Monday, September 7, 2009

Study Questions #2: War & Peace

To accompany the post, The Impact of Napoleon.

Many historical eras have one person who dominates the world scene. In the early 1800s, that person was Napoleon Bonaparte who became Emperor Napoleon of France and who conquered most of Europe. This involved almost constant warfare between the end of the French Revolution in 1789-1792 and his final defeat at Waterloo in 1815, about 25 years.

When Napoleon and the French sold their American colony “Louisiana” to the United States in 1803, what impact did it have on the development of our country? (See the map)


When the French were bombarding Vienna in 1809, the year Mendelssohn was born in northern Germany (far away from this particular battle), Franz Schubert was 12 years old. One day, when he was in school, a large bomb fell and exploded not far from his school. The composer Richard Wagner almost died as an infant because the city where he was born was the scene of a huge battle where 120,000 men lay dead on the fields outside the city, resulting in an epidemic that killed his father and almost killed him.

What impact do you think the constant warfare had on people who lived in Europe then, especially in the areas frequently affected by advancing and retreating armies?

Though most of the wars the United States has fought since the Civil War did not immediately affect our population – the fighting was physically elsewhere – we've lived through different kinds of wars in the past 50-60 years.

Does anyone in your family remember what it was like during 'The Cold War' between the United States and the Soviet Union (now, Russia), either from their own experiences or hearing about what other people remembered?

While the United States and its allies are fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today, how do these and the “War on Terror” affect our lives both directly and indirectly?

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After Napoleon was defeated, the political situation may have stabilized, but many governments, in order to keep things stable, resorted to secret police and informants to maintain that sense of stability or security.

One of the side-effects of the French Revolution and all these wars was the desire by many people to have greater freedom. This was being suppressed by many of the governments of Europe. In times like this, not just during wars but eras following them, issues of freedom and security often conflict.

The post “Being German in the early 1800s” tells of a situation in Germany and Austria. Scroll down toward the bottom of the post to read about Schubert and his “book club.”

How might these issues be involved in human rights around the world in more recent history or in our own society following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001?

What are the pros-and-cons for arguments on both sides of these issues?