|Birth Day:||August 15, 1769|
|Death Date:||May 5, 1821 (age 51)|
|Birth Place:||Ajaccio, France|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Napoleon Bonaparte died on May 5, 1821 (age 51).
He considered entering the British Royal Navy but went to the elite Ecole Militaire in Paris instead.
Napoleon's family was of Italian origin: his paternal ancestors, the Buonapartes, descended from a minor Tuscan noble family that emigrated to Corsica in the 16th century; while his maternal ancestors, the Ramolinos, descended from a minor Genoese noble family. "I am more of an Italian, or Tuscan, than a Corsican" Napoleon was to say and many descendants of the Italian colonists in Corsica considered themselves as such, but nothing in fact connected them to the villages they considered the "homeland", the land their ancestors had left to take up residence in Corsican cities. They may have presented themselves as continental out of a desire for honor and distinction, but this does not prove they really were as foreign as they themselves often imagined. We might say that they grew all the more attached to their Italian origins as they moved further and further away from them, becoming ever more deeply integrated into Corsican society through marriages. This was as true of the Buonapartes as of anyone else related to the Genoese and Tuscan nobilities by virtue of titles that were, to tell the truth, suspect. The Buonapartes were also the relatives, by marriage and by birth, of the Pietrasentas, Costas, Paraviccinis, and Bonellis, all Corsican families of the interior. His parents Carlo Maria di Buonaparte and Maria Letizia Ramolino maintained an ancestral home called "Casa Buonaparte" in Ajaccio. Napoleon was born there on 15 August 1769, their fourth child and third son. A boy and girl were born first but died in infancy. He had an elder brother, Joseph, and younger siblings Lucien, Elisa, Louis, Pauline, Caroline, and Jérôme. Napoleon was baptised as a Catholic. In his youth, his name was also spelled as Nabulione, Nabulio, Napolionne, and Napulione.
Napoleon was baptised in Ajaccio on 21 July 1771. He was raised as a Catholic but never developed much faith. As an adult, Napoleon was a deist, believing in an absent and distant God. However, he had a keen appreciation of the power of organized religion in social and political affairs, and he paid a great deal of attention to bending it to his purposes. He noted the influence of Catholicism's rituals and splendors.
When he turned 9 years old, he moved to the French mainland and enrolled at a religious school in Autun in January 1779. In May, he transferred with a scholarship to a military academy at Brienne-le-Château. In his youth he was an outspoken Corsican nationalist and supported the state's independence from France. Like many Corsicans, Napoleon spoke and read Corsican (as his mother tongue) and Italian (as the official language of Corsica). He began learning French in school at around age 10. Although he became fluent in French, he spoke with a distinctive Corsican accent and never learned how to spell French correctly. He was, however, not an isolated case, as it was estimated in 1790 that fewer than 3 million people, out of France's population of 28 million, were able to speak standard French, and those who could write it were even fewer.
On completion of his studies at Brienne in 1784, Napoleon was admitted to the École Militaire in Paris. He trained to become an artillery officer and, when his father's death reduced his income, was forced to complete the two-year course in one year. He was the first Corsican to graduate from the École Militaire. He was examined by the famed scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace.
Upon graduating in September 1785, Bonaparte was commissioned a second lieutenant in La Fère artillery regiment. He served in Valence and Auxonne until after the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789. The young man still was a fervent Corsican nationalist during this period and asked for leave to join his mentor Pasquale Paoli, when the latter was allowed to return to Corsica by the National Assembly. Paoli had no sympathy for Napoleon however as he deemed his father a traitor for having deserted his cause for Corsican Independence.
He spent the early years of the Revolution in Corsica, fighting in a complex three-way struggle among royalists, revolutionaries, and Corsican nationalists. Napoleon, however, came to embrace the ideals of the Revolution, becoming a supporter of the Jacobins and joining the pro-French Corsican Republicans who opposed Paoli's policy and his aspirations of secession. He was given command over a battalion of volunteers and was promoted to captain in the regular army in July 1792, despite exceeding his leave of absence and leading a riot against French troops.
Napoleon and his commitment to the French Revolution thus came into conflict with Paoli, who had decided to sabotage the Corsican contribution to the Expédition de Sardaigne, by preventing a French assault on the Sardinian island of La Maddalena. Bonaparte and his family were compelled to flee to the French mainland in June 1793 because of the split with Paoli. Although he was born "Napoleone di Buonaparte", it was after this that Napoleon began styling himself "Napoléon Bonaparte" but his family did not drop the name Buonaparte until 1796. The first known record of him signing his name as Bonaparte was at the age of 27 (in 1796).
In July 1793, Bonaparte published a pro-republican pamphlet entitled Le souper de Beaucaire (Supper at Beaucaire) which gained him the support of Augustin Robespierre, younger brother of the Revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre. With the help of his fellow Corsican Antoine Christophe Saliceti, Bonaparte was appointed artillery commander of the republican forces at the Siege of Toulon.
The French army carried out Bonaparte's plan in the Battle of Saorgio in April 1794, and then advanced to seize Ormea in the mountains. From Ormea, they headed west to outflank the Austro-Sardinian positions around Saorge. After this campaign, Augustin Robespierre sent Bonaparte on a mission to the Republic of Genoa to determine that country's intentions towards France.
Some contemporaries alleged that Bonaparte was put under house arrest at Nice for his association with the Robespierres following their fall in the Thermidorian Reaction in July 1794, but Napoleon's secretary Bourrienne disputed the allegation in his memoirs. According to Bourrienne, jealousy was responsible, between the Army of the Alps and the Army of Italy (with whom Napoleon was seconded at the time). Bonaparte dispatched an impassioned defence in a letter to the commissar Saliceti, and he was subsequently acquitted of any wrongdoing. He was released within two weeks and, due to his technical skills, was asked to draw up plans to attack Italian positions in the context of France's war with Austria. He also took part in an expedition to take back Corsica from the British, but the French were repulsed by the British Royal Navy.
