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Why was Napoleon so Successful?

Why was Napoleon so Successful?


Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest commanders in military history. Even Clausewitz, who wasn’t particularly fond of Napoleon, called him “The God of War” so what were the crucial elements of his success for Napoleon and his armies? At first let’s look at Napoleon’s skills, traits and focus And later on we will also take a look at external factors For instance the power of France and the various changes introduced before Napoleon was in charge in order to get a more balanced understanding of the whole issue Let’s start with Napoleon’s personal traits he had a great ability of quickly analyzing And intuitively understanding the various elements of the battlefield like quickly assessing the balance of force, strength, and weaknesses both before and during the battle. Yet he could not only access the battlefield he was also capable exploiting his keen understanding, by properly commanding and deploying his troops according to his assessment. Additionally, had a large amount of energy, stamina and required Only limited amount of sleep which allow him to work for long hours. Another aspect was social skills. He could influence both individuals and groups. You should not forget that Napoleon did not start off as emperor. Yet as a military officer during the French revolution. where literally quite many heads rolled in November 1799

100 thoughts on “Why was Napoleon so Successful?

  1. Enjoyed this video? Consider supporting me on patreon: https://patreon.com/mhv
    For an analysis on the chances of Napoleon invading Britain see this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYuCPTkO-B4

  2. I think one can make a good case that Napoleon needed Berthier at Waterloo. (And maybe should have sent Ney home.) U.S. civil war general Lee does well with Jackson…not so well after Jackson dies.
    Napoleon seems to have not understood that Russia was too big for the defeat of the enemy by capturing his capital. European countries were smaller so this worked because the armies had no other place to go… thus the destruction of their army. (if they would not sue for peace.) Russia was big and allowed the army to survive (and rebuild) when Moscow was lost.

  3. Porque no le dio cabida a la hinchada cuando criticabam al Pity, a Pratto, a Borre o a Quintero.
    Y les rompio el culito a los de boca solamente en la las 2 finales mas importantes de la historia.

  4. I still don’t understand why Napoleon felt the need to go on multiple campaigns and invade other countries, especially when France had so many internal problems to tackle that I’d say were more pressing. This hasn’t been covered in anything I’ve read so far.

  5. "God of War" Napoleon Bonarparte

    It sounds good, and off somehow. Napoleon had a weird relation to religion, and that's too grandiloquent, even for him.

  6. It would be good idea to acknowledge the quality of his Field Marshals in terms of his overall success – particularly Davout, :Bernadotte, Lannes, and Ney. Perhaps an entire episode on these guys might be in order.

  7. In the PC game Napoleon Total War a loading screen quote by Napoleon appears "“You cannot stop me; I spend 30,000 lives a month.” , this gives the impression that Napoleon was a ruthless leader with little care for the lives of his soldiers.

    However when reading through the last will that he made before his death it becomes clear that this was certainly not the case. He made ample provision with his remaining money for the people that had served under him including officers, soldiers especially those who had lost limbs, widows, families and in some cases towns that had seen destruction during the wars.

    Lesson to be learned, these quotes add immersion to games but are pretty meaningless when taken out of context.

    Napoleon's will & testament: https://www.napoleon.org/en/history-of-the-two-empires/articles/napoleons-last-will-and-testament/

  8. Napoleon succeeded because of his excellent "social skills". He would friend his soldiers on Facebook and retweet his soldiers content on Twitter.

  9. Yeah he was a pro slavery piece of shit and when his chickens came home to roost,he reaped what he sowed…karmas a bitch

  10. Hitler didn't invent the blitzkrieg, Bismarck also not, it was Napoleon !

    Blitzkrieg focuses on a short campaign, that aims at a decisive battle. It forces the battle on to the enemy, pursues and then crushes them ! (If this doesn't sound like blitzkrieg, i don't know what does)

  11. You should also know that when all his peers from the military academy were having fun he kept on studying hard alone in a small house.

  12. Excellent analysis but I'm surprised more emphasis is not placed on Napoleon's expert use of artillery. Artillery was the decisive arm on the Napoleonic battlefield and Napoleon was without peer in its deployment and use. The grand battery was Napoleon's battering ram and his other tactics and use of forces pivotted around it. A significant example if somewhat counterfactual is Waterloo where Napoleon delayed the battle for several crucial hours until the ground was dry enough to position his artillery and even then he was not able to move the mobile batteries around as he would have liked. This factor was critical in lengthening the battle for the farmhouse strongholds and in giving Blucher time to reach the battlefield.

