Napoleon Bonaparte: Hero or Tyrant?

 Napoleon Bonaparte. The man, the myth, the legend. A man who took the world by storm, and managed to accomplish so many great things that are still marveled at today. Many think he was a tyrant. Many think he was a hero. From studying his war tactics to analyzing his very words, people have been debating the true worth of Napoleon for many, many years, even escalating to fist fights and broken noses. We are not brutes, however. We are scholars. So we will look at the facts instead of siding with someone on an argument. But in the end, it will ultimately be your decision alone that will decide whether he was a hero sent down by the angels or a tyrant brought up from the devil. 

France was in a tough spot, dealing with the rebuttal of the French Revolutionary Wars. Napoleon came in with his very large reputation and promised order to return to France. Now, after dealing with being hit over and over again, the French were all for order again. Everyone was in agreement with giving Napoleon enough power to make order appear in their lives again. France happily gave him the power, and then a constitution was presented that would give Napoleon absolute power. Normally, this might seem like a suspicious request but these people were still picking themselves off of the ground, so it’s understandable what their decision came to be. The people were asked if they approved of the constitution and their response was an overwhelming, “Yes!”. Half of the people only said yes because it was a public voting, not an anonymous one, like they are today. And so, because of the response, Napoleon took over. Taking power, he slashed the newspapers in half, censored the news, and put opponents in prison and even had some executed. Sounds fair, right? Sounds pretty suspicious actually. Another constitution approved and Napoleon became a consul for life. A consul is as follows:

“An official appointed by a government to live in a foreign city and protect and promote the government’s citizens and interests there.” -Wikipedia 

Meanwhile, Pope Pius VII was elected and Napoleon saw an opportunity. He wanted the church back into the lives of the French. However, Napoleon just wanted the church under his thumb because of the power that it held. Pope Pius VII and Napoleon reached an arrangement and a written agreement confirmed it. Suddenly, the church’s land was confiscated and Catholicism became the religion for the majority of the French. Bishops were supposed to be nominated by Napoleon and approved by the Pope. Bishops were to appoint priests from government lists. As you can see, Napoleon’s hand was deep in the church, and it only goes deeper. He was subtly taking complete control of the church. You might think that Pope Pius VII was furious with the turns of events. However, he chose to look on the optimistic side of things, claiming that at least the churches were open again. He still continued to have authority over the church, so I don’t think he was too upset. Until, that is, the Organic Articles. The Organic Articles were a set of articles that basically discussed France’s freedom. Church marriages weren’t recognized unless accompanied by a civil certificate, something that is very normal today. It wasn’t back in 1700’s Europe, that’s for sure. And it wasn’t just with the marriages, it was with the seminary in the church. You see, seminary training, instead of being under the church’s watch, was under the governments watch and control. If you were starting to doubt Napoleon, you’d turn around in a second once you see what he did next. He introduced Code Napoleon, which was established in all areas of Europe where the French became dominant. Code Napoleon or the Napoleonic Code was a French code that gave more freedom to the people. What kind of freedom? Well, it let you choose your own religion and you weren’t given special privileges based on where you were born. It made it so that government jobs would be given to the most qualified instead of just the rich or fortunate. However, despite the good it might’ve done, in 1804, Napoleon decided that he wanted more power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but apparently Napoleon didn’t get the memo. So, he went to Pope Pius VII, stateing that he wanted to become emperor and that he wanted the Pope to officiate. Despite inviting Pope Pius VII to the ceremony, Napoleon was the one who put the crown on his head. With all of this power, he decided it was time to take action. And so he went and made very hostile moves towards Switzerland. England decided that it wasn’t going to stand for that behavior. But Napoleon was prepared for a rebuttal. He set up the Continental Blockade, which meant that any country that he didn’t dominate, couldn’t trade with England, which cut off trading sources for England. They retaliated with a blockade of their own. Many significant battles took place during the two years of the blockades. In 1805, Napoleon led the Battle of Austerlitz. This is considered one of his greatest victories to date. Napoleon was on one side, and Great Britain, the Holy Roman Empire, and Russia were on the other. Obviously, Napoleon came out on top, his victory legendary as it is. The battle, along with many other wars fought by Napoleon have been named the Napoleonic Wars, which included the downfall of the Holy Roman Empire.

