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Napoleon

(Napoleon Bonaparte)

1769–1821
Civilization: European — Corsica
   Field of Renown:  military — General
Era:  Revolution

Napoleon
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE IN HIS CORONATION ROBES.
Charismatic, ambitious, and brilliant, Napoleon Bonaparte is widely recognized as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. His passion and drive to rule led him to become Emperor of the French after the French Revolution, and nearly to conquer all of Europe. His family shared in his rise to power, and also in his legacy; his nephew became Napoleon III of France.

Born in Corsica, Napoleon sympathized with the Corsican nationalists, who had been conquered by France shortly before Napoleon’s birth. Although he studied in France and received his first commission in the French Army, Napoleon never gave up the idea of a liberated Corsica. Despite these sympathies, Napoleon served with distinction during the French Revolution, attracting the attention of Barras, Robespierre, and Talleyrand. A piece of brilliant political maneuvering put Napoleon’s allies in control of the French government after the coup of 18 Fructidor. Five years later, Napoleon got himself named First Consul for life; two years after that, he crowned himself Emperor of France.

Napoleon’s downfall was ultimately his arrogance, which caused him to overreach himself. Two notable examples of this are the Continental System, by which he attempted to block all trade with Britain, and the invasion of Russia in 1812, in which the French army was demolished. Napoleon is also supposed to have said of the Peninsular War involving France, Spain, and Britain; "That unfortunate war destroyed me....All the circumstances of my disasters are bound up in that fatal knot." In the end, it was Napoleon’s oldest nemesis, Great Britain, who defeated him at the battle of Waterloo, and exiled him for the final time to the island of St Helena, where the great general would finally die in 1821, at the age of 52.


Key events during the life of Napoleon Bonaparte:


