Jacques Louis David - Bonaparte franchissant le Grand Saint-Bernard, 20 mai 1800 - Google Art Project

Napoleon crossing the Alps -

French Emperor and General. He was born in Corsica on August 15, 1769. He died on May 5, 1821. He is best known for his grab for power, victories over most of the European monarchies, and final defeat in the town of Waterloo.

As a young man he observed the French Revolution (1789-1792) that overthrew the French royalty and aristocracy, he observed the reign of terror started by the fanatical Maximilian Robespierre and his followers (1792-1793) and the establishment of the DIRECTOIRE (1794) a board of moderates who were elected by the people to rule France. By 1795, everything had calmed down and Napoleon was sent by his father to Marseilles to the military academy there. He completed his schooling in strategy and military tactics. Then he went to Paris where he studied law and politics. Napoleon was then elected as consul in the French government. By 1798, he had become sole consul.

By 1804, Napoleon had consolidated all political and financial power in France andf he now declared himself emperor of France. The people loved him. He soon went on to conquer Egypt, and Italy where he set his brother as king. He invaded Spain and won it . He besieged Vienna and waged war on Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia. By 1812, he had vanquished the Austrians and repelled the Prussians. However he could not achieve naval supremacy. He now marched on Russia. But his campaign failed because the Russian winter came earlier than it was supposed to. His army weakened and his popularity slumped. In 1815, he was forced to abdicate. He was replaced by King Louis XVII the brother of the former King Louis XVI (1774-1789) and exiled to Elba. However within the month, the new king had become so unpopular that Napoleon was allowed to return and retake power as emperor.

Napoleon's return alarmed the British, Prussians and Russians and they gathered their armies at the town of Waterloo to fight him. The French lost, Napoleon was captured and exiled to St Helena where he died in 1821

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