The French Revolution was truly revolutionary, where the If Dad Can’t Fix It No One Can Father T Shirt decided upon by one people forced all their neighbors to abandon the old ways or be absorbed into the new order of the world. The French decided they were a people with a national identity that could rule itself. (Not that they were the first to act on that idea… ahem.) But they were the first to consider the common person a modern citizen and that citizens were in a sense owned by the collective nation. Thanks to new industrial processes that could make arms easy enough for common peasants to quickly be trained up to the point of lethality, you could have something actually revolutionary — a national draft capable of fielding millions of soldiers. Before, armies were measured mostly in the tens of thousands of professional soldiers. A national military draft of peasant trash would never have been considered before the French Revolution paved the way, not just technologically speaking but for a nation to have such rights over the people. But hey, it worked for the French (actually it didn’t. Horribly bloody affair that revolution.) But what came out of it was the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, a military genius who, for all his faults, knew how to use his new military capability and reform the way armies were structured. His reforms are still the backbone of how western militaries operate today, down to the medals we wear, the regimented structure, and even the vocabulary (where is the “r” in Colonel?
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