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Napoleon I

Napoleon I Napoleon I Napoleon was born August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica. This small, yet gallant figure was initially a fiercely independent Corsican, not a Frenchman as most would believe him to be. His areas of achievement were government, politics, and military. He was a strong leader during the French Revolution. He was very eager and determined to fight battles and win them.

Sometimes, he was extremely stubborn. One of his most prestigious actions was when Napoleon crowned himself not the pope. Napoleon was the second of eight children of Charles Bonaparte and Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte, both of the Corsican-Italian gentry. Not one member of the family was a professional soldier. Napoleon was always a little boy and man.

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When he was young, he often had little play fights with the other Corsican boys and he would often lead his troops to victory. Napoleon was educated at Brienne and the Ecole Militaire, (French for military school) in Paris. Napoleon graduated in 1785, at the age of sixteen. Then he joined the artillery as a 2nd lieutenant. His initial goal was to help Corsica, not France.

In 1796, Napoleon was made commander of the French army in Italy. He defeated four Austrian generals and forced Austria and its allies to make peace. During his tenure in northern Italy, he founded the Cisalpine Republic and strengthened his position in France by sending millions of francs worth of treasure to the government. It was a morale boost to a nation cast in anarchy. Napoleon led an expedition to Egypt, ruled by the Turks, to cripple at British trade with the East.

Despite his success in the Middle East, British Admiral Horatio Nelson destroyed his fleet, which left he and his army stranded. Napoleon took the chance to enhance his political skills by reforming the Egyptian government, abolishing serfdom, and feudalism. He also guaranteed basic rights for the citizens. Culturally, Napoleon brought French scholars to study ancient Egypts history. These scholars helped decipher the famous Rosetta stone. Hence, the Egyptian hieroglyphics were fully translated. Although Bonaparte failed to defeat Syria in 1799, he won a crucial battle over the Turks at Abu Qir. However, France faced a major domestic problem. Austria, Russia, and lesser powers allied with Britain against France. These monarchies feared that the revolution in France would spread and incite the people of their nations.

Their power was declining steadily and the only way to stop it would be to restore the French monarchy. Napoleon joined a conspiracy against the weak government in Paris. He and his colleagues seized power and established and new regime. The constitution was edited in 1802 to make Napoleon consul for life an in 1804 to create him emperor. In 1800, he assured his power by crossing the Alps and defeating the Austrians at Marengo.

He then negotiated for peace in Europe that established the Rhine River as the eastern border of France. Napoleon also concluded an agreement with the pope that ended the argument with the Roman-Catholic Church. In France, the administration was reorganized, the court system was simplified, and all schools were put under centralized control. Frances law was standardized in the Code Napoleon and six other codes. They guarantee rights won in the Revolution.

Great Britain was prepared to take the war to Napoleon. In 1803, Britain attacked France on the two seas. Two years later, Russia and Austria joined the British. Napoleon then had turned his plans against the Austro-Russian forces defeating them at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1806, he seized Naples and made his older brother, Joseph, king, converted the Dutch-Republic into puppet nation for his brother, Louis, and created the Confederation. Prussia and Russia allied and attacked the Confederation. Napoleon destroyed the Prussian army at Jena and Auerstadt and dealt the Russia army a blow at the Battle of Friedland.

In 1807, Napoleon made an ally of Czar Alexander I and greatly reduced the size of Prussia. He also added new states to the empire. Napoleon had also established the Continental System that was a French-imposed blockade of Europe against British goods. Napoleon had accomplished what had not been done since the Roman empire took control over most of Europe. Napoleon then seized Portugal.

In 1808, he made his brother Joseph king of Spain, gave Naples to his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat. Josephs arrival to Spain also got them into a war called the Peninsular War. Napoleon appeared briefly and got victories. After his departure, the fighting continued for five years. The war costed France 300,000 casualties and untold sums of money and also contributed to the eventual weakening of Napoleons empire. What cost the French on the Iberian peninsula was the crucial sea Battle of Traflagar.

In that battle, the Napoleons numerically superior force of French and Spanish ships took on the famous British navy. Led by Horatio Nelson, Napoleons armada was dealt a major defeat. From there, the British helped spurt guerilla raids in Portugal and Spain to topple the French control. Napoleon showed his dominance over the land. In 1809, the Little Corporal beat the Austrians once again at Wagram.

He also added the Illyrian Provinces, and destroyed the Papal States. Showing his dominance, he divorced with his wife Josephine and married Marie Louise, the Habsburg archduchess. Many things changed while Napoleon was ruling. Feudalism and serfdom were gone. Freedom of religion was intact except for Spain.

Each was granted a constitution, providing for universal male suffrage and parliament and a bill of rights. French administrative and judicial systems were required. Schools were put under centralized administration. Free public schools were envisioned. Higher education was available whod qualify, regardless of the religion or class. Each state had an academy for arts and sciences. Incomes were provided for eminent scholars.

He did more for the people then the monarchy ever did. Napoleon was thirsty for more conquest. He was tempted by the pesky British to invade the United Kingdom, but the presence of the Royal Navy made him alter his plans. He could only do one thing- fight on land, and the nation that stood in his way was Russia, the European icebox. In 1812, Napoleons alliance with Alexander ended. He launched an invasion of Russia that ended in a very disastrous retreat from Moscow.

He started his invasion with half a million troops. They marched to the capital Moscow, but the Russians played guerilla tactics with his troops and utilized hit-and-run tactics. They burnt all farms and houses so the French would gain no supplies off the land. The French eventually succumbed to the Russian winter. Thousands died, and by the time Napoleon returned to France, he had only a small, demoralizing portion of his army left. Europe, seeing Napoleons demise in Russia, united against him.

He fought on, but it was impossible to win. This was the beginning of his downfall. In 1814, his marshall refused to go on. Napoleon abdicated and was exiled to the island of Elba. Marie Louise and his son were put under custody. Napoleon never saw them again. Napoleon then made a dramatic comeback.

In 1815, he escaped from Elba and reached France, winning over the troops sent to capture him. Napoleon asked for peace of the allies, but they outlawed him and he decided to strike first. The result was a campaign into Belgium, which ended in a defeat at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. He signed a second adication on June 22 and on June 28 Louis XVIII was restored to the throne of France. In Paris, crowds begged him to fight on, but the politicians withdrew their support.

Napoleon fled to Rochefort, where he surrendered to the captain of the British battleship Bellerophon. He was exiled to St. Helena. He remained until his death from stomach cancer on May 5, 1821. European History Essays.


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