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Napoleonic Wars: 4T or 1T?
#1
The Fourth Turning theory has proven to be very consistent with how history has played out, with one major exception in my eyes. Beginning after the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars between 1803 and 1815 resemble many of the elements that are prominent in a Crisis era. They were total wars that concluded with clear victors and losers, while also restructuring European power dynamics for the rest of the century. Another conflict on that scale would not occur again in Europe until it was surpassed by World War I. Yet the wars are placed in a First Turning, ending over two decades after the official conclusion in 1794. How does this topic and Napoleon himself fit in the overall saeculum?
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#2
Over-extended 4T.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#3
Did they really restructure the European power dynamics for the rest of the century? Or was the Napoleonic empire a temporary aberration, with the end result being a restoration of the previous balance of power?

I'm not sure about the casualty numbers, but I think the Franco-Prussian war resulted in a larger restructuring of Europe in the longer term.
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#4
(02-20-2020, 04:31 PM)ResidentArtist Wrote: The Fourth Turning theory has proven to be very consistent with how history has played out, with one major exception in my eyes. Beginning after the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars between 1803 and 1815 resemble many of the elements that are prominent in a Crisis era. They were total wars that concluded with clear victors and losers, while also restructuring European power dynamics for the rest of the century. Another conflict on that scale would not occur again in Europe until it was surpassed by World War I. Yet the wars are placed in a First Turning, ending over two decades after the official conclusion in 1794. How does this topic and Napoleon himself fit in the overall saeculum?

I see the Napoleonic era as a first turning, because Napoleon announced the Revolution was over in 1799, and French society became conformist and obedient to the emperor and the orderly society he imposed in his Code. He made big wars, no doubt, but it was the Revolution that restructured society; Napoleon froze things in place. Wars happen during 1Ts, although those of Napoleon were larger than usual; but the battles happened fast, and it was not an ongoing stalemate like WWI or a cataclysm like WWII. The battles were intermittent with periods of peace, especially from 1807 to 1812.

In the Renaissance/Enlightenment civilization of Europe, which extended perhaps from 1300 to 1900, great power and religious wars were common in all turnings and were fought by professionals. Some were more catastrophic than others. The Revolution turned them into mass battles fought by citizen armies.

Napoleon spread his legal code throughout Europe, which provided it with some elements of the Revolution, but also some elements of a society like the old regime. It was both revolutionary and restorative. That is typical 1T. The Napoleonic Wars were really the wars started by the Revolution, in which he was a leading general. The Vienna Conference in 1815 restored and set up the balance of power that lasted until 1848 and to a great extent until 1914, and that conference was also part of the 1T period.

Good question, though, Resident Artist.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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#5
That's a great point about French society during that time. The end of the revolution being followed by allegiance to Napoleon as Emperor does mirror public moods amidst High turnings. The way the wars turned out is unusual since the 1T ones are typically unwanted aftershocks ending in draws (War of 1812, Korean War), but this could be an exception to the rule. Maybe the European saeculum was also slightly behind the U.S. in general, since the French Revolution didn't formally end until 1799.
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#6
(02-22-2020, 01:28 PM)ResidentArtist Wrote: That's a great point about French society during that time. The end of the revolution being followed by allegiance to Napoleon as Emperor does mirror public moods amidst High turnings. The way the wars turned out is unusual since the 1T ones are typically unwanted aftershocks ending in draws (War of 1812, Korean War), but this could be an exception to the rule. Maybe the European saeculum was also slightly behind the U.S. in general, since the French Revolution didn't formally end until 1799.

-- dunno about the War of 1812. That was the last time the Brits attacked us & tried 2 impose sovereignty over us. After that they left us alone. I'd call that a win
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#7
(02-22-2020, 01:28 PM)ResidentArtist Wrote: That's a great point about French society during that time. The end of the revolution being followed by allegiance to Napoleon as Emperor does mirror public moods amidst High turnings. The way the wars turned out is unusual since the 1T ones are typically unwanted aftershocks ending in draws (War of 1812, Korean War), but this could be an exception to the rule. Maybe the European saeculum was also slightly behind the U.S. in general, since the French Revolution didn't formally end until 1799.

That's all correct; good. I guess you could label the Napoleonic Wars as big aftershocks, although in some ways bigger than the original French Revolutionary war, since they also ended in a draw, with France ending up more or less as it was after the wars, and the kingdoms restored.
"I close my eyes, and I can see a better day" -- Justin Bieber

Keep the spirit alive;
Eric M
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