Napoleon Bonaparte (Ajaccio, Corsica, France, 15 August 1769 – St. Helena Island, United Kingdom, 05 May 1821) military and politician of French origin, considered one of the most important leaders in the world.
He is remembered for being the first Emperor of France, as well as for the important reforms carried out within the French army, the legal system and Education. He was also the one who returned the Catholic Church to supremacy over French territory.
Napoleon was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, island of The French territory, on 15 August 1769, being one of four sons of the marriage between the lawyer Carlo Buonaparte and Litizia Ramolino. His family was of noble origin, yet they had no wealth.
He studied at the Colegio d’Autun in France. In 1785, he graduated from the French military academy. That year, his father died of stomach cancer, so Napoleon had to return to Corsica.
In 1793, at the outbreak of the Corsica Civil War, he moved with his family to France, adopting the French form Bonaparte for his surname and rejoining the French Army.
He also allied himself politically with the Jacobins, establishing close bonds of friendship with Agustín Robespiere, brother of Maximilien de Robespiere, chief promoter of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. In 1794, the Jacobins lost power.
The Robespiere brothers were guillotined, while Napoleon was sentenced to house arrest for his ties to them.
In 1795, power was assumed by a five-person board, known as the Board of Directors. Napoleon didn´t take long to establish political relations with the group. That same year, he saved the new government from a monarchical rebellion, gaining the position of Commander of the Interior Army.
A year later, he obtained the commander-in-chief of the Army. Before long, he managed to get his troops, made up of 30,000 men, to become under his command a victorious army that allowed France to expand its dominance. In 1796, enjoying great fame, he married in a civil ceremony a widow six years his senior, named Josefina de Beauharnais.
In 1798, he led his army to the Middle East, in order to undermine the trade routes that Britain was holding with India. Napoleon decided to invade Egypt. In July 1798, Napoleonic troops succeeded in defeating the Mamluks during the Battle of the Pyramids. However, the following month, they were defeated by the English at the Battle of the Nile.
In 1799, Napoleon decided to march against Syria, however his army failed. In the face of the political uncertainty in France, following the coup d’état of the Jacobins in June 1799, Napoleon abandoned his troops and returned to France.
His campaign in the Middle East proved by less than disastrous, bringing as its origin a coalition against France, made up of Britain, Austria, Turkey and Russia. That same year, France lost much of its territory to Italy.
Napoleonic Consulate and Government
Already on French territory, Napoleon established alliances with Emmanuel Sieys and Pierre-Roger Ducos, in order to forge a new coup d’état. In November 1799, Napoleon was proclaimed as the new Consul of France.
In 1800, a new Constitution was established and all positions were removed, which were renewed by Napoleon himself, who personally elected his ministers, generals, magistrates and other officials.
He also developed major reforms. He instituted the Napoleonic Code, proclaimed freedom of religion, but restored Catholicism as a religion of the French state, decreed meritocracy for government office, and negotiated international peace. In 1802 he was proclaimed Consul for life and in 1804, Emperor of France.
However, the peace achieved was broken in 1803, when France went to war again with Britain, Russia and Austria. In 1805, his troops were defeated by the English in Trafalgar. Napoleon dismissed his plans to invade England and marched on Austria and Russia.
After several important victories, Napoleon managed to considerably extend the French territory, placing in Holland, Naples, Westphalia, Sweden, Italy and Spain, where he installed as rulers his family and friends.
In 1810, he annulled his marriage to Josephine, who had not been able to give him children. And he married the young Marie-Louise, daughter of the Emperor of Austria, with whom on 20 March 1811, he had a son whom was baptized Napoleon II.
However, from 1810, his troops began to live a series of defeats, due to a decrease in the French military budget. In 1812, France attempted to invade Russia, failing in a terrible defeat that reduced its troops from 600,000 soldiers to just 100 thousand. This defeat brought the spirits back to its enemies.
An attempted coup took place in France. England began to seize French territories. Without economic resources and with his territory besieged, Napoleon surrendered on March 30, 1814, exiled on the island of Elba.
Take back from power and exile in St. Helena
In 1815, he escaped from Elba and triumphantly entered a France where there was no leadership. Napoleon took power and marched against Belgium, defeating the Prussians on 16 June. However, on 18 June 1815, he was defeated by the English at Waterloo.
Four days later, on June 22, he relinquished power. Britain sent him into exile on a distant island of St. Helena. After several years of stomach illness, on 5 May 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte died.
His remains were buried on the island, despite his desire to rest in France. In 1840, they were finally repatriated on French territory, where they rested at Les Invalides in Paris.
Image source: biography.com
July 28, 2019