The French Revolution and Napoleon changed forever the face of Europe. The details of Napoleon’s defence of France and subjugation of Europe is well outlined in this chapter.
Have we got the right interpretation of the vials of Revelation Ch 16?
One of the questions that sometimes arises when you consider the various epochs of judgment that we find in the book of Revelation, is “Have we got it right when it right when we come to our interpretation of the vials of Revelation Ch 16?” The reason that question arises, is because if you think of the seals which judged the pagan Roman Empire in the 4th and 5thcenturies AD, they took a couple of hundred years to outwork. When you think of the trumpets which began as judgments on the Christian Roman Empire in the 5th century and run all the way through to at least the fall of Constantinople, they took the best part of 1,000 years to outwork. When you come to the vials, which are judgments upon the Papal Roman Empire, that is the Holy Roman Empire established by Charlemagne, in 800 AD, the first five vials that we have here, if our interpretation is correct, occupy a time of 20-25 years. You see it provokes the question, “Have we got our interpretation right” because the seals took hundreds of years, the trumpets took hundreds of years, we’ve only got a couple of decades and we are saying that the vials are all running after one another. Well, to ask that question is really to misunderstand just how significant the effect of Napoleon Bonaparte was on the earth. You see, the beast of the earth in Revelation Ch 13, that is the lamb with two horns, was a 1,000 year beast created by Charlemagne and the Pope in 800 AD and finally destroyed by Napoleon in 1806 AD, as we will see. The effect of the first five vials then, was in fact to kill one of the beasts of Revelation, and whether it takes 20 years or 200 years, there is no escaping the enormous significance of that fact, and therefore, as I say, to ask whether we’ve got the right answer in assuming these first five vials only occupied 20-25 years is to completely misunderstand the gravity of what Napoleon Bonaparte did in destroying the Holy Roman Empire. So in answer to the question, “Most definitely have we got the right interpretation,” and I think, as you look at what happened in the life of Napoleon this morning, you will realise that there is an enormous significance about the time that that man walked upon the stage of life and just what he achieved in his relatively short life.
The life of Napoleon Bonaparte
Anybody know, by the way, how old Napoleon was when he died? He was 52. It is not as if he died in battle, his work was done long before he was 52, remarkable! a remarkable life, Napoleon Bonaparte. Here we go, born in Corsica in Ajaccio, this little red dot down on the Island of Corsica in 1769 AD. His father was a fellow called Carlo Bonaparte and Carlo was a French representative to the Court of Louis XVI of France. Corsica had been just recently transferred to France only the year earlier by the Republic of Genoa in Italy. Napoleon’s family, therefore, even though they were now in France on Corsica, they were of Italian extraction and very strong Roman Catholic. He had one elder brother, three younger brothers, and three younger sisters, so he was the second of eight children of Carlo Bonaparte. Because of his father’s position, Napoleon Bonaparte grew up in a moderately affluent family, affluent enough to afford an education. They weren’t rich, but you might say they were “upper middle class.” Sent to school in France at the age of eight on a scholarship for the sons of impoverished noble families, he was teased for his Corsican accent and poor grasp of French, and seems to have gained a reputation as brusque and aloof. At 9 years old he was admitted as a boarder to the military school of Autun in Burgundy France and later transferred to the College of Brienne, another French military school. At 15 he enters the Military College in Paris. He studies artillery and completes a 2-year course in one year. His examiner, historians record, was said to have said, “He is very applied to the applied sciences, and little curious as to the others, a thorough knowledge of mathematics and geography.” Already, at 15 years old he is displaying the skills that would make him the sort of man that he was and the man we have come to know him as. In 1785 at the age of 16, he graduates military college and he is commissioned as a second lieutenant in an artillery regiment at Valois, that’s the dot you can see on the screen, and then the world changed. 