Year
Event
1769
Born in Corsica to minor noble family, second of eight children.
1777
Napoleon's father named Corsican representative to the court of Louis XVI.
1779
Enrolled in a religious school in Autun to learn French. In May, admitted to the military academy at Brienne-le-Château.
1784
Admitted to the École Militaire in Paris. Death of Napoleon's father. He completes the course in one year rather than two; first Corsican to graduate from that establishment.
1785
Graduated from École Militaire. Commissioned a second lieutenant in La Fère artillery regiment.
1789
Takes nearly two years leave-of-absence from the French army in Paris and Corsica.
1792
Promoted to captain in French regular army despite obvious Corsican nationalist loyalties.
1793
The Bonaparte family leaves Corsica for the mainland because of conflict with nationalist Corsican leader Pasquale Paoli.
1793
Publishes Le souper de Beaucaire, which brings him to the attention of Augustin Robespierre, younger brother of Revolutionary leader Maximilan Robespierre.
1793
Appointed artillery commander of Republic forces at the Siege of Toulon. Promoted to Brigadier-General at age 24, appointed commander of artillery in France's Army of Italy.
1794
Devises strategy for attacking Sardinia; Battle of Saorgio
1794
Placed under house arrest after Thermidorian Reaction for association with the Robespierres. Acquitted and released after two weeks.
1795
Engaged to Désirée Clary, whose older sister was married to his brother Joseph.
1795
Assigned to the Army of the West, which was engaged in the War of the Vendee. Pleaded poor health to avoid posting.
1795
October, appointed by Paul Barras to defend the National Convention in the Tuileries Palace against the Paris mob.
1796
Breaks off engagement with Désirée Clary to marry Josephine de Beauharnais.
1796
Two days after marriage, leaves France to take command of Army of Italy, leads successful invasion of Italy.
1797
Invades Austria, forces them into Treaty of Leoben.
1797
Coup of 18 Fructidor leaves Barras and Republican allies in control.
1797
Treaty of Campo Formio, returns to France and meets Talleyrand.
1798
Egyptian Campaign. Elected to French Academy of Sciences in May.
1799
Returns to France. Coup of 18th Brumaire, appointed First Consul.
1801
France reaffirms Italian and Austrian possessions; Battle of Marengo, Treaty of Luneville.
1802
Named First Consul for life, peace with Britain only lasts a year.
1803
Sells the Louisiana Purchase to the United States of America for $15 million.
1804
Execution of Duc d'Enghien, on false charges of conspiracy to assassination.
1804
Crowns himself Emperor Napoleon I of France, with Josephine as Empress.
1805
Crowned King of Italy.
1805
Britain, Russia, Austria form Third Coalition against France.
1805
Battle of Trafalgar; Britain gains naval supremacy. Battle of Austerlitz; Napoleon crushes the Third Coalition.
1806
Ottoman Emperor formally recognizes Napoleon as Emperor of the French, and enters into an alliance with France.
1806
Fourth Coalition assembled.
1807
Treaties of Tilsit; Alexander I of Russia meets Napoleon, they divide Europe between them. Prussia stripped of half her territory. Napoleon attempts to enforce the Continental System.
1807
Spain rejects the Continental System. Beginning of the Peninsular War. Joseph Bonaparte appointed King of Spain in place of Charles IV. Joachim Murat appointed King of Naples.
1809
Austria breaks alliance with France. Austria defeated; Treaty of Schönbrunn.
1809
Annexation of the Papal States for refusing to cooperate with the Continental System; Pope Pius VII excommunicates Napoleon.
1809
Pope kidnapped by Napoleon's officers.
1810
Divorces Josephine; marries Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria.
1812
Frances invades Russia, with disastrous results. Napoleon deserts retreating army because of rumored coup attempt.
1813
Sixth Coalition; Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Sweden. Battle of Dresden, Battle of Leipzig. Napoleon retreats to France.
1814
France loses the Peninsular War.
1814
Paris captured by the Coalition. Consulate votes to depose Napoleon.
1814
Abdication, renounces all rights of his family and descendants to the French throne, exiled to Elba. Wife and son take refuge in Austria.
1815
Escapes Elba in the Swiftsure on Feb. 26th.
1815
Congress of Vienna declares Napoleon on outlaw on March 13th. Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia ally to bring him down.
1815
June 18th, Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon defeated by allied forces under Wellington and Blucher.
1815
Abdicates in favour of his son, flees Prussian forces, surrendurs to British captain Frederick Lewis Maitland.
1815
Exiled to island of St. Helena.
1821
May 5th, Death of Napoleon.
1840
Louis Philippe I brings Napoleon's body to France, interrs it in Les Invalides with a great state funeral.

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Marriage of Josephine and Bonaparte  in  Hortense  by  John S. C. Abbott
How Napoleon Crossed the Alps  in  Fifty Famous Stories  by  James Baldwin
Picciola  in  Fifty Famous Stories  by  James Baldwin
Russia During the Wars of Napoleon  in  The Story of Russia  by  R. Van Bergen
Waterloo  in  English History Stories - III  by  Alfred J. Church
Napoleon Bonaparte  in  Christian Persecutions  by  Asa Craig
Reign of Terror and Rise of Napoleon in  Peeps at History - France  by  John Finnemore
Fall of Germany  in  Peeps at History - Germany  by  John Finnemore
The French Revolution  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
Waterloo  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
Napoleon Bonaparte  in  Famous Men of Modern Times  by  John Haaren
England and the French Revolution  in  The Story of England  by  S. B. Harding
Napoleon Bonaparte  in  The Story of France  by  Mary Macgregor
Napoleon Is Banished to Elba  in  The Story of France  by  Mary Macgregor
Under the Heel of Napoleon  in  History of Germany  by  H. E. Marshall
Napoleon  in  Book of Famous Soldiers  by  J. W. McSpadden
Burning of Moscow  in  Historical Tales - French  by  Charles Morris
Napoleon's Return from Elba  in  Historical Tales - French  by  Charles Morris
Fall of Napoleon's Empire  in  Europe and the Great War  by  Charles Morris
Retreat of Napoleon's Grand Army  in  Historical Tales - Russian  by  Charles Morris
Passage of the Beresina  in  Brave Men and Brave Deeds  by  M. B. Synge
Napoleon Bonaparte  in  Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Second Charlemagne  in  Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Napoleon's Retreat from Moscow  in  Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Eve of Waterloo  in  Struggle for Sea Power  by  M. B. Synge
Napolean Bonaparte Becomes Emperor of the French  in  European Hero Stories  by  E. M. Tappan
Waterloo  in  Boy's Book of Battles  by  Eric Wood


