Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Napoleon Bonaparte

We left The French Revolution at the point when Napoleon Bonaparte joined in.  You can read that blog post here.

We have studied Bonaparte on many different occasions.  He is a pretty fascinating little history dude.  His small stature has always been pointed out, and he was ridiculed for being short but he was actually 5 feet 6 inches tall and for his day, that was considered average.

So what else makes him interesting?

~He was born on August 15, 1760 in Ajaccio, Corsica, France, a French commune (town) La Maison Bonaparte or Casa Buonaparte if you speak Corsican.

~His birth name was Nabulione, and his nickname was Little Corporal.

~He had seven siblings.

~He was most famous for being a superior military commander as he conquered so much of Europe.

~He was fortunate enough to have enough money to go to military school in France but while he was there training his father passed away, and Napoleon returned to his family home in Corsica to help his family.

~His trip back to Corsica led him to a revolutionary named Pasquale Paoli.  Paoli was fighting against French occupation of Corsica.  Napoleon decided to join him but that did not last long.  He went back to France and returned to fight with the French.

~Napoleon proved himself as a great military leader and was appointed full command of the French army in Italy.

~It is said that Napoleon was brilliant and had superior organization skills.  For example, he used this organization skill to move troops around the battlefield so they would outnumber their enemy.  By doing this, he drove the Austrians out of Italy.  He was a national hero for this.

~Napoleon spent some time inn Egypt before returning to Paris.  In 1799, Napoleon, his brother Lucien, and a few other allies formed a new government called the Consulate.  This new government would consist of three consuls; first, second, and third.  Napoleon quickly gave himself the role of the first consul, i.e. a dictator.

~Napoleon instituted many government reforms.  The most famous is that of the Napoleonic Code.  Simply put, a person could not be appointed to governmental positions based on their birth rights or religion but instead by their abilities and qualifications.

~The French economy was booming because of Napoleon.  Their were new roads and businesses established.  The Catholic Church was reestablished and was the official state religion.

~In 1803, North America purchased a great portion of land controlled by the French for a mere four cents an acre. Think Louisiana Purchase.

~In 1804, Napoleon was crowned the first Emperor of France.

~Napoleon tried to maintain peace but soon found that France was at war with Russia, Austria, and Britain.  After he lost a naval battle with Britain (Battle of Trafalgar), he decided to randomly attack Austria which he defeated easily both the Austrian and the Russian armies (Battle of Austerlitz 1805).

~By 1811, France was in control of much of Europe including Spain and the borders of Russia.

~For whatever reason, Napoleon decided to attack Russia.  Big mistake!  He marched his army to Russia with many of them starving to death before they made it there.  The battle began with the Russian army and when Napoleon entered Moscow, the city was completed empty and set on fire.  Most of their supplies were burned up so by winter, they were out of supplies and had to return to France, however, not many of them made the trip back alive.

~In 1814, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba.

~In 1815, Napoleon escaped from Elba.  What was left of his army quickly backed him up, and he took over Paris (The Hundred Days).

Other European countries wanted nothing more to do with Napoleon so they assembled their armies together and attacked him at Waterloo.

Napoleon was defeated on June 18, 1815 in the Battle of Waterloo.  He was forced into exile this time to Saint Helena where he died six years later (1821).

Napoleonic trivia:

*Napoleon suffered from Ailurophobia.  (fear of cats)

*He was said to be a highly superstitious man.

*He was known to drink 48 cups of coffee a day.

*He designed the national flag of Italy.

*The word Napoleon can also mean a type of cherry, a gun, a French coin, or a boot.

*He liked playing blackjack.

Bonaparte family tree.

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