The French Wars 1792-1815

The French Wars 1792-1815

The French Wars 1792-1815

The French Wars 1792-1815

Synopsis

A highly original and critical introduction to the revolutionary and napoleonic conflicts. It illuminates the less well-known areas of the subject, such as the changing atttitude of the French people towards Napoleon, as well as providing a balanced account of the campaigns of Wellington and Napoleon.Based on current historiography, this book discusses the expansion of France, the extent to which Napoleon was responsible for this success, and the events leading up to his subsequent exile. It also provides a clear examination of each of the coalitions which fought against France.

Excerpt

If one uses the phrase ‘the great war’ today, the conflict that comes to mind is invariably the First World War of 1914 to 1918. For a century before that, however, there had already been a ‘great war’ in the shape of the twenty-three years of bitter fighting that had racked Europe between 1792 and 1815. This struggle - in reality a series of separate conflicts bound together by the permanent enmity that divided Britain and France - had acquired immense influence. Images of its battles had been a major force in shaping expectations of what would occur should there be any renewed outbreak of general hostilities. Images of its campaigns had provided the generals of Europe with models for the operations which they themselves would have to mastermind should war break out. Images of its armies lay at the heart of contemporary theories of military organisation. Images of its passion had provided nations across Europe with fundamental features of their national myths. Images of its soldiers remained an influence in deciding how soldiers should appear, at least on parade. Finally, images of its commanders had provided generations of children with schooling in the virtues of courage and heroism.

In short, just as Admiral Nelson looked down upon London from his famous column, so the whole of Europe could be said to exist in its shadow. What, however, were the wars about? How were they fought? What factors affected their outcome? All these questions have been the subject of great debate, and yet too often the literature on the period has allowed them to become submerged in a welter of narrative. However, when they have been the centre of attention, their discussion has often, and just as inexcusably, been stripped of

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