Napoleon Bonaparte


July 5, 2022

Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 Ajaccio – 5 May 1821) was a French general and dictator during the last reigns of the French Revolution. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from December 2, 1804 to April 11, 1814. From March 17, 1805 to April 11, 1814 he was also King of Italy (a state that did not encompass the entire Italian peninsula) and from 1806 to 1813 protector of the Confederation of the Rhine. His legal reform, the Code Napoléon, had a major and lasting influence on the law in many countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium. He is also remembered for his role in the Napoleonic Wars he provoked and for the title of emperor he assumed. He temporarily succeeded in bringing a large part of Europe under his authority. Napoleon was born in Corsica. His father was of noble Genoese descent. In the years before the French Revolution he was trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. Bonaparte rose to prominence under the First French Republic. He managed to beat the First and Second Coalition against France. In 1799 he staged a coup, after which he installed himself as first consul. In 1804 he had himself proclaimed Emperor of France. After a series of victories, France managed to dominate continental Europe. In maintaining the French sphere of influence, Napoleon made use of alliances, where he appointed relatives in positions of power in other countries to rule as French vassals there, such as Louis Napoleon in the kingdom of Holland. Napoleon's campaign to Russia in 1812 was a turning point. His Grande Armée was decimated and in 1813 the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig. In 1814, the Coalition invaded France and was forced to abdicate and exiled to the island of Elba. In February 1815 he returned to France and again took power for Hundred Days (1815), but at the Battle of Waterloo he suffered a serious defeat. He was now deported to Saint Helena. According to an autopsy, he died of stomach cancer.


Early years

Napoleon was born as Napoleone di Buonaparte. He was the second son of Maria Laetitia Ramolino and Carlo Maria Buonaparte, who was a lawyer. The Buonaparte family was not wealthy and of Genoese Italian descent. Napoleon grew up on the island of Corsica. The dominant influence during his childhood was his mother Laetitia, who with her resolute discipline was able to keep the rowdy boy in check. He often played soldier at school and always took the lead. His father, as a friend of the French governor, managed to secure a scholarship for him, and at the age of nine Napoleon left for France. He first attended a college of monks in Autun to learn French - his native Corsican is an Italian dialect - and then was educated at the military school in Brienne. Napoleon would speak French all his life with a strong Corsican accent. He had no talent for languages, knew little Latin, but was strong in mathematics. In 1784 he continued his studies at the École Militaire in Paris. Napoleon took an early exam there, passed and was appointed second lieutenant at the age of sixteen. He enlisted in the La Fère regiment in Valence in January 1786, before being transferred to Auxonne (near Dijon) in June 1786. To help his mother financially, he took his eleven-year-old brother Louis with him and took care of his education. Napoleon showed an interest in history and literature. Plutarch, Caesar, Corneille, Voltaire and the philosopher Rousseau were his favorite authors. He read the novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe several times.

General of the French Revolution

First achievements and Corsican ambitions

When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, he joined in. He was