- NAME: Napoleon
- OCCUPATION: Military Leader, Political Leader, Emperor
- BIRTH DATE: August 15, 1769
- DEATH DATE: May 05, 1821
- EDUCATION: College d'Autun, Military College of Brienne, Military Academy in Paris
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Ajaccio, Corsica, France
- PLACE OF DEATH: St. Helena (island in the South Atlantic Ocean), United Kingdom
- AKA: Napoleone Buonaparte
- Full Name: Napoleon Bonaparte
- AKA: Napoleon
- AKA: Napoleon I
Best Known For
Napoleon Bonaparte was a military general who became the first emperor of France. His drive for military expansion changed the world.
Napoleon - Mini Biography (3:35)
Napoleon - The Fall (3:50)
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769 in France. He revolutionized military organization and training, sponsored Napoleonic Code, reorganized education and established the long-lived Concordat with the papacy. He died in 1821 in St. Helena.
Napoleon would become the most powerful man in the world, but he couldn't control his calculating high society wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais.
Used to being right in almost all his political maneuvers, Napoleon's unraveling was his dogged determination to ruin Great Britain's economy through his Continental System/Blockade policy.
Growing up as an underdog from Corsica, Napoleon started showing signs of great military and intellectual promise when he attended military school in France.
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After falling out of favor with Robespierre, he came into the good graces of the Directory in 1795 after he saved the government from counter-revolutionary forces. For his efforts, Napoleon was soon named commander of the Army of the Interior. In addition he was a trusted advisor to the Directory on military matters.
In 1796, Napoleon took the helm of the Army of Italy, a post he'd been coveting. The army, just 30,000 strong, disgruntled and underfed,
was soon turned around by the young military commander. Under his direction the rebuilt army won numerous crucial victories against the Austrians, greatly expanded the French empire and helped make Napoleon the military's brightest star.
His national profile was enhanced by his marriage to Joséphine de Beauharnais, widow of General Alexandre de Beauharnais (guillotined during the Reign of Terror) and the mother of two children. The two were married in a civil ceremony on March 9, 1796.
After squashing an internal threat by the royalists, who wished to return France to a monarchy, Napoleon was on the move again, this time to the Middle East to undermine Great Britain's empire by occupying Egypt and disrupting English trade routes to India.
But his military campaign proved disastrous. On August 1, 1798, Admiral Horatio Nelson's fleet decimated his forces in the Battle of the Nile. Napoleon's image was greatly harmed by the loss, and in a show of newfound confidence against the commander, Britain, Austria, Russia and Turkey formed a new coalition against France. In the spring of 1799, French armies were defeated in Italy, forcing France to give up much of the peninsula.
Inside France itself, unrest continued to ensue, and in June of 1799 a coup resulted in the Jacobins taking control of the Directory. In October, Napoleon returned to France. Working with one of the new directors, Emmanuel Sieyes, he hatched plans for a second coup that would place the two men, and another, Pierre-Roger Ducos, atop a new government, called the Consulate.
Napoleon's great political skills soon led to a new constitution that created the position of first consul, which amounted to nothing less than a dictatorship. Under the new guidelines the first consul was permitted to appoint ministers, generals, civil servants, magistrates and even members of the legislative assemblies. Napoleon would of course be the one who would fulfill the first consul's duties, and in February 1800 the new constitution was easily accepted.
Under his direction Napoleon turned his reforms to other areas of the country, including its economy, legal system and education, and even the Church, as he reinstated Roman Catholicism as the state religion. He also instituted the Napoleonic Code, which forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion and stated that government jobs must be given to the most qualified. Internationally, he negotiated a European peace.
Napoleon's reforms proved popular. In 1802 he was elected consul for life, and two years later he was proclaimed emperor of France.
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Napoleon did not care for Josephine's given name, Rose, so he renamed her Josephine, which she kept for the rest of her life. He proposed in January 1796 and sent her intensely romantic love letters from numerous posts around the world with the French army. Despite rumors of her infidelity and his jealous temperament, Napoleon and Josephine were crowned Emperor and Empress of the French in 1804. The couple divorced in 1810 after her infertility was confirmed, freeing Napoleon to take a wife who could provide an heir. The couple remained on good terms, with Napoleon once saying that the only thing to come between them was her debts.
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An unsolved crime never fails to fascinate us, especially when it involves the death of a celebrity. Over the years many famous individuals, from movie stars to politicians to rockers, have died in mysterious circumstances. Conspiracy theories and accusations of foul play abound, but we may never know fact from fiction. Here's a look at some of the most famous mysterious deaths.
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