Timeline and Multimedia Presentation
Although the main focus of our study unit has been Napoleon’s domestic policies, the above question highlights that it may be necessary to contrast these with his foreign policies in a ‘to what extent’ style of question. The objective of the following activity is therefore to ensure that you have the material able to do so. As you read through this timeline as a class, supplemented with audio-visual sources for extra notes using the multimedia presentation (which comes complete with images AND video clips!) consider which of the following two viewpoints strikes you as the most convincing:
Interpretation 1: The ultimate failure of Napoleon’s foreign policy was due to the refusal of the monarchies of Europe (particularly Britain) to accept him as a fellow ruler. Without their hostility and provocation he would not have been dragged into Spain and Russia and would instead have consolidated his achievements in France.
Interpretation 2: The ultimate failure of Napoleon’s foreign policy was the result of his own boundless ambition. Even without the consistent opposition of the British, he would have been drawn into Spain and Russia due to a combination of economic necessity, military ambition and political idealism.
Part of the new IB Study Unit on “The French Revolution and the Rule of Napoleon“