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|Napoleone di Buonaparte|
|Napoleone, Emperor of the Italians, King of Spain, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhone.|
|Emperor of the Italians|
|Reign||24 July, 1858 - 14 September, 1868|
|King of Spain|
|Reign||13 August, 1859 - 14 September, 1868|
|Protector of the Confederation of the Rhone|
|Reign||11 June, 1861 - 14 September, 1868|
|Predecessor|| position established|
Charles XVI (as Emperor of Francia)
|Successor|| position abolished|
Charles XVI (as Emperor of Francia)
|Spouse||Margaret of Brussels|
|Issue||Napoleone Victor di Buonaparte|
|Napoleone di Buonaparte|
|Born|| 20 April, 1818 |
Ajaccio, Corsica, Genoa
|Died|| 9 January, 1883 |
Portoferraio, Elba, Tuscany
Napoleone di Buonaparte, also known as Emperor Napoleone I, or simply Napoleone, was an Italian political and military figure who rose to prominence in the Tuscan Revolution, and led many successful campaigns in the Tuscan Revolutionary Wars, and the Napoleonic Wars after them. He would be the focus of European politics for over a decade, combating various coalitions sent against his rapidly expanding realm. He won most battles he fought, but led to his ultimate defeat in 1868. His lasting legacy would be the liberalization of much of Europe, most of which remained bound to feudalism. Napoleone's influence would see the power of nobles across Europe greatly reduced, and the concepts of liberty and equality, and their protection, entrenched.
Napoleone was born on April 20, 1818 in the Buonaparte family house in Ajaccio, the capital of Genoese Corsica. He was named after his uncle, his father's older brother and a general in the Genoese Army, who would die of stomach cancer in 1821.
As the Buonapartes were descended from Tuscan nobility who immigrated to Corsica in the 16th century, that his paternal grandfather served on the governing council in Genoa, and his father was a Genoese representative to the Imperial Diet in Frankfurt, Napoleone had a privileged birth, and thus had access to the finest education in Corsica.
Indeed, Napoleone was regarded as a brilliant student, distinguishing himself in mathematics, as well as learning Ligurian, though he would still have trouble speaking it, as well as spelling some words. He was also noted for becoming well acquainted with history and geography, where a tutor of his remarked that would've made a fine sailor. When he completed his studies at 16, he enrolled in the Genoese Military School, where his namesake uncle taught in the school of artillery in his later career.
Graduating in 1840, he was given a Second Lieutenants commission in the Genoese artillery.
After receiving his commission, Napoleone was stationed in Savona. While he was fluent in Ligurian, he spoke with an unmistakable Corsican accent, which often led to miscommunication with those under his command. Nevertheless, he proved to be a capable officer, being promoted to Major by 1847.
During his tenure, Napoleone would come to support a growing revolutionary wave the was sweeping across Southern Europe. It argued for the rights of the common man over the privileges of the aristocracy. Despite, arguably, being of aristocratic birth, Napoleone would write several essays in sympathizing underground newspapers. In Genoa, one of the more liberal Italian states, a popularly elected lower chamber was established by the Doge and the Council a couple years prior, but elsewhere governments proved more resistant.
In 1848, revolution would take hold in Tuscany, as people there felt that for their rights to be protected, the nobility must be removed. Tuscan citizens stormed the Grand Ducal Palace and captured the Grand Duke. Forcing him to abdicate at gunpoint, a "Tuscan Republic" was proclaimed, ruled by a five-person council. The overthrow led to waves of condemnation from the surrounding states, as well as the Frankfurt Diet. The Tuscan ruling council sent out a call for volunteers to form a republican army.
Napoleone was at first merely one of many who answered that call. Resigning his Genoese army commission, he left Corsica and volunteered for the newborn Tuscan Republican Army, he was subsequently given command of an artillery company.
War of the First Coalition
Despite the republican revolution, there remained a significant number of royalists throughout Tuscany, who formed counter-revolutionary armies in an attempt to restore the monarchy. One of these armies attacked Napoleone's stationed post, a hill overlooking the port of Piombino that he had turned into a fort. Utilizing canister shot (packing cannon barrels with small metal balls), his company inflicted many casualties on the royalist force, causing them to retreat, and allowing time for republican reinforcements to arrive. His victory there was credited with saving the revolution, for though Piombino was a small port, it would've allowed the royalists to begin receiving greater numbers of supplies from outside supporters.
