Napoleon Bonaparte, who is also known as the “little Corsican”, was born on August 15,1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica. His family had moved there from Italy in the 16th century. His original name was Napoleone. He had 7 brothers and sisters. His original nationality was Corsican-Italian. He also despised the French. He thought they were oppressors of his native land. His father was a lawyer, and was also anti-French. One reason Napoleon may have been such a great leader and revolutionary because was he was raised in a family of radicals. When Napoleon was nine, his father sent him to Brienne, a French military government school in Paris. While there he was constantly teased by the French students. Because of this Napoleon started having dreams of personal glory and triumph. From 1784 to 1785 Napoleon attended the Ecole Militaire in Paris. It was there that he received his military training. He studied to be an artillery man and an officer. He finished his training and he joined the French army when he was just 16 years old. His father died after that and he had to provide for his entire family.
Napoleon was stationed in Paris in 1792. After the French monarchy was overthrown in August of that year, Napoleon started to make a name for himself and become a well known military leader.
In 1792 Napoleon was promoted to captain. In 1793 he was chosen to direct the artillery against the siege in Toulon. Soon after that Toulon fell and Napoleon was promoted to brigadier general. Napoleon was made commander of the French army in Italy. He defeated many Austrian Generals. Soon after this Austria and France made peace. Afterwards Napoleon was relieved of his command. He had been suspected of treason. In 1795 he broke up a revolt and saved the French government. He had earned back respect and he was once again give command of the French Army in Italy. He came up with a plan that worked very well. He would cut the enemy’s army in to two parts, then attack one side of them before the other side could help them. This worked very well against the Sardinian troops, he defeated them 5 times in 11 days.
After this Napoleon was almost impossible to stop. This was when he began conquering most of Europe. The first country he defeated was Austria. He collected lots of money and sent it back to Paris, this helped the weak economy of France. After he came close to Vienna, the Austrians surrendered, and made a treaty with France. This gave France the Netherlands, and it made the Rhine River the eastern border of France. He made an unsuccessful attempt to invade Egypt. And in 1799 he returned to France to find the Directory (the French Government) was a mess. The overthrew the Directory, and created a new government, in which there were three consuls, and he was the most important one. At this time, everyone in France loved napoleon, and his power increased. In 1802 France signed a peace treaty with England and Germany, and was now not at war with anyone.
He re-established the University of France, reformed the education system, and he founded the Bank of France. He also made the Napolionic Code: The first clear, compact statement of the French law. The Napolionic Code has served as a base for legal systems around the world. He changed the government again and made himself ruler of the French Empire. He divorced his wife Josephine in 1809 and married Marie Louise, the daughter of the Emperor of Austria. He soon had a son by his second wife, and made him king of Rome. He now was the ruler of a great empire, and he had 42 million people under his control.
After he tried to invade Russia, his empire began to crumble. And on April 6, 1814 he was forced from the throne. He was exiled to the island of Elba. About a year later, he gathered about 1,000 soldiers and went to Paris and regained power. He ruled for a short time, and then he surrendered to the English. He was exiled to the island of St. Helena in the south Atlantic, where he stayed until he died on May 5, 1821. He supposedly died of cancer, but there are rumors that he was poisoned.
Filed Under: France, French Revolution, People
Napoleon was born on the island of Corsica in 1769. His family had received French nobility status when France made Corsica a province in that year, and Napoleon was sent to France in 1777 to study at the Royal Military School in Brienne. In 1784, Napoleon spent a year studying at the Ecole Militaire in Paris, graduating as a Second Lieutenant of artillery. Sent to Valence on a peacetime mission, Napoleon whiled away the hours there educating himself in history and geography.
During the tumultuous years of the French Revolution, Napoleon fought well for the Republic, helping to defeat the British at Toulon. For his services there, he was made a Brigadier General. After the Directory came to power, Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais and gained command of the French army in Italy, where, after defeating the Austrians in 1797, he negotiated the Treaty of Campo Formio. This victory boosted Napoleon to widespread popularity when he returned to France. Eager to get rid of this potential challenger, the Directory agreed to let Napoleon take an army on an Egyptian campaign to capture Egypt and hamper British shipping to India. Napoleon's campaign in Egypt did not go as planned, and when he heard that the Directory was losing power, he abandoned his army and rapidly returned to Paris to take advantage of the situation, becoming the first of three consuls in the new government proclaimed in 1799.
As First Consul, Napoleon began a program to consolidate his power. He ended the current rift between France and the Church by instituting the Concordat of 1801. France was then involved in several wars. In 1802, Napoleon signed the Peace of Amiens, a temporary peace with the British. In order to be able to concentrate solely on his European affairs, he sold France's Louisiana territory to the U.S. in 1803. And in 1804, he set the foundation for much of Europe's legal system by establishing the Napoleonic Code. In 1804, Napoleon did away with the Consulate and crowned himself Emperor in an extravagant coronation ceremony.
In 1805, Napoleon was planning an invasion of England when the Russian and Austrian armies began marching towards France. Napoleon's forces defeated them at Austerlitz, but not before the British fleet had destroyed Napoleon's navy at Trafalgar. At this time, Napoleon expanded his Empire by creating the Confederation of the Rhine in Germany and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in Poland. By now, Napoleon controlled almost all of Western Europe with the exception of Spain. He decided to try and destroy the economy of his major enemy, Britain, by instituting the Continental System, under which all European ports would refuse to accept British shipments. He failed in this task, and in trying to force Spain to comply touched off the Peninsular War. Russia and Prussia, however, did cooperate with Napoleon for a few years under the Treaty of Tilsit (1807).
In 1810, Josephine, although the mother of two children by her previous husband, had not yet provided Napoleon with any heirs; distressed by this, he had his marriage to her annulled and married the 18-year-old Austrian archduchess Marie Louise. She gave birth to a son in 1811. Around this time, Czar Alexander I withdrew Russia from the Continental System. In 1812, Napoleon's Grand Army entered Russia in order to punish Alexander, but the ravages of the deadly Russian winter decimated his army. Meanwhile, affairs in France began to look unstable. Napoleon rushed back to Paris and raised a new army, only to be defeated by a coalition of European forces at Leipzig in 1814.
Napoleon was then exiled to the isle of Elba, where he plotted his return. With the great powers of Europe deep in negotiations over how to redivide the continent, Napoleon escaped from Elba, sneaked into France, and raised a new army in the period known as the Hundred Days. In June 1815, the armies of Wellington and Blucher defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Napoleon was again exiled, this time to distant Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821.