What If: Napoleon Victorious

Discussion in '1800-1914' started by imalko, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #1 imalko, Apr 1, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2010
    We got a few these "what if" topics in WW2 section, so I thought why not one more for 19th century?

    How different would 19th century Europe would have been if Napoleon was victorious? I don't mean by this a victory at Waterloo in 1815, for even if Napoleon had won this battle his chances for ultimate success at that stage were slim to non existent. Nor was events in Spain decisive for his downfall. Virtual destruction of Grande Armee in steps of Russia was needed to turn the tide and to eclipse the "Sun of Austerlitz".
    I once read somewhere that "wars against Russia are never won on Russian soil". Statement which can particularly be related to Napoleonic wars, for Russians were defeated at Austerlitz, Friedland and elsewhere but managed to defend themselves on their own soil.

    So, my question is next - what if Russians surrendered in 1812 after Borodino and Napoleon's conquest of Moscow or even at some earlier stage of the campaign? Any thoughts?
     
  2. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Nappy couldn't stop. He was a compulsive solider. Still had the Brits to contend with and even if Russia bailed, they'd be back. Plus, France was tired of Nappy by 1812. Too many sons were gone and not comming back for an Emperor nobody wanted in the first place.

    But, if he beats Russia and then all of the sudden dies? That's a different story. Then you have France in charge of Europe. Probably have the death of Monarchies (that happened in the 20th century) about 50-75 years later. That means all the social political systems of the 20th century get moved up too (Socialism, Communism, Facism, ect). Great wars (normally thought of as World Wars) come earlier but they are smaller and devoted mostly to Europe.

    Who knows, the EU may end up starting around 1910 or so.
     
  3. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #3 michaelmaltby, Apr 1, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2010
    If the "Continental System" (think Third Reich) that Napoleon established in "conquered" Europe had prevailed - as an economic and defensive union - I suggest the history of Europe would have been very different :). No 1848 revolutions. No "unified" Germany. No Franco Prussian War - and no World War I.

    Now - lets be clear - Napoleon could never have defeated England on Land or Sea. The Royal Navy successfully maintained an (almost) non stop blockade on occupied Europe for more than 10 years - one of the outcomes of this besides preventing strategic war materials through - was that the French Fleet was kept bottled up in ports. The French built beautiful ships with great timber from the Nordic countries, but never got to exercise their skills as a Fleet.

    Had the "Continental" system succeeded - and Russia surrendered - IMHO with time Britain and France would have reached some sort of pragmatic "accommodation".

    But - as history stands - the rise and fall of Napoleon was the birth of modern European history (the birth of the Nation State) - unleashing many, many consequences that have rippled through time till today. But - make no mistake - he WAS a nasty little dictator :). His defeat is a testamony to the solidary of Britain and value of naval supremacy.

    MM
     
  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    So in short everyone in Europe would be speaking French, designing horrible looking airplanes during the 1930s, and running around with white flags?

    8) Just kidding...
     
  5. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Yup, Monsieur Group Leader :) And you would be stuck with the Metric System (has it's merits I must admit).

    Timshatz - very good analysis :)

    MM
     
  6. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Thanks MM.
     
  7. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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  8. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    ".. And cheese everywhere!" Mmmmm cheese.

    MM
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #9 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Apr 1, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2010
    I will be honest. I prefer the metric system...

    I like cheese too...
     
  10. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    I agree, Crew Chief. :)

    MM
     
  11. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    THREAD DRIFT ALERT! (But it's about cheese so...)

    Depends on what kind, and what you have with it. French Muenster, Rachlette, Fontina D'Aosta and a German cheese I have occasionally called Buddekasse (or some such). And it has to go with red wine. Maybe a strong white. You can keep Brie. A wierd little cheese.

    Problem with the US is a lack of good domestic cheeses. That's Pasturization for ya'. Kills all the good bugs that make great cheese. Grew up thinking American, Swiss and Cheddar were the only cheeses in the world. Then I married into an italian family and things changed. For the better.
     
  12. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    Thread drift alert big time! Come on guys, don't ruin this.

    There were some good points made in first two replies. Now, a little comment on one of these posts about how "Napoleon could never have defeated England on Land or Sea". Of course, British dominance at seas was never seriously questioned by French efforts. However, for land warfare I disagree. Napoleon in person was defeated by the British only once - at Waterloo. And this British victory was achieved with Wesley's generalship as much as Napoleon's own mistakes and incompetence of his senior subordinates (Grouchy in the first place) which led to the timely arrival of the Prussians to the field. And Waterloo itself was as much a victory of German and Dutch soldiers as the British. Out of 67.000 men under Wesley's command at Waterloo only 31.000 were British.

    Only other time when Napoleon in person faced the British was at the Peninsula in late 1808, when he defeated British troops under Moore and forced them to evacuate on 16-17 January 1809. After that he never again came to Spain. When Wesley has returned to Peninsula and was making his advances Napoleon was waging war elsewhere.