Following his success, Napoleone was placed in command the Tuscan Second Republican Army seeing off the armies of Lucca, Urbino, and various other Italian states that tried intervening on the side of the Royalists. With approval from the governing council, Napoleone led a counterattack, defeating the reserve armies of both Lucca and Urbino, before advancing into, and conquering, Modena. Emboldened by having the Modenese and Urbinese Dukes and the Luccan Consul prisoner, in 1852 the Tuscan governing council demanded the annexation of all three states, which acquiesced, thus ending the War of the First Coalition.
Napoleone returned to Tuscany to a hero's welcome, and found himself promoted to command of the Tuscan Grand Republican Army. During this period of peace, Napoleone pushed a series of reforms the modernize the army, which, like many in Europe, was structured in accordance to old feudal organization. Replacing often experienced, but privileged, Field Marshals and Colonels with those who previously were Majors, Lieutenants and in a few notable cases, Sergeants, Napoleone essentially rebuilt the army from the ground up.
War of the Second Coalition
This would be put to the test when a second coalition, broadening to include Milan, Savoy, Venice, Genoa, and Prussia (King Frederick William was Holy Roman Emperor), was formed in 1853 to bring down Tuscany's revolutionary government. Declaring war in March, a Coalition army advanced into the Republic and managed to put Modena under a siege before Napoleone met them. When he did put his army together, Napoleone immediately marched north. It was at this time that the Tuscan governing council ordered mass conscription, as it believed the number of volunteers for the army was unlikely to increase.
After lifting the siege at Modena, Napoleone defeated the Italian armies in a series of battles in Modena and southern Milan. In September, the Prussian army under the command of Field Marshal Paul von Guben arrived, meeting Napoleone outside of Codogno. The ensuing battle proved to be Napoleone's costliest up to this point, but nonetheless forced the Prussians out of Italy. Napoleone grew to appreciate the quality of Prussian troops as a result of the battle with von Guben, and even came to look forward to meeting them in battle.
After Codogno, the Papacy called for a peace conference, offering to host it. The Pope, however, insisted that the starting basis be the borders of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the revolutionary government still in power, but its conquered lands released to their previous rulers. While Napoleone privately wrote that he personally would've been content with this basis, the governing council evidently felt different. Calling the basis an "insult to the progress of Liberty", the council ordered an invasion of the Papal States, a violation of its eternal neutrality agreed upon in the Peace of Hamburg. As the Papal States had no formal military aside from the Pope's personal security force, Rome fell to the Republican army within two days.
In 1854, Napoleone began receiving the first of the conscript units, replacing many of the losses he suffered at Codogno. With renewed numbers, he advanced north taking Milan itself before moving into Ferrara and Mantau. By August, northern Italy was occupied by Napoleone. The governing council only now called for peace with the Holy Roman Emperor, the fact that Frederick William was Lutheran helped the Tuscans following their conquest of the Papal States, and a truce was agreed to, with the Tuscans annexing the lands Napoleone and his generals conquered.
Coup and First Consul
Returning to Florence with the public dazzled by his victories, Napoleone had just been made aware of the complete ineptitude of the governing council, especially in regards to the economy. While Napoleone was commanding the armies of the Republic, the council had swindled what income the state could make, diverting much of the money into their own pockets.
With public opinion on his side, Napoleone ordered the arrest of the councillors. His well-trained and battle hardened veterans proved too much for the inexperienced security forces in the councils building. With the councillors arrested, Napoleone announced the creation of a quadrumvirate, with himself leading it as First Consul.
With peace settling over the Republic for the first time in seven years, Napoleone set about implement his own set of reforms. The first of which was the renaming of the state to the "Italian Republic". He established a senate, where some power was delegated to, but approval from the Quadrumvirate was required on any legislation approved by it.
A number of economic reforms were also passed, aimed at improving the condition of the poor, as well as social reforms, barring any sort of privilege granted to a person because of their birth and establishing a common civil and criminal law.
Perhaps Napoleone's greatest reform was his expanding of the metric system, a type of measuring that was based on multiples of ten. Introduced by the governing council, it was part of series of attempts at breaking away from "aristocratic" traditions (which also included a short-lived re-imagining of the calendar). While Napoleone didn't much care for the councils motivations, or some of their other re-imaginings, the metric system appealed to him, so he led the way in converting to it. While he and his generals would continue using imperial measurements out of comfortability, the civilian side soon got used to the metric system, and the simplicity of the metric system would convince many other countries to adopt it.
