In this week’s essay I will be writing about the life of a very famous historical military figure, Napoleon Bonaparte. What I will be getting into exactly is his early life, his military achievements, and his later life and death.
Napoleon was born on August 15th, 1769, to Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino, on the Island of Corsica, France. He was the forth and second surviving child of his parents. Napoleon had a good education thanks to the fact that his father had gotten a very good job after being appointed as assessor of the judicial district of Ajaccio Corsica in 1771. Napoleon attended France’s College d’Autun, after he attended the military college of Brienne, where he was for five years, until he moved on to the military academy in Paris, which he excelled in greatly, so much so that he graduated after a year into the military academy at just sixteen years old!
During the time he graduated from the military academy in Paris, he was given the rank of second lieutenant in the artillery. His father passed away around this time so he returned back home to Corsica, but in 1793 his sympathies with the French Revolution forced him and his family to flee from Corsica. He and his family began living in mainland France and also changed their name to Bonaparte, the French version of their name. Also in 1793 he was promoted to brigadier general.
After the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, Napoleon was put into prison for more than ten days, because he had been a Jacobin supporter.
Rise To Power
Napoleon was promoted to General of the Army of the West under the new Directory. The next year he began commanding the French Army in Italy. During the years 1796-1799, he had a series of very successful military campaigns, which helped France expand in power which also stabilized the military situation in France, this left him very popular amongst the French citizens.
In 1799 after his campaign to conquer Egypt(which was mostly a success), he returned back to France. In France he began pressuring to replace the Directory, which had never been a popular government. Because he had the military at his side the Directory was forced to resign, and Napoleon was appointed to become First Consul of the French government.
The first thing Napoleon began doing now that he was appointed, which gave him some political power, was to write a new French constitution, and to hold an election in France for Emperor of France. During the Election 99% favored Napoleon(this seems to be an impossible number), this was thanks to the fact that no one opposed him. After the election Napoleon was crowned Emperor of France by the Pope. This repaired France’s relations with the Church.
His Military Successes
Even though he was now Emperor he was almost always on the move, this was because he was moving from one successful military campaign to another, he forced alliances and conquered his enemies. By 1810 France was the most powerful country in Europe, but it also had its weaknesses. These weaknesses were thanks to the fact that the wars that Napoleon waged were quite expensive, which left France struggling financially. He eased this problem by selling Louisiana territory to the United States. But the financial problems were not the worst out of these weaknesses. The citizens of France were sick and tired of all this war, and they began losing trust in Napoleon, which was a huge problem.
His luck changed greatly in 1812 though when his army was defeated during the campaign to conquer Russia, thousands of soldiers died during the campaign, quite devastating. And in 1814 the Senate, which was under Napoleon announced that the Empire had now ended, a new ruler was appointed, Louis the 18th, who was related to the original line of kings in France. Napoleon was removed from his throne and forced into exile on the small Island of Elba in the Mediterraean, his wife and son fled to Vienna, Austria.
But Napoleon escaped Elba in 1815, and returned back to France. The citizens of France that heard of his escape and arrival welcomed him quite warmly, this helped him gain the throne again quite easily.
Napoleon like usual started another military campaign to fight against the British and Prussian forces, that were under General Wellington. This great battle is known as the battle of Waterloo, which was the last battle that Napoleon fought. Napoleon was defeated and the victorious British and Prussian troops forced him to abdicate his throne and go on exile to the very small island of Saint Helena.
During his exile Napoleon’s health began to deteriorate, and he was beginning to show signs of a stomach ulcer or even stomach cancer, by 1821 he was so ill that he had to remain in bed. On May 5th, 1821 Napoleon died, during his exile.
Most of the land that Napoleon had conquered were given back to their original rulers. Even though in the end France did not gain that much territory the country did benefit thanks to the fact that Napoleon had ended the French Revolution. Even though he did not leave much of a legacy because he was too busy gaining territory for the empire, he is still remembered as one of the greatest military generals of all time.