full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Alex Gendler: History vs. Napoleon Bonaparte

Unscramble the Blue Letters

After the French Revolution erupted in 1789, Europe was thrown into caohs. Neighboring countries' monarchs feared they would share the fate of Louis XVI, and attacked the New Republic, while at home, extremism and mistrust between factions lead to bloodshed. In the msidt of all this conflict, a pofeuwrl figure emerged to take charge of France. But did he save the revolution or destroy it? "Order, order, who's the defendant today? I don't see anyone." "Your Honor, this is Napoléon btnoaprae, the tyrant who invaded nearly all of Europe to compensate for his personal stature-based insecurities." "Actually, Napoléon was at least average height for his time. The idea that he was sorht comes only from British wiramte propaganda. And he was no tyrant. He was safeguarding the yuong Republic from being ceruhsd by the eerapuon moianecrhs." "By overthrowing its government and seizing power himself?" "Your Honor, as a young and successful military officer, Napoléon fully supported the French Revolution, and its ideals of ltbriey, equality, and fraternity. But the revolutionaries were ilpbacane of real leadership. Robespierre and the Jacobins who first came to power unleashed a reign of terror on the plauitopon, with their anti-Catholic extremism and nonstop executions of everyone who disagreed with them. And The Directory that raleepcd them was an unstable and incompetent oligarchy. They needed a strong ladeer who could govern wisely and justly." "So, France went through that whole revolution just to end up with another all-powerful ruler?" "Not quite. Napoléon's new powers were derived from the coiiuntsottn that was approved by a popular vote in the Consulate." "Ha! The constitution was practically dictated at gunpoint in a miiltray coup, and the public only accepted the tyrant because they were tired of constant civil war." "Be that as it may, Napoléon introduced a new constitution and a legal code that kept some of the most irmpnatot achievements of the revolution in tact: freedom of religion abolition of hereditary peiiglvre, and equality before the law for all men." "All men, indeed. He dvierepd wmeon of the rights that the rotveoluin had given them and even reinstated slavery in the French cooenlis. Haiti is still recovering from the consequences centuries later. What kind of equality is that?" "The only kind that could be sbtlay maintained at the time, and still far ahead of France's nrohegibs." "Speaking of neighbors, what was with all the invasions?" "Great question, Your Honor." "Which invasions are we tnalkig about? It was the neighboring empires who had invaded France trying to restore the mranchoy, and prevent the spread of liberty across Europe, twice by the time Napoléon took charge. Having defended France as a soldier and a general in those wars, he knew that the best defense is a good offense." "An offense against the entire continent? Peace was secured by 1802, and other European powers recognized the new French rgmeie. But Bonaparte couldn't rest unless he had control of the whole continent, and all he knew was fighting. He tried to enforce a European-wide blockade of Britain, invaded any country that didn't comply, and launched more wars to hold onto his gains. And what was the result? Millions dead all over the continent, and the whole intnrneoaiatl order setathred." "You forgot the other result: the spread of democratic and liberal iadles across Europe. It was thanks to Napoléon that the continent was reshaped from a chaotic patchwork of fragmented feudal and rilieugos territories into efficient, modern, and secular nation states where the people held more pweor and rights than ever before." "Should we also thank him for the rise of nalitsnoiam and the msvsaie increase in army sizes? You can see how well that tunred out a century later." "So what would European hiostry have been like if it weren't for Napoléon?" "Unimaginably better/worse." Napoléon seemingly unstoppable mtnueomm would die in the Russian winter sonws, along with most of his army. But even after being deposed and exiled, he refused to give up, escaping from his prison and lcnaunhig a bold attempt at restoring his eipmre before being defeated for the second and final time. Bonaparte was a ruler full of contradictions, defending a popular revolution by imposing absolute dictatorship, and spreading liberal ideals through iierapml wars, and though he never achieved his daerm of conquering Europe, he undoubtedly left his mark on it, for better or for wsore.

