QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2004-10 > 1097856706
Subject: Excerpt Of History
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 12:11:46 EDT
Napoleon I of France
Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 — 5 May 1821) was a general and
politician of France. He was the effective ruler of France (as First Consul) starting
in 1799, declared himself Emperor Napoléon on May 18, 1804 and continued as
Emperor until April 6, 1814; he is also known as Napoléon I or Napoléon le
Grand ("the great"). Napoléon, over the course of little more than a decade,
acquired control of most or all of the western and central mainland of Europe by
conquest or alliance until his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, followed
shortly by capture and exile.
Napoléon appointed many members of the Bonaparte family as monarchs, but
generally speaking, they did not survive his downfall. Napoléon was one of the
Early life and military career
He was born Napoleone Buonaparte in the city of Ajaccio on Corsica one year
after Corsica had been sold to France by the Republic of Genoa. He later
adopted the more French-sounding Napoléon Bonaparte, the first known instance of
which appears in an official report dated March 28, 1796.
His family was of minor Corsican nobility. His father, Carlo Buonaparte, an
Italian-born attorney, was named Corsica's representative to the court of
Louis XVI in 1778, where he remained for a number of years. Biographers agree
that the dominant influence of Napoléon's life was his mother, Laetitia. Ahead
of her time, she had her 8 children bathe every other day -- at a time when
even those in the upper classes took a bath perhaps once a month.
Carlo arranged for Napoléon's education in France. He entered a military
school at Brienne-le-Château, a small town near Troyes, on May 15, 1779.
Napoléon considered himself an outsider, not learning French until age 10;
accusations of being a foreigner would dog him throughout his life, especially since
he spoke French with an Italian accent. Due to Carlo's influence, Napoléon was
admitted into the elite École Militaire in Paris, from which he graduated on
October 28, 1784, receiving his commission as a 2nd lieutenant of artillery
in January 1785, at the age of 16. He then attended the royal artillery school
at Auxonne near Dole.
When the French Revolution began in 1789, Napoléon returned to Corsica, where
a nationalist struggle sought separation from France. Civil war broke out,
and Napoléon's family fled to France. Napoléon supported the Revolution and
quickly rose through the ranks. In 1793, he helped free Toulon from the
royalists and from the British troops supporting them. In 1795, when royalists
marched against the National Convention in Paris, he had them shot.
Nicknamed The Little Corporal after forces under his command forced the
Austrian army to retreat at the Battle of Lodi in 1796, Napoléon was a brilliant
military strategist, able to absorb the substantial body of military
knowledge of his time and to apply it to the real-world circumstances of his era. An
artillery officer by training, he used artillery innovatively as a mobile
force to support infantry attacks. When appointed commander-in-chief of the
ill-equipped French army in Italy, he managed to defeat Austrian forces
repeatedly. In these battles, contemporary paintings of his headquarters show that he
used the world's first telecommunications system, the Chappe semaphore line,
first implemented in 1792. Austrian forces, led by Archduke Charles, had to
negotiate an unfavorable treaty; at the same time, Napoléon organized a coup
in 1797 which removed several royalists from power in Paris.