Napoleon was not a democrat - nor was he a republican. He was, he liked to think, an enlightened despot, sort of the man Voltaire might have found appealing. He preserved numerous social gains of the Revolution while suppressing political liberty. He admired efficiency and strength and hated feudalism, religious intolerance, and civil inequality. Enlightened despotism meant political stability. He knew his Roman history well - after 500 years of republicanism, Rome became an empire under Augustus Caesar.
Napoleon's domestic policies gained the popular support he demanded. But it was his military victories that mesmerized the French people. Napoleon realized the grand dream of Louis XIV - the mastery of Europe. Between 1805 and 1807, Napoleon defeated Austria, Prussia and Russia becoming the virtual ruler of the Continent. He embraced his own "art of war" that stressed rapid offensive attack over defensive positions (similar to the German Blitzkrieg). Surprise and speed were essential ingredients. So too were efforts to confuse his opponents: he supplied newspapers with incorrect information, he launched secondary offenses and he sent dense screens of cavalry ahead of his marching columns. He wanted to both surprise and demoralize the enemy. His troops were amazing. They marched fifty miles in 36 hours during one campaign in Italy in 1796. They accomplished 275 miles in 23 days during the Austrian campaign in 1805.
While he made every effort to humiliate and demoralize his enemy, Napoleon also understood the necessity of maintaining the morale of his own troops. So, he shared the dangers of war with his own men. He did not wait on a hill - rather, he led the charge. An army based on honor, vanity and personal loyalty is difficult to overcome. Alexander, Augustus Caesar and Charlemagne were all aware of this. By 1810, Napoleon dominated nearly all of Europe. Belgium, vast territories of Germany, Holland, Italy, Westphalia and Spain had all been annexed. Napoleon's "Grand Empire" also included Austria, Prussia, Russia, Sweden and Denmark.