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Thursday, 20 August 2009 05:46

Lesson 4: Napoleon & The Congress of Vienna

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In this lesson students will learn about the Napoleonic Stage of French history and take part in a simulation of the Congress of Vienna.


  1. Students will learn about the model of revolution and the final outcome for France.
  2. Students will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of Napoleon’s reign.
  3. Students will partake in a simulation of the Congress of Vienna and learn to negotiate and compromise to achieve goals.


Step 1: Lecture on Napoleon

(with power point

  1. Napoleonic Stage (1799 – 1815)
    1. Napoleon Bonaparte (b. 1769)
      1. Born Italian descent on the island of Corsica; studied military history
      2. joined army at 16; upwardly mobile young officer
      3. 1795; defends the National Assembly against a royalist uprising
      4. given first command out of France (1796)
      5. controls info getting back to France; people thought he was winning great battles becomes most famous man in France
    2. Coup D’etat (overthow of state)
      1. return to France, some urged him to take power
      2. makes connections; has himself placed in charge of army
      3. legislature votes out 5 man directory for 3 man counsel (Napoleon is first consul)
      4. has control of army; assumes dictator (crowns himself emperor) 1804
    1. Early Accomplishments
      1. stregnthed and organized military
      2. economic reforms: more equitable taxation, national bank to control inflation, loans to business
      3. government reforms: reduced corruption, created public schools, officials appointed by merit
      4. religious reforms: religious tolerance, peace agreement with pope
      5. Napoleonic Code: codified the achievements of the French Rev: equality, property rights, abolished serfdom, freedom of religion,
      6. Repression: press and liberty restricted
    2. Globally
      1. 1803: French defeated by slaves in Haiti
      2. Nap sells Louisiana to US to spite Britain
    3. France has an Emperor (1804)
      1. Pope crowns Napoleon emperor; approved by French voters
    4. Question: Why go thru a revolution only to elect another king/emperor?
    5. Great military campaign to conquer all of Europe
      1. continent’s biggest, best equipped army
      2. 1805 navy destroyed by Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar Square; conquering contained to land
      3. 1805 – 1809 control all of Europe to Russia
    6. Napoleon’s Fall
      1. divorces Josephine; marries daughter of Austrian Emporer
      2. 1812 British blockade; hurts France’s economy
      3. biggest blunder; tries to invade Russia
      4. leaves France with 422,000 men returns with 28,000
      5. Russians burned towns; left no food
      6. Other countries ally themselves against France; meets them for battle in Germany; armies of Prussia and Russia march on Paris
      7. 1814 Napoleon accepts defeat – banished to Elba, small island in South of France
      8. Louis XVIII named king (brother of XVI)
    7. The Hundred Days
      1. 1815 – news that new king in trouble, Napoleon escapes to France
      2. allied coalition forms again to defeat Nap in Belgium
      3. Exiled to St. Helena (halfway between Africa and SA)
  2. Model of a Revolution
    1. Stage 1: Fall of Old Order
      1. revolutions occur when a ruler becomes weak:
      2. weakness usually due to starvation and unfair taxes
      3. anger leads to overthrow
    2. Stage 2: Rule by Moderates
      1. people relax after they believe goal has been achieved
      2. moderate group rules
      3. but problems aren’t completely solved
    3. Stage 3: The Terror
      1. people realize old problems still exist; look to blame someone
      2. radicals take control ; push for extremism
      3. execute enemies of the state
    4. Stage 4: Turn from Radical Rule
      1. violence and chaos sickens people; terror ends
    5. Stage 5: Military Rule
      1. terror kills most of country’s leaders
      2. turn from radicalism makes people doubt revolutionary goals
      3. military leader steps in; dictator
    6. Stage 6: Restoration
      1. dictatorship ends, death or overthrow
      2. power vacuum results
      3. order that existed before revolution is restored
  3. Evaluation of French Revolution
  4. Results
    1. destroyed old social system
    2. equality, ability and law
    3. triumph of capitalism
    4. secular democracy
    5. foundations of modern nation-state
    6. hope
  5. Congress of Vienna (1814 – 1815)
    1. Austria hosts all royal families around Europe
      1. redraw the map of Europe after Napoleonic era
      2. keep peace in Europe
    2. The Big Four: 4 nations that had done the most to defeat Napoleon
      1. England, Austria, Russia and Prussia
      2. Prince Klemens 7Von Metternich (Austria)
        1. conservative reactionist
      3. Lord Castlereagh (England) representative
        1. wanted balance of power on continent
        2. surround France with strong states
      4. Karl Von Hardenberg; Chancellor of Prussia
        1. recover Prussian territory taken by Napoleon and get northern Germany
      5. Czar Alexander I Russian
        1. Poland free for him to rule
    3. Principles of Settlement
      1. Legitimacy: return power to ruling families
      2. Compensation: territorial rewards to those states that sacrificed most to defeat Napoleon
      3. Balance of Power: redrawing map of Europe
      4. Quadruple Alliance: enforcement


Step 2:

Introduce the Congress of Vienna Project (Student Handout 3.4.1)

  1. Assign groups and countries.
  2. Either for homework or in computer lab have groups research their statesmen, country, and general information about the Congress of Vienna. Links are provided. Make sure students are focusing on the questions and tasks on the handout. They should also strategize questions for pre Congress negotiations (ie. Alliances, compromises, etc)

Step 3:

  1. Students should use today for the pre Congress negotiations. Working with their groups they should go out and forge alliances and create strategies with other nations.
  2. Students should create an outline and prepare for their presentations at the Congress. This should include their plan to achieve the stated goals and a working map with redistributed territories.

Step 4:

Reenacting The Congress of Vienna

  1. Give students a few minutes to prepare. The room should be in a large circle with name tags to show where the countries should be sitting. Each group will have a minute to outline their interests and desires at the end of the Napoleonic Age, each member should speak. Then, in an open forum, mediated by the instructor the countries will convene at Congress and try and advance two goals...European stability and your nation's own interests.
  2. At the end of the Congress collect all notes and the final products.


Work days: 10 pts. (5 pts per day if present and working)
Outline: 20 pts. (Addressed nationalism & need for stability)
Participation: 10 pts. (Spoke and was engaged)
Alliance: 5 pts. (Created at least 1 alliance in pre Congress negotiations)
Final Product: 5 pts: (Goals and map completed)

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 06:17

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