Married (Josephine): 9th March 1796 in Paris, France
Married (Marie-Louise): 2nd April 1810 in Paris, France
Died: 5th May 1821 on St. Helena
FirstConsul of France: 1799 - 1804
Emperor of the French: 1804 - 1814, 1815
One of the greatest military commanders and a risk taking gambler; a workaholic genius and an impatient short term planner; a vicious cynic who forgave his closest betrayers; a misogynist who could enthrall men; Napoleon Bonaparte was all of these and more, the twice-emperor of France whose military endeavorsand sheer personality dominated Europe in person for a decade, and in thought for a century
Birth in Corsica
Napoleon was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, on August 15th 1769 to Carlo Bonaparte, a lawyer and political opportunist, and his wife, Marie-Letizia. The Bonaparte’s were a wealthy family from the Corsican nobility, although when compared to the great aristocracies of France Napoleon's kinwere poor and pretentious. A combination of Carlo's social climbing, Letizia's adultery with the Comte de Marbeuf - Corsica's French military governor - and Napoleon's own ability enabled him to enter the military academy at Brienne in 1779. He moved to the Parisian École Royale Militaire in 1784 and graduated a year later as a second lieutenant in the artillery. Spurred on by his father's death inFebruary 1785, the future emperor had completed in one year a course that often took three.
Early Career: The Corsican Misadventure
Despite being posted on the French mainland, Napoleon was able to spend much of the next eight years in Corsica thanks to his ferocious letter writing and rule bending, as well as the effects of the French Revolution and sheer good luck. There he played an activepart in political and military matters, initially supporting the Corsican rebel Pasquale Paoli, a former patron of Carlo Buonaparte. Military promotion also followed, but Napoleon became opposed to Paoli and when civil war erupted in 1793 the Buonapartes fled to France, where they adopted the French version of their name: Bonaparte. Historians have frequently used the Corsican affair as a microcosmof Napoleon's career
Early Career: Fluctuating Success
The French Revolution had decimated the republic's officer class and favoured individuals could achieve swift promotion, but Napoleon's fortunes rose and fell as one set of patrons came and went. By December 1793 Bonaparte was the hero of Toulon, a General and favourite of Augustin Robespierre; shortly after the wheel of revolution turned andNapoleon was arrested for treason. Tremendous political 'flexibility' saved him and the patronage of Vicomte Paul de Baras, soon to be one of France's three 'Directors', followed.
Napoleon became a hero again in 1795, defending the government from angry counter-revolutionary forces; Baras rewarded Napoleon by promoting him to high military office, a position with access to the political spine ofFrance. Bonaparte swiftly grew into one of the country's most respected military authorities - largely by never keeping his opinions to himself - and he married Josephine de Beauharnais. Commentators have considered this an unusual match ever since.
Napoleon and The Army of Italy
In 1796 France attacked Austria. Napoleon was given command of the Army of Italy - the post he wanted - whereupon hewelded a young, starving and disgruntled army into a force which won victory after victory against, theoretically stronger, Austrian opponents. Aside from the Battle of Arcole, where Napoleon was lucky rather than clever, the campaign is legitimately legendary. Napoleon returned to France in 1797 as the nation's brightest star, having fully emerged from the need for a patron. Ever a great...