1789, what happened in 1789 in France? almost to ask it is to answer it, isn’t it? In the short space of three months from th 5th May to 27th August in 1789, the whole fabric of French society came to pieces. The population in France was divided, basically, into three classes. There was the clergy, called the first estate, the nobility, the second-estate, and the middle class and the peasants, the third estate, all ruled over by the king Louis XVI, and as you see by the cartoon on the right hand side, the king and the first two estates rode on the back of the peasant class. The point of that, of course, is that the peasant class, the third estate, they paid all the tax, and the Bourbon Monarchy which was Louis XVI, he presided over the situation where 90% of the country did all the work and paid the tax and it had this little cream on the top who lived a glorious life and did not a lot, but they owned all the land and the made all the rules, and they had all the votes. So nothing was going to change very quickly in France as a consequence of that. Well, that was bad enough, but in 1776, across the Atlantic from France, America had a war of independence, they were fighting, you see, for independence against England. France had a hatred of England you see, because, well we are talking about Louis XVI, from the time of Louis XIV, the “sun-king,” now this is the fellow who built the Versailles palace, a very powerful king of France. From Louis XIV’s time onwards, France would make forays into wars and it had various conflicts around the world, and it lost most of them, and It so happened that almost, in correlation to when France lost territories, Britain gained territories, sometimes it was direct, and sometimes it just happened to be like that. Well, as a consequence of that, French animosity towards England increased and increased, therefore, France thought it was wise to sponsor the American war of Independence against England because they didn’t want to do anything that supported England and if they could find something was of detriment to the Brits, well they would do that. Well, that’s fine, but it costs a lot of money to support the American war of independence, and that exacerbated, you see, the problem of the French coffers. The poor people were paying all the tax, and now there is an even bigger tax burden levied upon them and anarchy breaks out in France.
The storming of the Bastille
On the 14th July, 1789, what happened? They stormed the Bastille didn’t they? What was the Bastille? It was a fortress. I was in Paris a couple of years ago and I tried to find the Bastille, well it has been torn down. It was a fortress, and in that fortress they kept gunpowder and they kept weapons. The peasants stormed the Bastille to arm themselves, well France was becoming unpicked at a great rate of knots and before long a Republican government is formed in France, but France is in chaos and the rest of Europe is looking at what is happening in France because their countries weren’t run in a manner very different from the way things were in France and the problem was that the spirit of Revolution which had begun in France was extremely likely to rush across the border into other countries of Europe. As that happened, Austria and Britain, in particular, were very keen to reinstall the old monarchy back in France lest the spirit of revolution in France toppled the monarchies in their countries, and this is where Napoleon first distinguished himself. At the siege of Toulouse in 1793 AD, the port of Toulouse was occupied by the fleets of Britain and Spain. They were there supporting the royalists who were a group who were trying to reinstall the Baudin monarchy in France. So you can imagine, France was now divided three ways, you’ve got the monarchists who want to put a king back on the throne, you’ve got the Jacobins, run by people like Robespierre, who were vicious criminals, really, who wanted anything but an emperor back on the throne, and you’ve got an interim government, if you like, in the middle trying to keep these two sides apart and trying to run the country amidst this chaos.
Well, Napoleon was called in to support the Republicans who were running the country, as an artillery captain. He found the ideal place to mount guns around that harbor so that he could dominate the entire harbor, he had trained as an artillery officer, that’s why he was brought in. When he opened fire the British and Spanish quickly realised that they would be destroyed in the harbor so they evacuated the harbor. Well, Napoleon has made the first distinguishing success of his career. His general wrote to the Minister of War and said this, “Reward this young man and promote him, for if he is ungratefully treated, he will reward himself.” Already you see the personality of Bonaparte was becoming noticed by people. He was promoted at that point to Brigadier General which now gained him international attention.
