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Napoleon Bonaparte A Military Leader In The 1700s History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

One of the greatest military leaders of all time, mainly known for his height and military skills. Napoleon was born “in Ajaccio on the island of Corsica on” August 15, 1769. Napoleon Bonaparte was born to be a military figure. Napoleon “was selected for the Elite Military Academy (Ecole Militaire) in Paris, in” 1784. From August 27 to December 19, 1793, the young Napoleon conducted the siege of Toulon; showing his military potentials. After his performance at the Siege of Toulon; Napoleon was given the position of Brigadier-General in December 1793. At 25, Napoleon had made his mark in the military world. Along with his success, came his failures; Napoleon was exiled twice. Despite being exiled for his failures, Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest military strategists, and left France as a greater country than he had found it (Laughter & Lawter Genealogy).

Napoleon was the second son of eight children to Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino in Casa Buonaparte in Ajaccio, on the small island of Corsica on August 15, 1769. Napoleon’s father, Carlo Buonaparte, was Corsica’s representative to the court of Louis XVI. Napoleon had seven siblings, having only one older brother, Joseph, while the others were: Lucien, Elisa, Louis, Pauline, Caroline and Jerome. Napoleon Bonaparte was baptized Catholic days before his second birthday. In May of 1779, Napoleon enrolled at Brienne military academy. After finishing Brienne, Napoleon enrolled at Ecole Militaire (France’s elite military school) in 1784. Napoleon was forced to finish all of his courses in one year due to the low income, because of his father’s death. Napoleon graduated in September 1785.

After graduating, Napoleon’s military career was ready to rise. Napoleon received a commission to second lieutenant in the French Army in artillery. In August of 1793, Napoleon filled in for a French artillery commander at Toulon, and completed the Siege of Toulon against the British Naval Fleet in December 1793. The Siege of Toulon brought Napoleon Bonaparte to national prominence in France, earning him Brigadier General at the age of 24. “In 1796, Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais, a beautiful woman of French descent from Martinique in the West Indies”. France had become enemies with much of Europe. Napoleon’s military career was ready to take off, and for him to officially rise to power (Laughter & Lawter Genealogy).

“From 1792 to 1795, France had been at war with much of Europe. By, 1796, Austria had become France’s” main enemy. Napoleon left Josephine days after getting married “to take command of a French army on the Italian- French border; a” small force of only 38,000 men. Napoleon ends up winning the war against Austria. In less than a year, Napoleon had defeated four armies, each being larger than his own. “In October of 1797, France and Austria sign the Treaty of Campoformio, which enlarged France’s territory”, only making them more powerful. At his return to Paris after the war, Napoleon is hailed a hero (Laughter & Lawter Genealogy).

From all of his early success, Napoleon had formed a military strategy that he would forever use in his future experiences. The strategy: “To start a battle while holding back as large a reserve as possible”. “Then, seek the weakest point in the enemy’s lines, and throw all” of his strength forces “against that point at the decisive moment. Napoleon” Bonaparte “had an extraordinary ability to recognize the best time to attack”. After returning from the war against Austria, Napoleon already had political dreams. However, Napoleon felt that he did not have enough power France to grasp that kind of position. Napoleon was also considered one of the smartest at the military position; instead of attacking England, Napoleon opted to invade Egypt, therefore destroying the trade business with Egypt and England. “In May 1798, Napoleon sailed for Egypt with about 38,000 men”. Bonaparte reached Egypt in July. He defeated the Mamelukes (Egypt’s military leaders “in the Battle of the Pyramids near Cairo. On August” 1, 1798, the French Fleet that Napoleon use to get to Egypt “was destroyed in the Battle of the Nile by a British Fleet”, causing Napoleon and his army to be stranded there. Seeing that Napoleon was stranded in Egypt with only 38,000 men, Turkey forms an alliance with “Britain and Russia, and declared war on France. In 1799, Napoleon’s troops invaded Turkish Syria, and advanced as far as the fortress acre. In the” time during the invasion, “Napoleon learned that a Turkish army was preparing to invade Egypt. Napoleon retreated to Egypt, where he” defeated the Turks at Abu Qir. After defeating the Turkish army, Napoleon found out “that Austria, Britain, and Russia had formed a coalition against France, and had” already defeated the French army in Italy. Upon his return to Paris, France; Napoleon was heavily greeted, and liked by the French people. Napoleon soon took control of the entire French government on November 9, 1799 (Laughter & Lawter Genealogy).

