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Word Count: 523
Enlightened despotism is defined as the theory that a ruler should rule in such a way as to efficiently better the lives of the people and the state This theory comes from the enlightenment itself and was a social revolution in terms of government Rulers such as Maria Theresa of Austria and Catherine the Great all worked toward the betterment of society at times using their absolute rule to enforce this system of improvement Napoleon is a classic example of such a ruler and clearly throughout his rule exhibits the characteristics of an enlightened despot The first example of Napoleons despotism is seen in the multitude of military conflicts in which France was involved during his rule Using the absolute rule which an enlightened despot possesses he successfully defeated Prussia Russia and Austria A democratic or republican government would have required votes and debate as to involvement in these numerous wars however under Napoleons rule simply his desire to expand the French empire led to these campaigns which resulted in the French continental empire stretching from southern Spain all the way to the Polish frontier Furthermore evidence of the totalitarian and despotic nature of Napoleons rule can be seen in his coronation ceremony At this point in the development of the monarchical structure of European society it was common if not necessary for the monarch to receive endorsement from a religious power In the case of France a predominantly Roman Catholic country the Pope granted religious investigure by coronation It was a symbol that the monarchs power was derived from God However Napoleon chose to alter this trend when he wrested the crown from the hands of the pope and placed it on his own head Subsequently he crowned his wife queen This indicates that Napoleon is not indebted to a higher power that he is the ultimate authority a classic sign of a despot In contrast to the harsh rule imposed on the country
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