Pope Pius VII didn’t stand for the blockades. And because Napoleon didn’t like that, he had his troops overrun the Papal States. The Papal States were a collection of states ruled over by the Pope, much like how the President of the United States rules over the United States. The Pope, however, stood his ground but the French troops occupied Rome, probably to draw out the Pope. Napoleon was not happy and demanded that the Pope surrender. He claimed that he would annex the Papl States and force the Pope to be his vassal. In simpler terms, Napoleon wanted to add the Papal States to his collection of power and wanted to have the Pope under certain conditions as an ally. And in retaliation, Pope Pius VII excommunicated Napoleon. This was a very big deal, as by excommunicating Napoleon, the Pope took away Napoleon’s power over the church. Napoleon, in turn, ordered his generals to bring him the Pope, calling him a crazy fool. The French soldiers burst in on the Pope but were so struck by his power, that they tried to be as polite as possible, showing him respect, and even kissing his ring.

Napoleon brought much of Europe under his domination and in 1812, decided to make the worst decision of his life. He decided to invade Russia. Now, Russia wasn’t some small colony that could be overrun. No, Russia was massive and it’s armies were brutal. So, it was no surprise when Napoleon lost over ninety percent of his army and limped back home. Seeing his weakness, other forces came together and started to finish him off. He was sent to Elba, but sneaked back to France and, under everyone’s noses, he raised yet another army! And then of course, there was the Hundred Days War in the spring. Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, and Russia put out one-thousand five-hundred troops each, in order to end Napoleon, once and for all. After realizing that he was outmatched (and after putting up quite a fight) Napoleon’s followers turned on him and he escaped and demanded safety from the other nations. Great Britain agreed and kept him on the island of Saint Helena. There he remained for the rest of his days, claiming the government was trying to kill him faster while he was there, and finally died on May 5, 1821 at fifty-two years old. 

So! After reading his life story, gather your facts, for it is time for us to compare notes. Was Napoleon really a hero or was he a tyrant? We could go on the hero side and say that he did much good for Europe and the French. After all, he introduced the Napoleonic Code which has done a great many good things! It’s even been implemented in areas outside of Europe! That’s a pretty good thing, right? What about him coming in and saving the French? He gave them order and a ruler to look up to. His battle strategies are studied in military schools today because he was so clever. He made the world a better place. Or did he make it worse off? Let’s look at the tyrant side of things. He forcefully took over the church once he re-introduced it. He stuck his little hands in everyone’s business. He declared war and fought ruthlessly. He crowded himself Emperor so that he’d have all of the power. He lashed out at the Pope for disagreeing and took over his collective states as a response. On one argument, he was someone who wanted the best for his people and wanted to rule fairly over all. On the other, he was a power-hungry genius who wanted to have Europe in the palm of his hand. Was he truly a hero or was he a psychopath bent on a tyrannical rule? Was he truly a tyrant or was he a misunderstood ruler who only wanted the best for the world? It is your decision in the end, though I think the facts speak for themselves. 

-Reference, Wikipedia

Western Civliliaztion 2, Lesson 180

Advertisements

Optimism And Its Development

How important has the theme of optimism been in the development of Western Literature since 1493? 

1“optimism; hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something”

Optimism. A single word that defines people’s personalities, their emotions, their thoughts, and even their lives (should they let it). A powerful influence upon our daily lives that, when in the form of a story, can make a bigger impact than any one person could ever imagine. But optimism isn’t an emotion that is only limited to our daily lives. Meaning, it doesn’t need to be used in the ‘real world’ to be effective. Optimism in a book drives the story and influences the characters. If your protagonist is optimistic, your readers might be as well. An optimistic protagonist promotes being positive , while a pessimistic protagonist promotes either comedy or negativity. Children reading these books will act on what they think is the best approach to live. This is usually how the protagonist acts and the way they think. The child will imitate it to be like their favorite character. Much like little children jump off of couches to see if they can fly, children will test their abilities to imitate their idols. Sometimes, this can lead to the child being interested in specific academic field, solely because of the influence of their character.