The reign of Terror
Well, of course, the political wrangling in France continued and everybody was going to the guillotine. In the Concord Square in France they’ve got this guillotine they’ve got this guillotine set up, they wanted a very public way to execute the nobility. It was a bit like the arena in Rome and so Mr Guillotine was asked to devise a method of execution and he devises one that was extremely public and extremely efficient so they could line people up and send them straight to the chopper. Well, the revolution had been opposed , of course, by many of the nobility. It had been opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, Austria, the kingdom of Sardinia, the kingdom of Naples, Prussia, Great Britain, all invade France. They are all worried about the consequences of the revolution in France, what consequences they are going to have in their own countries. France responds militarily and repels them all. Mary Antoinette, you see, the wife of Louis XVI, was herself of Austrian extraction. She was of the Hapsburg dynasty. On the 16th October, 1793 AD Louis XVI is executed in what became known subsequently as the “reign of terror,’ which was a brutal attempt by the French Republicans to wipe out all opposition to the revolutionaries. The “reign of terror” ran for fifteen months between the 5th September 1793 and the 28thJuly 1794, the date at which Robespierre himself, one of the revolutionaries, was guillotined. It claimed about 30,000 lives in that 15 months. In time the revolutionaries themselves became fanatical. Robespierre’s guillotine, the Convention who is running the country is now trying to plot a middle course between the Royalists and the Revolutionaries, the Jacobins. Of course, the Monarchists and the Jacobins immediately both took up arms against the Convention. They wanted their way so there was no chance, now way, you could plot a middle course between the extreme left and the extreme right wing group. If you tried to do so, you invite attack by both sides. Well what then can the Convention do, what can this government do when you’ve got these two rabid terrorist groups on either side? Well, they call in Bonaparte don’t they? They call in Napoleon Bonaparte, because the government was run from the Tuilleries, and they said to Bonaparte, “We need you to protect the Parliament,” as it were, so they gave him 5,000 men and they told him to protect the Tuilleries Palace, well he fortifies the building, he places guns to cover every bridge, every avenue, every approach to the city of Paris. He was attacked by 40,000 members of the National Guard, and this of course, was the time of the famous retort of Napoleon, “Sir, what are you going to do,” and what did he say? You know what he said, “Give them a whiff of grapeshot,” well what does it mean, “Give them a whiff of grapeshot?” Well he loaded the canons with shotgun pellets, well they weren’t shotgun pellets for a gun they were for a canon, so they were like marbles, well you can imagine that as soon as he sets that of its going to run straight through the crowd and tear bodies apart, and that’s what he did. 300 men, only 300 men died when he opened up with the canons but they immediately scattered, and Napoleon becomes famous because he has just protected the parliament. He was now made the commander of the French army in Italy. He is 26 years old. Well, Napoleon’s got a problem with Italy, and he’s got a problem with Austria, he’s got a problem with all these surrounding nations who have attacked France to try and reinstall the monarchy in France, not especially a problem with the monarchy, he didn’t care much for that, he’s got a problem with people who attack his country, so he decides that he’s going to attack Austria and then move south down into Italy to attack Austria’s allies, the Italians. Well, the plan of attack was very simple, he would attack the attached pieces of the Austrian army with his full force, then he would mop up all the Austrian resistance. The operation was masterful and extremely successful. He routed the Sardinians and northern Italy, but now he had a problem, if he now proceeded south into the Italian Peninsula, he was extremely vulnerable if his supply lines to France were cut off. He would be marooned in Italy, surrounded on all sides and destroyed. He goes to the king of Sardinia and says to him, here’s the deal, I’m going to destroy Turin, I’m going to level it right to the ground unless you give me three fortresses and their artillery, and supplies and break alliances with Austria and open up all the roads to France. Well, the king of Sardinia agreed, and in return, Napoleon left him there as king, and I would say there were certain personal threats made as well, to the king of Sardinia. Napoleon gets what he wants and now he’s got a secure supply line from France right into the very heart of Italy. He defeats the Austrians in Lombardi, in northern Italy, and now moves south, directly into the Papal States, which was a thin slither of land in central Italy which divided northern and southern Italy. The Papal States were just a little corridor of land in the middle of Italy.
Napoleon defeats the Papal States
He defeats the Papal States, he imposes fines on the Vatican to assist the payment for his war and then he turns around to confront a 50,000 man Austrian army near Milan, and again, he is victorious. He left France with an army of 25,000 men and no money. Over the next thirteen months he was to make 25,000 recruits, defeat five armies, numbering collectively, 200,000 men, take 100,000 prisoners, kill 35,000 men, capture 1,100 canon, 170 military standards and millions and millions of Francs in gold for the French treasury, a famously successful expedition into Italy. Well, on his return to Paris, Napoleon was made the commander of the expedition against England, so now the French turn their guns on England, because England also supported a trial revival of the monarchy and had attacked France. Well Napoleon has to think hard about how he’s going to attack England, because England wasn’t on the continent. He’s got to go across water to attack England, so he spreads misinformation about a planned invasion of Ireland which tricked the British navy into guarding the western Mediterranean Sea. That gave Napoleon time to head off down to Egypt with his navy, now he goes into Egypt for two reasons, 1. He wants a base in the eastern Mediterranean from which he can attack Russia, and 2. He wants to attack India and take it away from England. You understand, the French really don’t like the English and nor did Napoleon Bonaparte, but, in addition to naval mariners and soldiers, he also took scientists, he took technical specialists, he took map-makers down to Egypt with him like a survey party. Now why would he do that? Because he thought it would be a very smart idea to cut a river between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, we call it the Suez Canal. He went down to Egypt to draw plans about how they might build the Suez Canal, because that seemed like a very smart thing to do.
