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Without doubt, the current civilization in the Western world is based on the exploits of the former leaders and conquerors. Through their exploits, geographical definitions were marked to identify the stretches of a kingdoms and empires. These later marked country boundaries. In addition, the socioeconomic, cultural and political interactions in the current world can be traced down the history line. These sentiments are clearly portrayed in Hunt and colleagues in their book The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures. This book acts as a clear portrayal of the factors that have contributed to the formation of the current outlook of Western Civilization. The book identifies three main components of historical perspectives that have acted as the shaping forces of the evolved global entity. The three factors identified in the book include global influences, the interactions of the different sociopolitical and cultural factors and the roots of today’s civilization in the historical backdrop. Accordingly, this paper will identify Napoleon Bonaparte’s exploits and how they have greatly contributed to the contemporary society’s civilization. These contributions will therefore be used to support the argument that Napoleon Bonaparte was a hero.
Napoleon’s early life
Napoleon Bonaparte was born on 15th August, 1769 in Corsica. He was named Napoleon di Buonaparte, a name that he adopted from his uncle who had died fighting in the Army. He later changed his name to Napoleon Bonaparte which had a more French touch as compared to the older version. Napoleon was brought up in a working class family as his father, Carlo Buonaparte served in the Louis XVI Courts as a representative of Corsica and he was an attorney. However, the greatest impact in Napoleon’s life was from his mother. With a strict sense of discipline, Maria Ramolino developed a rambunctious child from Napoleon.
Coming from an affluent family, Napoleon was able to access an education level that was beyond other young men from Corsica. This was due to his connections and his background that was marked by Affluence. He attended his first few years of education in Autun before joining a Military academy situated in Brienne-le-Chateau later in 1779. Word from one of his instructors pointed out that Napoleon excelled in mathematics, History and Geography. From Brienne-le-Chateau he moved to Paris where he joined the Ecole militaire. Later, the death of his father resulted into Napoleon’s compressing of his two year study to a single year. Here, he trained as an artillery officer, a change from his initial ambition of becoming a sailor and joining the British Royal Navy.
Themes in the making of the west, their relationship to Napoleon
Considering the thesis of this paper, it is evident that Napoleon was a hero. With the events in his life, how can one justify this supposition? Hunt and colleagues point out that the contemporary society was founded on historical events. 3 This therefore means that without certain events in life, some very important cultural, social or political events in the contemporary society would not have been achieved. Therefore, whoever gets credit for having been the founder of these events becomes a hero for starting a cause that eventually bore fruits that are being enjoyed to this moment. Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the people who are recognized for having achieved this. By using the arguments from Hunt et al, the dynamism within the social interactions of the community acted as shaping forces that eventually resulted into contemporary societal civilization. What was Napoleon’s contribution to the social forces that later shaped the current society?
Napoleon’s contribution to human rights
Napoleon was a great contributor to the social cause. His contributions in these lines can be felt to this moment. To begin with, he was a father of great ideas that called upon people to be enlightened. Among these great ideas that he spread all through Europe and parts of Latin America were concepts of human rights, citizenship, equality and constitution. 4 These are great ideas that are still valued to this moment. They have been promoted through other organizations like the United Nations and the Human Rights Commission. More so, there are several other civil rights organizations that that have been fighting strongly to push for equality and the constitution. This means that Napoleon was a hero in championing for human rights and other civil rights including equality.
Napoleon’s contribution to France
The only country in the world that recognizes Napoleon in their National anthem is Poland. The country has attached significant importance to Napoleon because of his great contribution that helped the country attain independence after a long stint under the rule of Prussia and Russia. This notwithstanding, it was Napoleon’s effort that led to the removal of barbaric laws that had unfairly forced the Jews to the Ghettos. In addition, the laws and rules that, for a long time had restricted European Jewish community from enjoying free rights to worship, own property and pursue careers as other citizens of the countries did were abolished under Napoleon’s rule. Among the current benefits of this move was that the Rothschild banking family which has French Hunt et al, The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, roots had its long successful exploits germinating in France under the rule of Napoleon.
Formerly, Europe had been dominated by the Holy Roman empire. Under Napoleon Bonaparte, the more than 1,000 small entities that had made up the empire were reorganized coming up with 40 streamlined states. These states were the foundation of the German Confederation. In addition, this acted as the basis on which the unification of Germany in future would be founded.
Another factor that Hunt and colleagues highlight to be among the greatest contributors to the molding of the current civilization is the political factors. Equally, Napoleon Bonaparte will be considered a hero because of his contribution to the political scene in history that have eventually shaped the current political civilization. During his time, Bonaparte is credited to have come up with the premier civil legal system in the whole continent of Europe. This was the Napoleonic code. We can attribute the heroic status to Napoleon considering that the Napoleonic code forms the basis of legal systems in Europe including those in France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Spain and many countries that were colonies of these mentioned countries. Without doubt, Napoleon was a hero in the legal realms.
In the same line, Napoleon served as protector of the French flag and National anthem which remain to this moment. Initially, these were simply symbols of the French revolution. In addition, Napoleon was the initiator of the metric system that was later proclaimed a system of measure in 1799. Currently, all countries in the world except the United States, Sierra Leone and Myanmar have adopted it as a measurement system that is universal.
Finally, the foundations of the current civilization have its roots in the cultural events that happened in history. Again, Napoleon’s contributions are had great impacts. To begin with, Napoleon was a devoted sponsor of most of those who are currently referred to as neoclassical artists. Among these benefactors of Napoleon’s charitable hand is Jacques-Louis David also known as Ingres. Furthermore, one of the greatest works in music- Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony was composed through Napoleon’s inspiration and was in fact dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte. Finally, his contributions to the world of philosophical quotes cannot be down played.
Hunt and colleagues argue that the contemporary civilization is a repercussion of the historic political, cultural, social and economic events in history. This means that without some of these events, important societal developments would not have been achieved. Therefore, civilization would have been impeded. What does this imply in relation to the thesis? It implies that without Napoleon’s contribution in the legal system, there would not have existed the current legal system, the French national anthem and flag would have been changed, there would be a different form of metric system whose credibility could be questionable, citizens of Poland and the European Jewish population would have been subjected to endless tribulations under the old laws that 9Hunt et al. The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, hampered them from enjoying their civil rights, some of these neoclassical artists and composers who benefited from his charity would not have had a chance to explore their talents to their best and above all, we could not have had the opportunity to enjoy great compositions like Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony and the sweetness of some of Napoleonic quotes. According to me, this is the essence of heroism.
Hunt, Lynn, Thomas Martin, Barbara Rosenwein,Po-Chia Hsia and Bonnie Smith. 2008. The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures. (3rd ed). New York: Bedford/St.Martins Publishers.