The French Revolution from the years 1789-1799 and Napoleonic era from 1799-1815 was a time period of radical social and political reform. Despite obvious, physical damages and high death tolls, this period in history has major historical forces that exert immense influence on the not only the lives during that period, but also modern Western society. Enlightened ideas promoted leaders and rulers to adapt these notions to improve society and set an archetype for the future. A prime example of this idea is conveyed through the French Revolution slogan, “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”. Moreover, Napoleon Bonaparte progressed French society though many of his implemented ideals that contributes to the standards of modern society. In addition, military tactics were advancing at an impressive rate that would influence modern tactics – some of which are still practiced today. In essence, the French Revolution and the following Napoleonic Era produced enlightened notions and techniques that critically affected the progression of modern, Western society.
The French Revolution contained an abundance of violence and radical ideas; however, in spite of this, a progressive slogan diminished these oppressive acts. “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” is a reformist idea that was a foundation for French society. The idea of liberty is apparent in various aspects during the French revolution that would set a standard for the future. The rising middle class overthrew an obsolete aristocracy. This strained struggle essentially paved the way for modern democracy. The entirety of the revolt led to the freedom of oppression that the old French monarchs created. Moreover, not only did the revolt of the middle class allow society to be released from the ancien regime, it generated the entire principle of equality. Since the foundations of a democracy were being revealed, a core value in a democratic society is equality across everyone. Universal suffrage of men that came from all social backgrounds was promoted as a government-sponsored reform. This idea of universal suffrage, despite being limited to males only, this idea developed into what modern Western society has now – a true universal suffrage. Furthermore, the idea of fraternity, or nationalism, was explored during the Storming of the Bastille which occurred in July 14, 1789. The middle class and peasants banded together to fight a mutual cause: overthrowing the absolute rule. This idea of nationalism influenced future societies, and is clear in such examples as the causes of WWI and WWII. Overall, the French revolution established a liberal slogan which heavily influenced Western societies.
Napoleon Bonaparte reigned as France’s leader during the years of 1799-1815. While he was in power, Napoleon implemented various enlightened ideas that advanced French society, as well as future societies. One of his most influential ideas was the establishment of a centralized bank. The centralized bank essentially allows a universal currency in France and not in separate provinces/districts. This currency, along with universal rates stabilizes an economy and assists in preventing inflation. A centralized bank is now practiced in all Western societies. Moreover, Napoleon imposed the “Napoleonic Code” which juxtaposes feudalism with progressive, democratic ideas. In this case, Napoleon attempted to please all members of society by creating a standard law system. This standard law system includes imposing the rule of law, which is the idea that everyone is subjected to the law. This idea is still prevalent in nearly all modern societies – despite an individual’s social status, they are under the law. Furthermore, Napoleon established the idea of a secondary school. An extensive education is essential for a country to prosper and grow. This concept of proceeding to a further education is highly stressed and encouraged in modern societies. In Canada, it is required for a student to remain in secondary school until they are 18 years of age. In comparison to Catherine the Great of Russia, Napoleon essentially surpasses old customs of education by creating a secondary school. In essence, Napoleon’s established code exceedingly advanced French standards, as well as placing a foundation for modern countries.
Military tactics evolved during the time period of 1789-1815 that would influence how modern military methods would be used. Napoleon, as a younger male, was sent to military school in France where his advanced warfare techniques progressed his ranking. As an artillery general and eventually the entire head of the French army, his one method of warfare superbly gave an edge to France. Divide and conquer, the tactic that involves letting the enemy advance while splitting an army’s troops to eventually circle the enemy, was the scheme in which Napoleon defeated nearly all of his enemies. Moreover, a new system to create troops in a fast method was developed – conscription. Conscription is the compulsory enlistment for most males into the military. This new idea contributed to Napoleon’s Grand Army of over 600,000 men; as well more recent wars such as WWI when troops were needed to help the British. Furthermore, although the Russian tactic of “scorched earth” had been used in previous wars, it also had a tremendous affect on Napoleon’s reign. The use of this policy defeated nearly all of Napolean’s men of his Grand Army. In a more modern example, the Russians used the same policy against Hitler’s troops during WWII. Overall, military tactics advanced during Napoleon’s rule and influenced future wars.
Essentially, enlightened ideals during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Era exert an immense influence on the progression of modern, Western society. The established concepts of higher education, universal French currency, and pleasing most of society that was implemented by Napoleon set the foundations for modern civilizations. Moreover, the famous French slogan that set standards for modern societies originated in the midst of the dark aspects in the revolution, which is: “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”. Furthermore, military tactics influenced how modern society would function during wars. In essence, the time frame between 1789-1815 exerted many major influences on Western culture.