Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor, was one of the greatest military leaders in history. He helped remake the mapof Europe and established many government and legal reforms, but constant battles eventually led to his downfall.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769, in the Corsican city of Ajaccio. Hewas the fourth of eleven children of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Romolino. His father, a member of a noble Italian family, remained on good terms with the French when they took over control ofCorsica.
Napoleon began his education at a boys' school in Ajaccio. Then, at age ten, he was allowed to enter French military schools for aristocrats and was sent in 1779, with his older brother Joseph,to the College of Autun in Burgundy, France. Napoleon later transferred to the College of Brienne, another French military school. While at school in France, he was made fun of by the other studentsfor his lower social standing and because he spoke Spanish and did not know French well. His small size earned him the nickname of the "Little Corporal." Despite this teasing, Napoleon received anexcellent education. When his father died, Napoleon led his household.
By 1785 Napoleon was a second lieutenant in the French army, but he often returned to Corsica. In 1792 he took part in a powerstruggle between forces supporting Pasquale Paoli (1725–1807), a leader in the fight for Corsican independence, and those supporting the French. After Paoli was victorious, he turned against Napoleon andthe Bonaparte family, forcing them to flee back to France. Napoleon then turned his attention to a career in the army there. The French Revolution (1789–93), a movement to overthrow King Louis XVI(1754–1793) and establish a republic, had begun. Upon his return from Corsica in 1793, Napoleon made a name for himself and won a promotion by helping to defeat the British at Toulon and regain that...