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Stephen Hicks #wingnut stephenhicks.org

From the perspective of the Germans, Napoleon was not only a foreign conqueror, he was a product of the Enlightenment. Where he conquered and ruled, he extended equality before the law, opened government offices to the middle class, and guaranteed private property. On matters of religion, he destroyed the ghettoes, gave Jews freedom of religion, and gave them the right to own land and practice all trades. He opened secular public schools, and modernized Europe’s transportation network.

Napoleon outraged many powerful forces in doing so. He abolished guilds. He angered the clergy by abolishing church courts, tithes, monasteries, convents, ecclesiastical states, and he seized much church property. He angered the nobles by abolishing feudal estates and feudal dues, by breaking up large estates, and generally by lessening the power of the nobles over the peasantry. He functioned, in effect from the Enlightenment perspective, as a benevolent dictator, as one who embraced many of the modern ideals but who used the full force of government to impose them.

His dictatorial impositions went further. He enacted censorship wherever he went, conscripted subjugated peoples to fight foreign battles, and taxed subjugated peoples to finance France.