Optimism is a powerful tool and object because it can be used to give hope to those who are exposed to it. Hope is a very hard thing to take away. It is easy to give someone hope but few realize that it is a weapon. Giving someone hope means giving them a chance. Hope is something that everyone yearns to have, so much so that if someone is offered it, they will either immediately take it, or deny it because they do not believe that the hope is realistic. Whether it be manipulating someones words or taking what someone said out of context, hope can be found in the darkest corners. That is why, when faced with a problem, hope is something that is coveted. People want to be lied to, as long as they can have hope. That is why doctors and nurses are forbidden to promise that someone is going to be ok. Giving false hope to someone is a very dangerous thing. Much like hope, optimism can be used as a strong motivator. 

Optimism in the form of a book might be the most powerful form. There is no room for a lie on paper. You cannot stutter, you cannot mess up. What you say is deliberate. When you are writing a story, your words are specific. Your words are important. Your words are all you have. You cannot express your tone of voice. And you cannot ask the reader what they think of the characters or the story while writing it. Your words are meaningful. Powerful. And they can be used in many different ways. No matter what you try to convince people about your story, they will most likely only believe what is on paper. Because that is sound. Because that is fact. Your story does not jumble up it’s words when you close the cover. Your book does not create a new story every time you open it. It stays constant. It never changes. When someone is reading your book again, they may notice some things that are new but nothing truly ever changes in your story. That is something that is very rare in our world today. The earth is constantly changing—people are constantly changing. Humans are complicated beings of emotions and thoughts, and they are constantly changing their minds, constantly changing their ideas. Books are constant. Stories are constant (usually). And when a human goes through a tough time, they may turn to their favorite book for an answer. A book feigning optimism will give them strength. But a book that promotes pessimistic views will not help the reader. It might even tear them down further. So let’s discuss why optimism was truly an important theme to develop our world. I ask you this: how important has the theme of optimism been in the development of Western Literature since 1493?

How about we break down this sentence a little in order to really understand it. We will separate this sentence into two parts. The first will deal with the theme of optimism and the second will deal with its development. Beginning with the theme of optimism, we will discuss what has defined it through literature’s history. The theme of optimism in stories has fluctuated over the past few decades. In the workings of Shakespeare, you can find both happy moments and sad moments, with the dangerous and breathtaking moments being the ones you remember. Most of Shakespeare’s more popular plays did not have happy endings. It was a—for lack of a better word—trend to have ghastly endings to your stories. As Shakespeare so eloquently put it, 2“thus with a kiss I die”. With this sentence, that was taken from Romeo and Juliet, we see that optimism wasn’t very present in his plays. And yet, a small spark was still there, for together Romeo and Juliet were joined as one in death, and their family’s feud was over. It might not’ve been upfront, but there is definitely optimism present. 

Popular stories of the 17th century end in heartbreak and misery. Much like Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote follows a story about a man who invested his life so much into classic chivalrous romances that he lost his sanity and thought himself to be a knight with the task of saving a princess. In the end, after many trails and many endeavors, his sanity is restored, but he is bed ridden with a terrible illness. Don Quixote said, 3“There is remedy for all things except death”. Through this quote, we can hear his struggle, though we still see optimism. He promotes optimism through this sentence and by promoting optimism, promotes hope. Someone reading this story might be faced with an internal struggle or maybe a terrible illness. They might find happiness in the quote, because it reminds them that nothing is impossible. We all know that death is inevitable, but to think for a moment that any disease can be cured, any heartbreak fixed, that promotes optimism in many, many ways. And, like Shakespeare, there is a light of optimism in the story of Don Quixote. 

