Napoleon - Legacy - Criticism


Napoleon ended lawlessness and disorder in post-Revolutionary France. He was, however, considered a tyrant and usurper by his opponents. His critics charge that he was not significantly troubled when faced with the prospect of war and death for thousands, turned his search for undisputed rule into a series of conflicts throughout Europe and ignored treaties and conventions alike. His role in the Haitian Revolution and decision to reinstate slavery in France's oversea colonies are controversial and have an impact on his reputation.

Napoleon institutionalised plunder of conquered territories: French museums contain art stolen by Napoleon's forces from across Europe. Artefacts were brought to the Musée du Louvre for a grand central museum; his example would later serve as inspiration for more notorious imitators. He was compared to Adolf Hitler most famously by the historian Pieter Geyl in 1947. David G. Chandler, historian of Napoleonic warfare, wrote that, "Nothing could be more degrading to the former and more flattering to the latter."

Critics argue Napoleon's true legacy must reflect the loss of status for France and needless deaths brought by his rule: historian Victor Davis Hanson writes, "After all, the military record is unquestioned—17 years of wars, perhaps six million Europeans dead, France bankrupt, her overseas colonies lost." McLynn notes that, "He can be viewed as the man who set back European economic life for a generation by the dislocating impact of his wars. However, Vincent Cronin replies that such criticism relies on the flawed premise that Napoleon was responsible for the wars which bear his name, when in fact France was the victim of a series of coalitions which aimed to destroy the ideals of the Revolution.

Read more about this topic:  Napoleon, Legacy

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Famous quotes containing the word criticism:

    In criticism I will be bold, and as sternly, absolutely just with friend and foe. From this purpose nothing shall turn me.
    Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1845)

    Good criticism is very rare and always precious.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    The critic lives at second hand. He writes about. The poem, the novel, or the play must be given to him; criticism exists by the grace of other men’s genius. By virtue of style, criticism can itself become literature. But usually this occurs only when the writer is acting as critic of his own work or as outrider to his own poetics, when the criticism of Coleridge is work in progress or that of T.S. Eliot propaganda.
    George Steiner (b. 1929)