Napoleon was born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, and was given
the name Napoleone Buonaparte. He was the second of eight children of Carlo and
Letizia Buonaperte, both of the Corsican-Italian gentry. Before Napoleone, no
Buonaparte had ever been a professional soldier. His father Carlo, was a lawyer
who had fought for Corsican independence, but after the French occupied the
island in 1768, he served as a prosecutor and a judge and entered the French
aristocracy as a count. Through his father's influence, Napoleone was educated
at the expense of King Louis XVI, at Brienne and the Ecole Militaire, in Paris.
Napoleone graduated in 1785, at the age of 16, and joined the artillery as a
second lieutenant. After the revolution began in France, he became a
lieutenant colonel (1791) in the Corsican National Guard. However, when
Corsica declared independence in 1793, Buonaperte, a Republican, and a French
patriot, fled to France with his family. He was assigned, as captain, to an
army besieging Toulon, a naval base that was aided by a British fleet, while in
revolt against the republic. It was here that Napoleone Buonaperte officially
changed his name to Napoleon Bonaparte, feeling that it looked "more French".
It was here too that Napoleon replaced a wounded artillery general, and seized
ground where his guns could drive the British fleet from the harbor, and Toulon
fell. As a result of his accomplishments, Bonapatre was promoted to brigadier
general at the age of 24. In 1795, he saved the revolutionary government by
dispersing an insurgent mob in Paris. Then in 1796 he married Josephine de
Beauharnais, the mother of two children and the widow of an aristocrat
guillotined in the Revolution. Early in his life Napoleon was showing signs of
militaristic geniuses and knowledge for formidable strategy. It was through
the application of his skills, and a revolutionary style of spontaneous
fighting styles than gave Napoleon the opportunities, which he jumped at, making
his the great military leader he is known as today.
Latter in1796, Napoleon became commander of the French army in Italy.
He defeated four Austrian generals in succession, each at impossible odds, and
forced Austria and it's allies to make peace. The Treaty of Campo Formio
provided that France keep most of its conquests. In northern Italy he f...
... middle of paper ...
...ropean countries. Napoleon was a driven man,
never secure, never satisfied. "Power is my mistress" (VI pg. 176), he said.
His life was work-centered; even his social activities had a purpose. He could
bear amusements or vacations only briefly. His tastes were for coarse food,
bad wine, and for cheap tobacco. He could be hypnotically charming for a
needed purpose of course. He had intense loyalties to his family and old
associates. Even so, nothing or nobody, were allowed to interfere with his work.
Napoleon was sometimes a tyrant and always an authorian. But one who believed,
however in ruling by mandate of the people, expressed on plebiscites. He was
also a great enlightened monarch-a civil executive of enormous capacity who
changed French institutions and tried to reform the intuitions of Europe and
give the Continent a common law. Few historians deny that he was a military
genius. At St. Helena, he said "Waterloo will erase the memory of all my
victories." (VII pg.345) he was wrong; for better or worse, he is best
remembered as a general, not for his enlightened government, but surely the
latter must be counted if he is justly to be called "Napoleon the Great".
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