Image Links


Reconciliation between Napoleon and Josephine
 in Hortense

Joseph and Napoleon; Tour in Corsica.
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Napoleon at Fontainebleau, 1914
 in Peeps at History - France

Napoleon as Emperor
 in The Hanoverians

The removal of Napoleon's body to France
 in The Hanoverians

Napoleon on board the Bellerophon
 in The Story of the English

Napoleon at school in Brienne
 in Famous Men of Modern Times

Napoleon in Egypt
 in Famous Men of Modern Times

Napoleon in Coronation Robes
 in Famous Men of Modern Times

Napoleon at the battle of Jena
 in Famous Men of Modern Times

Napoleon on board the Bellerophon
 in Famous Men of Modern Times
Napoleon crowning his wife, Josephine
Napoleon crowning his wife, Josephine
 in Soldiers and Sailors
Napoleon and the Sphinx
Napoleon and the Sphinx
 in Soldiers and Sailors

Seizing a flag, he himself led his men across the bridge
 in The Story of France

Soldiers, this battle must be a thunderclap.'
 in The Story of France

Napoleon as a boy
 in The Story of Napoleon

The little Corsican
 in The Story of Napoleon

Napoleon and the Pope
 in The Story of Napoleon

Waterloo
 in The Story of Napoleon

Napoleon's return from Elba
 in Historical Tales - French

Napoleon receiving news of the breaking down of the bridge
 in Brave Men and Brave Deeds

Napoleon retreats from Moscow
 in Struggle for Sea Power

Napoleon in his Imperial Robes
 in European Hero Stories

Napoleon's Return from Elba
 in European Hero Stories

Napoleon a the Battle of Waterloo
 in European Hero Stories

Napoleon Bonaparte.
 in Louise - Queen of Prussia


Contemporary
Short Biography
Robespierre Key figure of the French Revolution. Leader of the Reign of Terror.
Joseph Bonaparte Older brother of Napoleon who was crowned first, King of Naples, and then later, King of Spain.
Josephine de Beauharnais Aristocratic wife of Napoloeon Bonaparte.
Eugene de Beauharnais Stepson of Napoleon, who accompanied him on all his early campaigns. Later Prince of Italy.
Hortense de Beauharnais Step-daughter, and sister-in-law of Napolean Bonaparte, and mother of Napoleon III of France.
Joachim Murat Leading general of Napoleonic Wars, brother-in-law of Napoleon. Appointed king of Naples after Joseph was installed as king of Spain.
Talleyrand Apostate Bishop who took the lead in organizing the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Managed to stay in favor during the French Revolution, the reign of Napoleon, and the restored monarchy by adapting his politics to suit the circumstances.
Toussaint L'Ouverture Former slave who became the leader of rebel slaves seeking to overthrow the French government in Haiti.
Pope Pius VII Pope during the reign of Napoleon and the early restoration period.
Alexander I Leader of Russia during the Napoleonic Wars.
Horatio Nelson Great Naval hero of his age; victor at the Battle of the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar.
Duke of Wellington Napoleonic war general who fought in Spain and Portugal. Defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
Marie Louise of Austria Archduchess of Austria. Second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XVIII French monarch restored to the throne after the collapse of Napoleon's empire. Brother of Louis XVI killed during revolution.
Louis Philippe French noble who with liberal sympathies. Proclaimed king after abdication of Charles X.
Napoleon III Nephew of Napoleon, elected emperor of France after revolution of 1848. Deposed after disastrous Franco-Prussian War.