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The Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte

.. ns, and the Directory was unpopular. Seeing no future and certain defeat, Napoleon did not hesitate to abandon his army and return to Pairs. He left his army in the hands of General Jean Kleber. Napoleon sailed home along with three other ships, and on October 16, 1799 he arrived in Paris. Napoleon then participated in the coup d’etat that ultimately led to his virtual dictatorship of France.

Barley thirty years old, he became First Consul of France. As First Consul, Napoleon directly controlled the entire executive authority of the government. Napoleon had overwhelming influence over the legislature. He appointed members of the bureaucrach, controlled the army, and conducted foreign affairs. In may 1800 Napoleon invaded Italy.

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He crossed the path known as “Great Saint Bernard” , and occupied Milan. The Austrians had guarded every Pass in to Italy but this one. It was said to be impossible far an arm to cross this pass, but Napoleon proved this theory wrong. On June 14 the Austrians attacked him in the plains of Marengo where he only had a portion of his army. At four in the afternoon the French had seemed to have been beaten, but Napoleon remained perfectly calm.

Then his reinforcements came, and he lead a final charge to win the Battle of Marengo. Napoleon then reorganized almost everything- roads, factories, harbors- that had been destroyed by the Revolution. He now controlled every part of the French life. He invited the Nobles back who had fled abroad. He wrote laws that are still in use today.

He reorganized the treasury department, forming the Bank of France, and regulating taxation. He also setup an education system with secondary and technical schools. A Council of State was set up to give him advise, and help him write laws. France became one of the first efficiently organized modern states. In 1801, Napoleon made an agreement with the pope that made Catholicism the state religion, but all religions were tolerated.

“My policy is to govern men as the greatest number wish to be governed,” said Napoleon. “I established myself in Egypt by becoming a Mussulman; I won over the priests in Italy by becoming ultramontane (a supporter of the authority of the Pope). If I governed the Jews I should have reestablished the temple of Solomon.” (pg.8 Britannica Junior Encyclopedia #11 N-O). In 1802, Napoleon was made First Council for life. Two years later, Napoleon not content with being First Council, crowned him self Emperor of France. At this time France was no longer a republic. Napoleon invited the Pope Pius VII to crown him Emperor, but when it came time to be crowned Napoleon took the crown from the Pope and placed it upon is own head. Meanwhile in 1812 war had broken out with England once again.

Napoleon organized a huge army at Boulogne for the invasion of England. When Russia and Austria joined England Napoleon decided not to invade England. Instead he marched his army in to Germany. They surrounded the Austrian army at Ulm, and forced them to surrender. Two days later Admiral Nelson, the same man to defeat the French navy in Egypt, once again destroyed the French navy at the battle of Trafalgar.

This forever ended Napoleon’s hopes of invading England. Napoleon’s armies kept fighting, capturing Vienna, the Austrian capital. On December 2 1805, Napoleon met the Austro-Russian army at Austerlitz. This was one of his best planed battles. When the morning light came he saw that the enemy had lined up in the exact order he had said they would.

The victory was decisive, Napoleon made himself king of Italy, his brother Joseph, king of Naples, and another brother Louis king of Holland. In October of 1806 Napoleon when to war again. He defeated the Prussians in the battle of Jena, and captured , Berlin. The Prussian king fled to Russia and Napoleon advanced through Poland. While away he was in constant communications with Paris.

He received word every day of its internal affairs even though he was 1500 miles away. On February 8, 1807, Napoleon fought an even battle with the Russians at Eylan, Germany, and on June 14 he destroyed the Russian army at Friedland, Germany. After this battle Napoleon and Alexander I, the Czar of Russia meet at Tilsit. Together they divided Europe, all except for Austria and Prussia. The whole of western Europe was now ruled by the Bonaparte family.

