Munro Price, "Napoleon: The End of Glory"
English | ISBN: 0199934673 | 2014 | 344 pages | PDF | 8 MB
On April 20, 1814, after a dizzying series of battles, campaigns, and diplomatic intrigues, a defeated Napoleon Bonaparte made his farewell speech to the Old Guard in the courtyard of the Chateau de Fontainebleau and set off for exile on the island of Elba. Napoleonic legend asserts that the Emperor was brought down by foreign powers determined to destroy him and discredit his achievements, with the aid of highly placed domestic traitors. Others argue that once Napoleon's military defeats began in 1812, his fall became inevitable. But in fact, as Munro Price shows in this brilliant new book, Napoleon's fall could have been avoided altogether.
Exploring a critical and often neglected period of Napoleonic history between 1812 and 1814, Napoleon: The End of Glory offers a more complete picture of the Emperor's decline and fall than any previous work. Price analyzes the political, military, and diplomatic events of the period, from Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 to the multiple failed attempts by Austria to broker peace. He illuminates the dynamic relationships between Napoleon and the wily Austrian foreign minister Metternich-whose desire for equilibrium within the European states system clashed with Napoleon's unshakeable belief in hegemony and subjection-and the charming and enigmatic Alexander I of Russia. And he explores the lasting impact of the bloody Terror of the French Revolution on Napoleon's decisions once he came to power.
Rejecting the assumption that defeat was unavoidable, Price considers instead why Napoleon failed to explore a compromise peace that could have allowed him to keep his crown, arguing that the answer to this question has powerful implications for our understanding of the Napoleonic wars.
Ultimately, Price provides a convincing portrait of the Emperor's decline, exposing his blindness, intransigence and miscalculations; his preference for war and his declining ability to wage it; and his nearly pathological fear of a dishonorable peace. A deeply researched study of the moment of a great man's fall, Napoleon: The End of Glory forces us to reconsider Napoleon's character, motives, and the reasons for his spectacular failure.
From the Publisher
"Useful addition to Napoleonic history."--Kirkus Reviews
"Munro Price has rewritten the history of the decline and fall of Napoleon in a highly original and wholly convincing manner. It is an enthralling story, brilliantly told." --T. C. W. Blanning, Cambridge University, editor of The Oxford History of Modern Europe
An exploration of the years between Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and his exile to Elbe.As Price (Modern European History/Bradford Univ.;The Perilous Crown: France Between Revolutions, 1814-1848, 2007, etc.) demonstrates, Waterloo was no more than ananticlimax to Napoleon’s career; it really ended when he left for Elbe. Ultimately, he was undone by confusing troop movements, too many generals leading lots of different armies and a complex assortment of politicians, czars, kings and other leaders. Just about everyone in Europe was involved in trying to defeat Napoleon after his Russian debacle. The author clearly examines their varied objectives, from the restoration of the Bourbons to installation of a puppet government to regency led by Marie Louise, Napoleon’s wife and the daughter of the Austrian leader, Francis II. Some readers will have difficulty deciphering the maps, following the numerous different armies in battles and recognizing the constantly changing players—the biggest of which was Klemens von Metternich, who offered mediation after the Russian retreat.Price questions his motives, wondering whether he truly wanted peace or was laying a trap for Napoleon, who feared succumbing to a dishonorable peace, which he felt would cause the French to rise in revolt. His bête noire was being attacked by the mobs of Paris, and he famously said of public opinion, it “is an invisible, mysterious power that nothing can resist; nothing could be more changeable…but it never lies.” Napoleon’s frequent reports from Paris were expressly designed to keep tabs on opinion, but he often failed to listen. Taxation, conscription, censorship and the collapse of trade turned the people against him.A useful addition to Napoleonic history, but readers well versed in that history will follow the battles and diplomatic machinations better than those with a narrower scope of historical and geographical knowledge.
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