This Timelapse Shows How Napoleon Nearly Conquered All Of Europe

From 1802 until his exile in 1815, Napoleon embarked on several massive campaigns across virtually all of Europe. This new video shows the changing front lines from his position as Consul for Life to his historic defeat at Waterloo.

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This timelapse was put together by Emperor Tigerstar.

The changing frontlines are shown in two-week intervals, which makes sense given the length of time in question (~13 years) and the slow pace of troop movements. But as Emperor Tigerstar told me, "Warfare may seem slower in this time as it's not Blitzkrieg, but it was very fast for its time."

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The timelapse also shows why a superstition on fighting Napoleon developed by the end of this war.

"The fact that he revolutionized warfare and was able to defeat Prussia, Austria, and Russia within a year and a half — even if all three would eventually get their revenge thanks to Napoleon invading Russia itself in 1812 — is a very impressive feat," he told io9.

He added that mapping out the war in Spain was among one of the most difficult things he's ever had to do, even if he left out the guerilla aspect.

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DISCUSSION

So the thing about Napoleon that many people don't know, and something that I think is missed out in most classrooms is the reason why he was able to do what he did, and why he was so successful at it. Many people just assume that he was an amazing tactician, and that's all that was needed, but he did something at the time that was so profoundly unheard of at the time, that to us now makes sense, but back than was a complete shock to the entire European community.

Prior to Napoleon most of Europe had what is referred to as a 'Professional Army'. These were soldiers recruited by specifically by the country, paid out of pocket mostly at the expense of the living kings and queens (or parliament). To be in the army at the time was considered more of a job, and you were brought into the fold at an extremely young age usually. The typical peasantry generally wouldn't have been involved in the army, besides supporting them in some fashion. This typically left most countries with a sort of hard cap. With a good strong army sitting at about 100k men.

The reason you did this is because you didn't want to arm the common people - because you didn't want to risk a revolt. Well, France had already had a revolt, and it no longer had the monarchy, so that risk was non-existent. It allowed him to essentially gather up every single man of France, arm them, and send them off to war, the so called "Citizen Soldier". In turn he ended up with an army that was just supremely massive, and he was capable of deploying his forces across multiple fronts at multiple times; Napoleon famously once mentioned that he could lose 40,000 men a month as a matter of course; when some of the countries he was taking over only had 40,000 men in the entirety of their armed forces.

What followed suit was a kind of shaking up of the old way to do war in Europe, as other nations began to demand to have armies just like the one Napoleon had (ie massive numbers). These conflicts would eventually lead to a country like Germany eventually having millions of soldiers. So many that when they marched through Belgium the beginning and end of the march lasted over 24 hours, with out a single gap in the line.