    If Emperor had succeeded in Russia I believe the British would have made some sort of agreement with France. If he was victorious I don't see the reason why should Napoleon "suddenly" die, except for natural causes. As it is believed by some that he suffered from cancer when he died at Saint Helena in 1821.
     
  13. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    My bad, it's the cheese.

    Ok, back to the thread.

    France is a contental power, Britian is a naval power. Two different strategic outlooks. To my mind, the problems are greater for the French than the Brits.

    France has a secure base to develop a Navy, should they so cheese, I mean CHOOSE. Their Army will not be beaten by the British army alone. Britian just does not have the power. They (the Brits that is) will need help on the Continent and if France has control of the Continent, forget it. But building a Navy for the French is not the same as having an effective Navy. The effectiveness of the British navy and the lack of experience in the French navy (a big problem in post revolutionary France) would probably end up with France being the largest supplier of ships to the British Navy.

    However, France has two big problems. One, the Continental System lends itself to a lot of smuggling. Plenty of stuff couldn't be obtained on the continent (Sugar comes to mind right away) and has to come in from overseas. That tends to erode the authority of the System as local leaders will turn a blind eye to the smuggler's activities.

    Second, the Brits can go wherever they want and establish local superiority anywhere they choose. Much like the Vikings, they can raid at will. The French do not have the navy to stop them. The French, due to the strategic weakness of not having a navy, have to be strong everywhere.

    Long and short, both sides have unassailable positions. No Nappy (Dead from whatever) means the French probably settle on their haunches and consolidate their gains. In the long run, some kind of accomidation is reached as having a Navy and Army of the size they were would end up in bankruptcies for both Countries, especially England (Armies in the early industrial age being far easier to equip and field than Navies).
     
  14. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Start up a cheese thread, I would love to discuss Cheese with you.
    :lol:
     
  15. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "..France is a continental power, Britain is a naval power. Two different strategic outlooks. To my mind, the problems are greater for the French than the Brits. "

    Agree. The cost of maintaining a great navy was the price of having a great, wealth contributing Empire. The Continental system "leaked" as you note Timshatz. :)

    I'm for a cheese thread but I warn you - I will probably refer to my choices by characteristics rather than their proper names: as in, last weekend I brought a ripe runny cheese with basil and chile. Also bought a stinky blue from New Brunswick made with unpasteurized milk. Both yummy, :)

    But a great old Canadian cheddar or a stiff well-marbled UK crumbly are my favorites - with a wedge of apple.

    :)

    MM
     
  16. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #16 michaelmaltby, Apr 2, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2010
    "... Napoleon in person was defeated by the British only once - at Waterloo. And this British victory was achieved with Wesley's generalship as much as Napoleon's own mistakes and incompetence of his senior subordinates "

    Imalko you make an interesting point and I don't want it to get lost in the Cxxxxe. :)

    I believe that Wellington was the role model for the "diplomatic alliance" general (Think Ike). Napoleon may have been a genius but that doesn't matter - in the end he took himself too seriously and he made BIG mistakes. Welsley took years to practice fighting Napoleon's Troops - he won way more than he lost in the Peninsula - and demonstrated that Britain could rebound from a licking by Napoleon. When he got to the field that mattered - Wellington had the confidence of his men and of his allies.
    Who was standing beside Napoleon - other than his shadow:)

    MM
     
  17. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    No worries MM, get close and somebody will figure out the name. Well Marbled and crumbley from the UK, I would go with a Colby or some kind o Cheddar. What's the color and taste? Got a pic?
     
  18. HealzDevo

    HealzDevo Active Member

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    Part of Napoleon's problems was that the best parts of his army had largely died in the Russian Campaign. He himself was broken by that heart-breaking loss. Therefore, a big problem is what would have happened if Napoleon had been in form, could he have won Waterloo? Maybe not, because he still would have been dealing with inexperienced troops, against experienced British troop numbers.
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Ive played in a multi-player simulation called "empires in arms". Pretty good game, and simulates this quite well.

    Have seen the defeat of Russia several times, and whilst it is a big blow to the entente, and usually leads to a negotiated peace, this is usually temporary. The British control the European foreign tradde at this time, which is something not easily reversed.....this means they rake in buckets of money, and this means, in turn that they can afford to buy friends on the continent. the problem for the french is that though they can usually clobber whoever they want, they need time to rest and recover, and during thet period of rest, the British just move in, and pay somebody else to start causing trouble....somewhere where Nappy is not thereir in person....


    The likley flash points whilst Nappy is off in Russian beating up the russians is to stir up trouble in Spain, or the low countries, or in Italy, or all three.....Nappy cant be everywhere at once (his achilles heal), and so the war never ends until the french lose
     
  20. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Parsifal, I agree with your analysis by and large - and believe that the Napoleonic Wars were a turning point for Britain - the LAST point in which they could project themselves and their interests into Europe without being destroyed by European wars. When Britain entered in August 1914 it was her Crack of Doom.

    MM
     
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