The Peninsular Wars (1807–1814) were the wars that Napoleon fought when trying to take over Spain and other countries in the Iberian Peninsula. The British sent help to Spain and together, they defeated France. Napoleon said “That unfortunate war destroyed me; it divided my forces, multiplied my obligations and undermined my morale”.
Napoleon’s third mistake was trying to take over Russia. On the 24th of July of 1812 with the so-called “Grand Army”, consisting of 600-800 thousand men, Napoleon entered Russia. The French forces advanced and the Russians retreated. Napoleon was driven into the heartland of Russia. As the French advanced, Russian armies burned down their towns and farms. Winter came and Napoleon realized that they were running out of supplies and they were not prepared for the Russian winter. They starved and froze to death. The Empire lost almost 600 thousand men, 200 thousand horses and around 1000 guns. The rest of the French who had survived this cold, retreated.
Trying to make people more French was Napoleon’s fourth mistake. As he conquered territories, he expected everyone to obey French customs and laws and to do the same things as people did in France. This enraged people and some of them rebelled against him. Not everyone, as they did not even know they could do so.
The fifth mistake of Napoleon’s men was spreading the Enlightenment ideas, which the French has used during the French Revolution to get rid of the absolute monarch. The people were inspired by ideas of “natural rights”, such as the rights of life, liberty and property. This meant that if the government didn’t do what the majority of the citizens wanted, they could rebel against the government, abolish it and form a new one to replace the previous one. As Napoleon’s people spread these ideas, people became aware that they could eventually do something to stop the misery they were living in.
The previous mistake led to the last, sixth mistake, which therefore caused Napoleon’s fall of power. People did not want to accept living with French customs and laws, so the birth of nationalism happened. Nationality is loyalty to your country and to your culture. It is the belief that your biggest loyalty is not to your country’s leader or border, but to aspects of common history, language, religion and nationality. As Napoleon wanted changes in the government and revolution, people from conquered countries began rebelling against him. Rebels did not only happen in Europe. Haiti was the first Latin American country to gain independence (1791–1804). When Haiti was under French occupation, people from Haiti took the chance to rebel as they knew Napoleon was in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars. Even though Napoleon sent soldiers to handle the situation, the mass rebellion was stronger and therefore achieved their goal.
The first effect of Napoleon’s fall from power was that national boundaries were out of place because during the wars, many borders were changed, especially the ones of smaller countries. The Congress of Vienna was made, which was a group of delegates from Austria, Britain, Russia, the Netherlands and Prussia; the main countries who helped defeat France. They decided on making compensations to the nations that had been harmed in the Napoleonic wars.
The second effect was that the conquered nations were leaderless. As Napoleon conquered the countries, he or his family took the power. The Congress of Vienna had to fix this as well and it was agreed to reinstate the absolute monarchs. They were Kings with full power and people had to do whatever the King told them to. But the problem was that people already knew about the Enlightened ideas, because they had been spread. These were the Liberals. On the other hand, there were the Radicals but at least they were willing to do something. The citizens were ignored completely, as if the Enlightenment ideas did not exist, as if they wanted to erase it out of peoples’ minds.
This lead to the third and final reason. Radicals were willing to fight for their rights. This lead to rebellions breaking out all over Europe against the absolute monarchs. Over time, the Liberals were also encouraged to take part in the rebellions.
Napoleon’s fall might have had devastating effects but now we can say that it is a major turning point in world history. Nations had boundary changes, there were confusions because of the countries’ leaders and rebellions against absolute monarchs. All this caused great differences in human history. It caused many things that otherwise wouldn’t have happened to happen in recent and the present-time world.