Well, the British weren’t silly, and three weeks later, after running back and forth, east and west of the Mediterranean, looking for Napoleon Bonaparte, they catch up with him at Aboukir Bay near Alexandria in Egypt. They have 14 ships under the most famous British Admiral in history, what was his name? Horatio Nelson. The French were moored, now look at the map here, the blue ships are the French ships and the red ships are the English ships, and the French are moored against that shoal so that they are close enough to the shoal so that they are protected on their left-hand side, so that the British must attack them only from their right hand side and they can defend themselves. Nelson comes in and he tells his British captains, each take your own initiative, do what you think will work, and then this famous man, who became famous, Captain Thomas Foley of the British ship called the Goliath does this… here’s the Goliath, “Ooh, I can fit through there,” and he goes in between the shoal and the French ships, well of course the rest followed him and now the French have got British ships broad siding them from both sides. It was disastrous for the French. At 10 pm that night, the 118 gun French flagship called “The Orient,” exploded. 900 of the 1000 men on board died immediately. The explosion and subsequent fire was so great that both sides stopped firing at each other for thirty minutes while they watched the fireworks. It cost the French 13 out of their 15 ships, but all was not lost for Bonaparte, he went on to conquer Egypt and then he conquered Syria, and when they finally did get back to France he brought with him a lot of artefacts including one particular stone, what was it called? the Rosetta Stone which allowed the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphics, he brought that back to France as a result of his foray into Egypt. But, when he got back to France, he found things are not all well at home, while he was in Egypt, you see a second coalition of forces had attacked France. In 1798, Austria, Britain, the kingdom of Naples, the Ottoman Empire, the Papal States, Portugal and Russia had all attacked France. The French Republic, moreover, had become very corrupt, in Napoleon’s absence, the previous Minister of War had died, Napoleon was in Egypt, and France was struggling. The Republic had suffered successive defeat after defeat and it had run out of money again.
Well, now Napoleon needs cash, and he needs a lot of cash, and he needs it very quickly because he’s got a number of other scores to settle as a consequence of what has happened to France in his absence, and this is very famous. You see, Thomas Jefferson from the Unites States, had just begun to make overtures to France, about the possibility of buying the Port of New Orleans, you will realise that New Orleans is a French word, it is a French name. Napoleon you see owned all the land in red, the entire…it is called the Louisiana land purchase, but Louisiana is down here and there are other states north of it, Dakota and so forth, but all that the US wanted was this, here, the Port of New Orleans so they could start sailing up the rivers. They were prepared to pay, in 1803, they were prepared to pay USD10m for the Port of New Orleans, but they didn’t tell the French what number they would allow themselves to be taken up to, but in their back pocket the negotiators had permission to pay up to USD10m for the Port of New Orleans. Well, the negotiations began, and the French have really got their backs against the wall. The US didn’t really know that, well, they knew it was a good time to start talking, but they didn’t know how desperate the French were. and the French came out with, “All right, how about the whole lot for USD15m? The Americans didn’t know what to say. they were absolutely dumbfounded, of course they agreed immediately. They paid 3m in gold then and there. They forgave USD3m in debt to France, then and there, and they offered to pay the rest, the remaining USD9m in bonds. Well, of course, the French had no need for bonds, they needed the currency immediately, and as soon as possible, they had to pay to continue the war, so the Americans recommended therefore that they transact through an American bank. The French said, “Forget it, we are not interested in American banks,” well, “then will you do it through a European bank?” “Yes, we will.” “All right, two banks, Pope and Co, and Baring’s Bank of England.” Now the original sales document of the Louisiana purchase hung in the entrance hall of Barings Bank until 1995 when it collapsed. In 1995 he took a lot of futures positions and the market kept going down, and he was left holding high priced goods which he then had to sell at a great loss, cost him a billion dollars, he went to jail and that blew the bank. The Queen even lost a few bucks, not that I expect she noticed. That was Baring’s bank of England, and this is probably it’s most famous transaction. When the deal was done, Napoleon said, “This accession of territory affirms forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival who will sooner or later humble her pride.” So Napoleon, he knew he had let the whole thing go cheap, but he took solace in the fact that, at least it hurts England, at least it hurts England. You can see the antipathy of the French towards the Brits.
