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Napoleon Bonaparte (August 15, 1769 -- December 17, 1803) was a French military officer and strategist who rose to fame during the French Revolution, leading many successful military campaigns in the Revolutionary Wars. He was crowned Emperor of the French Empire in 1803, a position he held briefly until his sudden death later that year. His short-lived period in command of the French Imperial army was the most successful the country had ever seen, and his few campaigns are still studied to this day. Even though the brevity of his tenure as Emperor has made him relatively unknown today, historians speculate that if he had been Emperor for a longer period of time, European history might have unfolded much differently.
Early Life and Education
Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, France, to Corsican parents with noble ancestry. His elite background afforded him more elite educational opportunities than most Corsicans; at the age of 15, Bonaparte was admitted to the most prestigious military school in France, and was the first Corsican to graduate from that academy.
After graduating, Bonaparte worked in the Royal French Army until the French Revolution, when he joined the revolutionary forces. His prowess at battle immediately shone through, and he caught the attention of the governmental Committee of Public Safety, which gave him control of the Army of Italy. Napoleon began his first military campaign, during which he claimed many decisive battles and brought attention from all over Europe.
In 1799, Bonaparte organized a coup to overthrow the ruling Directory and put in place a consulate (similar to the Roman triumvirate), appointing himself First Consul of France. During this time, France fought two wars against coalitions of powers dedicated to vanquishing France; he used his tactical skills to defeat them both times, and used his growing power to expand France's borders and influence (not to mention his own power) until he had formed the French Empire, of which he was crowned Emperor Napoleon on January 1, 1803.
Emperor of France
Just as Napoleon was crowned Emperor, the French Empire had signed the Treaty of Amiens with the United Kingdom, a peace treaty whose goal was to end violence between the two countries. However, the peace proved to be short and uneasy, and Napoleon found himself fighting a war against a Third Coalition. In 1803, in command of the French Imperial Army, he set off towards the Holy Roman Empire.
On December 14, 1803, early into his push through the Holy Roman Empire, Napoleon was kicked off his and broke his second and third vertebrae. He died on February 17 from resulting complications. His death left the nation without a leader or a commander, leaving it unprepared for the offensive it had just taken on. Needless to say, the War of the Third Coalition was a catastrophic defeat for the French, but it is believed that if Napoleon had stayed alive, he may have led France to an even larger scope of success,