• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How important was the role of the British army in the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars?

Extracts from this document...


How important was the role of the British army in the defeat of France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars? While far smaller than the armies of many other European powers, by the turn of the century, the British army, through its tight discipline, sound command, and shrewd tactics, was still a force to be reckoned with. Despite early failures, such as the Duke of York's expeditions to the Netherlands, Wellington's efforts in the Peninsula were to prove invaluable, along with his command of the armies of the Fourth Coalition in the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. However, Britain's army was small, and the majority of land battles took place between Napoleon and the other Great Powers; Austria, Prussia and Russia, most notably at the Battle of the Nations in 1813, which lasted for an entire week. The Royal Navy arguably did more to aid the defeat of Napoleon, through her successful blockades and victories in battles such as Trafalgar. ...read more.


Supplied well by sea, and with a secure base behind impenetrable fortifications at Torres Vedras, Wellington could keep his army in fine condition, and beat larger French forces again and again. 1811 saw victories at Ciudad Rodrigo and Fuentes d'Onoro, and the following year Wellington again caused Napoleon heavy losses at Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. These assaults on French positions in Spain were a constant drain on Napoleon's main army, depriving him of much needed men for other objectives. On his death bed Napoleon himself conceded that 'it was the Spanish ulcer that destroyed me'. 1812 is considered by many historians to be the turning point in Napoleon's fortunes. Wellington defeated the French at Salamanca, forcing King Joseph to abdicate, while Russia turned against Napoleon, resulting in the loss of 600,000 French soldiers at the Battle of Borodino. This roused Prussia and Austria, who joined Russia in Leipzig at the Battle of the Nations in 1813, to defeat Napoleon's army. ...read more.


While making important contributions, the role of Britain's army was far from decisive in France's defeat. During the Revolutionary War, the army made little or no impact, and, but for the last year, Britain's army was active only in the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic War. However, it would be a mistake to underestimate the contributions made by our land forces. When Wellington first set out in the Peninsula, Napoleon's army was regarded as well-nigh invincible by the Continental Powers, who had suffered numerous defeats at its hands. Wellington's Peninsula campaign proved to Europe that the French could be defeated on land, and, along with Napoleon's losses in Russia, inspired a rejuvenated Prussia and Austria to rejoin the battle. Waterloo, the final battle of the Napoleonic War, was fought under British command in the shape of Wellington, and with British soldiers making up the majority of the force. The highly successful Peninsula campaign dented both morale and numbers in Napoleon's army, and diverted troops needed in other areas. While the British army certainly helped in the defeat of Napoleonic France, it was by no means the decisive factor. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. "To what extent did napoleon lose the battle of Waterloo due to his own ...

    Suffering from battle-shock and being weary of war, Ney followed his own policy of caution, on June 16 that badly disrupted Napoleon's plans of attack. Grouchy was another poor choice for commander of the right wing. Being a cavalry officer he had little experience in leading troops and was by no means a strategic genius.

  2. How far did Napoleon Bonaparte maintain the revolutionary ideals of liberty and equality in ...

    In 1810, imprisonment without trial was introduced. Additionally, the slave system which had been abolished during the revolution, was reintroduced by Napoleon. Napoleon also established several religious reforms. In terms of equality, Napoleon tolerated all religions - including the Jews.

  1. To what extent and why did the impact of Napoleonic rule vary outside France?

    were ultimately successful as Napoleon was swift to deal with subordinates who refused to fit in with his overall plan. The desire of Louis to rule for the benefit of his subjects and his removal by Napoleon go some way to showing Napoleon's motivations when dealing with the Empire.

  2. Trotsky - Succession, Revolutionary Success, Civil War Hero, Death, Failure and End

    to boost the morale of the Troops coupled with his grand oratory worked to great effect. Trotsky realised the importance of morale in an army's willingness to fight and ability to perform, and his personal visits to the Troops reassured them of the Revolution they were fighting to protect.

  1. How significant a role did the British navy play in the French Revolutionary and ...

    Nelson's navy was well fed and healthy which enabled them to fight well. The French and Spanish fleets were not fed well and disease spread throughout their crews. Nelson's navy was also paid well which was a good incentive for people to join, and combined with Nelson's patriotic motivation sailors were willing to fight for their country.

  2. Why did the Franco-Prussian war happen and why were the Prussians able to defeat ...

    Once the war was in motion how was Prussia able to defeat France? Both powers were powerful, both great powers of the 19th and both with formidable armies. What makes this conflict so interesting is the relative speed of the conflict, so how were the Prussians able to defeat the French?

  1. How did Britain defeat France during the Napoleonic wars?

    Another great contribution of the royal navy can be seen during the peninsular war when it deployed troops and also made supplies to British troops along the coasts of Spain and Portugal. The acquisition of new colonies in the West Indies immensely opened up new frontiers to British economic activities

  2. "To what extent was French defeat at the battle of Waterloo due to Napoleons ...

    Grouchy was ordered to stop the Prussian army-reaching waterloo. He had 33000 men, the Prussians amassed to only 15000. The men grouchy had, could've been used with great affect if he had used some initiative. However he did not, so they were not.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work