Napoleon Polish Heart

Polish Saviour?

Polish Saviour?

“He appeared out of nowhere, from a small and insignificant Mediterranean island, and rapidly became Europe’s most powerful leader,” said Hanna Maria Giza commenting on Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon Bonaparte died 193 years ago, on 5 May 1821. During his reign, as a result of conquest and annexation, France expanded its territory to 750,000 sq km and population to 44 million inhabitants. Belgium, the Netherlands, the German provinces of the North Sea, part of the Balkans, as well as the western Mediterranean coast of Italy, including Rome, were all annexed by France. The Kingdom of Spain and Italy, the Confederation of the Rhine and the Duchy of Warsaw were directly under the control of France. Under the reign of one man, called the “little corporal” by his own soldiers, France became incredibly powerful. The boy from Corsica who was keen on maths, later became an artillery officer, commander of the French army, author of the famous Napoleonic Code, a major world leader, the architect of modern Europe, an unfulfilled statesman and, finally, an emperor. “What is the true nature of this secretive man? How did he achieve so much at such a young age?” asks Hanna Maria Giza. “For many people he was a genius and father of a nation, while everyone else thought him a despot and aggressor,” says Dr. Jaroslaw Chubaty from the Institute of History, Warsaw University. “He had tremendous power. To a large extent, he became a legend in his own lifetime. He won most of his military campaigns thanks to his unique philosophy of war. He believed that the enemy should be destroyed and submit to the winner”, added Dr. Chubaty. The historian devoted a great deal of time to the attitude of the French leader towards Poland and Poles. Did he deceive Polish people? “Napoleon Bonaparte did not promise anything in writing to the Poles nor did he officially claim to want to rebuild Poland. Only in confidential discussions did he promise to do everything he could, but he never signed any document related to this. It would have been a political mistake. But still, Polish people respect him for being the only 19th century politician who did everything he could to help Poland, even though the Duchy of Warsaw never become the Kingdom of Poland.”

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