The brief peace in Europe allowed Napoleon to focus on the French colonies abroad. Saint-Domingue had managed to acquire a high level of political autonomy during the Revolutionary Wars, with Toussaint Louverture installing himself as de facto dictator by 1801. Napoleon saw his chance to recuperate the formerly wealthy colony when he signed the Treaty of Amiens. In the 1780s, Saint-Domingue had been France's wealthiest colony, producing more sugar than all the British West Indies colonies put together. However, during the Revolution, the National Convention voted to abolish slavery in February 1794. Under the terms of Amiens, Napoleon agreed to appease British demands by not abolishing slavery in any colonies where the 1794 decree had never been implemented. However, the 1794 decree was only implemented in Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe and Guyane, and was a dead letter in Senegal, Mauritius, Reunion and Martinique, the last of which had been conquered by the British, who maintained the institution of slavery on that Caribbean island.
By 1795, Bonaparte had become engaged to Désirée Clary, daughter of François Clary. Désirée's sister Julie Clary had married Bonaparte's elder brother Joseph. In April 1795, he was assigned to the Army of the West, which was engaged in the War in the Vendée—a civil war and royalist counter-revolution in Vendée, a region in west central France on the Atlantic Ocean. As an infantry command, it was a demotion from artillery general—for which the army already had a full quota—and he pleaded poor health to avoid the posting.
Within weeks, he was romantically involved with Joséphine de Beauharnais, the former mistress of Barras. The couple married on 9 March 1796 in a civil ceremony.
The next phase of the campaign featured the French invasion of the Habsburg heartlands. French forces in Southern Germany had been defeated by the Archduke Charles in 1796, but the Archduke withdrew his forces to protect Vienna after learning about Napoleon's assault. In the first encounter between the two commanders, Napoleon pushed back his opponent and advanced deep into Austrian territory after winning at the Battle of Tarvis in March 1797. The Austrians were alarmed by the French thrust that reached all the way to Leoben, about 100 km from Vienna, and finally decided to sue for peace. The Treaty of Leoben, followed by the more comprehensive Treaty of Campo Formio, gave France control of most of northern Italy and the Low Countries, and a secret clause promised the Republic of Venice to Austria. Bonaparte marched on Venice and forced its surrender, ending 1,100 years of independence. He also authorized the French to loot treasures such as the Horses of Saint Mark.
From 1796 to 2020 inclusive, at least 95 ships associated with the name of the Emperor of the French were identified as an object of intangible heritage. In the 21st century, at least 18 Napoleon ships are operated under the flag of Indonesia, Germany, Italy, Australia, Argentina, India, Netherlands, United Kingdom and France.
Napoleon married Joséphine (née Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie) in 1796, when he was 26; she was a 32-year-old widow whose first husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais, had been executed during the Reign of Terror. Five days after Alexandre de Beauharnais' death, the Reign of Terror initiator Maximilien de Robespierre was overthrown and executed, and, with the help of high-placed friends, Joséphine was freed. Until she met Bonaparte, she had been known as "Rose", a name which he disliked. He called her "Joséphine" instead, and she went by this name henceforth. Bonaparte often sent her love letters while on his campaigns. He formally adopted her son Eugène and second cousin (via marriage) Stéphanie and arranged dynastic marriages for them. Joséphine had her daughter Hortense marry Napoleon's brother Louis.
Two days after the marriage, Bonaparte left Paris to take command of the Army of Italy. He immediately went on the offensive, hoping to defeat the forces of Piedmont before their Austrian allies could intervene. In a series of rapid victories during the Montenotte Campaign, he knocked Piedmont out of the war in two weeks. The French then focused on the Austrians for the remainder of the war, the highlight of which became the protracted struggle for Mantua. The Austrians launched a series of offensives against the French to break the siege, but Napoleon defeated every relief effort, scoring victories at the battles of Castiglione, Bassano, Arcole, and Rivoli. The decisive French triumph at Rivoli in January 1797 led to the collapse of the Austrian position in Italy. At Rivoli, the Austrians lost up to 14,000 men while the French lost about 5,000.
A personal friend of Napoleon's said that when he first met him in Brienne-le-Château as a young man, Napoleon was only notable "for the dark color of his complexion, for his piercing and scrutinising glance, and for the style of his conversation"; he also said that Napoleon was personally a serious and somber man: "his conversation bore the appearance of ill-humor, and he was certainly not very amiable." Johann Ludwig Wurstemberger, who accompanied Napoleon from Camp Fornio in 1797 and on the Swiss campaign of 1798, noted that "Bonaparte was rather slight and emaciated-looking; his face, too, was very thin, with a dark complexion ... his black, unpowdered hair hung down evenly over both shoulders", but that, despite his slight and unkempt appearance, "His looks and expression were earnest and powerful."
In May 1798, Bonaparte was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences. His Egyptian expedition included a group of 167 scientists, with mathematicians, naturalists, chemists, and geodesists among them. Their discoveries included the Rosetta Stone, and their work was published in the Description de l'Égypte in 1809.
En route to Egypt, Bonaparte reached Malta on 9 June 1798, then controlled by the Knights Hospitaller. Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim surrendered after token resistance, and Bonaparte captured an important naval base with the loss of only three men.
