cause of WWI is an immense topic, but if it can be simplified, then then major cause was the massive arms race between Britain and Germany, but at the time they were mutually respectful 'friends'- Wilhelm had no wish to go to war with Britain at all, but as a result of various treaties and alliances which were supposedly holding a balance of power in Europe, the suprise assassination of Ferdinand just triggered off the alliances. Would the War have started without the assassination? - Who can say!

As for us Brits and our naval fixation - have a look at a map! ;) Britain was always primarily a maritime power because it's the olny way we could trade! - The Royal Navy even to his day is our Senior Service. It just made sense to protect trade and to prevent invasion.

Napoleon was a genius, but as all geniuses, he was deeply flawed, the Code du Napleon, still the lynch pin of French legal system is probably his greatest legacy. But his rise could never have happened without the backdrop of the Revolution, which I think gave him the opportunties to advance politically and militarily. He was called the The Little Italian because Corsica not many years prior to his birth was part of the mess of 'Italian' states but was occupied by force by France. Most of Napoleon's childhood heros were actually Corsican freedom fighters. He grew up thinking of the French as oppressors, but on being sent to a French Military school, he soon realised the there were better prospects to be had by embracing the French than hating them. (Even changed his name to make it sound more 'French'). Essentially his who life was a mess of contradicitions, France/ Corsica, the revolution/powermongering. France was already at war 'exporting' the principles of crude democracy and destroying aristocratic monarchies where possible when Napoleon shot to power. To the major monachies of the time (Britain, Prussia, Russia, Austria) this was just proof of how powerful the mob could be if allowed to revolt, and here was this little quite low born Corsican upstart at the head of a state which had had one of the longest established most powerful monarchies!So in a spirit of pure self preservation the monarchies had to try and destroy the Republic of France. Napoleon was forced to go on the offensive at first, but as a man with a gift for war and the sheer balls to have crowned himself Emperor, I feel he just couldn't shake off that side of himself enough to win the trust of other states. Ultimately he should have resigned himself to excile in Elba after the battle of Paris, but his desire to return to power (although I really believe he wanted to this to be a peaceful one) could only really have ever led to his permenant downfall.

As for US economic imperialsm, I think that's more to do with changing nature of global economics, take Nike or MacDonalds for example, can a companies like these with manufacturing plants accross the world and worldwide retail outlets really "belong" to any one state just because they're based and registered there?

Sorry to bash on a bit!

:-)

Mea_Cupla

The_Russian_Rocket
16th Feb 2005, 02:32
I'm impressed to Artic. You all have molded quite the discussion here.

But Mikhail Kutusov is the most underrated general of the wars. He fought of the Turks and helped out with the French problem. His actions after the battle of Smolensk saved Russia from the Grand Armee. Mikhail took the army back from Barclay de Tolly who was about to be deafeated at Smolensk. From there he retreated Borodino was eventually defeated but not without taking some French down with him. Borodino while not seeming like it, was the beginning of the end for the Grand Armee.

Still on the run, Mikhail ordered that Moscow be set on fire. The Russians hid and Napoleon (still not listening to his advisors) stayed in a burnt Moscow for weeks.

The famous retreat to Smolensk was Napoleon’s mistake. With no food to plunder, random Russian attacks, and early snows, hunger and the cold took more lives than the battles.

Napoleon came with 500,000..came back with 20,000.

Mikhail, knowing the Russian people would not like him for his actions, did them anyway. Thats what makes a true hero, and in some ways a genuis.

Mr. C.
16th Feb 2005, 04:30
The way I see it is that it, and this has been backed up by years of books and TV Documentaries I was too lazy to switch off, is that Germany began to very powerful indeed, and the Kaiser seeing all this new power at his disposal wanted to fit himself out with an empire just like his 'cousins' in Windsor Castle,

Kaiser: "What Germany could really do with now is an Empire. The german people deserve it.
Advisor: "But where shall we go? Your cousins in Britain own most of the good bits."
Kaiser: "Ooh look, France. They could do with conquering, it'd certainly look good on the map, whats the best way to get to France, Flanders wasn't it?
Advisor: "Yes sir, but the Belgans won't let us through."
Kaiser: "So? We'll conquer them aswell. Won't that be nice."
Advisor: "But sir, they have a treaty of protection with the UK and you've already pissed them off a treat with this new ship-building scheme."
Kaiser: "But they're family, I'm sure they'll understand."
Advisor: "The Royal family aren't the pow-"
Kaiser: "I'll hear none of it, prepare my armies."[/QUOTE]

Well, I'm not sure where the above conversation came from but vonSchlieffen came up with the plan to go through Belgium well before Kaiser Wilhelm I came to power. The Kaiser of WWI had nothing to do with the plan, he didn't even want to attack France and tried constraining his generals who were having apoplectic fits about his holding them back. He finally gave them a reluctant nod after they showed him how disastrous a situation they would be in if they didn't swiftly go into France; put it out of the war and then focus on the more slow to mobilize Russia. As far as the books I've read state; Germany's purpose at the start of the conflict was to support Austria in kicking the crap out of Serbia to stop agitating the slavs in southern Austria-Hungary; the Kaiser doing this to support Germany's only staunch ally. Germany didn't want Austria falling apart which would have resulted in a Russian grab for domination of the slavic states. The Kaiser was NOT hoping for a general conflict involving Britain. Germany's admirals(ie vonTirpitz) may have been hoping for it but not the Kaiser. He was a diplomatic bumbler but from what I've read he had no designs on French territory, though some French colonies would likely have been on the table had they won. They weren't planning on stripping away all their colonies, which was what was done to Germany following the war.

Mr. C.
16th Feb 2005, 04:45
The famous retreat to Smolensk was Napoleon’s mistake. With no food to plunder, random Russian attacks, and early snows, hunger and the cold took more lives than the battles.

Napoleon came with 500,000..came back with 20,000.

Mikhail, knowing the Russian people would not like him for his actions, did them anyway. Thats what makes a true hero, and in some ways a genuis.

I agree that Kutosov was a hero. He stood by his strategy in the face of blistering attacks on him; being called a coward, etc. And of course, he was vindicated by the ultimate results. I think, however, that he was more pragmatic then a genius. He knew that he was no match for a strong Grand Armee with Napoleon at its head. It reminds me of Hannibal fighting the Romans. After Hannibal's crushing victory at Cannae the Romans opted for a similar strategy to Kutosov's with the same result.

Lonewulf44
16th Feb 2005, 16:43
From there he retreated Borodino was eventually defeated but not without taking some French down with him. Borodino while not seeming like it, was the beginning of the end for the Grand Armee.

Most definitly, the battle at Borodino signalled the end of the Grand Armee. Oh, and welcome Mea_Cupla.