Napoleon Bonaparte I
- Category : Politics-Heads-of-state
- Type : PSE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Revolution 2
French general and emperor, a giant figure in European history and a world cultural icon synonymous with military genius and political power. One of the greatest military strategists in history, he dominated European affairs for almost two decades while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won the large majority of his battles and seized control of most of continental Europe before his ultimate defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Well-educated and an avid reader, Napoleon Bonaparte instituted lasting reforms including higher education, a tax code, road and sewer systems, and the establishment of the Banque de France (central bank).
The fourth of thirteen children from an aristocratic Corsican family, Napoleon was teased at school by the French, and discovered at an early age the pleasures of independent military command. He entered military school at the age of ten, in 1779, earning a commission by the time he was 16.
Fighting in the revolution, by 1793 he commanded the artillery at the siege of Toulon and was promoted to brigadier general at age 24, making a friend of Robespierre. He became a striking military strategist, never retreating or blaming his losses on others. Though his tactics were brilliant, he eventually lost the war. Intending to break British trade by conquering Egypt, he captured Malta in 1798 and entered Cairo, defeating the Mamluks, Egypt's ruling military caste, at the Battle of the Pyramids, on 21 July. On 1 August 1798, the French fleet was all but destroyed in the Battle of the Nile, and Napoleon returned to France in 1799.
In Paris, he overthrew the government by a coup d'état staged on 9 November 1799 ("the 18th Brumaire" according to the revolutionary calendar), and closed down the council of five hundred. He promoted the Code Napoleon, educational reforms and made himself "first consul" for ten years, later crowned by Pope Pius VII as Napoleon I, Emperor of France on 2 December 1804 and crowning himself King of Italy on 26 May 1895. Practicing nepotism, he made each of his brothers and sisters a monarch in various countries. Between his battles and peace concords, he managed to gather vast areas under his rule invading Austria and Russia 1805-1807. He ordered a boycott of British goods and sent armies to Portugal and Spain, ending in war 1808-1814.
On 17 May 1809 the Papal States were incorporated with France and on 10 June 1809 Pope Pius VII excommunicated Napoleon. Making the mistake of invading Russia and unprepared for the harsh winter, he had to retreat from Moscow, losing men and materiel in 1813. Forced to abdicate on 4 April 1814, he was given the sovereignty of Elba, but he returned to France on 28 February 1815. The 5th Regiment flocked to him, and he entered Paris on 20 March 1815, holding the city for the period known as The Hundred Days. After the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815 he once again abdicated, on 22 June 1815, and was exiled to St. Helena in the south Atlantic.
The first man to promote his image, Napoleon had china, pots, hammers, spades, fire pokers and candle holders produced with his likeness on them. A 15-foot nude statute of him was banished to the cellars of the Louvre and after his defeat it was carried off by the Duke of Wellington in 1815. At 1.68 metres, Napoleon was of average height for his time. He surrounded himself with tall bodyguards and had a nickname of 'le petit caporal' - an affectionate term reflecting his camaraderie with his soldiers rather than his physical stature.
Napoleon married Josephine, widow of the Vicomte de Beauhamais, on 9 March 1796 and they left for a military campaign in Italy. Returning to Paris, she contributed considerably to the establishment of her husband's power; however, the marriage being childless was dissolved in 1809 with her retaining the title of Empress. He married his second wife, Marie Louise, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, on 1 April 1810. On 20 March 1811, she bore him a son, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles (known from birth as the King of Rome and as Napoleon II in 1814). On Napoleon's abdication she returned to Austria. Napoleon acknowledged one illegitimate son: Charles Léon (1806–1881) by Eléonore Denuelle de La Plaigne. He may have had further unacknowledged illegitimate offspring like Count Alexandre Joseph Colonna-Walewski (1810–1868) by Countess Marie Walewska.
Napoleon died of stomach cancer in exile at Longwood House, St. Helena on 5 May 1821 and during an autopsy his heart was removed. He is buried in Paris. Some call him an ogre, some a hero, his legends are many and there have been thousands of books published about him. More plays and films have been produced about Napoleon than any other figure in history except Jesus.