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Napoleon’s Impact on International Relations

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Jeremy Black tells how the delicate system of international relations and ancien regime diplomacy was shattered by the Emperor’s arrogance and refusal to play by the rules.

Napoleon was a meritocratic monarch: he seized power through his own determination, rather than through inheriting the throne: indeed he created a new monarchy. Yet this determination was founded largely on force and a selfish unwillingness to accept the views of others, characteristics retained throughout his years of power. In many respects they stemmed, not only from Napoleon’s personality, but from the regime under which he had risen to prominence and the fact that he had risen as a general – one who specialised in offensive warfare, moreover.


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