From day one, Napoleone faced threats from both Royalists and supporters of the old governing council, both of whom saw Napoleone's rule of the Republic through the Quadrumvirate illegal. After a series of smaller attempts throughout 1855 and 1856, in the later half of 1857 Napoleone's police force discovered an assassination plot involving former members of the government, and possibly a member of the exiled Tuscan royal family, Gian de'Medici, though the extent of the latter is a subject of debate.
Under Napoleone's direction, a company of his dragoons secretly crossed into the Aragonese Kingdom of Naples, where Gian was a local nobleman, and kidnapped him. After a short, secret, trial Gian was executed.
The event caused a serious diplomatic incident between the Italian Republic and Aragon, who until this had maintained a position of armed neutrality while it dealt with revolutionaries within its own territory. Aragon issued its first condemnation against the revolutionary government, and began considering further action. The incident also benefited Aragon's counter-revolutionary efforts in Naples; whereas many were expecting the fall of Aragonese authority over Naples to a revolutionary government, potentially a pro-Napoleone one, now Napoleone's raid have the pro-Aragon forces a rallying call, one that the majority of Neapolitans responded to.
Meanwhile, the assassination plot, and the alleged Medici involvement gave Napoleone an opportunity. Using the plot, he intended to re-create the hereditary, with himself as emperor. The move would have two effects: 1) by having a Buonapartist dynasty enshrined in the constitution, it would delegitimize a Medici restoration, and 2) by making himself an emperor, Napoleone would put himself on equal footing with the Holy Roman Emperor, and reject imperial authority over the lands under his control.
Napoleone was "elected" emperor in a lopsided, and probably fixed, referendum where 98.3% of those voting approved of the decision. Napoleones coronation was widely regarded as a sham, the Pope refused to coronate Napoleone, but Buonaparte never intended to ask. Instead, the High Judge of the Republic had Napoleone raise his hand, and answer a series of vows of what was expected to do as emperor (protect the Freedom of Speech, ensure Freedom of Religion, etc.). Afterwards, the High Judge extended Napoleone a cushion on which his imperial crown rested. Napoleone then too, the crown and placed it on his head himself, in a gesture to show the church held no power over him.
War of the Third Coalition
With Napoleone declaring himself an emperor, and the rejecting the authority of the Holy Roman Empire that came with it, Emperor Frederick William organized the largest coalition yet, consisting of Prussia, Austria, Luxembourg, among many smaller Imperial states, along with Aragon, Castile, and the Empire of Francia. This new coalition collectively declared war on October 13, 1858.
Napoleone had expected the response, and had made arrangements. Hungary allied itself with Italy, as did Portugal, both of which saw an opportunity to advance their own ambitions by allying with Naopoleone. As Hungary had the longest continual border with the Holy Roman Empire, a significant portion of the Imperial armies were diverted. As such, Luxembourg and Bavaria were tasked in leading the Imperial force heading to Italy.
Napoleone would see off these forces at the Battle of Sion, after which he forced the Swiss states of Valais, Ticino, and the County of Geneva to accept annexation. With Imperial forces thrown back across the Alps, Napoleone turned east to deal with the Breton-led Francian invasion of the Piedmont, leaving several divisions to defend the Swiss mountain passes.
He then turned south, where Aragonese Naples was threatening Rome. Lifting the siege, he led a counter invasion of Naples. At every battle where Aragonese forces tried to stand, Napoleome or his commanders swept them aside. The invasion of Naples lasted three weeks before it was annexed into Italy. Deciding to use the momentum he had built up, Napoleone authorized an invasion of Sicily. Despite not having built up a sizable navy, what ships Naopoleone had proved adequate to allow his army to cross the Strait of Messina, and Sicily fell in five days.
After fending off an Austrian invasion of Veneto, Napoleone again turned east. Crossing the Rhone River into Aragonese Toulouse, he again defeat Aragon's regional armies before marauding across the Occitania, ravaging Auvergne, Guyenne, and many smaller states, even invading Breton Aquitaine, creating various puppet republics or monarchies (putting his cousins or siblings in charge of some of the latter) before deciding to invade Iberia, wher Portugal was having trouble fending off Castile and Aragon.
