Western Civilization

Napoleon: Child or Betrayer of the Revolution?

Historical Debate Forum - Napoleon: Child or Betrayer of the Revolution?


Few men have impacted the course of world history in the way that Napoleon Bonaparte did.  But was Napoleon a child of the idealism and goals of the French Revolution, or a betrayer, a despot, a warrior tyrant, and destroyer of the rights of men to criminal proportions?  You decide, you debate.


You will be assigned a role as either a supporter of Napoleon as a child of the Revolution, or as an opponent of Napoleon, claiming that he was a betrayer of the Revolution.  You will compose a 1-2 page argument (typed, double spaced), or 10-15 bullet-pointed arguments in which you justify whether Napoleon was a Child or Betrayer of the Revolution.  You will then debate your points with your peers in class.

You will deliver your arguments to be prepared BEFORE THE DEBATE BEGINS.  These must be emailed to the bcchseurosquad@gmail.com address before the start of class.  Make your arguments and decisions appropriate for your assigned perspective.

Questions to consider in your argument:

      1. What were the original intentions of the French Revolution, as proposed by the

          Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and the Constitution of 1791?

      2. Given your knowledge of Crane Brinton’s theory of a revolution, should Napoleon’s

          rise to power be expected?  Is Napoleonic rule preferable to the Reign of Terror?

      3. How did Napoleon view himself as the child of the French Revolution?

      4. Why did Napoleon, in the end, fail in his imperial military plans?

      5. Why was Madame de Staël so bitterly critical of Napoleon?

      6. How does Georges Lefebvre interpret Napoleon as regards his relationship to the


      7. In your view, was Napoleon a child or betrayer of the Revolution?

Assigned Positions:

Machiavellians -  Child of the Revolution

Jacobins - Betrayer of the Revolution

Praetorians - Child of the Revolution

Cavaliers - Betrayer of the Revolution

Stosstruppen - Child of the Revolution

Conquistadors - Betrayer of the Revolution

Required Reading:

Napoleon-Child or Betrayer of the Revolution.pdf

Napoleon Child or Betrayer of the Revolution? summary.pdf