Last modified on 11 September 2007, at 01:23

Modern History/Napoleon Bonaparte

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a general of the French Revolution; the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from 11 November 1799 to 18 May 1804; then Emperor of the French (Empereur des Français) and King of Italy under the name Napoleon I from 18 May 1804 to 6 April 1814; and briefly restored as Emperor from March 20 to June 22 of 1815.

Although Napoleon himself developed few military innovations, apart from the divisional squares employed in Egypt and the placement of artillery into batteries, he used the best tactics from a variety of sources, and the modernized French army, as reformed under the various revolutionary governments, to score some major victories. His campaigns are studied at military academies all over the world and he is generally regarded as one of the greatest commanders to have ever lived. Over the course of little more than a decade, he fought virtually every European power and acquired control of most of the western and central mainland of Europe by conquest or alliance until his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, followed by defeat at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, which led to his abdication several months later and his exile to the island of Elba. He staged a comeback known as the Hundred Days (les Cent Jours), but was again defeated decisively at the Battle of Waterloo in present day Belgium on June 18, 1815, followed shortly afterwards by his surrender to the British and his exile to the island of Saint Helena, where he died six years later.

Aside from his military achievements, Napoleon is also remembered for the establishment of the Napoleonic Code. He is considered by some to have been one of the "enlightened despots".