Swinging through Navarre, Napoleone invaded the Kingdom of Aragon, the Aragonese heartland. The Aragonese General in Chief, Antoni Castell, had spent the majority of the war organizing a proper, national army to face Napoleone, and was regarded as the finest military commander in the Iberian Peninsula. Castell and Napoleone would meet in July of 1859 near the town of Utebo, with a combined 237,000 soldiers between them. The Battle of Utebo, the largest engagement of armies in modern history, lasted for three days before Antoni Castell ordered a retreat after his right flank collapsed from a cavalry attack. Napoleone would go on to occupy the Aragonese capital, Zaragoza.
The Battle of Utebo would knock Aragon from the war. Charles V would be forced to flee to Majorca, which, along with Sardinia, remained free, before again fleeing to New Sicily as Castilian and Granadan defeats threatened to close the Strait of Gibraltar.
After conquering mainland Aragon, Napoleone then invaded Castile and Granada while a revitalized Portugal invaded from the west. The Italo-Portuguese armies would meet at Toledo, and surround it. Afte a two week siege, Castile's Alfonso VIII surrendered. As a condition of surrender, Alfonso abdicated and acknowledged Napoleone's "just" rule. Giving disputed border areas to Portugal, and separating Toulouse as a client republic, Napoleone organized a "Kingdom of Spain", with himself as King.
No longer hindered by an Iberian front, Napoleone again turned to Francia. He defeated a number of Francian armies, such as those of Brittany and Paris before being turned away by a ferocious Norman defense of Moulins. He swung east, into Burgundy, where he won the Battle of Prémery, and formed a "Duchy of Upper Burgundy".
The final action of the War of the Third Coalition was his March, 1861 Austrian Campaign to alleviate pressure on Hungary. After invading Tyrol, he decisively defeated an 80,000 man Austro-Imperial army at the Battle of Innsbruck. This defeat forced the Coalition to the negotiating table, held in Klagenfurt. There, the Coalition recognized his status as Emperor of the Italians and King of Spain, and his suzerainty over his created states in Francia. They also recognized his annexation of South Tyrol, Valais, Ticino, and Geneva. Finally, Napoleone married Margaret of Brussels, a niece of the Luxembourgish King. Napoleone's decision on marrying Margaret was his hope that marrying into one of Europe's leading dynasties would solidify his position, but also that actually held affection towards her, meeting her when Luxembourg sent a staff to observe the treaty that ended the War of the First Coalition. She would bear him a son, who they named Napoleone Victor.
With his diplomatic victory in the Treaty of Kalgenfurt, Napoleone created the Confederation of the Rhone, named for the Rhone River that runs through the lands, for his Francian puppets, with himself as "Protector" and his cousin, Duchess Caroline of Rodez, as Princess-Primate, essentially there to give an image of self-rule.
War of the Fourth Coalition
The War of the Third Coalition dramatically altered the balance of power in Europe. Italy was now seen as one the leading states in Europe, with a wide sphere of influence encompassing puppets and allies alike. Napoleone's expansion into southern Francia had caused the largest re-alignment of allegiances in the area since the Albigensian Crusade, when Aragon asserted its influence in the region after defeating a papal-backed, and broke Papal authority there.
It was this very shift that unnerved Francian Emperor Charles XVI, who saw his nominal realm cut by almost half. The Breton rulers had spent centuries working their way to the Francian throne, and had done much give Francia a united direction. Fearful that the creation of the Italian-orientated Confederation of the Rhone would undo all they've accomplished, Brittany began assembling a fourth coalition before the ink on the Treaty of Klagenfurt was dry.
Signing away claims to various Caribbean and African lands, Brittany was able to secure an alliance with Wessex, Scotland, Jorvik, and Denmark. With the Saxons, and their large navy, on board, the Fourth Coalition had effectively gained naval superiority. Charles immediately put it into use, declaring a blockade of all Italy-aligned ports in October, 1861, effectively a declaration of war.
Most of Napoleone's forces were still mobilized from the previous war, and so he sent the bulk of those into the Confederation of the Rhone, where they were stationed while his client states there organized their own armies. When his total force reached about 270,000 he pushed north into Breton-aligned Francia. Charles was still putting his own armies in order, the first Albionic and Danish divisions were just arriving, and he could only put forward an army of 205,000.