On 1 August 1798, the British fleet under Sir Horatio Nelson captured or destroyed all but two French vessels in the Battle of the Nile, defeating Bonaparte's goal to strengthen the French position in the Mediterranean. His army had succeeded in a temporary increase of French power in Egypt, though it faced repeated uprisings. In early 1799, he moved an army into the Ottoman province of Damascus (Syria and Galilee). Bonaparte led these 13,000 French soldiers in the conquest of the coastal towns of Arish, Gaza, Jaffa, and Haifa. The attack on Jaffa was particularly brutal. Bonaparte discovered that many of the defenders were former prisoners of war, ostensibly on parole, so he ordered the garrison and 1,400 prisoners to be executed by bayonet or drowning to save bullets. Men, women, and children were robbed and murdered for three days.
While in Egypt, Bonaparte stayed informed of European affairs. He learned that France had suffered a series of defeats in the War of the Second Coalition. On 24 August 1799, he took advantage of the temporary departure of British ships from French coastal ports and set sail for France, despite the fact that he had received no explicit orders from Paris. The army was left in the charge of Jean-Baptiste Kléber.
Despite the failures in Egypt, Napoleon returned to a hero's welcome. He drew together an alliance with director Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, his brother Lucien, speaker of the Council of Five Hundred Roger Ducos, director Joseph Fouché, and Talleyrand, and they overthrew the Directory by a coup d'état on 9 November 1799 ("the 18th Brumaire" according to the revolutionary calendar), closing down the Council of Five Hundred. Napoleon became "first consul" for ten years, with two consuls appointed by him who had consultative voices only. His power was confirmed by the new "Constitution of the Year VIII", originally devised by Sieyès to give Napoleon a minor role, but rewritten by Napoleon, and accepted by direct popular vote (3,000,000 in favour, 1,567 opposed). The constitution preserved the appearance of a republic but in reality established a dictatorship.
The official introduction of the metric system in September 1799 was unpopular in large sections of French society. Napoleon's rule greatly aided adoption of the new standard not only across France but also across the French sphere of influence. Napoleon took a retrograde step in 1812 when he passed legislation to introduce the mesures usuelles (traditional units of measurement) for retail trade, a system of measure that resembled the pre-revolutionary units but were based on the kilogram and the metre; for example, the livre metrique (metric pound) was 500 g, in contrast to the value of the livre du roi (the king's pound), 489.5 g. Other units of measure were rounded in a similar manner prior to the definitive introduction of the metric system across parts of Europe in the middle of the 19th century.
Although critics have blamed Napoleon for several tactical mistakes preceding the battle, they have also praised his audacity for selecting a risky campaign strategy, choosing to invade the Italian peninsula from the north when the vast majority of French invasions came from the west, near or along the coastline. As Chandler points out, Napoleon spent almost a year getting the Austrians out of Italy in his first campaign. In 1800, it took him only a month to achieve the same goal. German strategist and field marshal Alfred von Schlieffen concluded that "Bonaparte did not annihilate his enemy but eliminated him and rendered him harmless" while "[attaining] the object of the campaign: the conquest of North Italy".
Napoleon's triumph at Marengo secured his political authority and boosted his popularity back home, but it did not lead to an immediate peace. Bonaparte's brother, Joseph, led the complex negotiations in Lunéville and reported that Austria, emboldened by British support, would not acknowledge the new territory that France had acquired. As negotiations became increasingly fractious, Bonaparte gave orders to his general Moreau to strike Austria once more. Moreau and the French swept through Bavaria and scored an overwhelming victory at Hohenlinden in December 1800. As a result, the Austrians capitulated and signed the Treaty of Lunéville in February 1801. The treaty reaffirmed and expanded earlier French gains at Campo Formio.
During the consulate, Napoleon faced several royalist and Jacobin assassination plots, including the Conspiration des poignards (Dagger plot) in October 1800 and the Plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise (also known as the Infernal Machine) two months later. In January 1804, his police uncovered an assassination plot against him that involved Moreau and which was ostensibly sponsored by the Bourbon family, the former rulers of France. On the advice of Talleyrand, Napoleon ordered the kidnapping of the Duke of Enghien, violating the sovereignty of Baden. The Duke was quickly executed after a secret military trial, even though he had not been involved in the plot. Enghien's execution infuriated royal courts throughout Europe, becoming one of the contributing political factors for the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars.
The settlements at Tilsit gave Napoleon time to organize his empire. One of his major objectives became enforcing the Continental System against the British forces. He decided to focus his attention on the Kingdom of Portugal, which consistently violated his trade prohibitions. After defeat in the War of the Oranges in 1801, Portugal adopted a double-sided policy. At first, John VI agreed to close his ports to British trade. The situation changed dramatically after the Franco-Spanish defeat at Trafalgar; John grew bolder and officially resumed diplomatic and trade relations with Britain.
Seeking national reconciliation between revolutionaries and Catholics, the Concordat of 1801 was signed on 15 July 1801 between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII. It solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France and brought back most of its civil status. The hostility of devout Catholics against the state had now largely been resolved. The Concordat did not restore the vast church lands and endowments that had been seized during the revolution and sold off. As a part of the Concordat, Napoleon presented another set of laws called the Organic Articles.
While the Concordat restored much power to the papacy, the balance of church–state relations had tilted firmly in Napoleon's favour. He selected the bishops and supervised church finances. Napoleon and the Pope both found the Concordat useful. Similar arrangements were made with the Church in territories controlled by Napoleon, especially Italy and Germany. Now, Napoleon could win favour with the Catholics while also controlling Rome in a political sense. Napoleon said in April 1801, "Skillful conquerors have not got entangled with priests. They can both contain them and use them". French children were issued a catechism that taught them to love and respect Napoleon.
