The Age of Napoleon Bonaparte has its roots in the French Revolution. The chaos, fragmented power, and instability of that time created the conditions that allowed Napoleon to rise to absolute power in France and begin a wave of conquests across Europe. Napoleon accomplished some of the aims of the French Revolution and also wiped out some of its reforms. The impact on Europe resulting from his actions and the conditions that he created still affect the world today. To understand the Revolutionary Age and its aftermath, one must analyze the revolution as well as Napoleon's goals, actions, and motivations and the reactions of his enemies.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a young military officer from Corsica when the French Revolution began. He first distinguished himself through his ingenious use of artillery to drive British and Spanish occupiers from the city of Toulon in December, 1793. Previously, he had been a little known junior officer in the French army.
He appears to have read Locke, Rousseau, and other political thinkers who advocated social and personal rights and freedoms. Napoleon seems to have supported the revolution and its ideals. Certainly, he was loyal to the revolution and its leaders early on. But, after Robespierre's arrest and execution, Napoleon was arrested for being too close to the Committee of Public Safety. Friends were able to obtain his release and reinstatement, and Napoleon again proved his loyalty to the government by ruthlessly suppressing a Royalist revolt in Paris on 5 October 1795. He was subsequently promoted to general and sent to take command of French forces in Italy. Here, Napoleon was phenomenally successful. He also got his first taste of power in Italy, and he like it- a lot. He wrote in his diary, "I have tasted command. I cannot give it up"...