  13. After reading about Napoleon I find that there is much to admire about the man. His non-stop work ethic is, in my opinion, the source of his success. This is tied to his constant improvement of things, whether they be the corps system, his legal code, or to science. People, lazily, compare him to other tyrants and while Napoleon certainly practiced conquest anybody who looks at the situation objectively will see how was much more of an "enlightened despot" of his era than any 20th dictator. He certainly had faults, he was overly ambitious and perhaps even avaricious (perhaps to pay for Josephine's excesses 🙂 ) but those faults do not wipe out the man's achievements and contributions to modern society.

  14. I have just now watch this extremely interesting video… I could not but find some similarity with the German campaign of the beginning of WW2 ( organization and initiative )…

  15. The best documentation about Napoleon I ever saw. Especially when it comes to the final analysis. You guys clearly did your homework. Thank you so much!

  16. I guess greatest trait of Napoleon was his good judgement. He knew that his successful military legacy was annihilated by Waterloo, but his legacy of management would live on. I think his skill of inspiring loyalty was most powerful talent he had. Veterans of Imperial Guard had unusual privilege to complain about unpleasantness of military life, but they were the most skilled, loyal and experienced soldiers Napoleon had. Soldiers complained to their officers and those officers complained to Napoleon and they fought bravely.

  17. correct pronounciation for germans:
    "was" -> uas
    "coup d'etat" -> kuh detah

    …and funnily "Waterloo" -> waterloh (ye thats how you pronounce it, not "Uoterluh"

  18. I now believe that all historical narrations should be read in a German Engish accent. It makes it seem that much more sophisticated and credible.

  19. Hmm structure of the video: 1. Tell them what you're going to tell them. 2. Tell them. 3. Tell them what you told them.

    Very nice.

  20. @6:10 I think the absence of the staff officers he had fought with for 15 years in the 100 days certainly played a major factor in his defeat. Without his trusty Marshal Berthier there to quickly and accurately interpret and disseminate Napoleon's orders the efficiency of the Grande Armee was greatly reduced. Napoleon said after Waterloo, "Had Berthier been there, I would not have met this misfortune". Napoleon understood the necessity of great staff work and when he did not have it he realized how much it cost him.

  21. And how can defeat in detail work? Form the perspective of the enemy its the same. At one point he is superior in numbers and on the other not. He can just do the same strategy countering it.

  22. Mihail Miloradovic born in St. Petersburg, Russia to Serbian parents defeated Napoleon when his battalion invaded Russia. Napoleon and his men were 400,000 strong, only 14,000 returned back. Napoleon even dressed as a woman so the Russians wouldn’t recognize him. In a letter he sent to Miloradovic, he wrote “Why aren’t you using cannons in battle?” Miloradovic replied, “The commander was probably drunk and forgot we even had cannons”.

  23. being extraordinarily aggressive is great and all, but it only works if you're also extraordinarily skilled

  24. Napoleon was certainly the greatest strategist and tactician in the modern period but in another point of view, he did one of the most common error for two of his campaign. He didn't define reasonables goals of war before begining the russian campaign and the Spanish campaign. Try to destroy the Russian army for enforcing the economic embargo against England was a terrible error. And doing a long and expansive war in spain for the same reason was another big mistake.

  25. One other thing: once he'd earned his reputation of being a particularly competent commander, those opposing him grew increasingly alarmed and demoralized by his continuing success. Wittingly or unwittingly, he cultivated a myth of being unbeatable, and capitalized on the effects that this had on his enemies' decision making.

    It's also noteworthy from a broader historical viewpoint that Napoleon was the author of a number of atrocities and his aggressive expansionism was not a good approach for leading the french people as a whole. But for military history, yes, he was an incredibly skilled general.