Napoleon told them who to marry and what they were to do. The Bonapartes made many improvements to the laws of the countries the governed. However, Napoleon was not a nice man. In fact he was a tyrant, he charged high taxes and refused to allow freedom of speech and press. He also drafted many men from all over Europe.

Most of these men did not want to serve in his armies, but they had no choice. with all this power, Napoleon’s most hated enemy was still untouchable. At Austerlitz he said to his men: “Remember tomorrow that you are fighting against the allies of England!” By the Berlin Decree of November 1806, Napoleon had closed all the ports of the continent against English trade. This became known as the Continental System. Napoleon figured that if he could not beat England in a battle, he would just cut off there supplies and force them to make a treaty with France. This strategy did not goes as planed.

In Spain, Napoleon forced king Charles IV to abdicate and set up his brother Joseph as king. The Spanish people rebelled , and an English army landed in Portugal. Napoleon himself took command, but early in 1809 the Austrians again declared war. Napoleon rushed back to France, and in May he went to Vienna and on July 5-6 fought at the Battle of Wagram. It was a hard fight, but he won it and peace was once again made.

Napoleon wanted a son. Not having produced one, Napoleon divorced Josephine. On March 11, 1810, Napoleon married Marie Louise, daughter of the emperor of Austria. But this did not get peace. The constitutional system was hurting Russia and Sweden.

Finally, Russia started trading with England again. Napoleon gathered the ” Grand Army” of about 500,000 men. In June 1812, Napoleon endeavored on a new campaign. This was one of the worst mistakes he ever made. This would ultimately lead to the death of an entire generation of French men.

Napoleon and his 500,000 men marched into Russia. Napoleon believed that after a few quick victorious battles, he would be able to convince Alexander to return to the Continental System. He also decided that if he could take Moscow, the Russian government would crumble and ask for peace. Napoleon was quoted as saying, “A single blow to the heart of the Russian Empire, at Moscow the Great, at Moscow the Holly, will instantly put this whole blind, apathetic mass at my mercy”, (pg6, 1812 Napoleon’s Defeat in Russia). Napoleon would soon learn how wrong he was.

At the beginning of Napoleon’s campaign he was fabulously victorious, but when he reached Moscow he found the city in ruins. Instead of giving in to Napoleon, Alexander had burned Moscow to the ground. Alexander knew that the winter was coming , and with no refuge Napoleon and his troops would be in grave danger. Alexander was right, Napoleon’s lost many men to frost bite and other such related winter ailments. This single strategy killed almost half a million men.

This was the beginning of the end for Napoleon. Out of the 500,000 troops that he brought, only 40,000 of his men managed to straggle back to Poland. This became known as the “Great Retreat”. The campaigns of 1813 were hopeless from the start. Prussia and Austria joined Russia.

Napoleon started by winning the Battle of Leipzig in May, but could not follow it up. No longer being the super power, some of his German allies joined the Russians, and Napoleon lost the Battle of Leipzig. Soon the Austrians, Prussians, and Bavarians were in northern France. The English in Spain were marching over the Pyrenees. France tired of fighting, out of money, and out of men could no longer support Napoleon.

For all the time it took Napoleon to conquer Europe, it was almost over night that he lost it all. On April 11, 1814 Napoleon was abdicated. With the overthrow of Napoleon, the Countries of Europe came to Vienna to remake the map. Most of the old kings were given back there lands and France was reduced. They also decided to exile Napoleon to the island of Elba. Even there he was a king.

He organized an army and made roads. But all the while still had his eyes on France. On June 18, 1815 Napoleon with his new army once again attacked the English, led by the Duke of Wellington, at Waterloo. This battle was short lived and Napoleon was quickly defeated, and he was once again abdicated. But this time they sent him to live on the Island of St.

Helena, where he died in may 1821. As you can see Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest military masterminds of all times, but as is with all good thing, they must come to an end. For all his intelligence and skill he was a terrible man. He killed almost half a million of his men, not to mention the men he kill that were not his enemies.


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