Napoleon and Caesar


Napoleon Bonaparte's success as a military leader and conqueror can also be seen in another great leader, Julius Caesar. Both Napoleon and Caesar achieved great glory by bringing their countries out of turmoil. It was Caesar, that Napoleon modeled himself after, he wanted to be as great, if not greater than Caesar.

Looking to the past, Napoleon knew what steps to take in order to achieve success Napoleon devoured books on the art of war. Volume after volume of military theory was read, analyzed and criticized. He studied the campaigns of history's most famous commanders; Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Frederick the Great and his favorite and most influential, Julius Caesar (Marrin 17).

Julius Caesar was the strong leader for the Romans who changed the course of history of the Greco - Roman world decisively and irreversibly. Caesar was able to create the Roman Empire because of his strength and his strong war strategies (Duggan 117).

Julius Caesar was to become one of the greatest generals, conquering the whole of Gaul. In 58 BC, Caesar became governor and military commander of Gaul, which included modern France, Belgium, and portions of Switzerland, Holland, and Germany west of the Rhine. For the next eight years, Caesar led military campaigns involving both the Roman legions and tribes in Gaul who were often competing among themselves. Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman whose dictatorship was pivotal in Rome's transition from republic to empire (Duggan 84).

Caesar's principles were to keep his forces united; to be vulnerable at no point, to strike speedily at critical points; to rely on moral factors, such as his reputation and the fear he inspired, as well as political means in order to insure the loyalty of his allies and the submissiveness of the conquered nations. He made use of every possible opportunity to increase his chances of victory on the battlefield and, in order to accomplish this, he needed unity of all his troops (Duggan 117).

From the time that he had first faced battle in Gaul and discovered his own military genius, Caesar was evidently fascinated and obsessed by military and imperial problems.

He gave them an absolute priority over the more delicate by no less fundamental task of revising the Roman constitution. The need in the latter sphere was a solution which would introduce such elements of authoritarianism, which were necessary to check corruption and administrative weakness (Grant, Caesar 61).

The story of all his battles and wars has been preserved in Caesar's written account, Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, originally published in 50 B.C. For this period, Caesar is the only existent source providing first-hand descriptions of Britain. While no doubt self-serving in a political sense when written, Caesar's account is nevertheless regarded as basically accurate and historically reliable (Frere 68).

Caesar was appointed dictator for a year starting in 49 B.C., for two years in 48 B.C., for ten years in 46 B.C. and finally dictator for life in 44 B.C. Taking over as Dictator for life, enabled Caesar to gain unrestricted power. He was able to run a strong military and even though he was considered only a dictator he wrote laws that actually made him have the same powers as a king. The conspirators saw the problem that had arised and so they planned the murder of Caesar on the Ides of March. Caesar was killed and there was another triumvirate (government ruled by three) formed. Caesar was a strong military leader that had showed strength and courage to take over the town and he was able to form a civilization that was strong militarily and politically (Grant, Caesar 187).

Caesar was one of the great generals of history; his name became synonymous with leadership, hence the titles Kaiser, and Tsar.

Having been promoted over the heads of older officers, Napoleon's unbroken run of victories over the armies of both Austria and Piedmont established his credibility as a commander, while his concern for his previously ill-equipped soldiers won their loyalty. During the storming of a bridge at Lodi, he fought alongside his troops, and earned from them the nickname of "the little corporal" (Castelot 68).

Under the new government Napoleon was made commander of the French army in Italy. During this campaign the French realized how smart Napoleon was. He developed a tactic that worked very efficiently. He would cut the enemy's army in to two parts, then