  26. I recently read a book – using original sources – about the American war of independence, written from the British perspective, in which some Brits didn't respect Frederick the Great's military ideas, thinking the formations were too unwieldy, and that he played at war rather than being serious about it. The title had Fuseliers in it, and was relatively recently published.
    I mention this because I think you said that Napoleon respected Frederick above all other military theoreticians.
    These were modern thinkers, not the old guard, and used their experiences from America to defeat Napoleon – who had become, or had always been, somewhat set in his ways.
    This is a précis, and not my thoughts. I'm not a military thinker at all.

  27. For all the praise Prussia gets for perfecting the General Staff concept they only went in that direction after getting their teeth kicked in by Napoleon's prototype.

  28. Thanks for a brief and well structured summary. As regards the Waterloo v. Borodin I believe it is fair to mention that why at Borodino Napoleon was eager to start a frontal attack of the previously evading Russian army and was totally convinced that he would destroy it (as were convinced all his soldiers and officers) and this win the war – and failed to achieve this, at Waterloo, with a huge numerical superiority of the allies, he was desperate to use his minimal chances to win at any price. And also failed. But there is a big difference between fighting Napoleon on par and him with a + 45000 trained soldiers handicap

  29. Napoleon, alexander the great and pancho villa have very similar traits little sleep, lots of energy and almost natural born generals

  30. When the average person feels that they don't have a chance of at getting their children a better life than they have had, that is where society breaks down. A promise to a better life, no matter how unrealistic is better than our lives now.

  31. Napoleon:I don't need sleep I need to bring glorious victory to the french people and become one of the most influential people in history

  32. I am sorry, but as a fellow German I simply cannot bear to hear you pronounce some english words. And by pronounce I mean slaughter.

  33. Napoleon defeated the large and powerfull prussian army very quicly during the napoleonic wars, and Hitler defeated the large and powerfull french army during the second world war. Damn, it's just the exact same thing, why do we say that the french a coward, i'm sure that after the napoleonic wars, the world was saying that the prussian was coward too xD

  34. Napoleon like Alexander the Great, Hitler, Caesar & Ghengis Khan was addicted to the process of conquest & the "greatness" that came with this. He did not know when to stop & consolidate his victories. For this reason the Empire he worked so hard to create was taken from him & destroyed. He ended up living in exile probably poisoned at the end. Alexander was poisoned in Babylon the place his troop ultimately caused to be destroyed as they had wrecked the irrigation canals that kept the cities farms flourishing. Caesar was stabbed by Senators who feared he would declare himself King & ended up with Emperor Augustus! Hitler probably lost the war by attempting to take Moscow. These men/monsters/heroes or villains depending upon which side you were on changed the face of the world forever for better or worse….

  35. It's too bad that Napoleon didn't unite Europe. Perhaps we could have avoided the Balkans war, ww1 and ww2 to name 3 big ones. Perhaps the stinking Muslims wouldn't be invading our lands either but perhaps that's a stretch.

  36. We need to note that by "requisitioning", he means "rape, murder, torture and pillage." When French Forces "lived off the land", they often tortured local peasants for the location of food stores and supplies. So if the French army didn't murder you for your supplies, you would starve when the winter came anyway. Direct, first-person accounts show that in Portugual and Spain, the French army tortured women and children by burning them alive.

  37. But at the End, the British won! They defeated the French during the 19th century, they defeated the Germans in both the World Wars and they won majority of the modern wars.

  38. Not bad for Francia, Germanic barbarian peoples the same tribes who settled in the shit hole Britain and became known as the Anglo-Saxons.

    No wonder the Greeks called them Barbarians it's going take generations to civilize Britain, France, and Germany. You can't expect uncivilized or primitive people to be humane, decent overnight, indeed. Plus; The English language developed in Europe in the middle ages. It was named after a Germanic tribe, the Angles, that migrated to England. No wonder the Germans call the British Inselaffe ("island ape") lol

  39. Not bad for Francia, Germanic barbarian peoples the same tribes who settled in the shit hole Britain and became known as the Anglo-Saxons.

    No wonder the Greeks called them Barbarians it's going take generations to civilize Britain, France, and Germany. You can't expect uncivilized or primitive people to be humane, decent overnight, indeed. Plus; The English language developed in Europe in the middle ages. It was named after a Germanic tribe, the Angles, that migrated to England. No wonder the Germans call the British Inselaffe ("island ape") lol

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