Napoleon


     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. 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

Egypt’s 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.

France’s 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.