Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Daniel Bly

Degree Award Date

Spring 1998


Army of Louis XIV, Grande Armee of Napoleon Bonaparte, French hegemony, poor logistics, central leadership


European History | History | Military History


This paper is intended to be a study of the armies of Louis XIV and Grande Armee of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is these two armies that almost achieved French hegemony over the rest of Europe. It will begin with a brief history and explanation of why these two rulers of France tried to achieve hegemony over Europe. From there I will compare and contrast these two great armies. We will see how similar or dissimilar they were to each other. We will see how the French army at the same time changed, but also stayed the same. There was some progress and changes as the 18th century progressed, such as in weaponry, tactics, and style of leadership. Still, beneath the surface, Napoleon's Grand Armee was no different from Louis XIV's. Many of the traditions of the Royal Army were not destroyed by the Revolution, maintaining a connection with the past. Also, it would appear that both suffered from similar flaws such as poor logistics and an over emphasis on central leadership. In addition, they were both defeated by coalitions that wore down the French nation to a point where it could no longer fight. Thus, we can claim that the army that Napoleon led and that Louis XIV controlled were not separate entities even with the chaos that the French Revolution wrought on the French Army. They were the same animals, but with different coats of fur -- one white, the other blue.