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Old January 30th, 2012, 05:52 AM   #1

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Why didn't Napoleon invade Ireland instead of Egypt ?


I saw a few posts about the idea in another thread (IrishCrusader's thought ! ). Why didn't Napoleon go for Ireland ? It was much closer than Egypt. It would've most certainly been more tactical to do.

And if he did, would he have succeeded ?
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Old January 30th, 2012, 05:54 AM   #2

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Originally Posted by Mohammed the Persian View Post
I saw a few posts about the idea in another thread (IrishCrusader's thought ! ). Why didn't Napoleon go for Ireland ? It was much closer than Egypt. It would've most certainly been more tactical to do.
What would have been the point? It would just have put him at odds even more with England.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 05:59 AM   #3

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What would have been the point? It would just have put him at odds even more with England.
He was already at war with them
The continental system didn't seem to have the anticipated effect on Britain.
Besides, Ireland was British soil at the time so it would've been a pretty good psychological blow to the Brits too.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:08 AM   #4

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1. Napoleon had an Oriental Complex. He was immensely intrigued by everything "oriental".

2. He could sell Egypt as a destination to the Directoire: It opened the way to India, as he wanted to dig a Suez Canal, they could directly attack British India from there. Plus he invited numerous scientists and artist with them to study Egypt as an other propaganda measure.

3. The (almost successful) but still failed invasion attempt of 1796 was still fresh in their memory, besides the invasion forces of 1796 where already broken up and dispersed among other armies.

4. The Army of Italy was already close to Mediterranean Ports and could embark much faster than a force in Northern France.

5. Napoleon had to find a way to fund this expedition himself. Malta was the easiest target and provided the treasure of the Knights of St. John.

6. It was believed that the Royal Navy had left the Mediterranean and Napoleon could sail to Egypt without being harassed.

7. Probably most important: Napoleon already planned on taking full power, his expedition to Egypt was his way of wasting time before the situation in France would change in his favor. A prolonged war on English soil would make it impossible for him to return to France in time to be able to climb to power.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:23 AM   #5

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Well revolutionary France attempted a couple of invasions, actually landing in 1798 in support of the United Irishmen.

However if you find it difficult if not impossible to invade England because of the strength and superiority of the Royal Navy how are going to get to Ireland? and how are you going to supply any army?
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:31 AM   #6
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It was to close to England and the Royal Navy would have prevented such attack plus Napoleon had not interest in Ireland at that time whatsoever.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:37 AM   #7
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The OP is not any real historical alternative.

We are talking here about a general Buonaparte who was still not ruling France.
Egypt was part of an ambitious personal conquest plan, including at least as far as India.
This plan may have been megalomaniac & delirious to some extent, but were it feasible, it made perfect sense from Buonaparte's standpoint to use the Frenech cannofodder for his own personal power & richness in the East, and for the Directory to get rid of such a dangerous and ambitious political competition.
It would have been naive from the latter to ignore the obvious risk of a military coup d'état (as it eventually happened le 18 Brumaire).

On the other hand, any project for directly attacking the UK was far later, as a Consul.
Irrespectively of his ambition, Buonaparte was perfectly rational and militarily brilliant.
He was perfectly well aware of his limitations, notoriously on a naval level.
It was objectively impossible for him to cross with an army the few miles from Boulogne to Dover...
It would have been ridiculous to pretend to land an army as far as Ireland, not to mention its questionable military value, as rightly pointed out above.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 06:58 AM   #8

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He was perfectly well aware of his limitations, notoriously on a naval level.
I doubt he was aware of any naval limitations at all. His invasion plans during his years as consul and first year as emperor were pretty awkward at best.. It baffles me it almost worked.

DARN YOU VILLENEUVEE
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Old January 30th, 2012, 07:02 AM   #9
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The French threat to Ireland did have one significant outcome, the incorporation of Ireland into the UK in 1801. This was done for strategic reasons.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 07:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Nschoones View Post
I doubt he was aware of any naval limitations at all. His invasion plans during his years as consul and first year as emperor were pretty awkward at best.. It baffles me it almost worked.

DARN YOU VILLENEUVEE
Touché.

However, please remember that Monsieur Buonaparte had already abandoned a whole army to his enemies at Egypt; it's clear that he became empirically well aware of his naval limitations.

Admittedly, Buonaparte was an exceptional land commander but a terrible admiral; he tended to constantly underestimate the strength of the British Navy.

And Monsieur Villaneuve was not to be blamed of anything in particular here, aside of bringing to the despot the tautological bad news that the British were simply objectively impossible to be defeated by the naval forces at the disposition of the over-optimistic emperor.

Must disagree with the "almost" above; objectively, IMHO Buonaparte's invasion project on Britain had never any real chance of success.
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