Once supreme leader, Napoleon instantly wanted peace; in May 1800, Napoleon lead a famous march across the Alps and into the Po Valley if northern Italy. Napoleon’s army surprisingly defeated the Austrian army in the battle of Marengo. As a result of the defeat, the Austrians signed the Treaty of Luneville. Once the British heard of the Australian defeat, they immediately agreed to peace in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. Europe was finally in peace after 10 years. Napoleon supervised the revision of the French law into 7 different codes. The 7 codes included the freedoms earned by the French people. Due to Napoleon’s popularity among his people, he was named first consul for life, while bearing the right to name who his successor will be. Napoleon officially established his empire on May 18, 1804. As emperor, Napoleon created new set up a court, changed the titles of government officials, and nobility; with all these new changes, the average French man noticed little difference. In the end, the Treaty of Amiens turned out to be nothing but a postponement to the war. In May of 1803, the war with England started all over again. Napoleon had finalized his idea of invading England in the summer of 1805, but his operations failed. Napoleon instead chose to fight the Third Coalition. “By 1805, Russia, Sweden, and Austria had joined Britain’s” coalition against France. The path of Napoleon’s army: September 1805- Defeated Germany in Germany, October 1805- Defeats an Austrian army at Ulm, December- Defeats the Russian and Australian at the Battle of Austerlitz. Once defeated, Austria agreed to the Treaty of Pressburg on December 27, 1805, dispossessing them of their additional lands; causing additional humiliation to the once mighty. Napoleon reached the peak of his career due to the results of the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1806, Russia had a new member in its own coalition against France, Prussia. In October of 1806, Napoleon’s army surprise attacked the Prussian army at Jena and at close by Auerstedt. As the list went on, Napoleon’s army defeated: Russia in June of 1807 and Austria at Vienna in 1809. Napoleon’s empire was enlarging after each victory (Laughter & Lawter Genealogy).

Napoleon formed the Confederation of the Rhine, consisting of multiple western German states, placing them under his protection. Napoleon determined provinces of Italy and Germany and turned “them into dukedoms and principalities; giving them” to family and friends. Napoleon made his brother Joseph the king of Naples, and his brother Louis the king of Holland in 1806. Napoleon crowned his brother Jerome the king of Westphalia. Napoleon later “added the Grand Duchy of Warsaw to France” as well. Napoleon’s sister Elisa was given the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The Illyrian Provinces (covering the majority of what Slovenia and Croatia are today) were also added to the large territories already occupied by France. Napoleon’s empire was at its great height when he occupied Holland and the majority of Germany. Napoleon’s wife Josephine was now 46 with no children; Napoleon was starting to get worried as to who would success him after his death. In December of 1809, Napoleon divorced Josephine, and “married the 18 year old Archduchess Marie Louise” in April of 1810.In an attempt to deter the British trade, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree, banning all British ships from ports under French control. Napoleon issued the Milan decree in 1807, intending to prevent any ships from any country carrying British goods to other continents. The processes of the Milan and Berlin decrees were recognized as the Continental System. Due to Portugal being close to Britain, they declined to follow the Milan decree. As a result of Portugal’s denial to the decree, Napoleon gained control of certain parts of Portugal in 1807. France took control of Madrid, Spain in 1808; Napoleon gave power of Spain to his brother Joseph, as Murat took Joseph’s position as king of Naples. Due to France conquering Spain and Portugal, the two countries rebelled against the French. This rebellion led to the Peninsular War at the peninsula of Spain and Portugal in 1808. Shortly after the war began, the British joined in on the fight against France with Spain and Portugal. Tens of thousands of French soldiers had died since April 1814. The French were eventually driven out from Spain and Portugal, handing Napoleon his first defeat in ages (Laughter & Lawter Genealogy).