Stories like the ones I have mentioned have plenty death, heartbreak, and struggle. Even in the darkest of times, it seems that these stories would be considered terribly tragic. But, alas, that is not true. For people call Romeo and Juliet a classic love story. These stories, despite the struggles that they represent, promote optimism indubiously. For Romeo and Juliet, it gives people hope that one day, they might find someone who loves them enough to die for them and that even in the dark of death, good can come from it. For Don Quixote, it gives people hope that no matter what they are going through, they might just make it through. These stories do not directly promote optimism. But people read them and think, “Hey! That’s a lot like my situation! And they made it through! I can do that!” or “Wow, they gave up before even realizing the truth. You know, I’m not going to do that. I am going to learn from their example and find out what my life has in store for me.” The theme of optimism in these old tales has been greatly punctuated by the death and horror involved in them. Looking back on the state that the world was in, it’s not surprising that the theme of optimism was slow going. What people write, reflects the current world’s state. Those in tough times will either write of a better time, overflowing with optimism, or they will write of a terrible tragedy, with reflects their current situation. People write what they are feeling, seeing, experiencing—that’s what makes the writing come to life. When writers place fear and anger and happiness into their work, the words mean so much more to the reader, even if they don’t realize it. People like to read things that they can relate to. Comic book superhero characters are good examples of this. Let’s look at one in particular, one kid named Peter Parker. Peter Parker was a normal kid in high school until one day he was bitten by a spider that gave him spider-like abilities. He decided to fight crime in his city with his power and became a hero named Spider-man. People like Spider-man’s story because he constantly has to juggle both his high school and social life, along with keeping the crime in his city to a minimum. Kids everywhere can relate to a kid who has to keep secrets from his authority, has to face the social pressures of being a teenager, and still manages to take down the bad guys at the end of the day—all while delivering clever one-liners. Kids look at Spider-man and his ability to shake things off easily, his ability to laugh in the face of danger, and they find the courage and strength to get through what they are going through. Through the theme of optimism, Spider-man makes kids and adults alike smile through their troubles. As do a lot of book and movie characters. Their influence on our world today is incredible. Faced with unfathomable problems and dealing with things that would send most running in fear, what will they do when they are on the ground? When all hope is lost, what do the characters do? What do the heroes do? They get up. They keep fighting. The heroes stay strong and beat their demons. By getting up, by forcing themselves to imagine that there is another way, they choose to have an optimistic outlook on what they are fighting for. Whether it be to save someone’s life or to save the world or even to just make it home after a long day of work. And this sense of optimism, this sense of purpose that has been put into writing over the centuries still bleeds through people’s minds even on their darkest days. People living in the 16th century weren’t so different from you or me. A little hope, and in this case, optimism, goes a long way. 

Now onto the development of optimism. Optimism is something that can vary from person to person, but when a character chooses to be optimistic about a certain point, the reader has little room to argue. Optimism, along with pessimism, both rule over our world now, as much as they did back then. Stories like ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Jungle Book’ contain very optimistic and then very pessimistic themes. Even ‘The King James Bible’ seems to have so many optimistic, 4“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” yet pessimistic points, for example, 5″When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness”. We see through the old stories that optimism wasn’t always so prominent. In ‘The Pilgrims Progress’ by Paul Bunyan, the ending is a happy one but it is only happy because it ends with the Pilgrim making his way to heaven. The same goes for Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Little Matchbox Girl’. The short story ends with the little girl going to meet her caretaker in heaven. It is a bitter-sweet ending that not many story lines follow today. In the 16th century, we see Utopia by Thomas More, a story about a man who visits a perfect society with perfect laws and perfect people. Essentially, this story is the essence of optimism. But this story is all wrong. It’s twisted and maniacal. Nothing adds up, nothing makes sense. A mangled version of human optimism. But alas, what are we if not twisted versions of perfection? 

With optimism, you believe you can do a lot of stuff you normally wouldn’t. And because of this, writers can easily implement optimism in their stories to keep the reader entertained enough and to give the reader something they can turn to when they are feeling down. Through this, optimism has survived and flourished into something that is used in our everyday lives. But optimism didn’t just appear one day in the stories of old. As I have mentioned before, this process was gradual. As the world took a turn for the worse, the stories became more fanciful, trying to give an escape to those who wanted it. And from this mindset sprung many great authors. One in particular is J.R.R Tolkien. His books and stories are legendary. A brilliant man, he added a spark of optimism in our world that turned into a flame. In one of the poems he wrote for ‘The Lord of the Rings’, he stated, 6″Not all those who wander are lost.” A very common phrase this is well-known today. Using his talents, he created an escape and an entire world from the depths of his mind. Another famous line that you may know was spoken by Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo, the young hobbit, is talking to Gandalf about the ring and how he wished it hadn’t come to him. Frodo says that he wished that it didn’t happen when he was alive. Gandalf responds with the following, 7″So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” This scene in the book, this little sentence, it carries more optimism than most of the books before it. Through this, we can see the true definition of optimism, and that is to have hope long enough to get through the day. To have hope that one day, it will all be better. To have hope that even through tough times, and even though you will die one day, to make the most of the time that is given to you. 

