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To What Extent Was Napoleon Responsible for His Own Downfall?

Autor:   •  March 15, 2015  •  Essay  •  1,631 Words (7 Pages)  •  754 Views

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2         To what extent was Napoleon responsible for his own downfall?

Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena after his defeat at the battlefield of Waterloo in 1815. The vast empire of France collapsed like a house of cards after the imprisonment of Napoleon at St. Helena but how far can Napoleon be blamed for his own downfall. This essay will consider that his personal leadership in battle was a main factor as well as his opposition making decisive changes to their army, the weakness in the Grand Armée and the costly mistakes made that contributed to his downfall.

With the rise of Napoleon's power, there had been a tremendous boost in his ego. He began to think, his judgments were better than those of his advisers and he had an exceptionally sharp intelligence. Napoleons personal Leadership over the entire field of operation is a very significant factor in determining what caused his downfall. He began to overlook seasoned politicians like Talleyrand and Fouche who were well renowned in diplomacy and foresight, in the Spanish Ulcer, Napoleon was to proud to pull out of Spain and admit he had been defeated. They had remarked about his downfall: "It was his judgment that degenerated him and proved to be the ultimate cause of his failure." Napoleon was of obstinate by nature. His allies were prepared to confine him within the natural boundaries of France even after his defeat but he did not agree to their proposals. Once Napoleon said, "I shall know how to die but never yield an inch of territory." In the same way he did retreat after making an attack on Spain. He also realized the difficulties during his first invasion of Russia. He wanted to establish a vast empire under his sway. Napoleon was aware that it was not an easy task but he did not give up his efforts. He often rejected the advice of his worthy ministers like Talleyrand and Fouche. When Talleyrand advised him not to invade Spain he compared him with dung in silk stocking but after the end of Spanish campaign he said: "The Spanish ulcer had ruined me." In the same way he used to name the confederation of Rhine as 'A Bad Calculation' and continental system a 'Chimera' but he never gave them up. Napoleons judgment of leaders became poor, in the battle of Waterloo, Grouchy was to be a great General but he was out of his depth as a Marshal. He showed little imitative and was tardy in his pursuit of the Prussians, giving them time to regroup. Thus he failed to keep the Prussians separate from the other allies. Ney also probed unreliable as a leader failing to take advantage of his situation in the precursory battle at Quatre-Bras and then in leading the Cavalry, unsupported by Infantry and artillery at Waterloo. Which shows just how reliant the Marshals were as they were unable to cope without the support of Napoleon.  Napoleons personal leadership over the entire field of operation as a factor of his own downfall is very significant as what his decision to make the atrocious choices to enter allied countries, use his marshals who were inferior to him and this ruled costly to his entire filed operation in key campaigns. He was physically incapable of leading an army to his capability which resulted in simple tactical planning which was a surprise to many as this wasn’t the talented and military genius he was known to be.


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