thank you for taking the time to compose such a wonderful response. You may be sure I read it (particularly the conclusions) carefully.
My view of the man is a little different. I would not deny his intellect but perhaps his sincerity.
No doubt he had a 'tiger by the tail' & many of his ruthless actions against real & percieved political enemies were motivated by a degree of deperation. But I also seem him as somewhat of a poseur. Compare his mode of attire! Much of what he did; both major actions & minor foibles; seem a form of self-advertising.
Compare his behaviour on 8 June 1794 when in that ludicrous ceremony dedicated to the Supreme Being he posed as some sort of pontiff or prophet. " The b#####d isn't satisfied with being the boss, he's got to be God as well."
Perhaps if he'd been a leader of cavalry, Joachim Murat may have had a rival.