The effect of the Napoleonic Wars

The effect of the Napoleonic Wars

Brian Stolk

The effect of the Napoleonic Wars on Europe were numerous but the main thing is that from 1807 to 1813 Napoleon, and in turn France, were in control of all of Europe, other than Great Britain. In 1804 Napoleon seized sole control over France and in 1805, 1806, and 1807, he soundly defeated Austria, Prussia, and Russia respectively. Before and after these victories Napoleon was establishing a familial dynasty all over Europe, with his bothers becoming kings of Spain, Holland, and Westphalia and his sisters becoming the Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Queen of Naples. The fact that Napoleon couldn’t conquer Britain became a thorn in his side and eventually he shut all ports to English traders. This had the desired effect at first, with Britain falling into an economic depression in 1810 while France came into an accelerated Industrial Revolution. However, by 1811 France fell into its own economic depression as they were not able to get their hands on enough raw materials for their textile industry. As France fell into its depression the other nations of Europe were making alliances in order to overthrow Napoleon which happened by 1813 and Prussia and Austria gaining a lot of lands. In February of 1815, Napoleon came out of his exile with a few hundred men but was able to retake control of France without firing a shot. This rule would only last for a few months with Napoleon’s final defeat happening at Waterloo at the hands of a combined force of  British, Dutch, Belgian, and German troops.

Napoleon’s impact was not just felt with military and country shaping but in many other aspects of life as well. One main impact was Napoleon vaccinating all of his troops against smallpox, a practice that he introduced to Europe. Napoleon’s rule also saw the end of feudal rule and the introduction of the peasant farmer. The shutting off of the Atlantic trade saw the building up of the Rhine-Rhone valley which helped combat against France’s huge dependence on expensive overland travel. Napoleon’s impact on Europe in the relatively small time he was in power is enormous and I hope that I was able to cover at least the basics of a revolutionary time in history.

 

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