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Research Subjects: Napoleon Himself

Napoleon Bonaparte: The World’s Greatest

By Jenner Vigil

Napoleon’s Early Life

Napoleon Bonaparte, also known as Emperor of France, or Napoleon the 1st was brought into this world an August 15, 1769. That was the day the world changed! Napoleon was not born of French blood, but only of a minor, insignificant, noble Italian blood. Napoleon started his life in a big house, but with very little money. When Napoleon was 10 year old, he was sent to a military boarding school called Brienne-le-Château. This is where he first found his taste for power. As a young boy he would organize complex strategies in snowball fights. Napoleon was constantly tormented by his classmates for being small, and for having a thick Corsican accent. In the beginning, Napoleon wanted to be a British Naval Commander. So, he enrolled in the naval school and within a month of attending school, he decided he wanted to learn about artillery. He completed his two to three year course in just one year and graduated from school in September, 1785.  Then, Napoleon was given the role of second lieutenant.

Siege of Tulon

Napoleons real first taste of major victory was in the Siege of Tulon. He was given control of all the French artillery troops. He quickly found a hill he could use to dominate the harbor and force the British out of the port. For his actions in battle he was given the rank of Brigadier General. He was also given control of all artillery in Italy .


On October 5, 1795, and for the first time, Napoleon Bonaparte showed the full extent of his military genius. Paris was under attack from the royalists. The streets were filled with ten thousand or more. So, Napoleon positioned heavy artillery on the roofs of the buildings and fired grape shot into the crowd, killing one thousand four hundred royalists. The rest of the mob fled after seeing that. Napoleon had saved Paris!

Invasion of England

On March 9, 1796 Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnias. Two days after his marrige he left Paris to take control of the army of Italy . The army was weak, hungry, tired, and running out of supplies. He led this army for approximately one year and  captured one hundred and fifty thousand soldiers, five hundred and forty cannons and one hundred and seventy standards. He returnded to France and started to form an idea of how to take over England . After two months of planning he decided the Navy was not strong enough to take on the Royal Navy. Napoleon Bonaparte had decided to invade Egypt .

Napoleons Rises to Control of France

The Egypt Campaign

 Napoleon decided to invade Egypt in May, 1798. His goal was to sieze Egypt and destroy Britian’s trade with India . Napoleon brought along a team of one hundred and sixty seven scientists to study and learn about Egyptian history and culture. Napoleon got to Malta on June 9, 1798. The Prussian Naval Base Commander, Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, surrendered a very important naval base to Napoleon. Napoleon only lost three men. Napoleon was pursued by the British Royal Navy. He eluded capture and landed at Alexandria on July 1, 1798. The French launched the Battle of the Pyramids a week after landing but Napoleon’s forces were out numbered three to one. He did end up winning the battle and suffered only a loss of three hundred French troops; but his army had killed six thousand Egyptian troops!

Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson, the Britsh Admiral, launched an attack on Napoleon’s fleet on August 1st, 1799 and destroyed all but two of the French ships. Napoleon’s Navy was ruined. His strength in the Medditerean Sea was gone but his army on land had temporarily increased. In his conquest of the coastal towns, this is one battle that will always be remembered. Napoleon had won and had  captured one thousand four hundred prisoners. These prisoners were executed  either by bayonet or drowning in order to save on bullets. Then even the local men, women and children were killed for next three days.

Napoleon Retreats and Leaves Egypt

The French army had been weakened by disease, (mostly the Bubonic Plauge), so Napoleon ordered a retreat of all of his troops on July 25 1799. He ordered them to have all of the sick and wounded men poisoned and killed so that his army would not be slowed down. On August 24 1799 he left his army in the command of Jean Baptiste Kléber. Napoleon had set sail back to France .

Napoleon First Consul Of France

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès was one of the four people running against Napoleon in the election. Sieye’s was out thought by Napoleon who had written The Constitution of the Year VIII. That document secured Napoleon’s  position as first Consul. Napoleon Bonaparte was now the most powerfull man in France and maybe even Europe!

