One of the most brilliant individuals in history, Napoleon Bonaparte was a masterful soldier, and a superb administrator. He was also utterly ruthless, a dictator and, later in his career, thought he could do no wrong. Not a Frenchman by birth, Napoleon Bonaparte was born at Ajaccio on Corsica only just sold to France by the Italian state of Genoa on August 15, 1769.He attended French at the school of Autun and later the military academy at Brienne. He never fully mastered French and his spelling left a lot to be desired. The revolutionary fever that was spreading when Bonaparte was a teenager allowed a talented individual the opportunity to rise far beyond what could have been achieved only a few years previously. His first real military opportunity came as a captain of artillery at the siege of Toulon, where he expertly seized crucial forts and was able to bombard the British naval and land forces, eventually forcing them to sail away. Now a brigadier-general, Bonaparte served in the army campaigning in Italy but found himself arrested and jailed for being an associate of the younger brother of Maximilien Robespierre .With no position for him after his release, Bonaparte thought about joining the Turkish army and even joining a naval expedition to Australia, but became involved with a member of the Directory, Paul Barras, who used the young man's zeal to put down a royalist mob in 1795 with the now legendary "whiff of grapeshot". With his loyalty and ruthlessness proven, the next year Bonaparte took up command of the Army of Italy and set off on a campaign that was to take him to absolute power in France and Europe. Initially treated with suspicion, and not a little contempt, by the older generals he superce...
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...spite being branded an Enemy of Humanity by his enemies, the French people flocked to him and within months he had rebuilt his army for the expected arrival of the armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sweden and Britain.
Rather than wait he launched a lightning campaign into Belgium in the hope of catching the British, under the Duke of Wellington, and the Prussians, under Field Marshal Blucher, off guard.
The plan worked, but a series of command errors by subordinates blew the opportunities offered and despite victory at Ligny and a tactical draw at Quatre Bras, he was defeated at Waterloo.
Exiled a second time, the man who ruled Europe spent his last six years on a small island in the South Atlantic called St Helena.
His death in 1821 brought relief to the royal houses of Europe and it was only in 1840 that his body was allowed to return to his beloved France.
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