Napoleon takes over
Well, France is in chaos and now Napoleon takes over, he had already appropriated control of the government, before the Louisiana Land Purchase, but now he took this control to the next level. You see, in January of 1804, an assassination plot was uncovered. The Bourbons were still trying to bring back the monarchy, they still wanted to reinstall a Bourbon king upon the throne of France and Napoleon reasons, and he says it like this, “You know, if I become Emperor, and if I establish my own hereditary monarchy, that would put an end to Bourbon claims forever, because there’s an emperor on the throne.” So in December 1804, Napoleon was crowned in Notre Dame Cathedral, and you know the story, he wheels the Pope in, he summonses the Pope to his coronation, and the Pope is holding the crown, Napoleon takes the crown out of the Pope’s hands and crowns himself, and then he crowns his wife, and the significance of that you see was, here’s a Frenchman, who refuses to let a Pope crown him, way back in 800 AD, the Pope had crowned Charlemagne. Charlemagne wasn’t expecting the Pope to crown him in 800 AD, it was a bit embarrassing but when it’s happened, it’s happened you see, and the Pope stole a march on Charlemagne, in Aachen Cathedral in 800 AD. Napoleon says, “Aha, that’s not going to happen again,” and he brings the Pope in and says,”Hey, watch this,” and he does it himself, you see, now he’s basically appropriating the Bourbons of Charlemagne and doing the Pope in the eye at the same time. He has no time for religion, the Pope really got in the way as far as Napoleon was concerned. crowns himself and the crowns his wife, Josephine. At that very time, a very famous composer named Beethoven was writing the Bonaparte symphony, he’s writing the Bonaparte symphony! After that coronation, Beethoven ripped the cover page off of that symphony, and he renamed it the Eroica symphony because he refused to dedicate his music to a man whom he considered to be a pirate. Beethoven was furious about what Napoleon had done for himself in 804AD. Well, in 1805, Britain convinced Austria and Russia to join in another coalition against France. Napoleon wanted now to engage England, but he knew that he wouldn’t be able to defeat the British Navy. He hoped, however, to divert them long enough to gain control of the channel to allow French ships to cross and make a landing on British soil, but the British were too good, they were too good for Napoleon, but it cost them their trump card, it cost them the life of Horatio Nelson, at the battle of Trafalgar, one of the greatest maritime battles in British history, Nelson saved England by destroying the French fleet, but he died in doing so.
Well, in preparation for the attack on England, Napoleon had marched his troops into Germany. and he’s going to jump off from the German coastline into England, if it had worked, if his navy had secured the British channel for long enough. When the French fleet was lost, he changed plans, and he took the army into the Czech Republic to fight the Austrians and the Russians. Napoleon entered the battle with 67,000 men, the allies had 73,000 men. At the end of the fighting, French casualties stood at 9,000, allied casualties stood at 27,000, the allies sued for peace. This, undoubtedly, was Napoleon’s greatest military victory. As a consequence of the battle of Austelitz, Austria submitted to France, it acceded territory, it paid 40m francs in fines, Napoleon paid generous pensions to all the widows who had now become widows as a consequence of his 9,000 losses, all orphaned children were now adopted personally by Napoleon and were allowed to add Napoleon to their name, most important, however, Francis II, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, abdicated the throne, he abdicated the throne, and took upon himself only the title Emperor of Austria.
The destruction of the Holy Roman Empire
That’s it! The Holy Roman Empire has lost its emperor. Napoleon, if you want to think of it like that, can now himself become the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, he has just defeated the Emperor, now he’s got no interest in becoming the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, he would rather be the Emperor of the Napoleonic Empire, but the point is, he has just killed the beast of the earth of Revelation Ch 13. You can’t have a Holy Roman Empire without an Emperor. That’s the end of the Holy Roman Empire. As a signal of his achievement they build the Arch of Triumph, not the big Arch de Triumph, but the small Arch de Triumph in Paris, designed in 1806, built in 1806, built in 1836 to commemorate the battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon’s greatest land-based victory.
