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The most famous Frenchman in history - Napoleon Bonaparte wasn't born a Frenchman. Napoleon was born at Ajaccio, Corsica on 15 August 1769. Napoleon's parents Carlo Buonaparte and Litizia Ramalono Buonaparte were both of Corsican - Italian blood. When France ceded with Corsica Napoleons father entered the French aristocracy as a count. Napoleon was educated first at Brienne and then at the ècole Militaire, in Paris. Napoleon graduated in 1785, age 16 and enlisted in the artillery as a second lieutenant.
Napoleon became a lieutenant colonel in 1791 in the Corsican National Guard. Corsica declared its independence in 1793 and Bonaparte, a French patriot, fled to France with his family. In 1796 Napoleon was made commander of the army of Italy. In quick succession Napoleon achieved victories all over Europe. When Napoleon returned to France he was triumphant. He was only 28 years old and had become the greatest French general of all time.
Bonaparte decided to leave his army in Italy and set his sights higher - Napoleon wanted to save France. Napoleon joined a conspiracy against the government and on November 10 he and his colleagues seized power and established their own government - The Consulate. Napoleon reformed all government, education and legislation, which proved he was a magnificent statesman and administrator. Napoleon proved a patriotic loyal Frenchman who wanted to improve life for his fellow French people. Napoleon was crowned Emperor of the French in 1804 - he was now a great Frenchmen and heroic General and destined to become the greatest leader France had ever had.
Napoleon introduced 'The Continental System' which forbade all European nations trading with France's enemy Britain. In 1810 the Russians proclaimed they wouldn't abide by this system and France retaliated by invaded Russia but ended up retreating to Paris. Europe now believed that France could be beaten. The allied force of the Prussia, Austria and Russia attacked France and Napoleon was forced to abdicate and was exiled to the island of Elba with 1000 men. Less than a year later Napoleon returned to the almost instant embracement of his people and his troops. The allies marched once more on France. Britain backed up by Prussia met and defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Napoleon had fought his last battle. Napoleon was exiled once more this time for good to St Helena where he died at just 51 years of age.
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He was wrong; Napoleon is remembered for all his glamorous military victories as well as his reasoned lawmaking, his leadership qualities, his genius and his charismatic persona. Napoleon was a patriotic, loyal Frenchman who loved his people and his country with all his heart. Napoleons work meant everything to him and he was a true genius in ever aspect of the word. Napoleon Bonaparte was arguably the greatest Frenchman of all time.
CHARACTER PORTRAYAL IN THE FILM - 'WATERLOO'
In the film 'Waterloo' Napoleon is first seen abdicating for the fist time after his defeat. Napoleon shows his determination and will by initially refusing and trying to find a solution. He then is forced to abdicate and be exiled to Elba Island. Napoleon bids France farewell with this patriotic speech:
France has fallen, so remember me.
Though I love you all I cannot embrace you all
With this kiss - remember me.
Goodbye my soldiers, goodbye my sons, goodbye my children.
This speech portrays Napoleon's patriotism and love of France. Also his devotion and affection for the French people he loved. The reaction from those who witnessed the speech was an emotional display of their admiration, love and respect for their emperor. The tears shed by those there that day showed their sadness and loss.
Napoleon was a very charismatic man to all those in France especially his comrades. Napoleon loved his son and wife very much and his longing for them and the sadness that hung over him was evident during the film. His wife and son were taken from him after his first abdication and he never saw them again.
After 10 months in exile on Elba Island Napoleon returns with his men. This showed the determination he had to reclaim France and make what he envisaged for her reality. When Napoleon is reunited with his troops "Treason!" Is proclaimed and all guns are pointed toward Napoleon. Napoleon stood calmly and asked his troops "Regiment of the 5th, would you shoot your emperor?" There is a brief moment and then the guns are abandoned and the troops begin rejoicing Napoleon's return. This shows the respect, admiration and loyalty Napoleon's men felt towards him. Napoleon quickly seizes control of the French government and in doing so illustrates his strong will, determination, excellent administration skill and efficiency. When told he was breaking the law in assuming control of the country Bonaparte retorts with "He who saves a nation violates no law." This illustrates his passion and conviction in what he believes and does.
In the film Wellington says of Napoleon "by god that man does war honour." Napoleon gained respect even from his biggest enemy, which makes Napoleon an exceptional, respected man. Napoleon was a military genius whose many successful exploits made him a worthy opponent.
Before the Battle of Waterloo was to begin Napoleon asks a soldier if he would like his son to be there that day. The soldier replies; yes......to see you shire. Bonaparte retorts with; me? I am nothing. Bonaparte goes on to say he wouldn't want his son there to witness the bloody battle that was to occur. This illustrates Napoleon's almost regret of the bloody battle he knew was to come. It illustrates his compassion for the lives he knew were to be lost and almost guilt or sadness he felt for being a part of it.
The film portrays Napoleon Bonaparte as an exceptional man, respected by his soldiers and his people. He was a patriotic military genius with compassion and determination for his cause - to save France and unite all of Europe. Napoleon was a charismatic, strong-willed leader who was the greatest Frenchman of all time.
AUTHOR'S SURNAME AUTHOR 1st NAME TITLE PUBLISHER DATE PUBLISHED
Broers Michael The empire behind the lines Jan 1998
Chandler David Great battles of the British army Arms and Armour Press 1991
Hibbert Christopher Wellington - A personal history Harper Collins Publishers 1997
Mc Lynn Frank Napoleon - A biography Pimlico 1998
Knight Dennis Instant picture book Patterson Blick 1998
Guinness Guinness Guinness book of knowledge Guinness Publishing Ltd 1997
Guinness Guinness The Guinness encyclopedia Guinness Publishing Ltd 1990
- - Family encyclopedia Geddes & Grosset 1999