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The roots of the Napoleonic Wars are entangled with the fundamental political and philosophical transformations of the

18th century[1]Politics and philosophy often taken from the classical world especially Rome where similar revolutionary conflicts occurred. The politics, popular politics, were crucial for both Caesar and Napoleon to consolidate their leader image. Napoleon himself claimed to be apart of the people, intending to create a liberal empire and abandon his dictatorship once the wars were over. Caesar also stood with the people, as Ronald Syme puts it, Caesar, had consistently advocated the cause of the oppressed. They therefore stood politically in modern terms on the left, or at least portrayed themselves as so. Caesar and Napoleon rose as leaders of the people and this idea of a peoples leader fighting against a political or tyrannical establishment has become exemplified in these two men. Lucien Canfora notes that Napoleon recognised Caesars special relationship with the people; this is because they both represented the people it mattered little whether they were also representing their own interests or not as the case may be. The people are defined in both eras as the disenfranchised, the ordinary citizen who had become or felt disenfranchised and unrepresented in the political system and it was these people that Napoleon and Caesar represented or purported to represent in politics. The result of their success in the military led to a victory on the political stage for the left, and led to a political legacy that has become a major aspect of the theories surrounding Caesarism and was a major part in the transition from republic to empire as it created the basis for legitimacy and support for their rule. Their heroic image as the leaders who stood for the ordinary people of their nations has gone down in history as a model of the non-hereditary enlightened despot, ruling through popular legitimacy as a champion of the people. To understand the major political developments and the revolutionary nature of both eras one must look to the political background. Looking at how similar the revolutionary situations were as well as the political figures and popular politics that arose shows how similar situations produced similar figures in Caesar and Napoleon. In Republican Rome the revolutionary age began after years of expansion and resulting social strife. Riches from expansion allowed the ruling class to buy up most public land. This 1

along with the coming of many slaves to work the land meant all of the work and land in the countryside was taken up and as a result many poorer land owning Romans then drifted into the city causing social tension and friction amongst the high numbers of unemployed. The historian F.R Cowell sums up the situation, As Rome expanded the social and political strife became economical rather than constitutional. Revolutionary France, beginning with the overhaul of 1789, was similar to Rome in that it was primarily based in economic problems that were rooted in the losses France had sustained through expansion during the colonial wars with Britain. In both cases this was the basis for a revolutionary situation as the highly politicised plebeians of Rome and the new French citizens ran into conflict with the governing class that in both cases slowly became a tight clique that held onto power. This clique became ever more ineffective in governance as the people were not being truly represented. This was epitomised in France by the Directory and in Rome by the Sullan constitution; in post-Sullan Rome Caesar noted, The Republic is nothing, merely a name without body or shape. From this conflict two distinct sides broke out in both eras that can be identified as conservative and radical. For example in Rome the Marian reforms brought the military and politics together by re-empowering the plebs and further politicising them with organised strength becoming citizen soldiers, in a similar way to Revolutionary France, taking absolute military power away from the aristocrats. However conservative generals such as Sulla were given the chance to instigate a conservative reaction against the radicals, in this case almost eliminating them with his subsequent constitution. This clear cut political conflict set the precedent for Caesar to take power with the accelerating accumulation of power and peoples support that generals were able to gain. In Revolutionary France this situation was less clear cut but as mentioned in the last chapter generals clearly commanded enormous influence with what was really their army rather than the states army, as the state became ever more weak and ineffective under the Directory. In both eras civil and political strife had therefore brought about ineffective governance and a weak state in which the armies were given over to their generals and had become dangerously political. In Rome the fact that there was no division between political and military

power meant that the civil strife became civil war between two conflicting views. In Revolutionary France Napoleon also fought a civil war but it was brought onto an international scale and his opposition was external and his coup against those who had misled his own cause, though like Caesar the military was essential to politics as is shown later. From this both eras also saw a general radicalisation, with violence no less heated than on the battlefield. According to historian Anthony Everitt, political debate in Rome popularised into bitter conflicts. This theme of popularisation runs through both eras as this was not only where radicalisation thrived but where popular radical figures could look to gain influence in politics setting the precedent for both Napoleon and Caesar to take power as peoples leaders. These radical figures who paved the way for peoples leaders included the Gracchi. Marsh stipulates that their ultimate aim was to use the popular assemblies to tackle the senatorial machine. F.R Cowell echoes this and attributes the radicalisation of Roman politics to the Gracchi and few doubt their sincerity and none their radicalisation. This fits very much in line with Caesar who from his actions shows that he was following the Gracchi by aiming to dismantle the senatorial oligarchy as he was in the words of F.B Marsh, a consistent opponent of the senatorial machine. Napoleon took the same stance, as a young radical he and his brothers were known during their campaigning on Corsica as the Gracchi for their radicalism in championing the rights of the ordinary people. Napoleon later maintained this in his rise to power and even said of his post as Emperor, My throne was raised by the unanimous wishes of the French people. The legitimacy of popular support for the future empires found its roots in the politics of the old left. The French Revolutionaries set up clubs and parties that stood for an interpretation of the revolution. Crucially political figures arose around these that emulated classical politics, mainly through the works of Cicero, and later the enemies of Napoleon began emulating Cato and Caesars classical opponents. Evidence of this can be found for example in Britain wh ere in 1812 Sir Thomas Lawrence painted the actor John Philip Kemble as Cato in a play of the same name that was showing at the time. Cato as the tenacious opponent of Caesar was a clear indication of the political atmosphere of the time with Britain seeing itself as a Catonian champion of liberty and patriotism against the despotic Caesar of Napoleon. Thus we can see not just political and revolutionary similarity but also clear emulation of Roman politics in 3