And now from the glorious, to the inglorious, Napoleon’s got one final score to settle, Russia! Russia had consistently opposed France, consistently supported a revival of the monarchy, and therefore had attacked France, and supported those who had attacked France. In 1812, Napoleon marches on Moscow, with an army of 600,000 men. The strategy was simple on the part of the Russians, they could not possibly hope to confront head on a French army of 600,000, Russia could not defeat that army. What was their battle plan? Engage, retreat, engage, retreat, engage, retreat, and when you retreat, burn everything down, burn everything down. The result of that was that they drew the French deeper and deeper into Russian territory. Now I don’t know how much more the Russians did, but the climate took over from there, because when the Russian winter started to come snow fell on the ground and Napoleon’s got a supply line way back to France, that he can’t possibly hope to defend, through extremely hostile territory, in terms of the weather. He lost thousands of men to hypothermia in the snow. Their horses would die of cold, they would eat their horses, when they ran out of horses, they ran out of food, you couldn’t forage for food, the whole place was covered in snow, you see. When Napoleon finally got to Moscow, which he did, the whole place had been burned down, the only people who were living there were the poorest people. He installs himself in the Kremlin which was still standing, the rest of the city has been razed to the ground, and decides, in fact what was the worst decision of his entire career, decides that they should return to France. In doing so, 380,000 men died, 100,000 were captured, Napoleon’s reign is over.
Napoleon imprisoned on the island of Elbe
Well, they put him in prison on an island, on the island of Elbe, just off the Italian coast that France owned. On 11th April, 1814, at Fontainbleu in France, Napoleon abdicated. Louis XVIII now, took over as the Emperor of France so the monarchists won, you might say, Napoleon’s exiled to Elbe, but he doesn’t stay long, he looks around the island for things to do, I mean, he’s an unstoppable man, he only sleeps 4 hours a night, what’s he going to do all day? So he redesigns the water system, he redesigns the rubbish collection system, he reorders the entire administration of the island of Elbe and says “what else is there?” “Well, there’s nothing else to do Mr Bonaparte,” “Oh well, then it’s time for me to leave.” Nine months after, he escapes and he heads for Paris, and this is legendary, this story, he gets back to the Italian Peninsula and then, of course, he had friends, who helped him with a boat, but you can see it’s not very far from the mainland, but they saw him coming, and as he approached Leon, he’s walking by himself, he is confronted by a battalion of grenadiers, 700 men at pistol shot range from Napoleon, and they recognise him. He’s not walking, he’s on a horse, they recognise him at a distance, so he dismounts his horse, and he walks toward them, he opens his overcoat like this, and he invites them to fire. Then, he says, “You know who I am, I am your commander, the decision is yours,” and one by one, they lower their guns, and they fall in behind Napoleon, and he walks into Paris without a shot being fired. The King immediately fled to Belgium, under no circumstances could Louis the XVIII survive in Paris if Napoleon turned up. Well, even if France wanted Napoleon back, the rest of Europe did not want Napoleon back. England and Prussia immediately joined forces against him, and they met at Waterloo, Napoleon’s got 70,000 men, the allies have got 120,000 men. Napoleon was out-manoeuvred, he was out-soldiered and he was out-gunned by the English, the consequence was, 40,000 dead, 10,000 horses dead, Louis XVIII is restored to the throne in Paris, Napoleon now is exiled to St Helena. Now, St Helena was not owned by France, he had no friends on St Helena, in fact the British who owned it, put a ship around it and patrolled the coastline 24 hours a day, this ship just kept sailing around the island, not that you could swim to shore, it was 5,000 miles away from the continent. Well, of course, Napoleon died on St Helena, and was buried there. In 1840 his body was exhumed and it was reburied in Paris, he was 52 years old, and so ended the life of one of the greatest commanders, military commanders the world had ever known, the man did unbelievable things, he took on Europe and almost won. You might wonder, brothers and sisters, if Napoleon hadn’t attacked Russia, if he gets off of Elbe and doesn’t attack Russia, how things might have been very different. But these, and other questions like that, whilst they might be the abiding questions in Napoleon’s life, to ask those sort of questions is to appreciate that there couldn’t be any other answer, there could be no other answer, Napoleon was finished after the battle of Austerlitz, and here’s why, Revelation Ch 16. Now I’m not going to read too many verses with you, here’s the first five vials of Revelation Ch 16 and look what he does.
