Napoleon Bonaparte  – greatest military general in history

Napoleon Bonaparte
Full name Napoléon Bonaparte
DOB15 August 1769
Died5 May 1821
ProfessionsPolitician, military leader

Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military general, the country’s first emperor, and one of the greatest military leaders in history. Napoleon reformed military organization and training, founded the Napoleonic Code, reorganized education, and forged the long-lasting Concordat with the Vatican.

Napoleone Buonapart, as he was known when he was born, had a great impact and is regarded as one of the most famous military and political leaders in history. He was not only the first Consul, but also the first king of France to be given the title of Emperor during his reign. His skills set him apart from his contemporaries, allowing him to win contests against opponents who were numerically superior to him.

He is frequently recognized as the greatest military commander of all time as a result of this. Another fascinating part of his reign was the political and social changes he enacted, which saved the kingdom from bankruptcy.

The core concepts of old Roman law were merged with new French regulations in his Napoleonic Code. The code was used as a model for the codification of criminal and commercial laws in France and other countries.

Napoleon Bonaparte was a cunning, ambitious, and skillful military strategist who successfully fought war against numerous European coalitions and enlarged his empire. Napoleon abdicated the throne two years later after a catastrophic French invasion of Russia in 1812, and was exiled to the island of Elba.

During his Hundred Days campaign in 1815, he briefly reclaimed control. He abdicated again after a catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, and was exiled to the isolated island of Saint Helena, where he died at the age of 51.

Napoleon Bonaparte Childhood & Early Life

On August 15, 1769, Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio, on the French island of Corsica.

Carlo Buonaparte, a lawyer, and his wife, Letizia Ramolino, had four children, the fourth of whom, Napoleon, was the second to survive.

The French colonization of Corsica had sparked strong local resistance around the time of Napoleon’s birth. At initially, Carlo Buonaparte backed the nationalists, siding with their leader, Pasquale Paoli.

Carlo shifted his allegiance to the French after Paoli was forced to evacuate the island. In 1771, he was appointed assessor of the Ajaccio judicial district, a lucrative position that allowed him to enroll his two sons, Joseph and Napoleon, in France’s College d’Autun.

Napoleon Bonaparte Education & Early Military Career

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte eventually ended himself at the Brienne Military College, where he studied for five years before moving on to the Paris Military Academy. Napoleon’s father died of stomach cancer in 1785, while he was in the academy.

Napoleon Bonaparte was compelled to assume control of the family as a result of this. Napoleon, now a second lieutenant of artillery, returned to Corsica in 1786 after graduating early from the military academy.

Back in France, Napoleon supported the Corsican resistance to the French occupation, aligning with Pasquale Paoli, a previous ally of his father.

But the two quickly fell out, and when a civil war broke out in Corsica in April 1793, Napoleon, now an opponent of Paoli, and his family fled to France, adopting the French version of their surname: Bonaparte.

Napoleon’s return to France from Corsica began with military service, and he rejoined his army in Nice in June 1793.

After a dispute with the nationalist Corsican governor, Pasquale Paoli, in 1793, the Bonaparte family escaped to mainland France, where Napoleon resumed military service.

In France, Napoleon was linked to Augustin Robespierre, the brother of revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre, a Jacobin who was a driving force behind the Reign of Terror, a period of repression against the revolution’s foes.

Napoleon Bonaparte was raised to the rank of brigadier general in the army during this time. However, once Robespierre was deposed and executed (along with Augustin) in July 1794, Napoleon was briefly imprisoned due to his ties to the brothers. Napoleon was elevated to major general in 1795 after assisting in the suppression of a royalist insurgency against the revolutionary government in Paris.

French Revolution

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte benefited from the turbulence of the  French Revolution, which provided opportunity for ambitious military leaders. The youthful leader promptly declared his allegiance to the Jacobins, a far-left political movement that was the most well-known and popular political club during the French Revolution.

