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Napoleon Bonaparte Biography

Biography | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

Who was Napoleon?

Napoleon was a great military leader and the emperor of France. He was born on August 15, 1769 at Ajaccio, Corsica. His father was Carlo Buonaparte was a lawyer at the court of the French King. Since Napoleon came from a wealthy family, he was able to go to the best of the schools and get a good education. He went to a military academy in France and became an officer in the army. After his father’s demise, Napoleon returned to Corsica to help in handling the family’s affairs. While in Corsica, Napoleon joined hands with a local revolutionary – Pasquale Paoli and helped him in fighting against the French. Soon after, he changed sides and returned to France. Napoleon married his first wife, Josephine, in 1796 but divorced her in 1810 to marry Marie-Louise of Austria.

How did Napoleon become the ruler of France?

At age 26, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians. With his amazing leadership and warfare skills, he won over the Italian Peninsula and became a national hero. In 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt which was extremely successful. In 1799, the ruling government in France called the Directory, started to lose its control over the country. Together with his supporters, in 1804, Napoleon formed a new government called the Consulate and gave himself the title of First Consul.

How was Napoleon as a ruler?

As the Consul of France, Napoleon established a number of government reforms. One of these reforms was the famous Napoleonic Code which stated that government positions would not be appointed based on a person’s birth or religion, but on their qualifications and ability. Before the French Revolution and the implementation of the Napoleonic Code, all high positions were bagged by those from the royal families or to those whom the kings favoured. Napoleon gave a boost to the French economy by building new roads and promoting business. He re-established Christianity as the official state religion, but at the same time allowed for freedom of religion to his citizens. Napoleon also set up non-religious schools, so children could get education. Napoleon’s power and control continued to grow with his reforms. In 1804, he crowned himself the Emperor of France.

Napoleon’s military timeline

Napoleon defeated the Austrian and Russian armies at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805.

  • 1811 – France controlled most of Europe.
  • 1812 – Napoleon decided to invade Russia.
  • 1813 – Most of Europe had turned against France. Prussia and Spain declare war on France.
  • 1814 – Napoleon was forced into exile on the island of Elba.
  • 1815 – Napoleon escaped from Elba and gathered his army and took control of Paris for a period also known as the Hundred Days.
  • 1815 – In June, the armies of English and Prussia, led by Wellington and Blucher defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. This time Napoleon was once again forced into exile on the island of Saint Helena.

When did Napoleon Bonaparte died?

  • Napoleon died on May 5, 1821

5 Interesting facts about Napoleon Bonaparte

  1. Napoleon’s nickname was Little Corporal.
  2. Napoleon is famous for being fairly short, probably 5 feet 6 inches tall.
  3. His birth name was Napoleone di Buonaparte.
  4. He wrote a romance novel called Clisson et Eugenie.
  5. In 1804, he was crowned the Emperor France. At the coronation, he did not allow the Pope to place the crown on his head, but instead crowned himself.

5 Famous Quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte

  1. A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon
  2. If you want a thing done well, do it yourself
  3. Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily
  4. Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake
  5. A leader is a dealer in hope.
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