Napoleon, the Enlightened Despot

Kathy Webb
The Age of Revolution-Humanities 4315
Dr. Hal Smith
8 November 2010
Napoleon, the Enlightened Despot

At a time when France was in the throes of revolution and the common people desired a new direction for their country,   Napoleon Bonaparte, a Corsican and   considered lowly in French societal position, through talent became the self-proclaimed ruler of France by seizing power in 1799. 1 From the time of Napoleons youth, through his career in the army, until his imperialistic rule, Napoleon encountered fortuitous opportunities that catapulted his rise to power. This power ended the revolution in its present form, but gave rise to an Enlightened Despot who installed some of the revolutionary ideas into his reign, while he furthered his own individual interests and fulfilled his destiny.2
As a Corsican, Napoleon was born into a family oriented society ruled by democratic principles. The father dominated the family making all the decision at home and abroad, while the mother stayed in the domestic realm at home.3 Even though revolutionaries, the family protected its own and supported the French in its takeover of Corsica. This allowed Napoleon, as a form of reward to his family for their service and support, to receive an education at the “Brienne Preparatory School in Champagne”4 which laid the groundwork for Napoleons military career that was the catalyst for his rise to power. Napoleon received excellent marks, especially in mathematics, giving him a scholarship to the “Royal Military School in Paris”5 where military training started. An Army officer at the age of 16, Napoleon graduated and supported his family on military pay due to his father’s death.7   This fortuitous timing, as the monarchial military   officers fled their post because they did not support the new revolutionist government (wk8), allowed Napoleon to step into a higher officer’s position through his talent, not his wealth, as the revolutionist overthrew the monarchy.8   Wartime...