Emperor of France
Portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon not murdered, say scientists
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of the most brilliant individuals in history, Napoleon Bonaparte
was a masterful soldier, an unequalled grand tactician and a superb
administrator. He was also utterly ruthless, a dictator and, later
in his career, thought he could do no wrong.
a Frenchman by birth, Napoleon Bonaparte was born at Ajaccio
on Corsica - only just sold to France
by the Italian state of Genoa - on 15 August 1769 and learnt French
at the school of Autun and later the military academy at Brienne.
He never fully mastered French and his spelling left a lot to be
revolutionary fever that was spreading when Bonaparte was a teenager
allowed a talented individual the opportunity to rise far beyond
what could have been achieved only a few years previously.
first real military opportunity came as a captain of artillery at
the siege of Toulon, where he expertly
seized crucial forts and was able to bombard the British naval and
land forces, eventually forcing them to sail away.
Now a brigadier-general, Bonaparte served in the army campaigning
in Italy but found himself arrested and jailed for being an associate
of the younger brother of Maximilien
With no position for him after his release, Bonaparte thought about
joining the Turkish army and even joining a naval expedition to
Australia, but became involved with a member of the
Directory, Paul Barras, who used the
young man's zeal to put down a royalist mob in 1795 with the now
legendary "whiff of grapeshot".
his loyalty and ruthlessness proven, the next year Bonaparte took
up command of the Army of Italy and set off on a campaign that was
to take him to absolute power in France and Europe.
treated with suspicion, and not a little contempt, by the older
generals he superceded, Bonaparte won over his badly treated soldiers
with promises of great things to come and a large helping of personal
bravery. Like Caesar, he was not afraid to get into the thick of
the fighting to inspire his men.
In a series of battles that included such as Montenotte,
and Rivoli, Bonaparte swept the
board of ageing Austrian generals and established himself as one
of the leading soldiers of his time.