Hoping to buy time, he sent a largely Norman-Champagni army of 80,000 south under the command of General Philipe d'Caen. Meeting Napoleone's 65,000-man forward army group outside Tours, d'Caen held Napoleone at bay for five days before ordering a withdrawal to the east. While Napoleone desired to capture Tours, which held a significance similar to Frankfurt in the Holy Roman Empire, he recognized d'Caens eastward maneuver threatened to roll up his right flank and so moved to confront him, bringing up reinforcements along the way.
A brief engagement with a 7,000 man detachment of d'Caens force led to Napoleone stumbling upon d'Caens army upon a ridge line, which they fortified with a low stone wall. Despite eventually forcing d'Caen to withdraw through sheer numerical superiority, it was a costly move, which accomplished Charles XVI's goal of delaying Napoleone. By the time of Napoleone's last battle with d'Caen of this campaign, the bulk of the Albionic troops had crossed the Saxon-Norman Channel.
After a swift occupation of Tours, Napoleone swung into Breton Aquitaine, where he easily swept aside several hastily assembled militias. Forcing his way through to Bordeaux (which had been occupied by Brittany since the fall of Guyenne), he turned north to march on Poitiers. Charles XVI decided to make his stand at Poitiers, capital of Aquitaine. Charles' desired fortifications, however, weren't completed when Napoleone arrived. The Battle of Poitiers proved to be yet another disaster as the Coalition forces, even though outnumbering the Italians present, were routed by Napoleone's superior tactics.
Following the Battle of Poitiers, Naopoleone fully enforced his suzerainty over Aquitaine. Combining it with Guyenne, Napoleone formed the Kingdom of Aquitaine, installing his brother, Michael, as King.
The war died and closed as Charles XVI sued for peace in October, 1862, after eleven months of conflict. Forced into signing the Treaty of Bordeaux, Charles remained Emperor over a much reduced Francia. Napoleone had considered outright dissolving the federation, but believed that Charles' loss would cause the other member states to break away.
What Napoleone did not enjoy about the war, however, was the introduction of Wessex and the other Albionic states. Napoleone's fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Cabe de Peñas, and he recognized that he would never have a significant naval presence, allowing Wessex to ship supplies to Castilian guerrillas resisting his rule there. He was also not to enthused about the skill and experience being gained by Coalition generals, such as General d'Caen, who had proven his most difficult opponent yet.
Combining these factors, Napoleone recognized that continuing the wars would only eventually prove disastrous, which led to him often taking the more lenient route in treaty making, hence his decision to not dissolve the Empire of Francia.
Wessex's naval victory at Cabo de Peñas meant that control of the seas fell to the Coalition. Saxon Admiral Robert Keoben took great pleasure in harassing Italian and Italian-aligned shipping, which began taking its toll on the Napoleonic economies.
But Keoben also began shipping supplies to guerrillas rebelling against Napoleone's rule in Spain, and it was strongest in the northwest provinces of Galicia, Leon, and Asturias. Central authority had effectively collapsed there by January, 1863, and rebel groups had set up a rival government, but didn't recognize Alfonso VIII or his heirs as their rulers. This event is considered to mark the beginning of Leonese Nationalism, where the northwest began believing they didn't need a king in Toledo to rule them.
Leonese nationalists would make up the bulk of resistance fighters in the former Castile, but revolts by Muslims in Granada, and riots in Zaragoza and Valencia, would weaken Napoleonic rule. Napoleone would routinely order Portugal to deal with the rebels, but it was a task the Portuguese prove incredibly incompetent at. Portuguese armies were repeatedly defeated in battle, and after what victories they did manage, public executions of prisoners of war were commonplace, only further entrenching opposition to the Buonapartist dynasty.
The Castilian Insurgency would prove to be a fatal distraction. Most new troops Napoleone was able to receive he was forced to send to Spain, meaning less for the main armies facing the Coalition. After Napoleone's withdrawal from his invasion of the Byzantine Empire in 1866, he was forced to disengage from Spain.
War of the Fifth Coalition
Soon after the defeat of the Fourth Coalition, the powers of the Holy Roman Empire began contemplating a renewed war with Italy while Napoleone attempted to solidify his power base in Francia. The architect of this Fifth Coalition, Emperor Frederick William, was encouraged by the willingness of Luxembourg to join, as the populace there saw Margaret of Brussels as a hostage and felt a need to "free" her and liberate land taken by Napoleone. Denmark and Jorvik also signed on, while Wessex continued to support insurgents in Spain.
