About Napoleon, Petre Tuțea said that he made the true history of the French Revolution. “A man restored the natural order by putting the hair on the haimanals on the street. When asked how he explained the entry of his armies into the Netherlands as a boulevard, while the kings of France were vainly looking at them, Napoleon replied: It was not the armies of France that entered, but the revolutionary ideas on the flag! A new philosophy of history had begun, with Napoleon.”
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), also known as Napoleon I, was an extraordinary French military leader and emperor who managed to conquer much of Europe in the early 19th century.
Born on the island of Corsica, Napoleon quickly rose through the ranks of the army during the French Revolution (1789-1799).
One of the youngest generals in French history
Napoleon became a French general at only 24 years old, he was a good strategist and a military genius, his victories in battles making him known and admired. He fought in over 80 battles, losing only nine, making France the greatest military power at the time.
In 1796, he was appointed commander of the French army in Italy, inducing Austria and its allies to make peace. In 1798, Napoleon led a military campaign into Egypt in an attempt to destroy British trade routes to India, but was dealt an unexpected blow when his fleet was defeated by the British on the Nile.
At the same time, France is faced with an uncomfortable fact: the new coalition of Austria and Russia with Great Britain. Napoleon returns to Paris, at a time when the government is going through moments of turmoil and confusion. In 1799, there is a coup d’état, after which Napoleon is appointed first consul, then in 1802 he becomes consul for life, and two years later, emperor.
Napoleon oversaw and administered the centralization of government, created the Banque de France (to stimulate economic recovery after the severe recession of the revolutionary period), reintroduced Roman Catholicism as the state religion, and reformed the law through the Napoleonic Code. The French civil code focused heavily on the organization of the family, the primary purpose of which was for it to represent the basic cell of society, giving the head of the family numerous powers and prerogatives over all other members of a family. This kind of power conferred on the representative of the house was called “marital power” or “paternal authority”, a power that was abolished in France in 1970, being replaced by parental authority.
Also, the Napoleonic Civil Code also regulated the guarantee of property, the observance of the terms and contracts signed between the parties, stimulated the development of the administration and the elimination of corruption, established order in the field of finance, greatly reduced unemployment, put many public construction programs in motion, he also helped to improve education (less education for girls, Napoleon saying “I don’t think we need bother with the education of girls. Their destiny is marriage”).
Creates the Confederation of the Rhine
In 1800, Napoleon is notable for his victory against the Austrians at Marengo (40 km east of the city of Milan), following negotiations for peace throughout Europe, which led to the imposition of French power on the continent. The year 1803 comes with new armed challenges. Britain resumes war with France, later supported by Russia and Austria. In 1805, the French naval fleet is defeated by the English led by Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar, which causes Napoleon to abandon his plans to invade England, turning his arms against the Austro-Russian forces that he defeats at Austerlitz.
This victory (December 2, 1805) brings Napoleon, and implicitly France, new territories, including the annexation of Prussian lands (Austria cedes all possessions from the Adriatic Sea). Also then, the Holy Roman Empire, whose leader was the Emperor of Austria, was dissolved and replaced by the Confederation of the Rhine (1806 – 1813 – The Confederation of the Rhine, created by Napoleon, included 16 German states, with a total population of 15 million inhabitants, and offered a great strategic advantage to the French Empire on the Eastern front).
The first exile
In 1808, the Peninsular War begins, known in Spanish literature as the Spanish War of Independence, which pitted the French army against Spanish, Portuguese and British regular armies. The war lasted until 1814, culminating in the victory of the Sixth Coalition over the French Empire and its allies, with Napoleon exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba. On February 26, 1815, he managed to escape from there, leaving for Paris. He returned to the throne of France on March 20, 1815, this second reign lasting only 100 days.
The second exile
On March 25, 1815, the VII anti-French Coalition (represented by England, Russia, Austria and Prussia) takes place, and on June 18, 1815, the famous Waterloo battles take place, in which the French army led by Napoleon is defeated by the Anglo-Prussian army under the command of the Duke of Wellington and Field Marshal von Blucher. With this defeat, Napoleon ends his second reign and is forced by the British into exile on the remote St. Helena Island in the Atlantic Ocean, being succeeded in the political and military leadership of France by Louis XVIII.
Being on the Island, isolated, defeated, Napoleon dictated his memoirs to Count Las Cases (French atlas creator and author), wrote a book about Julius Caesar and studied English.
Death of an Emperor
Napoleon Bonaparte died on the island of Saint Elba, on May 5, 1821, at only 51 years old. “I am dying prematurely, assisted by the English oligarchy and its paid assassin,” said Napoleon three weeks before his death, words which he also included at the end of his will. His last words were “France, the army, the head of the army, Josephine.” The conclusion of Napoleon’s personal physician was that the emperor died of a cancerous stomach ulcer, a variant not unanimously accepted, many of the doctors of that period advancing the idea that Napoleon would have been poisoned with arsenic. The analyzes done in secret by them would have led to the above hypothesis. Napoleon’s body was brought to France in 1840, and on December 15, national funerals were held. Since 1861, Napoleon’s body rests in a porphyry sarcophagus, located in the crypt under the Dome of the Invalides in Paris.
Napoleon, two wives, an official mistress and three children
“You must never get angry when talking to women; you must quietly listen to them beat the plains,” said Napoleon. He loved many women, was married twice, and the only woman who managed to impose her authority on the emperor was Bonaparte’s mother. “My successes and all the good deeds I have done I owe to my mother.”
In 1796 he married Josefina Beauharnais who, years later, would cheat on Napoleon right in front of the world. Josefina was the widow of General Alexandre Beauharnais, who died during the French Revolution. In 1805, Napoleon met the beautiful Eleonore Denuelle de la Plaigne, a young woman of only 18 years, with whom he had a child. Léon Denuelle – the first child of the emperor.
In 1807, at a ball organized in the capital of Poland, Napoleon met Countess Maria Walewska who, although married, became Napoleon’s mistress. When she becomes pregnant, Bonaparte divorces Josefina, but because he cannot marry a “mistress”, he will marry Marie Louise, the daughter of the Emperor of Austria.
The son of the “mistress”, Alexandre Colonna-Walewski would become foreign minister during the reign of Napoleon III, grandson of Napoleon I. Bonaparte marries Marie Louise Duchess of Parma on March 11, 1810, a year later coming to world their child, Napoleon Francoise Joseph Charles Bonaparte (the Emperor’s only legitimate child). After Napoleon was exiled to the Island of Elba in 1814, Marie Louise returned to Austria, never seeing her husband again.