Who was Napoleon

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Napoleon was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, on 15 August 1769, the second of Carlo and Letizia Bonaparte's eight children. In 1778, Napoleon began his education at Autun and later attended school in Brienne, excelling in mathematics and science. Following a year's study at the Ecole Militaire in Paris, he was commissioned in the artillery in 1785. The year 1789 saw the outbreak of the French revolution, which created an atmosphere of opportunity that would not have existed under the Bourbons, and Napoleon was to make the most of it.

The first opportunity came in 1793, when Bonaparte was promoted to brigadier general for the decisive part he played in the siege of Toulon, which ousted the British from mainland France. After the coup de Thermidor in 1794, Napoleon fell out of favor and was imprisoned. After his release he ended up preserving the new government from the Parisian Mob with artillery fire, an event that has become known as the 'Whiff of Grapeshot.' A grateful government later appointed Napoleon to command of the Army of Italy. Before his departure, Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais on 9 March 1796.

Campaigning in Italy in 1796 and 1797, he inspired the impoverished army with the promise of "honor, glory, and riches," and enjoyed a succession of victories, which resulted in Austria signing the Peace of Campo Formio. His display of bravery, intelligence, and leadership proved an inspiration to the common soldier and formed an enduring bond. Returning to France, he was given charge of an expedition to Egypt, control of which would threaten English possessions in India. The victory at the Battle of the Pyramids gave French control of Cairo, but the naval defeat at Aboukir Bay isolated the expedition from France. After some unsuccessful campaigning in Syria, he departed by ship with a small group of friends and sailed to France, abandoning his Army.

In 1799, public sentiment had swung against the government, and following the coup d'etat de Brumaire, Napoleon became the defacto ruler of France. The country was still at war however, and after a dramatic crossing of the Alps, Napoleon defeated the Austrians at the battle of Marengo on 14 June 1800. This victory solidified his reputation of invincibility, and combined with other successes, led to a general peace.

After a decade of war, a grateful France made Napoleon Consul for Life and ...

... middle of paper ... soon forced to retreat. The 'scorched earth' policy employed by the Russians combined with extreme weather caused the Grand Armée to disintegrate and the campaign ended in disaster. The defeat in Russia prompted Prussia, Sweden, and Austria to declare war on France. Napoleon raised another army but was decisively defeated at the great Battle of Nations. Napoleon fought a last brilliant campaign in France to defend Paris, but in April 1814 abdicated and went into exile on the island of Elba. The Bourbon king was restored to the French throne.

While the Allies debated a realignment of the map of Europe in Vienna, Napoleon planned his return, and in March 1815, he landed in France and regained his throne in a bloodless coup. Rather than await another invasion, Napoleon surprised Allied forces in Belgium. After initial success, Napoleon fought the Duke of Wellington leading an Anglo/Allied army at Waterloo, and was decisively defeated on 18 June 1815. Napoleon was exiled to the island of St. Helena situated in the South Atlantic Ocean, where he resided until his death on 5 May 1821. His remains were removed from St. Helena in 1840 and his body now rests at les Invalides in Paris.
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