There’s a grievous sore you see, in Revelation 16:2 which runs, starts to run across the rest of Europe, this was the French Revolution, the spirit of moral corruption as the consequence of the Revolution. Frances neighbours keep attacking France because they fear the contagion of that sore moving into their own countries, so the French Revolution is how Revelation Ch 16 begins. Britain’s response to France’s continual waging of war and success in war against her enemies was to blockade the western European continent. “Britannia ruled the waves,” you see, and it tells you in Rev 16:3, that the second angels pours his vial out on the sea and the sea became as the blood of a dead man. All trade stopped, all maritime passage ceased, the whole Mediterranean was clotted by that red line where the British stopped all activity. There were major victories at Copenhagen, Trafalgar and at Abaco Bay, they destroyed the French fleet and therefore Britannia ruled the waves as they did effectively for many, many years and as they did subsequently, as a consequence of those things. Then the third angel poured out his vial on the rivers and fountains of water and they became blood. Now the fountains of water are the sources of the rivers, the springs of the rivers, and most of the big European rivers, you see, begin in the Swiss Alps, I mean, that’s where the snow is, like the Matterhorn and so forth, that is where the water is coming from, so you will find that he Rhine, the Rhone, the Danube, the Poe, all begin in the Swiss Alps, so here is a judgment upon the Swiss Alps. Well, what’s happened? of course, Napoleon’s going to cross these Alps and go into Italy and fight Italy as you found he did, but there is a very interesting thing here, because look at v 5 of Revelation 16, “And I heard the angel of the waters,” that is the angel of the head waters, the angel of the origin of these rivers, the angel who for his part was guarding the territory of Switzerland, and would let Napoleon through, “Thou art righteous O Lord who art and wast and shall be, because you hast judged thus for they have shed the blood of saints and prophets and thou hast given them blood to drink for they are worthy.” So this angel commends the prophetic purpose of God for bringing Napoleon Bonaparte down against the Romans, like against the Papacy, because of what the Papacy has done to the saints and the prophets over time. What that tells you, you see, is that there were believers in Switzerland at this time, this is almost like the Passover, where an angel hovers above this house and doesn’t let the destroyer in. This angel hovers, as it were, over the head waters and doesn’t let Napoleon in, he just goes straight through and destroys the Papacy, and the Papal States. A remarkable indication that before there were Christadelphians, there were people that God thought worth saving in this part of Europe at this time.
The 4th vial
The 4th vial in v 8 says, “The fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun.” You’ve got to understand, Napoleon has destroyed the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire was a coalition of two rulers, the Pope and the Emperor. The Emperor was based in Vienna in Austria. The Pope was based in Rome. “The 4th angel poured out his vial upon the sun,” that’s the emperor. The 5th angel in v 10, pours out his vial upon the seat of the beast, that’s the seat of the beast of the earth, that is the Papacy, he ‘s going to judge the two horns of the beast of the earth of Revelation 13. He’s going to judge the Papacy and he’s going to judge the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He is going to dismember the Holy Roman Empire, that‘s what he is going to do. He pours out his vial upon the sun, that is the battle of Austerlitz, 1805, perhaps the previous slide said 1806, it was December 1805 that the battle of Austerlitz was won, the Emperor officially abdicated in early 1806, it ‘s the same thing.
