Why did it take so long for the European Nations to defeat Napoleon With Napoleon beginning his military career in 1796-7 with victories in the Italian Campaign, a new form of an old threat was realised in Europe. It was obvious that Napoleon was a general to be feared, as the leader of the most powerful nation in Europe. Napoleons self-declaration of'Emperor' in 1804 proved beyond doubt to Europe that Napoleon ambitions were very big. It was obvious that Napoleon as a general would be difficult to defeat.
Throughout the last decade of the 18th century and thefirst decade and a half of the 19th century, the power of France became almost absolute. Yet with many other countries in Europe that would not benefit from France being so powerful, why didn't these countries defeat France sooner rather than later, and why did the Empire collapse in 1814? The answers to these questions are in the nature of Europe, and the fears that each nation had. For instance, Prussia's foreign policy was generally centred on her current situation, while Austria was more concerned with safeguarding her interests by helping French power rather than defeating her. At the same time, one may see that the majority of Russian interests lay traditionally in the East.
In effect, the situation in Europe was generally controlled by foreign policy based on differing national interests, largely dictated by the economical position. Yet, one may also see that major European countries did go to war with France, Austria in 1800, and Russia in 1807, but always alone and usually at a relative loss. This begs the question of why no one nation was really committed to helping another against France.
The reasons are quite complex, but the answer is simple, each nation of Europe was in fear of not only Napoleon, but of each other. Fear is the most important factor in the European situation at that time. Countries were united together not through their c..