Make your own free website on

Class Extra-Credit Assignment

Was Napoleon the preserver or destroyer of the French Revolution?


Shortly before his death in 1821, as a prisoner on a remote island in the South Atlantic, Napoleon tried to justify all that he had done in his life.  He said:

Such work as mine is not done twice in a century.  I have saved the Revolution as it lay dying.  I have cleansed it of its crimes, and have held it up to the people shining with fame.  I have inspired France and Europe with new ideas that will never be forgotten.


To what extent is this true?  Do you agree with Napoleon that he saved the Revolution?



Imagine that, after Napoleon was sent to St. Helena, he was extradited to France to stand trial on charges of destroying the Revolution.  Students will role-play lawyers for the Prosecution and for the Defense.  Three people will be brought to the stand:  a witness (average French peasant or proletariat), a witness for the defense (another average French person), and Napoleon himself.  The rest of the class will act as judges and decide whether or not Napoleon was guilty of destroying the Revolution




Extra-Credit Roles (15 points on quiz)

1.  Napoleon (1 student)

2.      Teams of Lawyers (5 on each side)

3.      Witnesses (2)


Non-Extra Credit Roles

4.      Judges- everybody else



Format of Trial


Lawyers present opening statement- No more than 2 minutes each


Witness for the prosecution, questioned by prosecutor then questioned by Napoleon's lawyer- 2 minutes each


Witness for defendant (Napoleon) goes on stand first- questioned by Napoleon's lawyer, then by prosecution-   2 minutes each


Napoleon takes the stand- questioned by prosecutor, then by his lawyer

2.5 minutes each- 


Closing Statements by Lawyers- 1 minute each side


Deliberations- 6-8 minutes


Groups of Students will deliberate and pass sentence  




In order to earn the 15 points extra-credit:

Lawyers must hand in either their prepared opening or closing speeches, questions, or research/possible questions for cross-examination (depending on their job).  Each lawyer must speak and take on one of the jobs available. 


Witnesses must hand in one page detailing the character who they are portraying and their attitude toward the questions at hand.


The student role-playing Napoleon must hand in a list a short speech of Napoleon defending himself against these accusations.


Everything to be handed in to me must be written by the student.  Plagiarism will not be tolerated and will be punished.



 Source for research

Napoleon-Farewell Speech to his Troops

Madame de Remusat Remembrances of Napoleon

Napoleon's Account of the Internal Affairs of France in 1804

Secondary Sources

Napoleon as heir to the revolution

The Code Napoleon

Napoleon's Legacy