Open Cloze

After the French Revolution erupted in 1789, Europe was thrown into _____. Neighboring countries' monarchs feared they would share the fate of Louis XVI, and attacked the New Republic, while at home, extremism and mistrust between factions lead to bloodshed. In the _____ of all this conflict, a ________ figure emerged to take charge of France. But did he save the revolution or destroy it? "Order, order, who's the defendant today? I don't see anyone." "Your Honor, this is Napoléon _________, the tyrant who invaded nearly all of Europe to compensate for his personal stature-based insecurities." "Actually, Napoléon was at least average height for his time. The idea that he was _____ comes only from British _______ propaganda. And he was no tyrant. He was safeguarding the _____ Republic from being _______ by the ________ __________." "By overthrowing its government and seizing power himself?" "Your Honor, as a young and successful military officer, Napoléon fully supported the French Revolution, and its ideals of _______, equality, and fraternity. But the revolutionaries were _________ of real leadership. Robespierre and the Jacobins who first came to power unleashed a reign of terror on the __________, with their anti-Catholic extremism and nonstop executions of everyone who disagreed with them. And The Directory that ________ them was an unstable and incompetent oligarchy. They needed a strong ______ who could govern wisely and justly." "So, France went through that whole revolution just to end up with another all-powerful ruler?" "Not quite. Napoléon's new powers were derived from the ____________ that was approved by a popular vote in the Consulate." "Ha! The constitution was practically dictated at gunpoint in a ________ coup, and the public only accepted the tyrant because they were tired of constant civil war." "Be that as it may, Napoléon introduced a new constitution and a legal code that kept some of the most _________ achievements of the revolution in tact: freedom of religion abolition of hereditary _________, and equality before the law for all men." "All men, indeed. He ________ _____ of the rights that the __________ had given them and even reinstated slavery in the French ________. Haiti is still recovering from the consequences centuries later. What kind of equality is that?" "The only kind that could be ______ maintained at the time, and still far ahead of France's _________." "Speaking of neighbors, what was with all the invasions?" "Great question, Your Honor." "Which invasions are we _______ about? It was the neighboring empires who had invaded France trying to restore the ________, and prevent the spread of liberty across Europe, twice by the time Napoléon took charge. Having defended France as a soldier and a general in those wars, he knew that the best defense is a good offense." "An offense against the entire continent? Peace was secured by 1802, and other European powers recognized the new French ______. But Bonaparte couldn't rest unless he had control of the whole continent, and all he knew was fighting. He tried to enforce a European-wide blockade of Britain, invaded any country that didn't comply, and launched more wars to hold onto his gains. And what was the result? Millions dead all over the continent, and the whole _____________ order _________." "You forgot the other result: the spread of democratic and liberal ______ across Europe. It was thanks to Napoléon that the continent was reshaped from a chaotic patchwork of fragmented feudal and _________ territories into efficient, modern, and secular nation states where the people held more _____ and rights than ever before." "Should we also thank him for the rise of ___________ and the _______ increase in army sizes? You can see how well that ______ out a century later." "So what would European _______ have been like if it weren't for Napoléon?" "Unimaginably better/worse." Napoléon seemingly unstoppable ________ would die in the Russian winter _____, along with most of his army. But even after being deposed and exiled, he refused to give up, escaping from his prison and _________ a bold attempt at restoring his ______ before being defeated for the second and final time. Bonaparte was a ruler full of contradictions, defending a popular revolution by imposing absolute dictatorship, and spreading liberal ideals through ________ wars, and though he never achieved his _____ of conquering Europe, he undoubtedly left his mark on it, for better or for _____.

