It was Thomas Carlyle who believed that one person could change the course of events in history. He strongly believed that it was because of the individuals greatness that led the people into their outcomes, not historical circumstances, which Carl Marx would argue. Napoleon Bonaparte is a perfect example of individual greatness. Carlyle said, It is not a lucky word, this name “impossible”; no good comes of those who have it so often in their mouths. The word impossible was not a familiar word to Napoleon. He was successful in what he tried to achieve because he let nothing stand in his way.
Could someone, like Napoleon, truly stand as an individual and change the course of history Yes, and it happened. Napoleon was just one of many leaders who led his people, and changed history forever. Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769 and died May 5, 1821. During that time he rose to be one of the greatest leaders that France ever had. Napoleon created political alliances and seized control of the French Government. He made changes in all areas, including government, religion and education. He made a new constitution as well as setting up a Continental System.
Napoleon led France to many victories, which was his key to gaining the trust of the people. Napoleon won the war for France with the Austrians that led to the signing of the Treaty of Campoformio, which enlarged Frances Territory. After ten years of war, the people wanted one strong leader and Napoleon had proven himself worthy of that title. For the first time in ten years, because of Napoleon, Europe was at peace. Napoleon however, still wasnt satisfied. He was crowned Emperor and he dominated Europe with the glorious title. He had victory after victory.
He was unstoppable. After each battle, the Napoleonic Empire enlarged. Napoleon was a great war hero that was always on the quest for peace. Carlyle put it best by saying, The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder – waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you. Napoleon had a strong drive for his purpose to build his Napoleonic empire, which was extremely beneficial for him because he stopped at nothing until his satisfactions were accomplished.
Another leader that had a strong impact on his people, much like Napoleon, was Adolf Hitler. Even though Adolfs actions were not great, he had a huge authority. Hitler led the Nazis and called for all Germans, even those in other countries, to unite into one nation; they called for a strong central government; and they called for the cancellation of the Versailles Treaty. Like Napoleon; he knew how to build up membership quickly. Hitler gained control of Germany, much like Napoleon did with Europe, and he gave himself the title “Fuehrer” (leader). He used extensive propaganda to promote his theories.
Unlike other leaders, Hitler believed in killing all people who didnt fit into his perspectives of the master race.. Where as Napoleon believed in changing people to fit his perspectives. Nothing could be done with out his personal approval and so it was he who was calling the shots for the country. Alexander the Great was another leader who had a vision of making people follow his order. His object was much like Napoleons. He wanted to create the greatest empire known to man. He conquered much of what was then the civilized world. Alexander brought Greek ideas and the Greek way of doing things to all the countries he conquered.
Much like Napoleon did with liberalism to the countries he conquered. The difference between Alexander and Napoleon was that he won the peoples trusts by setting examples. Napoleon won his trust in the people by the victories he won for them. Alexander the Great made possible the broadly developed culture of the Hellenistic Age. Napoleon did the same by spreading his beliefs of Liberalism as well as his French culture throughout Europe as he concurred it. Napoleon and Hitler had one thing in common. As leaders, they both knew how to use and manipulate their people.
Both had goals they felt they needed to accomplish. The differences between Napoleons goals and Hitlers were that Napoleon wanted to instill liberty among his people with him ruling over them, and Hitler wanted to make a perfect race by wiping out any other race that didnt meet his standards. Both manipulated their people to get what they wanted. As for Alexander the Great, his idea of building the greatest empire was just as egotistical as Hitlers idea of building the perfect race. However, his ideas of spreading awareness about the Greek culture were short from narcissistic.
The ideas were introduced by these leaders and would have never had happened if they were not allowed to become the power over their country. No one would know about Liberalism if Napoleon didnt step in and introduce it to everyone. Even if someone else tried to introduce the idea it wouldnt have been effective because they wouldnt have the same power over the people that Napoleon gained. If Hitler didnt gain access to brainwash people with his ideas of propaganda, then he wouldnt have had enough support to accomplish what he did and therefore the massacres of Jews wouldnt have happened.
Individuals do make the difference and the great men of history are not the subjects of their times, but rather those who changed the events of history. Napoleon was a military genius that amidst the chaos of the crumbling system was able to realize his full potential as a world conqueror. He was trying to maintain control over a dying nation. All this cannot be attributed to history and the force of destiny. Maybe the French people were bound to unite after their struggle. Maybe the ideas of having an ideal race were just around the corner. Maybe the world would one day unite into a huge empire, never again to be separate.
Maybe these are all just simple cases of people being in the right place at the right times. I think not! It took one person in charge to make these events possible. You cannot possibly believe that these events were bound to happen sooner or later and that these men accidentally stumbled upon them and used them to their advantages. These people rose to power and used it to manipulate the people to carry out their goals. Therefore, everything that happened in these times happened because they made them happen, not because they were intended to happen.