After a decade of constant warfare, France and Britain signed the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802, bringing the Revolutionary Wars to an end. Amiens called for the withdrawal of British troops from recently conquered colonial territories as well as for assurances to curtail the expansionary goals of the French Republic. With Europe at peace and the economy recovering, Napoleon's popularity soared to its highest levels under the consulate, both domestically and abroad. In a new plebiscite during the spring of 1802, the French public came out in huge numbers to approve a constitution that made the Consulate permanent, essentially elevating Napoleon to dictator for life.
Whereas the plebiscite two years earlier had brought out 1.5 million people to the polls, the new referendum enticed 3.6 million to go and vote (72 percent of all eligible voters). There was no secret ballot in 1802 and few people wanted to openly defy the regime. The constitution gained approval with over 99% of the vote. His broad powers were spelled out in the new constitution: Article 1. The French people name, and the Senate proclaims Napoleon-Bonaparte First Consul for Life. After 1802, he was generally referred to as Napoleon rather than Bonaparte.
In Guadeloupe, the 1794 law abolished slavery, and it was violently enforced by Victor Hugues against opposition from slaveholders. However, when slavery was reinstated in 1802, there was a slave revolt by Louis Delgres. The resulting Law of 20 May had the express purpose of reinstating slavery in Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe and French Guiana, and restored slavery throughout the French Empire and its Caribbean colonies for another half a century, while the French trans-Atlantic slave trade continued for another twenty years.
When met in person, many of his contemporaries were surprised by his apparently unremarkable physical appearance in contrast to his significant deeds and reputation, especially in his youth, when he was consistently described as small and thin. Joseph Farington, who observed Napoleon personally in 1802, commented that "Samuel Rogers stood a little way from me and ... seemed to be disappointed in the look of [Napoleon's] countenance [face] and said it was that of a little Italian." Farington said Napoleon's eyes were "lighter, and more of a grey, than I should have expected from his complexion", that "His person is below middle size", and that "his general aspect was milder than I had before thought it."
In May 1802, he instituted the Legion of Honour, a substitute for the old royalist decorations and orders of chivalry, to encourage civilian and military achievements; the order is still the highest decoration in France.
Napoleon sent an expedition under his brother-in-law General Leclerc to reassert control over Saint-Domingue. Although the French managed to capture Toussaint Louverture, the expedition failed when high rates of disease crippled the French army, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines won a string of victories, first against Leclerc, and when he died from yellow fever, then against Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau, whom Napoleon sent to relieve Leclerc with another 20,000 men. In May 1803, Napoleon acknowledged defeat, and the last 8,000 French troops left the island and the slaves proclaimed an independent republic that they called Haiti in 1804. In the process, Dessalines became arguably the most successful military commander in the struggle against Napoleonic France. Seeing the failure of his colonial efforts, Napoleon decided in 1803 to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States, instantly doubling the size of the U.S. The selling price in the Louisiana Purchase was less than three cents per acre, a total of $15 million.
The peace with Britain proved to be uneasy and controversial. Britain did not evacuate Malta as promised and protested against Bonaparte's annexation of Piedmont and his Act of Mediation, which established a new Swiss Confederation. Neither of these territories were covered by Amiens, but they inflamed tensions significantly. The dispute culminated in a declaration of war by Britain in May 1803; Napoleon responded by reassembling the invasion camp at Boulogne.
Great Britain had broken the Peace of Amiens by declaring war on France in May 1803. In December 1804, an Anglo-Swedish agreement became the first step towards the creation of the Third Coalition. By April 1805, Britain had also signed an alliance with Russia. Austria had been defeated by France twice in recent memory and wanted revenge, so it joined the coalition a few months later.
Napoleon's coronation, at which Pope Pius VII officiated, took place at Notre Dame de Paris, on 2 December 1804. Two separate crowns were brought for the ceremony: a golden laurel wreath recalling the Roman Empire and a replica of Charlemagne's crown. Napoleon entered the ceremony wearing the laurel wreath and kept it on his head throughout the proceedings. For the official coronation, he raised the Charlemagne crown over his own head in a symbolic gesture, but never placed it on top because he was already wearing the golden wreath. Instead he placed the crown on Josephine's head, the event commemorated in the officially sanctioned painting by Jacques-Louis David. Napoleon was also crowned King of Italy, with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, at the Cathedral of Milan on 26 May 1805. He created eighteen Marshals of the Empire from among his top generals to secure the allegiance of the army on 18 May 1804, the official start of the Empire.
Napoleon had a civil marriage with Joséphine de Beauharnais, without religious ceremony. Napoleon was crowned Emperor on 2 December 1804 at Notre-Dame de Paris in a ceremony presided over by Pope Pius VII. On the eve of the coronation ceremony, and at the insistence of Pope Pius VII, a private religious wedding ceremony of Napoleon and Joséphine was celebrated. Cardinal Fesch performed the wedding. This marriage was annulled by tribunals under Napoleon's control in January 1810. On 1 April 1810, Napoleon married the Austrian princess Marie Louise in a Catholic ceremony. Napoleon was excommunicated by the Catholic Church, but later reconciled with the Church before his death in 1821. While in exile in Saint Helena he is recorded to have said "I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is not a man."
Napoleon knew that the French fleet could not defeat the Royal Navy in a head-to-head battle, so he planned to lure it away from the English Channel through diversionary tactics. The main strategic idea involved the French Navy escaping from the British blockades of Toulon and Brest and threatening to attack the West Indies. In the face of this attack, it was hoped, the British would weaken their defence of the Western Approaches by sending ships to the Caribbean, allowing a combined Franco-Spanish fleet to take control of the channel long enough for French armies to cross and invade. However, the plan unravelled after the British victory at the Battle of Cape Finisterre in July 1805. French Admiral Villeneuve then retreated to Cádiz instead of linking up with French naval forces at Brest for an attack on the English Channel.