Three years after the Revolution began, France was declared a republic in 1792, and King Louis XVI was executed the following year. These actions eventually led to the ascension of Maximilien de Robespierre and the establishment of the Committee of Public Safety tyranny.

The Reign of Terror, which lasted from 1793 to 1794, resulted in the deaths of up to 40,000 people. The Jacobins eventually lost power, and Robespierre was executed. The Directory (the French Revolutionary administration) assumed control of the country in 1795, a position it would hold until 1799.

Napolean Bonaparte’s Rise to Power

Since 1792, France’s revolutionary government has been fighting numerous European states in armed engagements. In a series of conflicts in Italy in 1796, Napoleon led a French force that beat the bigger armies of Austria, one of his country’s main competitors. In 1797, France and Austria signed the Treaty of Campo Formio, which gave the French territorial gains.

The Directory, a five-person organization that had ruled France since 1795, gave Napoleon the opportunity to lead an invasion of England the next year. Napoleon judged that France’s naval forces were not yet prepared to face the greater Royal Navy of the United Kingdom.

Instead, he recommended invading Egypt in order to eliminate British trade routes to India. At the Battle of the Pyramids in July 1798, Napoleon’s men defeated Egypt’s military overlords, the Mamluks; but, his forces were soon stranded after his naval fleet was virtually destroyed by the British at the Battle of the Nile in August 1798.

Napoleon’s troops invaded Ottoman-ruled Syria in early 1799, culminating in a futile siege of Acre, which is now part of modern-day Israel. With the political situation in France uncertain that summer, Napoleon, ever ambitious and clever, decided to abandon his army in Egypt and return to France.

Napolean Bonaparte The Coup of 18 Brumaire

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was a member of a party that successfully ousted the French Directory in November 1799, in an incident known as the coup of 18 Brumaire.

The Directory was replaced by a three-member Consulate, and 5’7″ Napoleon was appointed first consul, becoming him France’s most powerful politician. Napoleon’s soldiers overcame one of France’s persistent rivals, the Austrians, at the Battle of Marengo in June 1800, and drove them out of Italy. Napoleon’s status as first consul was cemented by this triumph. In addition, the war-weary British agreed to peace with the French in 1802 with the Treaty of Amiens (although the peace would only last for a year).

Napoleon attempted to restore post-revolutionary France’s stability. He organized administration, introduced reforms in sectors including as finance and education, backed science and the arts, and worked to restore relations between his regime and the pope (who represented France’s dominant religion, Catholicism), which had deteriorated during the revolution. The Napoleonic Code, which streamlined the French legal system and continues to form the cornerstone of French civil law to this day, was one of his most major achievements.

Napoleon was made first consul for life in 1802, thanks to a constitutional reform. He was crowned Emperor of France in a spectacular ceremony at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris two years later, in 1804.

Napolean Bonaparte Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon Bonaparte

From 1803 to Napoleon’s second resignation of power in 1815, the Napoleonic Warfare were a series of European wars.

The Louisiana Purchase occurred in 1803, when France sold the North American Louisiana Territory to the United States for $15 million, in part to generate funding for war. Napoleon then resumed his wars against the United Kingdom, Russia, and Austria.

The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was a significant naval victory for the British against France, prompting Napoleon to abandon his intentions to attack England. Instead, he targeted Austria and Russia, and in the Battle of Austerlitz, he defeated both armies.

Other successes followed soon after, allowing Napoleon to dramatically expand his French empire and clearing the way for his supporters to be installed in Holland, Italy, Naples, Sweden, Spain, and Westphalia.

Napolean Bonaparte Napoleonic Code

Napoleon Bonaparte

The Napoleonic Code, sometimes known as the French Civil Code, was established on March 21, 1804, and sections of it are still in use around the world today.

The Napoleonic Code prohibited birth privileges, provided religious freedom, and stipulated that government employment be offered to the most competent. The terms of the law serve as the foundation for civil codes in many other countries across Europe and North America.

