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

To what extent was Napoleons generalship the main reason for his military success in Europe to 1807?

Extracts from this document...


To what extent was Napoleon's generalship the main reason for his military success in Europe to 1807? Napoleon was one of the greatest military leaders that Europe has ever seen. His leadership of the French army saw France control most of continental Europe. Up to 1807 Napoleon was feared throughout due to his military successes. In order to establish whether the reason for his military successes was his generalship, one must also look at other reasons for his military success. Napoleon possessed many skills that assisted him in his generalship. When he came to power he reorganised the army. He divided it into corps of 25,000 to 30,000 men; each had specific roles in battle. This gave his army more flexibility, which would be a main feature in his successes. Napoleon himself controlled the whole army, and with the flexibility of his corps, meant the army was quick to respond to orders. Napoleon decided every move his army made on the battlefield. He formulated general plans of action before any battle and calculated all the chances accurately. This organisation meant Napoleon had full control of how his army fought, and because of his great military mind this led to successes. ...read more.


The mobility of his army allowed him to do this well. For example, at Ulm in 1805, having made a mistake, he improvised by making a quick decision to send marshal Murat in pursuit of the Austrians, which reduced their numbers from 70,000 to 27,000 and was key to his success there. Another aspect of his great generalship was that he played to his strengths. Napoleon never fought naval battles, as it wasn't his thing and he'd had a weak navy. Evidently Napoleon had many aspects to his generalship, which had huge impacts on his military successes up to 1807. Now it is important to look at another reason to why he was successful. The strength of the French army he inherited is another reason to why Napoleon was so successful. Napoleon was able to change the nature of warfare to 'levee on masse', since due to conscription (introduced in 1793 before Napoleon came to power) he had a huge army, which consisted of 600,000 by 1805. This was significantly larger than any other army in Europe, and was an obvious advantage for Napoleon. Napoleon could deliver huge casualties to his enemies and not have to worry about losing similar numbers himself. ...read more.


There failure to create a successful coalition can be seen with the Second Coalition of 1799 between Britain, Russia, Austria and the Ottoman Empire. The problem with it was that every country wanted something different from the coalition and it consisted of a series of separate alliances. It broke down as Britain and Russia fell out over Malta. However Napoleon must take some credit from the failures of coalitions due to his intervention through his policy of 'divide and rule'. This consisted of Napoleon trying to break down coalitions by dealing with each member separately. Once Britain and Russia had fallen out in the Second Coalition, it allowed Napoleon to intervene and get Russia on side. He was then able to bully Austria into signing the Peace of Luneville. So clearly the weakness of the opposition assisted Napoleon in his successes, although it must be seen that he capitalised on them brilliantly. It must be seen that the most important factor was Napoleons generalship. Although factors such as the army he inherited, and other peoples tactics assisted him. Without the weaknesses of the opposition, the army would have not enjoyed so many military successes. It was Napoleons leadership of the army that brought all the factors together and allowed him to be so successful. ...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. Reasons for Napoleon's Success (to 1807).

    Each was quite small, containing sometimes as few as 30,000 men, and the wars were normally undertaken with limited objectives such as the acquisition of a small province, more often than to be eventually used as a bargaining counter in maintaining the balance of power in the game of international diplomacy.

  2. Assess the view that the failures of the Congress of Vienna outweighed the successes.

    achieved, therefore suggesting that the view holds weight and the failures of the settlement did outweigh the successes. On the other hand, Tim Chapman argues that a 'balance of power of sorts was achieved by the Vienna meeting,'53 The fact that a general European war was avoided for a century,

  1. Why did Napoleon lose the Battle of Waterloo?

    reach the scene and before the English and Prussian armies could unite. He had 126 000 in his Armee du Nord going up against 213 000 men led by Blucher and Wellington. On June 15, the French army moved across the Belgium border.

  2. To what extent was Napoleon an enlightened despot?

    imprison an adulterous wife and women had little or no property rights. Slavery was also reintroduced in certain parts of the Empire. This means that there were some who did not enjoy equality before the law, and were being persecuted under Napoleons regime.

  1. How successful was Napoleon III?

    When France won the victory was very popular amongst all French classes as it the treaty was signed in Paris. Russia's defeat also meant that France was no longer the only revisionist power with Russia also wanting to change their peace settlement.

  2. How far can the downfall of Napoleon be explained by the continuous opposition of ...

    beaten Napoleon, but little evidence is given to support this claim and this is the only case of a historian claiming that Napoleon's downfall began as early as 1805, mainly due to the ensuing victories at Austerlitz and Jena. Therefore, although Britain's control of the seas may have forced Napoleon's

  1. To what extent was Napoleon's success in Europe to 1807 the consequences of his ...

    Apart from the fact that they were treated like criminals, Russian soldiers were also poorly trained, severely lacking in tactical awareness and education. Prussia on the other hand, with its fine tradition, had a very strong army. However, the Prussian skirmishes were poor and the army missed a sense of individuality (instinct or initiative)

  2. To what extent was Napoleon nothing more than a dictator?

    thus his failure to serve the people of France equally can be seen. He later established a new imperial nobility, 1808. He offered titles to wealthy civilians which bound them to his regime, but he soon realised bribery as a means of control was unreliable.

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