Through the years, we see many optimistic themes in literature. Though not as common as they are today, they still existed in the corners of the story. Optimism carries our society without realizing it. In times of doubt, people turn to their most trusted sources of inspiration and hope. And many people see books as the inspiration to keep fighting, the strength to move on, or the courage to get back up again.

1 dictionary.com, reference 1

2 William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, reference 2

3 Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, reference 3 

4 The King James Bible, Proverbs 4:23, reference 4

5 The King James Bible, Job 30:26, reference 5

6 All that is gold and does not glitter, J.R.R Tolkien, reference 6

7 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R Tolkien, reference 7

English 3, Lesson 180

Spooky Scary Skeletons

What is bone marrow? What two types of bone marrow exist, and why are they important to the overall health of the body?

 What is bone marrow? Bone marrow is inside of your really strong bones and it’s really important and it keeps you alive. How does it keep you alive? Well, you see, bone marrow is separated into two types. And they are yellow marrow and red marrow. Now, the red marrow is really cool because it creates all of your red blood cells and your white blood cells. When a baby is born, they have 100% red marrow. But, adult’s have 50% yellow marrow and 50% red marrow. Plus! If you loose some of your blood, your red marrow starts creating more blood cells and then if your injury is REALLY serious, your yellow marrow will turn into red marrow to help produce blood cells. Isn’t that cool? As you can see, bone marrow is pretty important to your health. 

Biology Revised, Lesson 170

Some Things Never Change

“What is one issue that reflects the individualist versus collectivist outlook in your own times? How does it do this?”

Individualist: A person who favors freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control.

Collectivist: A person that favors the practice or principle of giving a group priority over each individual in it. 

Individualists in the modern times would probably be represented by Republicans, while collectivists would probably be represented as Democrats. Though, I’m not sure how I can properly explain this without offending anyone. I will try my best. One issue that reflects the war between the two? How about Presidential debates and elections? The United States is split into three parts when a Presidential election comes around. There are the Republicans, the Democrats, and the people who don’t care. Republicans want their rights and they don’t want to be controlled. Democrats want controlled actions, accountability, and freedom to do whatever they want with their bodies. And the other people either don’t think their vote matters or they don’t care what happens. 

When you take a step back and look at the world, you can see that some things never change. 

Western Civilization 2. Lesson 165

Sharks Are People Too!

“Think of marine mammals, which breathe air like we do but drink only salt water; and think of fish such as salmon which live part of their life in saltwater and part in freshwater. How do aquatic organisms deal with the different concentrations of salt in the water?”

Salmon can travel from fresh water to salt water. The salmon get its nutrients from the salt in the water when it’s in a body of salt water. However, when there’s not enough-if not any- salt in the fresh water, how can the salmon survive? It survives by getting its nutrients from the food it finds on the bottom of the rivers and lakes. This is how the salmon can travel from fresh water to salt water. This is a very cool bodily change that is unique to few aquatic animals. One of them being a Bull Shark. 

Biology 160

Senses Of The Mind

“In what senses was the world a dangerous place in the 1960s and 1970s?”

In what senses was it not? From the overview I got, danger was at a lot, if not all possible turns. That’s not even counting all of the fights going on all over the world. I mean, in America, kids were being exposed to a very new drug called ‘LSD’. Meanwhile, in the Vietnamese War, people were dying from a toxic gas called Agent Orange. It killed from 400-500 innocent civilians. The education systems were being dumbed down a lot to make sure that students were more compliant than knowledgable.

I used to think growing up in the 60s-70s would be fun. Now, I’m glad I was born in more modern times. 

Western Civ. 2, Lesson 160

Crash The Mode

“What was one of the important components of Germany’s Economic Miracle?”

One of the important components of Germany’s Economic Miracle was the help that they received at the Berlin Blockade. Different groups of people sent up food to Berlin so that they could get back on their feet and fight the good fight. This kindness gave them the strength to do what needed to be done. 

Western Civ. 2, Lesson 155