History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1984: Q.5 (b)
Q.5 (b) “It is one of the ironies of history that Napoleon was the creator of modern Germany.” Comment.
Directly by his constructive statesmanship, and indirectly by the results which opposition to his rule aroused, Napoleon contributed to the formation of united Germany and laid the foundation of German Empire.
(1) Territorial reorganisation by Napoleon
In the first place, Napoleon reorganised the German state system by an extensive redistribution of territorial power. He abolished many free sovereign German cities. He simplified the map of Germany by reduction of over two hundred independent states of Germany into 39 states which indirectly advanced the cause of German unity and nationality. Napoleon did it for creating French Satellite in Germany but it served the cause of German unification later.
(2) Abolition of the Holy Roman Empire of Napoleon
Napoleon abolished the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 and replaced it by a Confederation of States dependent upon France.
The Holy Roman Empire had long been a mere obsolete survival, but its dissolution involved an irreparable breach with the past; it meant that the new German kingdom would be built upon a clean slate.
The Hapsburg House of Austria (which ruled the Holy Roman Empire) yielded up its historic claims to be the ruler of Germany; henceforth it was possible to conceive a Germany in which Austria had no place.
(3) Rise of German nationalism
The experience of German-speaking Central Europe during the years of French hegemony contributed to a sense of common cause to remove the French invaders and reassert control over their own lands. The War of liberation against Napoleon differed fundamentally from all other wars waged by Germany. It was not provoked by the Government intent upon world-aggrandizement, it was rising of people in arms to free itself from French domination. This nationalism helped in German unification and becoming a world power.
Hence it can be colcluded that ironically Napoleon was the creator of modern Germany.