Name: Napoleon Bonaparte

Alive: 1769-1821

Bio: Born on the island of Corsica, France, Napoleon attended the military college of Brienne for five years before he moved on to the Paris military academy.. After the execution of Louis XVI and the rise and fall of Maximillian de Robespierre, Napoleon came into favour with The Directory, the leaders of the country. He soon found himself as the commander of the Army of the Interior. Napoleon soon began expanding the French Empire and showing his prowess as a leader. Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais in 1796. Napoleon did however suffer a loss at the Battle of the Nile against Nelson and the British. After, back in France unrest continued and Napoleon planned a coup to top a new government called the Consulate. In 1800, Napoleon became the First Consul, a position that amounted to nothing less than a dictatorship. After imposing reforms that proved very popular, in 1802 he was named consul for life and two further years later, proclaimed Emperor of France. Napoleon had his marriage annulled to marry another so as to bring him a son. Napoleon began to experience a string of military failures and a coup was attempted in France. Although it failed, British forces had begun to advance through French territories leading to Napoleon’s surrender and exile in 1814. He succeeded in returning to power, only to be defeated at Waterloo in 1815 where he abdicated his powers. Britain sent him to the remote island of St. Helena where he saw out the rest of his days.

Quotes:

“Never interrupt your enemy when his is making a mistake.”

“A leader is a dealer in hope.”

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.”

Popular Culture:

“Conquest” – film, 1938

“Napoleon” – film, 1955

Further Reading:

  • Andrew Roberts, Napoleon: A Life (2014)
  • Andrew Roberts, Napoleon the Great (2015)
  • David D. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon (1995)