4. The emperor, 1804–1812
- David A. Bell
‘The emperor, 1804–1812’ describes the imperial expansion after Napoleon became Emperor. It explains how the new political and military forces unleashed by the French Revolution, which had made possible Napoleon’s astonishing conquests and reforms, did not allow him to consolidate and preserve them. Instead, a different geopolitical dynamic took shape. On the level of grand strategy, Napoleon felt increasingly forced into incessant war and annexation, above all because of his inability to overcome his greatest and most supremely frustrating enemy, Great Britain. The brutal Napoleonic wars are described, including the battles at Trafalgar and Austerlitz, defeat of Prussia, and the shortcomings of the French navy. Napoleon was finding it difficult to control events.