Friday, December 2, 2011
Emperor Napoleon I, Some Thoughts
Napoleon was a force to be reckoned with and he became a fact of life that all the powers had to either defeat or accept and defeating him was no small chore. His brother Louis was an admirable King of Holland, one of his marshals was elected King of Sweden (founding a dynasty that continues to this day) and even his greatest continental rival, the Empire of Austria, agreed to a marriage alliance with him. Tsar Paul I of Russia (who I have a bit of a soft spot for) who was as ardent a monarchist as anyone could be, and a stickler for legitimacy, ultimately went from being the most avowed enemy of Napoleonic France to being rather friendly toward them as Napoleon put the revolution behind him and began taking France in a more traditional, monarchist direction. I can never forgive Napoleon for his spreading of republicanism early in his career, yet it is also true that he became just as much an advocate of monarchy, albeit a new kind of monarchy. Today it is not much thought of but, across Europe and even into Latin America, the legacy of that Napoleonic style of monarchy was also to become quite popular for a time and that cannot be ignored.