Napoleon and Europe

160 TUTOR: David Evans (MA)

The philosopher Hegel described Napoleon as 'the World Spirit on horseback' because he considered that this remarkable military genius exercised a transformative influence on most of the countries of Europe. You will study in turn France, Spain, Germany, Russia and Britain around 1800, assessing Napoleon's involvement with them, his policies towards them and the extent to which they contributed to his downfall. Finally, you will consider how profoundly Napoleon reshaped Europe.


2 AM
AM course

Course Notes

1.Napoleon and France.

The state of France in the later 1790s.

Napoleon's career; the Coup of Brumaire, 1799; constitutional change to 1804.

How far did Napoleon manage to unify Frenchmen?

Society and government under Napoleon.

How far did the French themselves bring about the fall of Napoleon?


2.Napoleon and Iberia.


Spain circa 1800: the empire; Bourbon rule in the 18th century.

Portugal and the Continental System.

Napoleon's intervention In Iberia.

The roots of Spanish resistance.

British intervention in Iberia: the significance of Wellington's campaigns.

British liaison with Spanish resistance.

The significance of the 'Spanish ulcer' in Napoleon's downfall.


3.Napoleon and Russia.


Russia as a great power.

Russia's role in the Second and Third Coalitions.

Why did Napoleon ally with Russia in 1807 and why did the alliance break down?

Was Napoleon's failure in Russia in 1812 down mainly to 'General Winter'?

The role of Russia in the collapse of Napoleon's power in 1813.


4.Napoleon and Germany.


The end of the Holy Roman Empire.

Napoleon's reorganisation of Germany.

Austria's loss of pre-eminence in Germany and Italy.

Limited reform in Austria after 1805 and the Wagram campaign.

Disaster for Prussia in 1806.

Reform in Prussia after 1806.

The role of the Germans in Napoleon's downfall in 1813: the Voelkerschlacht at Leipzig.

The German patriotic myth of 1813.

The Prussian role in 1815.


5.Napoleon and Great Britain.


'The second hundred years war' between France and Britain.

British strengths and weaknesses.

The struggle for the Mediterranean: Napoleon's Egyptian campaign.

Why did the Peace of Amiens not last?

The significance of Trafalgar.

The Continental System: did it do Napoleon more harm than good? Was it doomed to fail?

Castlereagh's policies in 1812-5.

British role in the final defeat of Napoleon.

Conclusion: The impact of Napoleon on 19thcentury Europe.


D.M.G.Sutherland France, 1789-1815: revolution and counterrevolution.

F. Markham Napoleon and the Awakening of Europe.

A. Schom Napoleon Bonaparte.

R.Holmes Wellington. The Iron Duke.






Course Tutor

David Evans


About David

David Evans was brought up in Birmingham and attended King Edward's School in the city. He studied History at Cambridge and proceeded to teach the subject at Eton College for 41 years. Finding the history of art of absorbing interest, he introduced its study at 'A' Level to Eton. Since 2007 he has taught historical and art historical topics at Marlborough College Summer School.

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All courses run for 5 days

WK 1 8 Jul - 12 Jul

WK 2 15 Jul - 19 Jul

WK 3 22 Jul - 26 Jul

WK 4 29 Jul - 2 Aug

Morning Courses

9.15AM to 12.15PM

Afternoon Courses

1.45PM to 4.30PM

All Day Courses

9.15AM to 4.30PM