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Transcript of Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769, in the Corsican city of Ajaccio, an Italian island, colony of France. At age ten, he was allowed to enter French military schools.
He moved to the Parisian École Royale Militaire in 1784 and graduated a year later as a second lieutenant in the artillery.
Power in France
In May 1798 Napoleon left for a campaign in Egypt and Syria, prompted by his desire for fresh victories. The Egyptian campaign was a military failure (although it had a great cultural impact) and a change of government in France caused Bonaparte to leave - some might say abandon - his army. Shortly after he took part in the Brumaire coup of November 1799, finishing as a member of the Consulate, France's new ruling triumvirate.
Napoleon in Power
The transfer of power might not have been smooth - owing much to luck and apathy - but Napoleon's great political skill was clear; by February 1800 he was established as the First Consul, a practical dictatorship with a constitution wrapped firmly around him
Napoleon also made mistakes and suffered setbacks. The French navy was kept firmly in check by their British equivalent and the Emperor's attempt to tame Britain through economics - the Continental System - harmed France and her supposed allies greatly
By December 1793 Bonaparte was the hero of Toulon, a General and favorite of Augustin Robespierre; shortly after the wheel of revolution turned and Napoleon was arrested for treason. Tremendous political 'flexibility' saved him and the patronage of Vicomte Paul de Barras, soon to be one of France's three 'Directors', followed.
More success and Marriage
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.
Having concluded treaties that left Europe at peace Bonaparte began working on France, reforming the economy, legal system (the famous and enduring Code Napoleon), church, military, education, and government.
Napoleon as Emperor
The Consul's popularity remained high - helped by his mastery of propaganda, but also genuine national support - and he was elected Consulate for life by the French people in 1802 and Emperor of France in 1804, a title which Bonaparte worked hard to maintain and glorify.
Initiatives like the Concordat with the Church and the Code helped secure his status.
Was an attempt to cripple one of his enemies in the Napoleonic Wars – Britain – by destroying their trade, then their economy, and then their democracy through a blockade. It was also an attempt to reshape the French export market and economy, which had lost access to colonial markets thanks to the British and allied navies preventing trading ships getting through.
The Continental System
The Spanish 'ulcer' highlights another problem of Bonaparte's reign: he couldn't be everywhere within his empire at once, and the forces he sent to pacify Spain failed, as they often did elsewhere without him.
Problems in Spain
The War with Russia
In 1812 Napoleon went to war with Russia, assembling a force of over 400,000 soldiers, accompanied by the same number of followers and support. Such an army was almost impossible to feed or adequately control and the Russians repeatedly retreated, destroying the local resources and separating Bonaparte from his supplies. In the end he lost the war.