This essay focuses on the rise, accomplishments, and fall of the Republic of Venice (697-1797), the roller-coaster-like travails of Hungary (896-present), and the meteoric rise, seeming invincibility, and eventual fall of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). It is written for the participants on Stanford Travel/Study’s train excursion, Venice to Paris on the Orient Express, in May 2017.
For the Republic of Venice, I ask how the island city created its imperial Stato da Mar in the eastern Mediterranean, how that chain of island and mainland port possessions allowed Venice to become the wealthiest city in Europe, and why Republican Venice eventually declined and then disappeared in the late 18th century. For Hungary, I investigate how the Magyar people created the Hungarian Kingdom in
the late 10th century and why it was conquered five centuries later, how well Hungary fared during its time as part of the Habsburg Austrian Empire (1699-1918), and the numerous travails that Hungary has suffered in the century following the First World War. And for Napoleonic France (1799-1815), I look at how Napoleon gained control of Revolutionary France, how he created a European empire, and how his obsession with enforcing the Continental System against Great Britain led to his downfall. I append three time lines and three bibliographies – one each for the Republic of Venice, Hungary, and Napoleon Bonaparte – and a description of sites that I visited in Venice, Budapest, and Paris.
Habsburg Hungary, Interwar Hungary, Hungary in World War Two, Communist Hungary, Democratic Hungary, Napoleon Bonaparte – Rise, Reform, Conquest, Corsica and the French Revolution, Italy and Egypt, Consulate, Empire, Napoleon Bonaparte – Defeat, Exile, and Legacy, Continental System, Portugal, and Spain, Defeat, Exile, Legacy, Venice, Italy, Budapest, Hungary, Paris, France,