Was Napoleon a Betrayer of the French Revolution?

Essay by xnightowlxCollege, Undergraduate April 2014

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Was Napoleon a Betrayer of the French Revolution?

The main objectives of the French Revolution were to ensure the people of France have freedom of religion, to abolish Feudalism, and to uphold the Rights of Man proposed by the National Assembly. Napoleon achieved nearly all of these objectives to a certain degree, for example he introduced the Perfect system to minimize royalist revolts and he was determined not to restore the monarchy in France. He introduced lycée's that upheld the main ideas of the Revolution which was to give French citizens a better chance in life; this gave the young men of the time a greater hope in pursuing a rewarding career. Napoleon also managed to create a number of career opportunities, providing they were talented, which yet again gave French citizens a better outlook on life. However, there were certain reasons why Napoleon could be seen as a betrayer of the Revolution.

He seized power for himself, which contradicted the goals of the Revolution, for the people wanted to do away with aristocratic figures. An order of precedence was also reintroduced within France, which created nobility and mimicked a return to the political system that previously reigned over France. Lower class peasants weren't looked after under this system of rules, which is what many of the revolutionaries wanted.

Although not from a hugely wealthy family, Napoleon came from an aristocratic background and was part of the Corsican Nobility. This may give some indication as to why he made many decisions which benefited the upper class upon seizing power in France. He established another nobility in 1802 called the "Legion of Honour," which was another way of him securing his power by keeping the wealthy in favor of his rule. This was managed through gifts such as money and titles,