Who was Napoleon Bonaparte?
Excluding artists, religious figures, royals with numbers attached, and people from a period or culture in which last names were not commonly used, Napoleon is one of the few historical figures readily identifiable by only his first name. Just who was Napoleon Bonaparte?
Facts about Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica (a French island off the coast of Italy) on August 15, 1769. He trained as a French artillery officer and led some successful campaigns during the French Revolution. In November 1799 he staged a coup d’état and took over the French government. He was crowned Emperor of the French in December 1804.
Napoleon Bonaparte conquered a large part of Europe, but failed in his attempts to conquer Spain and Russia. In April 1814, he was forced off the throne by a European coalition. Napoleon was exiled to Elba (another island off the Italian coast). He escaped from Elba in February 1815 and returned to France, where he again ruled for a period known as the “Hundred Days.” Once again Napoleon fought the European coalition that was allied against him. He lost the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena (a remote British island in the South Atlantic), where he died on May 5, 1821.
Opinions about Napoleon run the gamut from worshipful to censorious. Robert Gildea provides a good roundup in “Napoleon: Saint, Sinner or Both?” in the November 2013 issue of History Today.
Top 10 websites about Napoleon Bonaparte
A treasure trove maintained by the Fondation Napoléon, with a fantastic digital library.
Another excellent site, full of Napoleonic goodies.
Website of the International Napoleonic Society, with many scholarly articles and links.
Napoleon Bonaparte: The Podcast
Over 46 hour-long episodes, each covering a period of Napoleon’s life and career.
The McGill University Napoleon Collection
Wonderful collection of prints, monographs, maps, etc.
Napoleon, His Army and Enemies
Armies, battles, strategy, tactics, commanders, uniforms, maps.
Also military focused.
Napoleon & Empire
The French version of the site is more extensive than the English.
Reflections on a Journey to St. Helena
John Tyrrell’s musings on St. Helena, Napoleon’s exile and English attitudes towards Napoleon.
Société d’Études Historiques Révolutionnaires et Impériales
In French, for diehard researchers, source of documents (archives, objects, listings) devoted to the period 1789-1815. If you don’t read French, you might still enjoy the photo albums on the blog.
Napoleonic Wars Forum
(A bonus #11) Excellent discussion forum focused on the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with lots of useful information and links for those interested in the 1792-1815 period.
If you visit even a few of these, you’ll have no problem answering “who was Napoleon Bonaparte?”
You might also enjoy:
I have been praised with exaggeration, like all sovereigns who have done extraordinary things; but I always knew my intrinsic value.