2. The general, 1796–1799
- David A. Bell
‘The general, 1796–1799’ describes how it was the French Revolution that made Napoleon’s stupefying ascent possible. The Revolution badly damaged the traditional hierarchies of French society, opening the door to radically new forms of social mobility and political power. It also unleashed newly intense forms of war, and provided French rulers with new ways to harness their country’s formidable natural resources against its enemies. Napoleon displayed both military and political genius. His successful battles in Italy and Austria are outlined, followed by his campaign in Egypt, which triggered a new period of large-scale European war. Finally, his return to France to sieze power from the French parliament is described.