Napoleon and the Art of Diplomacy:

The Matrix of Character and Circumstances

William Nester, USA

Warriors are not generally known for their diplomatic skills and Napoleon Bonaparte was no exception. Conquerors are accustomed to imposing rather than negotiating terms.

Yet for Napoleon the arts of war and diplomacy meshed. Indeed Napoleon was often just as brilliant and successful at diplomacy as he was at war. And at times he could also be as disastrous at the diplomatic table as he was on the battlefield.

Making the best, worst, or, almost universally, some mix of good and bad choices is something that everyone does. Those decisions are inevitably shaped by the matrix of one’s character and circumstances.

So how did the matrix of Napoleon’s character and the circumstances in which he acted affect his diplomacy? This study will offer some possible answers.


Dr. William Nester is a professor in the Department of Government and Politics at St. John’s University in New York and the author of twenty books on various aspects of international relations. He has spent nearly a dozen years living overseas doing research and traveling in over eighty countries.