Solution

  1. monarchies
  2. ideals
  3. momentum
  4. worse
  5. shattered
  6. important
  7. women
  8. turned
  9. dream
  10. deprived
  11. constitution
  12. launching
  13. leader
  14. powerful
  15. regime
  16. incapable
  17. empire
  18. revolution
  19. midst
  20. young
  21. crushed
  22. military
  23. stably
  24. snows
  25. monarchy
  26. massive
  27. wartime
  28. replaced
  29. short
  30. privilege
  31. talking
  32. liberty
  33. power
  34. chaos
  35. nationalism
  36. population
  37. neighbors
  38. bonaparte
  39. imperial
  40. colonies
  41. history
  42. european
  43. international
  44. religious

Original Text

After the French Revolution erupted in 1789, Europe was thrown into chaos. Neighboring countries' monarchs feared they would share the fate of Louis XVI, and attacked the New Republic, while at home, extremism and mistrust between factions lead to bloodshed. In the midst of all this conflict, a powerful figure emerged to take charge of France. But did he save the revolution or destroy it? "Order, order, who's the defendant today? I don't see anyone." "Your Honor, this is Napoléon Bonaparte, the tyrant who invaded nearly all of Europe to compensate for his personal stature-based insecurities." "Actually, Napoléon was at least average height for his time. The idea that he was short comes only from British wartime propaganda. And he was no tyrant. He was safeguarding the young Republic from being crushed by the European monarchies." "By overthrowing its government and seizing power himself?" "Your Honor, as a young and successful military officer, Napoléon fully supported the French Revolution, and its ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. But the revolutionaries were incapable of real leadership. Robespierre and the Jacobins who first came to power unleashed a reign of terror on the population, with their anti-Catholic extremism and nonstop executions of everyone who disagreed with them. And The Directory that replaced them was an unstable and incompetent oligarchy. They needed a strong leader who could govern wisely and justly." "So, France went through that whole revolution just to end up with another all-powerful ruler?" "Not quite. Napoléon's new powers were derived from the constitution that was approved by a popular vote in the Consulate." "Ha! The constitution was practically dictated at gunpoint in a military coup, and the public only accepted the tyrant because they were tired of constant civil war." "Be that as it may, Napoléon introduced a new constitution and a legal code that kept some of the most important achievements of the revolution in tact: freedom of religion abolition of hereditary privilege, and equality before the law for all men." "All men, indeed. He deprived women of the rights that the revolution had given them and even reinstated slavery in the French colonies. Haiti is still recovering from the consequences centuries later. What kind of equality is that?" "The only kind that could be stably maintained at the time, and still far ahead of France's neighbors." "Speaking of neighbors, what was with all the invasions?" "Great question, Your Honor." "Which invasions are we talking about? It was the neighboring empires who had invaded France trying to restore the monarchy, and prevent the spread of liberty across Europe, twice by the time Napoléon took charge. Having defended France as a soldier and a general in those wars, he knew that the best defense is a good offense." "An offense against the entire continent? Peace was secured by 1802, and other European powers recognized the new French Regime. But Bonaparte couldn't rest unless he had control of the whole continent, and all he knew was fighting. He tried to enforce a European-wide blockade of Britain, invaded any country that didn't comply, and launched more wars to hold onto his gains. And what was the result? Millions dead all over the continent, and the whole international order shattered." "You forgot the other result: the spread of democratic and liberal ideals across Europe. It was thanks to Napoléon that the continent was reshaped from a chaotic patchwork of fragmented feudal and religious territories into efficient, modern, and secular nation states where the people held more power and rights than ever before." "Should we also thank him for the rise of nationalism and the massive increase in army sizes? You can see how well that turned out a century later." "So what would European history have been like if it weren't for Napoléon?" "Unimaginably better/worse." Napoléon seemingly unstoppable momentum would die in the Russian winter snows, along with most of his army. But even after being deposed and exiled, he refused to give up, escaping from his prison and launching a bold attempt at restoring his empire before being defeated for the second and final time. Bonaparte was a ruler full of contradictions, defending a popular revolution by imposing absolute dictatorship, and spreading liberal ideals through imperial wars, and though he never achieved his dream of conquering Europe, he undoubtedly left his mark on it, for better or for worse.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
liberal ideals 2