recognition of this. This kind of thinking was in the mind of Napoleon when he compared the radical Corsican leader Paoli (whom Napoleon supported for a time) to Cato and Cincinnatus again showing emulation of the archaic ideas and politics that embedded itself into the age. The political background set the precedent for a political battle in which Caesar and Napoleon would rise to take power in the name of the people, this was where they derived their legitimacy, as would the later empires. Their own politics and aims crucially show their similarity in politics as they show how they themselves took up the radical cause and used it to attain supreme power. Caesar identified himself with the Marians and Marius and rose to power by presenting himself in politics as a peoples leader continuing the work of his predecessors, in fact surpassing them as articulated by F.R Cowell, in the outcome, Caesar and still more Augustus carried through the greatest revolution of all. Both Caesar and Napoleon took part in a revolution that would be a consolidation of the revolutionary age and in which they purported themselves as the saviours of the people. They took power from regimes that had been put in place as a reaction against radicals. After taking power as part of a group they maintained their populist stance in politics. Caesar coming to power with the Triumvirate as Consul in 59 B.C. proceeded to dismantle the Sullan constitution and restore power to the people by restoring the Tribunes and following a generally populist line. Napoleon also in a group of radicals, the Brumairians, did the same by creating a Roman style system in which he showed the epitome of the emulation of Roman politics as well as the similarity already there. Napoleon like Caesar set about returning the peoples rights or at least gave the appearance of doing so with for example returning voting rights, creating a Tribunate and settling the land problem, a core revolutionary cause, stating, no social order can be founded on agrarian laws. The coup of Brumaire and the Triumvirate are therefore very much alike in that they were a revolutionary reaction against an ineffective conservative clique and also a passage to power for Caesar and Napoleon as they consolidated the popular politics of a revolutionary age for legitimacy in empire. In terms of their own political stance and actions both men purported populist values or in modern terms the left, though both moderated slightly as they grew older, this is mainly due to the fact that while in power they had to reconcile all elements in order to achieve a broader aim of restoring order to their nations. When they came to rule for example Napoleon appeared

more and more to advocate monarchy though he always maintained the democratic element to it. Caesar balanced his policies while in power to maintain order, they therefore became peoples leaders, in the meaning of every person. They now suited the needs of everyone and Canfora argues this kind of aristocratic reconciliation is a key feature of Caesarism and is noted by Napoleon on St Helena. The fact remains however that in their earlier years however both were radicals or were associated with radicals. They both identified with the radical or leftist cause while being ready to publicly distance themselves from extremes, Caesar for example used his expert knowledge of populare rhetoric to attack the extremist wing. Both men also included the military in politics, particularly Caesar as Marius and Sulla had set a precedent. Caesars Gallic Wars were used to propagate a heroic legend around Caesar as well as to report the events of the war; while Napoleons military bulletins were used for dramatic political effect as well as to ensure that his view was the official view. Like Caesar they were a large part of creating the military legend in the political sphere, particularly the expeditions to Britain by Caesar, and to Egypt and Italy by Napoleon respectively. Egypt and Britain were used to drum up support and excitement; and significantly both were unsuccessful but were portrayed as successes and used as propaganda. Both men were therefore politically astute and were able to create support by taking up the popular politics of their predecessors and use it to greater effect. They created a system by which a leader could rule based upon the support of the people and the glory of the armed forces while consolidating the ideals of a revolutionary age to end the turmoil. Their belief in popular politics and the left can be seen in their consistent support of radical leaders and the continuation of the cause through their own careers. The result of their support was a kind of popular legitimacy which allowed the transition from republic to empire to take place an intricate part of the Caesar figure. A figure who rises during an age of transition and revolution to take power in the name of the people, and gaining the peoples support through military victory, as historian Lily Ross Taylor says of Caesar, He led his armies out to secure the freedom of himself and the roman people who had been overwhelmed by a faction of oligarchs. Essential to this is that they both broke an oligarchy or clique and though paradoxically no one mourned the fall of the Directory and many the fall of the Roman Republic, this was abated by the fact that the people as with Napoleon loved Caesar. The peace he brought

and the apparent victory of the peoples leader, meant that the fall of the Republic was almost accepted as it had occurred over a long period of time and for the people it had meant a triumph over the aristocratic clique, while both Napoleon and Caesar continued to purport republican values. Either way both men were welcomed to power as they filled a vacuum left by the strife caused in the main by expansion which in turn caused social friction and revolution. They took up the radical cause to attain power by consolidating it in revolution. Sulla and the Directory had reversed the progress of the revolutionaries and created conservative regimes halting the revolutionary movement but neither the Directory nor the Sullan constitution solved the problem of a politically and economically disenfranchised populace, and their ignorance of it and the resulting inefficiency of government led to the explosion that was the Napoleonic and Caesarian revolutions. Napoleon and Caesar stood not only as military peoples leaders, but also as political peoples leaders combining the two and building on the work of their predecessors and populist heroes such as the Gracchi to attain power.