Napoleon and the Americas

Napoleon and France owned a lot of land in North America\. Napoleon’s army was also in need of money, so, he sold the land in North America for three cents an acre. He had made a little over sixteen million dollars from this sale. This was the cheapest land sale of all time. Napoleon chose to sell this land because he realized his land in the America ’s could not be defended well. He also lost Haitian land because of revolts.

Europe’s one and a half year peace

Napoleon had prepared to invade England , but both countries were tired from war and decided to sign a peace treaty called Treaty of Amiens in August, 1801. It lasted until late March in 1803. The British failed to remove its troopes from specified areas, so Napoleon declared war on England . He set his troops back up at the invason camp.

Napoleon’s Reforms -  Napoleonic Code

Napoleon was one of the greatest military minds ever and he was also a superior leader. Napoleon created a tax system, sewer systems, a central banking system, and even created a system of higher education. Napoleon also drafted the Napoleonic Code. This was a code of basic civil laws, much like our constitution in the United States . The next thing that  Napoleon had done was to declare himself First Consul of France- for life!

The Napoleonic French Empire

The Emperor is Crowned

After discovering an assassination attempt on his life, Napoleon Bonaparte had the Duke of Enghien executed; even though the Duke had nothing to do with this assaination plot. After this happened, Napoleon wanted to show his control to its full extent. So, on December 2, 1804 at Norte Dame Chapel in Paris he decided to name himself Emperor Napoleon the First. If that was not enough, he took the crown away form Pope Pius the VII and crowned himself and his wife. He also crowned himself King of Italy on May 26, 1805. To help support his empire he made eighteen marshals. It was official a cross all of Europe- there was a new world power- Napoleon Bonaparte the First.

The Third Coalition Verus Napoleon

The Third Coalition consisted of three countries: England , Russia and Austria . The British had Napoleon’s Navy cornered and Napoleon knew he could not take on the Royal Navy; but, he could trick them, so he could escape. Napoleon made the British believe he was going to attack the West Indies so that he was able to have his allies in Spain put out a blockade which made it possible for his fleet to escape. Once they escaped he marched his armies into Germany and surrounded the Austrian army. Napoleon took thirty thousand prisoners.

He also saw an advantage at the nattle of Ulm, a flaw. This is when Napoleon put his separation tactics to use.  The Austrian army was spaced  throughout a long distance of land, and so Napoleon  began to divide up his armies into five smaller armies.  This new tactic helped Napoleon and his forces to absolutely win each and every battle that he encountered. Another flaw of the Third Coalition was that Russia was still using the old type of calendar and they were also 250 miles away from the Austrians when Napoloen attacked. Six weeks later Napoleon defeated the combined forces of Austria and Russia using his seperation method.  Napoleon destroyed their forces and the Third Coalition was now forced into signing the peace treaties with Napoleon Bonaparte!

The Fourth Coaliton and Peninsular War

The Fourth Coalition was made the year after the Third Coalation’s miserable failure. This Coalition was made of  Prussians, Russians, and England . The only two coaltions that fought Napoleon were the Polish and Russians. Then, Napoleon and his Grand Army defeated the Prussians at the battle of Jena-Auerstedt. Next, Napoleon’s army forced the Russian army back through Poland . While forcing the Russian army out of Poland , Napoleon also gain power over the minor states of Germany . Now, not only did Napoleon control Germany , but he chose to put one of his six brothers on one of the German thrones.

The Peninsular war was a war against the Portuguese and Spain . Portugal did not comply with Napoleon’s Continental System. This system was developed to try to make the British surrender to Napoleon by not allowing them to trade with the mainland of Europe. Napoleon decided to take this chance to invade Spain also. Napoleon succeeded and then he declared his brother ruler of Spain . The Spanish troops and people did not like this sudden take over! They revolted and the French army was forced to retreat. When Napoleon heard this news he personally came to Spain and once again he led the French troops to victory.  Napoleon now decided to leave his troops in the command of his Generals. He left his generals to command three hundred thousand of his finest troops. This war finally ended when Napoleon was exiled in 1814.