Important Words

  1. abolition
  2. absolute
  3. accepted
  4. achieved
  5. achievements
  6. approved
  7. army
  8. attacked
  9. attempt
  10. average
  11. blockade
  12. bloodshed
  13. bold
  14. bonaparte
  15. britain
  16. british
  17. centuries
  18. century
  19. chaos
  20. chaotic
  21. charge
  22. civil
  23. code
  24. colonies
  25. compensate
  26. comply
  27. conflict
  28. conquering
  29. consequences
  30. constant
  31. constitution
  32. consulate
  33. continent
  34. contradictions
  35. control
  36. country
  37. coup
  38. crushed
  39. dead
  40. defeated
  41. defendant
  42. defended
  43. defending
  44. defense
  45. democratic
  46. deposed
  47. deprived
  48. derived
  49. destroy
  50. dictated
  51. dictatorship
  52. die
  53. directory
  54. disagreed
  55. dream
  56. efficient
  57. emerged
  58. empire
  59. empires
  60. enforce
  61. entire
  62. equality
  63. erupted
  64. escaping
  65. europe
  66. european
  67. executions
  68. exiled
  69. extremism
  70. factions
  71. fate
  72. feared
  73. feudal
  74. fighting
  75. figure
  76. final
  77. forgot
  78. fragmented
  79. france
  80. fraternity
  81. freedom
  82. french
  83. full
  84. fully
  85. gains
  86. general
  87. give
  88. good
  89. govern
  90. government
  91. gunpoint
  92. haiti
  93. height
  94. held
  95. hereditary
  96. history
  97. hold
  98. home
  99. honor
  100. idea
  101. ideals
  102. imperial
  103. important
  104. imposing
  105. incapable
  106. incompetent
  107. increase
  108. insecurities
  109. international
  110. introduced
  111. invaded
  112. invasions
  113. jacobins
  114. justly
  115. kind
  116. knew
  117. launched
  118. launching
  119. law
  120. lead
  121. leader
  122. leadership
  123. left
  124. legal
  125. liberal
  126. liberty
  127. louis
  128. maintained
  129. mark
  130. massive
  131. men
  132. midst
  133. military
  134. millions
  135. mistrust
  136. modern
  137. momentum
  138. monarchies
  139. monarchs
  140. monarchy
  141. napoléon
  142. nation
  143. nationalism
  144. needed
  145. neighboring
  146. neighbors
  147. nonstop
  148. offense
  149. officer
  150. oligarchy
  151. order
  152. overthrowing
  153. patchwork
  154. peace
  155. people
  156. personal
  157. popular
  158. population
  159. power
  160. powerful
  161. powers
  162. practically
  163. prevent
  164. prison
  165. privilege
  166. propaganda
  167. public
  168. question
  169. real
  170. recognized
  171. recovering
  172. refused
  173. regime
  174. reign
  175. reinstated
  176. religion
  177. religious
  178. replaced
  179. republic
  180. reshaped
  181. rest
  182. restore
  183. restoring
  184. result
  185. revolution
  186. revolutionaries
  187. rights
  188. rise
  189. robespierre
  190. ruler
  191. russian
  192. safeguarding
  193. save
  194. secular
  195. secured
  196. seemingly
  197. seizing
  198. share
  199. shattered
  200. short
  201. sizes
  202. slavery
  203. snows
  204. soldier
  205. spread
  206. spreading
  207. stably
  208. states
  209. strong
  210. successful
  211. supported
  212. talking
  213. territories
  214. terror
  215. thrown
  216. time
  217. tired
  218. today
  219. turned
  220. tyrant
  221. undoubtedly
  222. unleashed
  223. unstable
  224. unstoppable
  225. vote
  226. war
  227. wars
  228. wartime
  229. winter
  230. wisely
  231. women
  232. worse
  233. xvi
  234. young