Nationalism is the devotion of people to the interests of its
nation or the love of oneís country to stay independent.
Nationalism played a major role in the downfall of Napoleon in
that he wanted an empire and his opponentís wanted independence.
As Napoleon was conquering lands and creating a vast empire his
troops stressed in the far lands that they conquered life,
liberty and equality. Even though Napoleon did not realize it
triggered nationalistic feelings among the conquered nations.
Spain who was an ally of France, disobeyed Napoleonís decree.
Then in 1808 Napoleon overthrew the Spanish royal family and
made his brother Joseph king of Spain. But everything that
Napoleon did such as put in a foreign ruler, take away noble
privileges offended Spanish pride and created nationalistic
feelings. The people of Spain revolted in 1808. The French
troops stopped the riots, but the nationalistic spirit was not
lost. For the next five years there was warfare in Spain. British
troops came to aid Spain. This led to the defeat of Joseph,
death of thousands of French troops and it inspired patriots and
nationalists of other lands to resist Napoleon. This war between
1808 and 1813 is called The Peninsular War.
In Germany, anti-French feelings broke out. But the French
invasions carried German nationalism beyond the small ranks of
writers. In 1807 writers attacked French occupation of Germany.
This nationalistic feeling spread to the Prussians. In 1806 the
Prussians were defeated by the French troops. To drive
the French out of Prussia there would have to be a spirit of
cooperation and loyalty. To accomplish this there would have to
be social and political reforms. A reformer said that if social
abuses were eliminated the Prussians could fight with national
honor. Military reforms improved the Prussian army. In the War of
Liberation(1813), the soldiers showed great feelings of
patriotism and nationalism. And the French were driven out of
Russia, who was an ally of France went against the word of
Napoleon. So Napoleon decided to invade Russia. Napoleonís Grand
Army had 700,000 people in it. Most of soldiers were not French
and didnít care for the war. In 1812 when Napoleon began the
invasion, Russia retreated. As they were retreating they
burned all crops which were valuable. When Napoleon reached
Moscow, the Russians burned the city. Even worse the winter was
in a few months. The Russians also destroyed the food supply to
Napoleon. Many soldiers starved to death. Napoleon decided to
retreat back to France. On the way back Russian Cossacks
slaughtered the soldiers who fell behind. Napoleon abandoned his
army and went back to France.
In 1813 almost every nation in Europe joined in the final
coalition against France. Napoleon raised a new army but couldnít
replace the equipment lost in Russia. In October 1813 allied
forces from Russia, Austria, Prussia, and Sweden defeated
Napoleon at Leipzig. By April 1814 the coalition occupied
Paris, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba. The coalition
made peace with France. They restores Bourbon monarchy to throne
in the person of Louis.
However Napoleon escaped Elba and returned to France in march of
1815. Louis ordered his troops to stop Napoleon, but no one did.
As Napoleon entered Paris he got a cheer. He raised a new army
and on June 18 1815 he moved against the allies in Belgium. There
the Prussians and the British defeated Napoleon at
the Battle of Waterloo. These days of Napoleon trying to regain
power are called the Hundred Days. This time they sent him to St.
Helena a lonely island near Africa. There he died in 1821.
Nationalism was an enemy to Napoleon because it led to the
decline of his empire. And the nationalistic feeling that was
felt between his opponentís eventually destroyed him.