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How far do you agree with the view that the peninsular war played the prime role in Napoleons downfall?

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How far do you agree with the view that the peninsular war played the prime role in Napoleon's downfall? The peninsular war which began in 1808 and ended in 1814 was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom and Portugal. The war was provoked by Napoleon's invasion of Portugal in 1807 and by the subsequent French capture of Madrid in March 1808. The war which led to Napoleon's abdication has led to so much controversy as to whether or not it played the prime role in Napoleon's downfall. Historians such as Brendan Simms see the Russian campaign as the turning point that destroyed the Grande Armee and this view is supported to differing extents by other historians such as Jean Tulard. However, Napoleon saw the start of his downfall as being what he described as the 'Spanish ulcer'. The peninsular war played a prime role in Napoleon's downfall as it is where Napoleon is seen making a lot of mistakes and bad decisions that affected his chances of winning the war. ...read more.


Also, conscription was met with hostility and resulted in low morale. This differed from before when Napoleon was said to have 'cultivated' his men, then they had high morale unlike now when they were simply forced to fight. Coming from a dire financial situation, these now new soldiers might have already held some level of resentment towards their ruler who was also now their commander in chief. The second was his decision to fight in Russia. Napoleon had hoped to make a quick attack, however, without an official declaration of war his problem was finding an enemy to attack. Napoleon's armies were drawn deeper into Russia and their supplies stretched. Moreover, his enemies had developed a 'scorched earth' policy in response to Napoleon's 'live off the land' technique where they set fire to crops and villages as they retreated. This further reduced chances of success for Napoleon and increased in the number of his men killed. Although napoleon's tactics had been effective in the past, his enemies had caught up on some of the techniques that he had been using. ...read more.


The peninsular war did play a prime role in Napoleon's downfall. The war that lasted so long proved to be too much for Napoleon who seemed unprepared for the war. Some historians have detected a falling of Napoleon's abilities from about 1809. Contemporaries noted that his reactions were deteriorating and his health was often poor. Also as a result of his decision to fight more than one war at different places in the same period of time as a commander in chief saw a decline in the quality of his army as he now had to conscript men in order to cover for his losses. An over ambitious and confident Napoleon could have led himself to his own downfall. As he had failed to carefully plan his actions before invading, had he been more patient, less ambitious and less over confident, he just might have been successful. Also, the declining economic situation in France did little to assist Napoleon. The peninsular war helped to a strain on the economy which was already declining and increased resentment towards the population of France as Napoleon continuously used up finances to continue with wars that he was not winning. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rumbie ...read more.

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