The Fifth Coalition

The Fifth coalition consisted of the Austrians and the British. This war started because Austria in April 1809, declared they were no longer in alliance with Napoleon. In the beginning of that war Napoleon’s forces lost, but the Austrians did not advance- instead they let his forces regroup. Napoleon defeated them by late July.

Napoleon and Pope Pius VII

Pope Pius had angered Napoleon by not coming to his marriage, so Napoleon lashed out at the Pope. The Pope in turn had Napoleon excommunicated. Next, Napoleon’s men kidnapped the Pope; however, this was not done under Napoleons orders!  Yet, Napoleon saw no valid reason to let the Pope go- either.

The Russian Campaign

This campaign is known as one of the worst mistakes in history. The war started in 1812. Napoleon had gathered over five hundred and fifty thousand men to invade Poland and then Russia . Next, he fought a few small battles with the Russians and won those too. The Russians realized that they could not win so they used a defense method called Scorched Earth. This method is when an army burns or destroys all useable food, tools and shelter. Napoleon lost over four hundred and seventy thousand men. Napoleon finally retreated with eighty thousand of his men. Napoleon for the first time in his military career had suffered a major loss.

The Final Coalition VI

This coalition consisted of Russia , Prussia , Austria , Sweden , Russia , the British, Spain , and Portugal . Napoelon assumed command of his army in Germany where he defeated the Coalition in two days of battle resulting in thirty-five thousand Coalition losses but less than ten thousand French losses. Over the next several months, Napoleon’s army was pared down and he lost ninety thousand men.  After the battle of Leipzig, Napoleon barely had seventy thousand men that were able to fight. Napoleon decided it was time to march back to Paris. Napoleon had discovered that his marshals had betrayed him and so he left his army and returned to Paris.  Five days later Napoleon unconditionally surrendered to the allies and was now exiled to Elba an island twenty kilometers off the Italian coast.

Napoleons Last Hundred Days As Emperor

Napoleon had been banished to the remote small island of > Elba. He had heard a rumor he was going to be sent to an even more remote island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was now that Napoleon planned a daring escape for himself and his thousand men. He landed on French ground February 26, 1815. He was intercepted March 7, 1815. He walked out in front of his troops with no weapons and said “Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish." The troops responded by saying “Vive L'Empereur!" Napoleon took control of Paris in a matter of weeks. The royal family had fled after hearing about this. Russia , Austria and Prussia brought three hundred and fifty thousand men to try to stop Napoleon. In one hundred days Napoelon had collected two hundred thousand men and decided it was time to go attack. Napoleon attacked the Prussian forces first. He won the battle and thinking the Prussians were done, left them behind his army. This was the first time that Napoleon had allowed his Generals to decide his military tactics for him.  This was an enormous mistake. Two days later Napoleon attacked the British forces and he was winning until he had heard the Prussians had re-grouped and had moved behind his army. Napoleon knew it was over!  He made one last attempt to win by summoning his elite guard to try to finish the battle. The elite guard failed; Napoleon ordered a retreat.

The Second Exile and the Death of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte’s second exile was on the island of Saint Helena. Saint Helena’s was in the south Atlantic and two thousand kilometers from any major land mass. Napoleon was trapped there. He was not even allowed to be called Emperor- except by his staff. He was not allowed to receive packages unless they did not have the words Emperor on them.

The worlds greatest military genuis and conqueror of Europe died on May 5, 1821. Napoleons last words were “ France , armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine”. This translates to France, Army, Head of the Army, Joséphine. These words will be forever scarred across the rugged face of the earth and his current wife. His wife died later that day. The cause of death was poisoning. Napoleon Bonapartes life ended almost fifty two from his beginning breath. The first Emperor of France was gone. Napoleon Bonaparte was dead! A man thought to be a god among humans was now gone. Napoleon certainly led an amazing life!  Napoleon changed the world in less than a decade of ruling most of Europe. His cause of death was stomach cancer, just like his father. This was the end of the Napoleon Bonaparte era even though his spirit dwells within all young soldiers.


Books: Napoleon a Biography by Frank Mclynn


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