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1769 - 1821

Napoleon, often credited with being the greatest ever military commander, was born August 15th 1769, three months after Corsica had been defeated in war and taken over by France.

He was educated in France from the age of nine. He later spent a year at the Ecole Militaire in Paris before joining an artillery division of the French Army in 1785.

France was a country of people with great riches at that time, and others in extreme poverty.

They had been at war with their neighbouring counties, on and off, for hundreds of years, such as England, Russia, Holland, Austria, Italy and Spain.

By 1789, the French people had turned against King Louis XVI, with the outbreak of the French Revolution.

The revolutionaries had gained control of France by 1792, with Louis XVI brought to trial in December of that year. He was executed by guillotine January 21st 1793.

Napoleon image


A reign of terror followed, as the new ruling faction, began executing all potential enemies within their midst. During the last six weeks of that period, up to July 1794, nearly fourteen hundred people, were guillotined in Paris alone. France was then ruled by different government factions until Napoleon became ruler of France in 1799, and later, Emperor in May 1804.

Napoleon had gained that position by working his way up in the French army, reaching the status of Brigadier General by 1793. Later in that year, he played a decisive part in the siege of Toulon, the battle that saw British forces removed from France. By 1796, he was leading an army through Italy, further enhancing his reputation with some famous victories. Italy was followed by the invasion of Egypt, with his defeat of the Egyptians at the Battle of the Pyramids, gaining him control of Cairo.

The French navy were defeated by the British navy led by Admiral Horatio Nelson at Aboukir Bay (Nile) August 1st 1798, this isolating Napoleons expedition. Napoleon was then forced to abandon his army and return to France.

By 1799, Napoleon had become ruler of France. The following year, he defeated Austria in a war that brought peace to the region for a time. The few years of peace that followed, saw Napoleon proclaimed Consul for life, then in 1804, became Emperor of France, crowned by the Pope.

As Napoleon then had the power he craved, he set about his ambition of ruling all of Europe, defeating the countries that were plotting his demise.

He led his armies to two great victories against the Prussians (lands of modern day Germany & Poland) in 1806, and the Russians in 1807, then formed an alliance with Russia. That alliance allowed him to plot the downfall of his greatest enemy, Britain.

Napoleon then sent troops to Britain's ally Portugal, where they took control of the port of Lisbon. The capture of Lisbon was an attempt to cut Britain's supply route from the far east.

British and Spanish troops were sent to Portugal in response where they met Napoleons Grand Army on the Iberian Peninsular (lands of Spain & Portugal). The series of wars that followed, saw the Spanish troops defeated and the British pushed back to the coast.

By that time, most of Europe was under Napoleons control. Britain and Austria formed a coalition in 1809, and Russia broke off its alliance with France in 1812. Napoleon then invaded Russia with a multi national army of over 600,000 men, capturing Moscow. However, the Russians were far from defeated, and along with the harsh Russian winter, they turned the war around with Napoleon's army eventually decimated and fleeing in chaos, only 100,000 made it back to France.

Prussia, Sweden and Austria then declared war on France. Their combined forces defeated Napoleon at the Battle of the Nations in October 1813. That battle saw Napoleon's army of 200,000 men and 700 cannon, face an Allied army of over 400,000 with 1,500 cannon.

By 1814, Napoleon was forced to abdicate. He then went into exile on the Island of Elba. The Bourbon King Louis XVIII (younger brother of the executed Louis XVI) was then restored to the throne.

In March 1815, Napoleon returned to France where he regained the throne without bloodshed. By June of that year, he had been defeated by the British commander Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.

Napoleon was then forced into exile for a second time. He spent the rest of his life on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. His death May 5th 1821, saw him buried on the island.

His remains were moved from St Helena in 1840 so they could be reburied at the French army museum at Invalides in Paris.

Napoleon's Crypt image

Napoleon's Crypt at the Invalides

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_I People List