By August 1805, Napoleon had realized that the strategic situation had changed fundamentally. Facing a potential invasion from his continental enemies, he decided to strike first and turned his army's sights from the English Channel to the Rhine. His basic objective was to destroy the isolated Austrian armies in Southern Germany before their Russian allies could arrive. On 25 September, after great secrecy and feverish marching, 200,000 French troops began to cross the Rhine on a front of 260 km (160 mi).
It is not known for certain if Napoleon was initiated into Freemasonry. As Emperor, he appointed his brothers to Masonic offices under his jurisdiction: Louis was given the title of Deputy Grand Master in 1805; Jerome the title of Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Westphalia; Joseph was appointed Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France; and finally Lucien was a member of the Grand Orient of France.
Napoleon continued to entertain a grand scheme to establish a French presence in the Middle East in order to put pressure on Britain and Russia, and perhaps form an alliance with the Ottoman Empire. In February 1806, Ottoman Emperor Selim III recognised Napoleon as Emperor. He also opted for an alliance with France, calling France "our sincere and natural ally". That decision brought the Ottoman Empire into a losing war against Russia and Britain. A Franco-Persian alliance was also formed between Napoleon and the Persian Empire of Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar. It collapsed in 1807, when France and Russia themselves formed an unexpected alliance. In the end, Napoleon had made no effective alliances in the Middle East.
After Austerlitz, Napoleon established the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806. A collection of German states intended to serve as a buffer zone between France and Central Europe, the creation of the Confederation spelled the end of the Holy Roman Empire and significantly alarmed the Prussians. The brazen reorganization of German territory by the French risked threatening Prussian influence in the region, if not eliminating it outright. War fever in Berlin rose steadily throughout the summer of 1806. At the insistence of his court, especially his wife Queen Louise, Frederick William III decided to challenge the French domination of Central Europe by going to war.
The initial military manoeuvres began in September 1806. In a letter to Marshal Soult detailing the plan for the campaign, Napoleon described the essential features of Napoleonic warfare and introduced the phrase le bataillon-carré ("square battalion"). In the bataillon-carré system, the various corps of the Grande Armée would march uniformly together in close supporting distance. If any single corps was attacked, the others could quickly spring into action and arrive to help.
Following his triumph, Napoleon imposed the first elements of the Continental System through the Berlin Decree issued in November 1806. The Continental System, which prohibited European nations from trading with Britain, was widely violated throughout his reign. In the next few months, Napoleon marched against the advancing Russian armies through Poland and was involved in the bloody stalemate at the Battle of Eylau in February 1807. After a period of rest and consolidation on both sides, the war restarted in June with an initial struggle at Heilsberg that proved indecisive.
In 1806 an assembly of Jewish notables was gathered by Napoleon to discuss 12 questions broadly dealing with the relations between Jews and Christians, as well as other issues dealing with the Jewish ability to integrate into French society. Later, after the questions were answered in a satisfactory way according to the Emperor, a "great Sanhedrin" was brought together to transform the answers into decisions that would form the basis of the future status of the Jews in France and the rest of the empire Napoleon was building.
In terms of influence on events, it was more than Napoleon's personality that took effect. He reorganized France itself to supply the men and money needed for wars. He inspired his men—the Duke of Wellington said his presence on the battlefield was worth 40,000 soldiers, for he inspired confidence from privates to field marshals. He also unnerved the enemy. At the Battle of Auerstadt in 1806, the forces of King Frederick William III of Prussia outnumbered the French by 63,000 to 27,000; however, when he was told, mistakenly, that Napoleon was in command, he ordered a hasty retreat that turned into a rout. The force of his personality neutralized material difficulties as his soldiers fought with the confidence that with Napoleon in charge they would surely win.
Unhappy with this change of policy by the Portuguese government, Napoleon negotiated a secret treaty with Charles IV of Spain and sent an army to invade Portugal. On 17 October 1807, 24,000 French troops under General Junot crossed the Pyrenees with Spanish cooperation and headed towards Portugal to enforce Napoleon's orders. This attack was the first step in what would eventually become the Peninsular War, a six-year struggle that significantly sapped French strength. Throughout the winter of 1808, French agents became increasingly involved in Spanish internal affairs, attempting to incite discord between members of the Spanish royal family. On 16 February 1808, secret French machinations finally materialized when Napoleon announced that he would intervene to mediate between the rival political factions in the country.
His opponents learned from Napoleon's innovations. The increased importance of artillery after 1807 stemmed from his creation of a highly mobile artillery force, the growth in artillery numbers, and changes in artillery practices. As a result of these factors, Napoleon, rather than relying on infantry to wear away the enemy's defences, now could use massed artillery as a spearhead to pound a break in the enemy's line that was then exploited by supporting infantry and cavalry. McConachy rejects the alternative theory that growing reliance on artillery by the French army beginning in 1807 was an outgrowth of the declining quality of the French infantry and, later, France's inferiority in cavalry numbers. Weapons and other kinds of military technology remained static through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras, but 18th-century operational mobility underwent change.
Before going to Iberia, Napoleon decided to address several lingering issues with the Russians. At the Congress of Erfurt in October 1808, Napoleon hoped to keep Russia on his side during the upcoming struggle in Spain and during any potential conflict against Austria. The two sides reached an agreement, the Erfurt Convention, that called upon Britain to cease its war against France, that recognized the Russian conquest of Finland from Sweden and made it an autonomous Grand Duchy, and that affirmed Russian support for France in a possible war against Austria "to the best of its ability".
