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Napoleon Bonaparte - One of The Most Respected Leaders in History

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Napoleon Bonaparte, a renowned French military leader and emperor, was born August 15, 1769. Originating from Ajaccio on the Islands of Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, he was born to Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Romalino Buonaparte. Napoleon was one of eight children. The spelling of his last name differing from his parents’ is due to a political decision between Italy and France of the island where he was born. He adopted the French spelling of his name later after France adopted his country. His father was a lawyer, so the family was considered nobility, but were not wealthy after the political change.

Before Napoleon became a great and powerful leader he started off like most great leaders do, in school. He attended French military school and later went on to achieve his first leadership role – a second lieutenant in the French army. Three years later, the French revolution began, and the monarchy of France had become overthrown by revolutionaries. Napoleon was on leave from the military and began working with an organization that was pro-democracy, the Jacobins. However, a clash within the government in his homeland had caused him and his family to flee to the mainland of France, where he then returned to military duty. During a period of terror, also known as the Reign of Terror, led by brothers of the Jacobins group, Napoleon was promoted to the rank of brigadier in the French army. However, after those same brothers were caught and guillotined for their actions, Napoleon was placed on house arrest for his affiliation with them. One year later at the age of 26, he helped suppress a royalist insurrection, which got him promoted to major general.

In 1796, Napoleon was able to make his first successful command as a major general. At the time, France was engaged in many conflicts with other European nations, one of which was Austria. He commanded a French army that defeated the larger armies of that country. The win led to a peace treaty signing and gained territory for France. The next year, Napoleon was offered to lead an invasion in England by the Directory of his government. He accepted the offer and began to devise a plan for their attack. He was fully aware of how prepared and strong the British’s Naval force was, so he resulted to making a more “domino effect” attack. He led the French army to attack and take over Egypt, which they did effectively, to clear all trade routes England had with India. However, things did not turn out as well as Napoleon had anticipated. Although Napoleon’s army was successful in invading Egypt, his troops were stranded due to the British destroying their naval fleets there. So, Napoleon had commanded his army to launch another attack on the Ottoman Empire to invade them. They, unfortunately, had failed. It turned out to be a bad decision, but Napoleon made an even more detrimental decision involving his troops, which was fleeing home back to France and abandoning them.

Following that year, Napoleon was a part of another group that had opted to overthrow the government that had now ruled France for four years and entrusted in him to successfully invade England – the French Directory. The Directory was composed of five members, but after being overthrown by Napoleon and his group, was replaced by a group of three, known as the Consulate. Napoleon became the first and leading Consul, making him France’s primary political figure. In the subsequent year, as leading Consul, Napoleon and his troop fought in a battle known as the Battle of Marengo. The success of that battle confirmed Napoleon’s power and leadership position of leading Consul. With his authority and position stabilized, Napoleon began to try to make improvements to parts of France that were handicapped from the revolution, including reforms to banks and schools, centralizing the government, and even recreating ties with the representor of France’s primary religion, the pope. Napoleon was at the prime of his career. He even created a code that impacts French laws and their legal system, which is still in use today. Its known as the Napoleonic Code, his most successful and compelling contribution to France. In 1802, he was awarded first Consul for life, and two years later, he crowned himself emperor of France.

Although Napoleon was known as a great leader, he caused France to enter many conflicts with neighboring European countries, so many that they became known as the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon fought with many countries, one of which was the Battle at Austerlitz. In this battle, napoleon led his army to defeat the Russians and the Austrians. This battle became known as one of his greatest victories of all time. He eventually sought after and won another battle and proceeded to awarding nobility, bringing back French aristocracy. Everything seemed to be going very well for Napoleon at this point during his times of rule, until he made a decision that affected him and the French army horribly.

Napoleon had started a system, known as the Continental System, to wage economic warfare. Russia had pulled out the system, so Napoleon decided to attack. As Napoleon led his troops into the battle, instead of the Russians attacking back, they retreated and evacuated their cities and towns. Napoleon, driven to have battle, continued to lead. After a month and with winter coming and the troops becoming weak and addling for food, Napoleon turned his troops around. Out of nowhere, the Russians came, attacked, and were much stronger with force than the French. Napoleon lost over two/thirds of his troops. Following the attack, Napoleon lost another battle, causing him to surrender his crown. His efforts and great reign was beginning to come to an end. Following Napoleon’s surrender to the throne, a treaty was signed after his last lost battle, which stated the he be exiled to the islands of Elba. He later escaped the island and headed back to France, where he was greeted with open arms by crowds. Their new king had fled, so Napoleon took over.

Other countries that viewed France as an enemy had gotten word of Napoleon’s return, so they began to prepare. Napoleon had raised up an army and began to battle and defeat them individually before they got the opportunity to unite against him. This became known as Napoleon’s Hundred Day Campaign. After he defeated the Prussians, he was confronted with another battle, but was defeated by the British and Prussians. He, once again, was forced to surrender his thrown. Napoleon spent the rest of his life at a British-held island that was named Saint Helena. He died at the age. He was known as the one of the most respected leaders in history.

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