Due to Czar Alexander “of Russia withdrawing from the Continental System; Napoleon felt” betrayed and formed an army to specifically attack Russia. Napoleon’s 600,000 men were pitted against Russia’s 200,000. Russia’s people were retreating once they heard that Napoleon himself will be coming to fight in Russia. Moscow was deserted; Napoleon waited in Moscow, looking forward to Alexander offering a peace treaty, but none came. The winters were harsh in Russia as Napoleon planned a retreat back to France in October of 1812. The soldiers were hit with freezing temperatures and snowstorms. Napoleon was not able to provide his soldiers with much in these harsh conditions, as they starved and died of various other challenges. The majority of the struggling French soldiers were killed by special Russian soldiers called Cossacks. Of Napoleon’s 600,000 soldiers, 500,000 deserted, died or were captured by the Russians.Once Napoleon returned to Paris, he immediately recognized this fatal war as a disaster in his prominent 29th Bulletin. Napoleon’s French people still supported Napoleon despite his two recent failures; as this news provided optimism to his European enemies. After the defeat to Russia, Napoleon was immediately faced by a dangerous collection of alliances from Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden. Napoleon entered Germany in April of 1813 with a brand new army, instantly taking the first strike against the coalition. Napoleon initially won at Bautzen, Dresden, and Lutzen. Napoleon’s forces were outnumbered “in the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in” October. Napoleon was defeated in this battle, captured while retreating, and Paris was captured in the process in March of 1814. Napoleon eventually stepped down from his throne on April 11, 1814 at Fontainebleau; making Louis XVIII of the Bourbon family king, as per the decision of the coalition. Napoleon was exiled from France, thus becoming emperor of the tiny island of Elba. Napoleon’s wife and son were sent to this father-in-law (emperor of Austria), as Napoleon was to never see his wife or son ever again (Laughter & Lawter Genealogy).

Napoleon planned his return to France while on Elba. Napoleon sailed from the island with close to 1,000 of his followers (who also were exiled) in February of 1815. “Napoleon and his followers landed at Cannes and marched to Paris while he gained followers on March 1, 1815”. As Louis XVIII heard of Napoleon’s approaching of Paris, he fled as soon as possible. Napoleon entered Paris on the shoulders of his followers on March 20, 1815. Napoleon was back in power in less than 11 months. Upon his return to the throne, Napoleon introduced a new constitution that restricted his powers. “Napoleon assured the coalition that he wanted no war, but they obviously proclaimed him as an enemy, and disturber of world peace”. These comments by the coalition instigated a war. Napoleon entered Belgium with 125,000 men. The separate battles: June 16, defeated “Blucher at Ligny”, June 18- “Attacks Wellington first at Waterloo in one of the most famous battles in history”. Blucher’s forces arrived in the end to give the British the victory against Napoleon. The French army was roughly “outnumbered”, calling for Napoleon to retreat “to Paris on June 22. “The period from Napoleon’s return to Paris from Elba to his second abdication is known as the Hundred Days”. Napoleon was” once again forced to give up his powers. “Napoleon attempted an escape to the United States, but failed and eventually surrendered at Rochefort” (The World Book Encyclopedia, 18). For his second exile, Napoleon was sent to the “British Island” of St. Helena in August. Napoleon passed his time on St. Helena by telling others the story of his great life. Napoleon Bonaparte died on May 5, 1821, of the reported: “stomach ulcer that was cancerous or arsenic poisoning” (The World Book Encyclopedia, 18) (Laughter & Lawter Genealogy).


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