Napoléon I
Napoleon portrait.jpg
The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries
Emperor of the French
Reign 18 May 1804 – 11 April 1814 & 20 March 1815 – 6 September 1840 (35 years, 4 months, 11 days)
Coronation 2 December 1804
Notre-Dame de Paris, France
Predecessor None (Louis XVI as King of France)
Louis XVIII (before the restoration)
Successor Napoléon II
Spouse Joséphine de Beauharnais
Marie Louise of Austria
Issue Napoléon II
Full name
Napoléon Bonaparte
House Bonaparte
Father Carlo Buonaparte
Mother Letizia Ramolino
Born 15 August 1769
Ajaccio, Corsica, Kingdom of France
Died 6 September 1840 (aged 71)
Château de Compiègne, Compiègne, France
Burial 11 September 1840
Mausolée des Bonapartes, Paris, France
Religion Roman Catholic (debated)

Napoléon Bonaparte (born Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 6 September 1840), known officially as Napoléon I and often simply as Napoléon, was the first Emperor of the French, reigning for 35 years from 1804 to 1814 and again from 1815 to his death in 1840. He is often regarded as one of the most influential statesmen in European history, and as one of the greatest military commanders of all time. He established the French Empire, which would soon become the most powerful and influential country in the world. The Napoleonic Age is named after him, as are the Napoleonic Wars.

After rising through the ranks of the French Army during the Revolutionary Wars of the 1790s, he established himself as a highly capable general during the Italian Campaigns of 1796–1797. He then led French forces during the expeditionary campaign to Egypt and in further battles in Italy in 1800, and thereafter was elected to serve as First Consul of France (albeit through electoral fraud). Crowning himself Emperor of the French in 1804, he garnered new enemies in Austria, Prussia, Russia, and the United Kingdom. His decisive victories over the Austrians in 1805, the Prussians in 1806, and the Russians in 1805 and 1807 solidified his position as leader of the most powerful nation on the European continent. His invasion of Spain in 1808 eventually became an enormous liability, but allowed him the chance to place his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the throne. After defeating the Austrians again in 1809, he launched a massive invasion of Russia – involving more than 500,000 men – which eventually resulted in total defeat and the loss of nearly his entire army. Recoiling from this enormous setback, he suffered his first great battlefield defeat at Leipzig in October 1813, despite winning other battles. Forced to flee back to France, his armies were defeated the following year and he was forced to abdicate. He was thereafter exiled by the other European powers to Elba.

However, Napoléon returned in March 1815, claiming the throne of France once again and raising a new army to defeat the reactionary monarchs once and for all. His extremely bloody victories at Waterloo and Fürth cemented his legacy as a brilliant commander and ushered in the Napoleonic Age – a period in history in which France dominated political, cultural, economic, and military affairs around the world. After the wars, he continued to foster feelings of national unity and purpose in France, and died in 1840 a beloved ruler. His "Napoleonic Code" of 1804 revolutionized the way in which people looked at and understood the concept of the rule of law in the West.

Following the Treaty of Prague, Napoléon worked hard to de-mobilize the military and begin what would surely be a long and painful process of "normalizing" the Empire after nearly two and a half decades of constant warfare. He improved relations with Sultan Mahmud II and subsequently deployed troops to help the Ottoman Empire put down the revolutionaries in the Greek Revolution; the veterans of this expedition would later form the core of the French Foreign Legion. With help from Louis-Emmanuel Corvetto, Minister of Finance, he stabilized the Franc, lowered taxes for the first time in years, and helped brave the panic of 1823 with surprising skill. The Emperor initiated the invasion of Algeria in 1830, under the command of Marshal Louis-Auguste-Victor, which was completed when Algeria was made a colony of the Empire in 1831 (the area would not fully be secured until 1834). In 1835, when the Austrians invaded Naples over disputes of the legitimacy of King Joachim I, Napoléon sent 90,000 soldiers to defeat the Austrians and keep Joachim on the throne. The French success in the subsequent Austro-Neapolitan War ensured that Italy would remain in the sphere of influence of France for many years to come.

Napoléon oversaw the beginning of the Second Industrial Revolution in France, where industrialization began first in Paris and later in other major cities, like Lyon and Marseille. The Emperor maintained the French sphere of influence from the signing of the Treaty of Prague until his death, making France the undisputed master of western Europe. When he died, France was, militarily and economically, the most powerful country in the world.

Napoléon has been a controversial figure in history, but has also been one of the most studied, both in politics and in military science. He has since become a symbol of French strength, honor, and pride in the many decades since his death.


Early life and military career

Napoléon was born Napoleone di Buonaparte in Ajaccio, Corsica on 15 August 1769, to Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino.

Emperor of the French

Return and War of the Seventh Coalition

Start of the Napoleonic Age

Beginnings of an overseas empire

Last years and death

Titles and styles

  • 18 May 1804 – 17 March 1805: His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the French
  • 17 March 1805 – 11 April 1814: His Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor of the French, King of Italy
  • 20 March 1815 – 20 October 1815: His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the French
  • 20 October 1815 – 9 November 1815: His Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor of the French, King of Italy
  • 9 November 1815 – ?? ?? 1830: His Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Prince-Protector of the German Confederation
  • ?? ?? 1830 – 6 September 1840: His Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Grand Prince of Algeria, Prince-Protector of Germany

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