5 days ago
August 15, 1769 – Birth of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French.
Born as Napoleone di Buonaparte to Carlo Maria di Buonaparte and Maria Letizia Ramolino, in his family's ancestral home Casa Buonaparte in Ajaccio, the capital of the island of Corsica. In his 20s, he adopted the more French-sounding Napoléon Bonaparte.
When the Revolution broke out in 1789, Napoleon was serving as an artillery officer in the French army. Seizing the new opportunities presented by the Revolution, he rapidly rose through the ranks of the military, becoming a general at age 24.
At age 26, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians and their Italian allies—winning virtually every battle, conquering the Italian Peninsula in a year, and becoming a national hero. In 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt that served as a springboard to political power. He engineered a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic. His ambition and public approval inspired him to go further, and in 1804 he became the first Emperor of the French.
Hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, Napoleon invaded Iberia and declared his brother Joseph the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support.
In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France. A lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. The Allies then invaded Franceand captured Paris in the spring of 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April. He was exiled to the island of Elba near Rome and the Bourbons were restored to power. However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June. The British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died six years later at the age of 51.
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