The 5th Vial
The 5th Vial, we’ve now dropped the emperor in v 8, we are now going to judge the Papacy in v 10 and you can read the catalogue of conflict between the French and the Papacy. 1791, the Papal States in France are annexed to France, what that means is that there were certain portions of territory within France that were owned by the Papacy, confiscated. 1796, the Italian invasion by Napoleon takes Ravenna, Bologna, Ferrara, the Papal States are invaded, Pius the VI is exiled from Rome, and he in fact, dies in France. 1800, the Papal States are restored, you see, when Napoleon left town, things would happen without his consent, he comes back, the Papal States are annexed again, Napoleon is finally excommunicated in 1809 by the Pope, did Napoleon care that the Pope excommunicated him? of course not, not at all, he arrested the Pope and raided the bank, the Vatican bank, to continue to pay for his war effort. So he‘s judged the Emperor in v 8 and he’s judged the Pope in v 9. They’re the vials, they are the vials, and look what he achieved in his short 20 or so years, all of that territory that you can see in color, from Spain all the way through to the east of the Austrian empire here, Napoleon either owned or controlled, that’s what Napoleon achieved. This is the empire that he gained, from the first Italian campaign in 1796 until the Battle of Waterloo in 1814, so in 18 years 2m people had lost their lives. Now think about Napoleon’s defeats and think about Napoleon’s victories, whenever he fought Catholic countries, he enjoyed outstanding victories. Whenever he fought non-Catholic countries, he enjoyed outstanding defeats, so he lost to Britain, he lost to Russia, he failed to take Egypt, so he gains and empire and he loses and empire. Can you see under here this blue, perhaps you can read it just as well as I can, the dark blue’s the French Empire, and the rest of the blue is French either dominance or influence. Within one year of Napoleon’s last defeat the whole empire that France occupied was lost, back to the original French border. You wouldn’t believe that it could all dry up so fast, but God’s work, God’s work with France was finished. The Holy Roman Empire was created by one Frenchman Charlemagne, and it was destroyed by another Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte. He tried to unite Europe and he failed to unite Europe when he attacked Russia. He wanted to restore a Roman Empire in Europe and he failed to unite Europe, when? when he attacked Russia. He wanted to restore a Roman Empire in Europe, and he failed when he attacked Russia. 130 years later, Adolph Hitler tried to unite Europe and he failed, when? when he attacked Russia, why? because Bible prophecy says Europe will unite, by Russia, Russia will be the country that unites Europe. France wants it but they can’t do it, Germany wants it, but they can’t do it. They both failed when the attacked Russia. Russia will do it herself and will succeed, that’s what prophecy says. Well, what of Bonaparte? His legacy, you know, before his death, Napoleon said, “My glory is not to have won forty battles, Waterloo alone will erase the memory of so many victories, but what will live forever, is my civil code.” You see after his death his policies and his politics were adopted by most of the other western nations in Europe. The sword of France spread throughout all of Europe, there were revolutions in the rest of Europe, and they became, like France, Emperors in Western Europe were replaced with Parliaments, countries were formed based on Nationalism rather than based around individual Kings and their land holdings. The metric system of France was introduced into the rest of Europe and you go to France today and you see that Napoleon has left his mark everywhere, he stands there in statues, and across bridges over the Seine River.
God rules in the kingdom of men
He’s left his mark you see, everywhere in France. He’s still the most famous Frenchman in history, but the abiding legacy of Napoleon Bonaparte, really, is his prophetic legacy. Napoleon knows nothing about this legacy, but he came for a purpose. He’s dead, but the word lives on and can you imagine the believers of Napoleon’s day witnessing the work of Napoleon. What do you think the Protestants thought of what was happening under the hand of Napoleon? Did they even understand the significance? Who knew anything about Revelation 16 before Napoleon came on the scene? Within ten years of the death of Napoleon, Protestant commentaries, published commentaries, were running out all over Europe publishing our interpretation of Revelation, at least of these five vials of Revelation Ch 16. Almost immediately, Protestant commentators had got this interpretation when they saw the enormous significance of what Napoleon had done. Bro Thomas wrote Elpis Israel 30 years after the death of Napoleon, it’s all there, it was well-understood within 30 years of Napoleon’s death that he had just fulfilled the five vials of Revelation Ch 16. What does that prove? It proves to me this, that God’s purpose will be fulfilled, there’s nothing more certain. As distant as prophetic events might appear to be in the future, God can raise up a man overnight and the whole world can change in 20 years. And the Holy Roman Empire that had lasted for 1,000 years, which had supporters on all sides and an enormously powerful military internally, fell on its head in twenty years and was completely dismembered and sued for peace. One man came and did that, another man can come again and in a very short time angels can outwork the next epoch of judgments and the whole world can change course again. That is the real witness of Napoleon, forget about his victories, forget about his civil code, this is the real witness that Napoleon has left, and it is a witness I might say, he never knew anything about.