Napoleon then returned to France and prepared for war. The Grande Armée, under the Emperor's personal command, rapidly crossed the Ebro River in November 1808 and inflicted a series of crushing defeats against the Spanish forces. After clearing the last Spanish force guarding the capital at Somosierra, Napoleon entered Madrid on 4 December with 80,000 troops. He then unleashed his soldiers against Moore and the British forces. The British were swiftly driven to the coast, and they withdrew from Spain entirely after a last stand at the Battle of Corunna in January 1809.
In 1808, Napoleon and Tsar Alexander met at the Congress of Erfurt to preserve the Russo-French alliance. The leaders had a friendly personal relationship after their first meeting at Tilsit in 1807. By 1811, however, tensions had increased and Alexander was under pressure from the Russian nobility to break off the alliance. A major strain on the relationship between the two nations became the regular violations of the Continental System by the Russians, which led Napoleon to threaten Alexander with serious consequences if he formed an alliance with Britain.
One year after the final meeting of the Sanhedrin, on 17 March 1808, Napoleon placed the Jews on probation. Several new laws restricting the citizenship the Jews had been offered 17 years previously were instituted at that time. However, despite pressure from leaders of a number of Christian communities to refrain from granting Jews emancipation, within one year of the issue of the new restrictions, they were once again lifted in response to the appeal of Jews from all over France.
After four years on the sidelines, Austria sought another war with France to avenge its recent defeats. Austria could not count on Russian support because the latter was at war with Britain, Sweden, and the Ottoman Empire in 1809. Frederick William of Prussia initially promised to help the Austrians, but reneged before conflict began. A report from the Austrian finance minister suggested that the treasury would run out of money by the middle of 1809 if the large army that the Austrians had formed since the Third Coalition remained mobilized. Although Archduke Charles warned that the Austrians were not ready for another showdown with Napoleon, a stance that landed him in the so-called "peace party", he did not want to see the army demobilized either. On 8 February 1809, the advocates for war finally succeeded when the Imperial Government secretly decided on another confrontation against the French.
In the Kingdom of Holland, the British launched the Walcheren Campaign to open up a second front in the war and to relieve the pressure on the Austrians. The British army only landed at Walcheren on 30 July, by which point the Austrians had already been defeated. The Walcheren Campaign was characterized by little fighting but heavy casualties thanks to the popularly dubbed "Walcheren Fever". Over 4000 British troops were lost in a bungled campaign, and the rest withdrew in December 1809. The main strategic result from the campaign became the delayed political settlement between the French and the Austrians. Emperor Francis wanted to wait and see how the British performed in their theatre before entering into negotiations with Napoleon. Once it became apparent that the British were going nowhere, the Austrians agreed to peace talks.
The resulting Treaty of Schönbrunn in October 1809 was the harshest that France had imposed on Austria in recent memory. Metternich and Archduke Charles had the preservation of the Habsburg Empire as their fundamental goal, and to this end they succeeded by making Napoleon seek more modest goals in return for promises of friendship between the two powers. Nevertheless, while most of the hereditary lands remained a part of the Habsburg realm, France received Carinthia, Carniola, and the Adriatic ports, while Galicia was given to the Poles and the Salzburg area of the Tyrol went to the Bavarians. Austria lost over three million subjects, about one-fifth of her total population, as a result of these territorial changes. Although fighting in Iberia continued, the War of the Fifth Coalition would be the last major conflict on the European continent for the next three years.
In 1809, under Napoleon's orders, Pope Pius VII was placed under arrest in Italy, and in 1812 the prisoner Pontiff was transferred to France, being held in the Palace of Fontainebleau. Because the arrest was made in a clandestine manner, some sources describe it as a kidnapping. In January 1813, Napoleon personally forced the Pope to sign a humiliating "Concordat of Fontainebleau" which was later repudiated by the Pontiff. The Pope was not released until 1814, when the Coalition invaded France.
Napoleon turned his focus to domestic affairs after the war. Empress Joséphine had still not given birth to a child from Napoleon, who became worried about the future of his empire following his death. Desperate for a legitimate heir, Napoleon divorced Joséphine on 10 January 1810 and started looking for a new wife. Hoping to cement the recent alliance with Austria through a family connection, Napoleon married the Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, daughter of Francis II, who was 18 years old at the time. On 20 March 1811, Marie Louise gave birth to a baby boy, whom Napoleon made heir apparent and bestowed the title of King of Rome. His son never actually ruled the empire, but given his brief titular rule and cousin Louis-Napoléon's subsequent naming himself Napoléon III, historians often refer to him as Napoleon II.
On 11 March 1810 by proxy, he married the 19-year-old Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, and a great niece of Marie Antoinette. Thus he had married into a German royal and imperial family. Louise was less than happy with the arrangement, at least at first, stating: "Just to see the man would be the worst form of torture". Her great-aunt had been executed in France, while Napoleon had fought numerous campaigns against Austria all throughout his military career. However, she seemed to warm up to him over time. After her wedding, she wrote to her father: "He loves me very much. I respond to his love sincerely. There is something very fetching and very eager about him that is impossible to resist".
In his later years he gained quite a bit of weight and had a complexion considered pale or sallow, something contemporaries took note of. Novelist Paul de Kock, who saw him in 1811 on the balcony of the Tuileries, called Napoleon "yellow, obese, and bloated". A British captain who met him in 1815 stated "I felt very much disappointed, as I believe everyone else did, in his appearance ... He is fat, rather what we call pot-bellied, and although his leg is well shaped, it is rather clumsy ... He is very sallow, with light grey eyes, and rather thin, greasy-looking brown hair, and altogether a very nasty, priestlike-looking fellow."
