Hero, Villain, or
A Webquest by Amy Dohler
Have you ever wanted to be the one assigning grades? Well, here is your chance!
At the end of this lesson you will grade one of the most famous men in
history.....Napoleon! A child of the Revolution and a "military
genius" at a time when France needed authority, Napoleon "rose from
obscurity to mastery of France" in just a few short years.
It's what he did next that you need to evaluate!
You and your partner will research Napoleon's rule in France, looking for
both positive and negative actions. You will evaluate his actions, and his
intent, in three main categories--domestic policy, foreign policy, and ability
to gain the trust and respect of his people. You will organize this evaluation
into a report card format, grading both his effort and his achievement in each
of these categories. You will then use this information to rate him, overall, on
a hero--villain continuum and to provide advice for future rulers about what
they should emulate and what they should change for their own periods of rule.
To accomplish this task, you and your partner will do the following:
- Together you will prescreen several of the sites from the
Resource list that seem to provide significant information about Napoleon's
domestic policies, foreign policies, and his ability to gain the trust and
respect of his people. You should also note whether or not these sites
provide opposing interpretations of the quality of his rule (i.e., favorable
vs. critical). Don't spend too long on this, and remember you are just
looking for which sites seem most useful.
- Choose three of these sites to research. Each of you takes
one site. Record which sites each of you choose (i.e., Sally--#1, Frank--#5,
- Read the information available to you at your chosen site
and in chart form, record the information you find regarding Napoleon's
domestic policies, foreign policies, and ability to gain the trust and
respect of his people. Mark all positive information with a "+"
and all negative information with a "-."
- Share your findings with your partner. Compile your
information and together decide what grade Napoleon should earn for each
category (domestic policy, foreign policy, and trust/respect of his people).
Evaluate him both for effort and for achievement. Then provide reasons/proof
for your arguments as well as suggestions for ways he could have improved.
(see chart below)
Grade for Achievement
Grade for Effort
Key Reasons for this Grade
Suggestions for Improvement
to Gain Trust & Respect of His People
- When your report card is complete, review your grades. Then
decide where Napoleon should be placed on a hero--villain continuum (1 being
villain, 10 being hero). Justify your ranking with at least 3 strong
- Finally, leave some advice for future rulers based on what
you learned about Napoleon. This should be typed (complete
sentences/paragraph form) exactly as you would want these rulers to read it.
1. "Napoleon": Answers to "Frequently Asked
Questions" about Napoleon found in “The Essential Napoleon” at
2. “PBS-Napoleon”: Biographical information, timelines, etc., regarding
Napoleon found on the PBS site.
3.“Napoleon Bonaparte: Emperor of the French...”: Quick biographical summary
and web links to related information from Lucid Interactive.
4. “Napoleon Bonaparte Speech--Farewell to...”: Napoleon's farewell speech
to the Old Guard right before his exile to Elba found at "The History
Place: Great Speeches."
5.“Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide”: Quick links to biographical
information, information about the Napoleonic Code, his military endeavors, etc.
6.“Napoleon”: Biographical summary and other related links found at what
appears to be a personal website. The information is copyrighted by "Smith
or Smith Enterprises."
7. “Napoleon I”: Biographical information provided by the Learning Network.
8. “Napoleon I, an Encarta Encyclopedia Article”: Biographical summary from
a well-known encyclopedia.
9. “Florida State University...Institute on Napoleon and the French
Revolution”: Biographical information and links provided by a university
10. “Napoleonic Wars: Era of Napoleon Bonaparte”: Biographical information
nicely categorized by topic.
You have just finished grading one of the "greatest" men in
history....or was he? From this activity, you should not only have a better
understanding of Napoleon and his rule in France, but also of why the world
tried so hard to prevent future "Napoleons" from rising to power. In
providing advice for future rulers you have revisited the age-old question,
"What makes a good leader?" Congratulations on a job well done.