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  • Date :
  • 8/15/2004

Napoleon Bonaparte

(15 August 1769 -5 May 1821)

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. Through his military exploits and his ruthless efficiency, Napoleon rose from obscurity to become Napoleon I, Empereur des Francais (Emperor of the French). He is both a historical figure and a legend—and it is sometimes difficult to separate the two.

Napoleon decided on a military career when he was a child, winning a scholarship to a French military academy. His meteoric rise shocked not only France but all ofEurope, and his military conquests threatened the stability of the world.

Napoleon was one of the greatest military commanders in history. He has also been portrayed as a power hungry conqueror. Napoleon denied being such a conqueror. He argued that he was building a federation of free peoples in a Europe united under a liberal government. But if this was his goal, he intended to achieve it by taking power in his own hands. However, in the states he created, Napoleon granted constitutions, introduced law codes, abolished feudalism, and created efficient governments and fostered education, science, literature and the arts.

Emperor Napoleon proved to be an excellent civil administrator. One of his greatest achievements was his supervision of the revision and collection of French law into codes. The new law codes—seven in number—incorporated some of the freedoms gained by the people ofFrance during the French revolution, including religious toleration and the abolition of serfdom. The most famous of the codes, the Code Napoleon or Code Civil, still forms the basis of French civil law. Napoleon also centralized France's government by appointing prefects to administer regions called departments, into which France was divided.

In 1812 Napoléon, whose alliance with Alexander I had disintegrated, launched an invasion ofRussia that ended in a disastrous retreat fromMoscow. Thereafter all Europe united against him, and although he fought on, and brilliantly, the odds were impossible. In April 1814, his marshals refused to continue the struggle. After the allies had rejected his stepping down in favor of his son, Napoléon abdicated unconditionally and was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba. Napoléon soon made a dramatic comeback. In March 1815, he escaped from Elba, reached France, and marched on Paris, winning over the troops sent to capture him. In Paris, he promulgated a new and more democratic constitution, and veterans of his old campaigns flocked to his support. Napoléon asked peace of the allies, but they outlawed him, and he decided to strike first. The result was a campaign into Belgium, which ended in defeat at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. In Paris, crowds begged him to fight on, but the politicians withdrew their support. Napoléon fled to Rochefort, where he surrendered to the captain of the British battleship Bellerophon. He was then exiled toSaint Helena, a remote island in theSouth Atlantic Ocean, where he remained until his death from stomach cancer onMay 5, 1821.

Taken from:

http://www2.lucidcafe.com/lucidcafe/library/95aug/napoleon.html

http://www.malekzadeh.com/napoleon/ 

Also see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_Bonaparte

www.napoleonguide.com/leaders_napoleon.htm

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10687a.htm

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