The vicious guerrilla fighting in Spain, largely absent from the French campaigns in Central Europe, severely disrupted the French lines of supply and communication. Although France maintained roughly 300,000 troops in Iberia during the Peninsular War, the vast majority were tied down to garrison duty and to intelligence operations. The French were never able to concentrate all of their forces effectively, prolonging the war until events elsewhere in Europe finally turned the tide in favour of the Allies. After the invasion of Russia in 1812, the number of French troops in Spain vastly declined as Napoleon needed reinforcements to conserve his strategic position in Europe. By 1814, after scores of battles and sieges throughout Iberia, the Allies had managed to push the French out of the peninsula.
By 1812, advisers to Alexander suggested the possibility of an invasion of the French Empire and the recapture of Poland. On receipt of intelligence reports on Russia's war preparations, Napoleon expanded his Grande Armée to more than 450,000 men. He ignored repeated advice against an invasion of the Russian heartland and prepared for an offensive campaign; on 24 June 1812 the invasion commenced.
The French suffered in the course of a ruinous retreat, including from the harshness of the Russian Winter. The Armée had begun as over 400,000 frontline troops, with fewer than 40,000 crossing the Berezina River in November 1812. The Russians had lost 150,000 soldiers in battle and hundreds of thousands of civilians.
The stock character of Napoleon is a comically short "petty tyrant" and this has become a cliché in popular culture. He is often portrayed wearing a large bicorne hat with a hand-in-waistcoat gesture—a reference to the painting produced in 1812 by Jacques-Louis David. In 1908 Alfred Adler, a psychologist, cited Napoleon to describe an inferiority complex in which short people adopt an over-aggressive behaviour to compensate for lack of height; this inspired the term Napoleon complex.
There was a lull in fighting over the winter of 1812–13 while both the Russians and the French rebuilt their forces; Napoleon was able to field 350,000 troops. Heartened by France's loss in Russia, Prussia joined with Austria, Sweden, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal in a new coalition. Napoleon assumed command in Germany and inflicted a series of defeats on the Coalition culminating in the Battle of Dresden in August 1813.
The Allies offered peace terms in the Frankfurt proposals in November 1813. Napoleon would remain as Emperor of the French, but it would be reduced to its "natural frontiers". That meant that France could retain control of Belgium, Savoy and the Rhineland (the west bank of the Rhine River), while giving up control of all the rest, including all of Spain and the Netherlands, and most of Italy and Germany. Metternich told Napoleon these were the best terms the Allies were likely to offer; after further victories, the terms would be harsher and harsher. Metternich's motivation was to maintain France as a balance against Russian threats, while ending the highly destabilizing series of wars.
Napoleon, expecting to win the war, delayed too long and lost this opportunity; by December the Allies had withdrawn the offer. When his back was to the wall in 1814 he tried to reopen peace negotiations on the basis of accepting the Frankfurt proposals. The Allies now had new, harsher terms that included the retreat of France to its 1791 boundaries, which meant the loss of Belgium. Napoleon would remain Emperor, however he rejected the term. The British wanted Napoleon permanently removed, and they prevailed, but Napoleon adamantly refused.
Napoleon withdrew back into France, his army reduced to 70,000 soldiers and little cavalry; he faced more than three times as many Allied troops. The French were surrounded: British armies pressed from the south, and other Coalition forces positioned to attack from the German states. Napoleon won a series of victories in the Six Days' Campaign, though these were not significant enough to turn the tide. The leaders of Paris surrendered to the Coalition in March 1814. On 1 April, Alexander addressed the Sénat conservateur. Long docile to Napoleon, under Talleyrand's prodding it had turned against him. Alexander told the Sénat that the Allies were fighting against Napoleon, not France, and they were prepared to offer honourable peace terms if Napoleon were removed from power. The next day, the Sénat passed the Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur ("Emperor's Demise Act"), which declared Napoleon deposed.
He was conveyed to the island on HMS Undaunted by Captain Thomas Ussher, and he arrived at Portoferraio on 30 May 1814. In the first few months on Elba he created a small navy and army, developed the iron mines, oversaw the construction of new roads, issued decrees on modern agricultural methods, and overhauled the island's legal and educational system.
Napoleon and Marie Louise remained married until his death, though she did not join him in exile on Elba and thereafter never saw her husband again. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles (1811–1832), known from birth as the King of Rome. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks. He was awarded the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis aged 21, with no children.
Separated from his wife and son, who had returned to Austria, cut off from the allowance guaranteed to him by the Treaty of Fontainebleau, and aware of rumours he was about to be banished to a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, Napoleon escaped from Elba in the brig Inconstant on 26 February 1815 with 700 men. Two days later, he landed on the French mainland at Golfe-Juan and started heading north.
The 5th Regiment was sent to intercept him and made contact just south of Grenoble on 7 March 1815. Napoleon approached the regiment alone, dismounted his horse and, when he was within gunshot range, shouted to the soldiers, "Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish." The soldiers quickly responded with, "Vive L'Empereur!" Ney, who had boasted to the restored Bourbon king, Louis XVIII, that he would bring Napoleon to Paris in an iron cage, affectionately kissed his former emperor and forgot his oath of allegiance to the Bourbon monarch. The two then marched together toward Paris with a growing army. The unpopular Louis XVIII fled to Belgium after realizing that he had little political support. On 13 March, the powers at the Congress of Vienna declared Napoleon an outlaw. Four days later, Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia each pledged to put 150,000 men into the field to end his rule.