The Napoleonic Code was enacted in response to Napoleon’s new constitution, which established the first consul, a position that amounted to a dictatorship. Unrest continued in France after the French Revolution, and in June 1799, the Jacobins, a left-wing extremist party, took control of the Directory in a coup.

Napoleon devised preparations for a second coup, collaborating with one of the new directors, Emmanuel Sieyes, to place the two, together with Pierre-Roger Ducos, at the helm of a new administration known as the Consulate.

The first consul was given the authority to designate ministers, generals, public workers, magistrates, and even members of legislative bodies under the new standards. Of course, Napoleon would be the one to execute the duties of the first consul. The new constitution was quickly accepted in February 1800.

Napoleon directed his changes at the country’s economy, judicial system, and education, as well as the Church, which he reestablished as the state church. He also negotiated a European peace treaty that lasted only three years before the Napoleonic Wars began.

His reforms were well received, and he was chosen consul for life in 1802 and proclaimed emperor of France two years later.

Napoleon Bonaparte Invades Russia

Napoleon Bonaparte

When Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 turned out to be a huge catastrophe and the beginning of Napoleon’s downfall, France was devastated.

Hundreds of thousands of soldiers in Napoleon’s Grand Army were slain or gravely injured; only 10,000 soldiers remained fit for action out of a fighting force of 600,000 men.

Napoleon’s foes, both inside and outside of France, were enraged at the news of his loss. While Napoleon was leading his charge against Russia, a failed coup attempt occurred, and the British began to move through French territory.

Napoleon surrendered to coalition forces on March 30, 1814, as international pressure mounted and his administration lacked the wherewithal to fight back against his foes.

Napoleon Bonaparte Exile

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon was obliged to renounce his throne and flee to the Mediterranean island of Elba, off the coast of Italy, on April 6, 1814. As he saw France fumble forward without him, his exile did not last long.

Napoleon evacuated the island in March 1815 and returned to Paris soon. Napoleon triumphantly restored to power when King Louis XVIII fled.

However, the joy with which Napoleon reclaimed control of the government was quickly replaced by previous disappointments and concerns about his leadership.

Napoleon Bonaparte Battle of Waterloo

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon led French troops into Belgium on June 16, 1815, and beat the Prussians; two days later, at the Battle of Waterloo, he was defeated by the British, who were reinforced by Prussian fighters.

Napoleon abdicated his powers on June 22, 1815, after a crushing defeat. In order to keep his dynasty alive, he campaigned for his infant son, Napoleon II, to be elected Emperor, but the coalition turned him down.

Napoleon Bonaparte St. Helena

Napoleon Bonaparte

Fearing a replay of Napoleon’s earlier return from exile on Elba, the British authorities dispatched him to the distant island of St. Helena in the southern Atlantic Ocean after his abdication in 1815.

Napoleon was mostly free to do as he liked in his new residence. He took his time in the mornings, wrote frequently, and read widely. But the monotony of life eventually got to him, and he spent a lot of time indoors.

Napoleon Bonaparte Personal life

Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais, a fashionable widow six years his senior with two adolescent children, in 1796. Napoleon had their marriage annulled more than a decade later, in 1809, when he had no offspring of his own with Empress Josephine. This allowed him to locate a new wife and produce an heir. He married Marie Louise (1791-1847), the daughter of Austria’s Emperor, in 1810. Napoleon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte, their son, was born the following year and was dubbed Napoleon II and given the title of King of Rome. Napoleon had multiple illegitimate offspring in addition to his son with Marie Louise.

Napoleon Bonaparte Death

Napoleon died on the island of St. Helena on May 5, 1821, at the age of 51. Napoleon’s health was worsening by 1817, and he was showing signs of a stomach ulcer or even cancer.

He was sick and weakening by the day in early 1821. In April of that year, he penned his last will and testament:

“I’d like my ashes to be scattered along the banks of the Seine, among the French people I adored. I am assassinated by the English elite and its paid assassins before my time.”