Compare and contrast the two main figures of the European history of the 19th century: Napoleon III and Bismarck

Essay by rorckyHigh School, 11th gradeA-, May 2004

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"Napoleon's tragedy was that his ambitions surpassed his capacities; Bismarck's tragedy was that his capacities exceeded his society's ability to absorb them. The legacy Napoleon left for France was strategic paralysis; the legacy the Bismarck left for Germany was unassimilable greatness"(statement made by Henry Kissinger) is in my opinion a correct statement. This statement can actually be separated into two parts. The first parts relates with the capacities, ambitions and successes of Bismarck and Napoleon. The second part is about the final result of their reign and how their reigns could be taken over after such changing of Europe.

Bismarck main objective was to bring together the German states and to form a powerful great German State; this is why he became the main architect in the German unification. To succeed in this difficult task he used Realpolitik. He was as incredible in dealing with foreign affaires as with domestic affaires.

The success of the unification was tremendous but it resulted in a very complex state that future generation had difficulties to deal with. Napoleon was brilliant in domestic affaires, but he preferred to deal with foreign affaires, which he actually wasn't able to arrange well. "The irony in Napoleon's life was that he was much better suited for domestic policy, which basically bored him, than he was for foreign adventures, for which he lacked both the daring and the insight"(P.106 Kissinger). The way he handled foreign affairs brought France into a deep crisis. He finally stopped to reign and France couldn't cope with such problems he had established.

Napoleon was an excellent leader for domestic affaires in France. He, as the nephew of the Great Napoleon, was persuaded that France should be ruled by an authoritarian ruler with most of the power in his hand and supported by...