Napoleon's forces fought two Coalition armies, commanded by the British Duke of Wellington and the Prussian Prince Blücher, at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815. Wellington's army withstood repeated attacks by the French and drove them from the field while the Prussians arrived in force and broke through Napoleon's right flank.
When Napoleon heard that Prussian troops had orders to capture him dead or alive, he fled to Rochefort, considering an escape to the United States. British ships were blocking every port. Napoleon surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland on HMS Bellerophon on 15 July 1815.
Napoleon was moved to Longwood House on Saint Helena in December 1815; it had fallen into disrepair, and the location was damp, windswept and unhealthy. The Times published articles insinuating the British government was trying to hasten his death. Napoleon often complained of the living conditions in letters to the governor and his custodian, Hudson Lowe, while his attendants complained of "colds, catarrhs, damp floors and poor provisions." Modern scientists have speculated that his later illness may have arisen from arsenic poisoning caused by copper arsenite in the wallpaper at Longwood House.
In February 1821, Napoleon's health began to deteriorate rapidly, and he reconciled with the Catholic Church. He died on 5 May 1821, after confession, Extreme Unction and Viaticum in the presence of Father Ange Vignali. His last words were, France, l'armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine ("France, the army, head of the army, Joséphine").
While Napoleon's mistresses had children by him, Joséphine did not produce an heir, possibly because of either the stresses of her imprisonment during the Reign of Terror or an abortion she may have had in her twenties. Napoleon chose divorce so he could remarry in search of an heir. Despite his divorce from Josephine, Napoleon showed his dedication to her for the rest of his life. When he heard the news of her death while on exile in Elba, he locked himself in his room and would not come out for two full days. Her name would also be his final word on his deathbed in 1821.
In 1840, Louis Philippe I obtained permission from the British to return Napoleon's remains to France. On 15 December 1840, a state funeral was held. The hearse proceeded from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées, across the Place de la Concorde to the Esplanade des Invalides and then to the cupola in St Jérôme's Chapel, where it remained until the tomb designed by Louis Visconti was completed.
In 1861, Napoleon's remains were entombed in a porphyry stone sarcophagus in the crypt under the dome at Les Invalides.
Dieter Langewiesche described the code as a "revolutionary project" which spurred the development of bourgeois society in Germany by the extension of the right to own property and an acceleration towards the end of feudalism. Napoleon reorganized what had been the Holy Roman Empire, made up of more than a thousand entities, into a more streamlined forty-state Confederation of the Rhine; this helped promote the German Confederation and the unification of Germany in 1871.
Napoleon institutionalized plunder of conquered territories: French museums contain art stolen by Napoleon's forces from across Europe. Artefacts were brought to the Musée du Louvre for a grand central museum; his example would later serve as inspiration for more notorious imitators. He was compared to Adolf Hitler by the historian Pieter Geyl in 1947, and Claude Ribbe in 2005. David G. Chandler, a historian of Napoleonic warfare, wrote in 1973 that, "Nothing could be more degrading to the former [Napoleon] and more flattering to the latter [Hitler]. The comparison is odious. On the whole Napoleon was inspired by a noble dream, wholly dissimilar from Hitler's ... Napoleon left great and lasting testimonies to his genius—in codes of law and national identities which survive to the present day. Adolf Hitler left nothing but destruction."
In 1955, the diaries of Napoleon's valet, Louis Marchand, were published. His description of Napoleon in the months before his death led Sten Forshufvud in a 1961 paper in Nature to put forward other causes for his death, including deliberate arsenic poisoning. Arsenic was used as a poison during the era because it was undetectable when administered over a long period. Furthermore, in a 1978 book with Ben Weider, Forshufvud noted that Napoleon's body was found to be well preserved when moved in 1840. Arsenic is a strong preservative, and therefore this supported the poisoning hypothesis. Forshufvud and Weider observed that Napoleon had attempted to quench abnormal thirst by drinking large amounts of orgeat syrup that contained cyanide compounds in the almonds used for flavouring.
There have been modern studies that have supported the original autopsy finding. In a 2008 study, researchers analysed samples of Napoleon's hair from throughout his life, as well as samples from his family and other contemporaries. All samples had high levels of arsenic, approximately 100 times higher than the current average. According to these researchers, Napoleon's body was already heavily contaminated with arsenic as a boy, and the high arsenic concentration in his hair was not caused by intentional poisoning; people were constantly exposed to arsenic from glues and dyes throughout their lives. Studies published in 2007 and 2008 dismissed evidence of arsenic poisoning, and confirmed evidence of peptic ulcer and gastric cancer as the cause of death.
International Napoleonic Congresses take place regularly, with participation by members of the French and American military, French politicians and scholars from different countries. In January 2012, the mayor of Montereau-Fault-Yonne, near Paris—the site of a late victory of Napoleon—proposed development of Napoleon's Bivouac, a commemorative theme park at a projected cost of 200 million euros.
Napoleon's father Carlo Buonaparte was an attorney in Louis XVI's court.
|#2||Louis Bonaparte||Brother||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||67||Leaders|
|#4||Empress Joséphine||Former spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#5||Amélie of Leuchtenberg||Granddaughter||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#7||Napoleon III||Nephew||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||64||World Leader|
|#10||Eugène de Beauharnais||Son||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#13||Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma||Spouse||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||56||Historical Personalities|
Currently, Napoleon Bonaparte is 253 years, 1 months and 14 days old. Napoleon Bonaparte will celebrate 254th birthday on a Tuesday 15th of August 2023. Below we countdown to Napoleon Bonaparte upcoming birthday.
Happy 249th birthday, Napoleon
We are celebrating Napoleon Bonaparte’s 249th birthday by visiting special landmarks around the city.