Napoleon Bonaparte

Hero, Villain, or Something In-between?

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!

The Task

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.

The Process

To accomplish this task, you and your partner will do the following:

Report Card:
Napoleon Bonaparte


Grade for Achievement

Grade for Effort

Key Reasons for this Grade

Suggestions for Improvement

Domestic Policy

Foreign Policy  
Ability to Gain Trust & Respect of His People  



1. "Napoleon": Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" about Napoleon found in “The Essential Napoleon” at NAPOLEON.ORG.

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 source.

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.