As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815. His legal reform, the Napoleonic Code, has been a major influence on many civil lawjurisdictions worldwide, but he is best remembered for his role in the wars led against France by a series of coalitions, the so-called Napoleonic Wars. He established hegemony over most ofcontinental Europe and sought to spread the ideals of the French Revolution, while consolidating an imperial monarchy which restored aspects of the deposed Ancien Régime. Due to his success in these wars, oftenagainst numerically superior enemies, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time, and his campaigns are studied at military academies throughout much of theworld.
Napoleon was born at Ajaccio in Corsica to parents of noble Genoese ancestry. He trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. He rose to prominence under the French First Republic andled successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. He led a successful invasion of the Italian peninsula.
In 1799, he staged a coup d'état and installed himselfas First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. In the first decade of the 19th century, the French Empire under Napoleon engaged in a series of conflicts—the NapoleonicWars—that involved every major European power. After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence throughthe formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states.
The Peninsular War and 1812 French invasion of...