In response, Napoleone raised his Army of the Republic to 350,000 soldiers, unprecedented since the days of Rome. On April 10, 1863, Prusso-Austrian troops crossed into Veneto. Napoleone's right flank commanding generals managed to hold their own, giving as good as they got, but they were merely there as a rear-guard. In actuality, Napoleone swung west around the Alps and into Burgundy.
Napoleone swiftly defeated a Luxembourgish army at the Battle of Dijon, effectively securing the territory. He then moved north, through a number of Francian states in an action that nearly brought Brittany back into the war. It probably would have, had an Imperial army not crossed the Rhine to challenge Napoleone, only to be defeated at the Battle of Nancy.
He then feigned a turn north, a threat to Luxembourg City, the seat of Luxembourgish rule, drawing Dutch and Imperial armies out of position before executing a pivot east into Swabia. After an inspired defense of Heilbronn, Württemberg and much of the region fell.
It was only now that Napoleone turned north, towards the Rhineland. Winning a decisive battle at Saarbrücken, he marched into Luxembourg City unopposed. For the next two months, Napoleone ravaged the Rhineland, winning battles at Trier, Cologne, and Heidelberg. Now, Napoleone again turned south into the Swiss states, forcing their surrender without losing more than 500 men from combat.
Napoleone then decided to turn to Austria, which had so far made several attempted offensives into Italy. Lifting a siege of Verona, he pushed into Austria, eventually taking Vienna in October.
Soundly defeated, the Imperial powers sued for peace. The ensuing Treaty of Brno was Napoleones harshest imposed, a contradiction to his earlier leniency on Francia, as he had come believe that that very lenience had given a perception of weakness. The remainder of Tyrol, Carinthia, Carinola, and Voralberg were annexed into Italy from Austria. Luxembourg ceded the entirety of Burgundy, which Napoleone gave to his second cousin, Eugene. Graubunden was also annexed, while much of the remaining Alpine states were organized into the Helvetic Republic, which "elected" him its president.
Invasion of the Byzantine Empire
With Francia and the Holy Roman Empire dispatched in quick succession, Napoleone began to believe that he could now focus on domestic affairs. With the exception of those in Spain, he ordered the conscript portions of his military to stand down, keeping a standing army of 150,000 well-trained and battle-hardened troops. In Italy and his client states, Napoleone's economic and social reforms appeared to being taking hold. The standard of living was generally on the rise in the more long-held areas, and efforts to aid the poor began to become commonplace. The metric system was being widely distributed in Napoleone's newly conquered lands, though the process of converting all the miles signs admittedly was taking longer than hoped, and confusion was widespread regarding distances and weights.
But the biggest drawback of Napoleone's successes was the increased confidence, some would say cockiness, of his allies, especially Portugal and Hungary. Through 1864, Portugal had felt it necessary to actively challenge Luxembourgish ownership of lands in the Caribbean and Africa, and clashes as far away as Aceh began to be heard of. Hungary, on the other hand, had decided to restart old border disputes with the Commonwealth and the Byzantines.
It was the Hungarian dispute with the latter that convinced Napoleone to intervene. Throughout the Coalition wars, Napoleone went to great pains to keep the Byzantine Empire neutral, especially when considering the Byzantine markets were the only practical area of trade left for Napoleone, and only so because he negotiated a treaty of friendship shortly after becoming First Consul of the Republic.
Nevertheless, tensions had been rising. Part of a subsequent Treaty of Friendship was that the Byzantine Empire would trade principally with Italy, and vise versa. While this allowed some trade revenue to flow into Napoleone's coffers, its primary goal was to deny the lucrative Byzantine markets to the Coalition. However, it was a well known fact that the Byzantine Empire defied the treaty, trading with the Coalition states via the neutral Commonwealth. While many were confident that Napoleone could defeat them militarily, it would also remove his last real trading partner. This forced Napoleone to maintain a fine balance between pleasing his allies, and giving assurances to the Byzantines.
He hosted a diplomatic conference in Venice in February of 1866, hoping to find a peaceful solution. Hungary's issue revolved around ethnic Croatians in the Bosnian region, part of Constantipole's Archonate of Serbia, with Hungarian King Stephen VII believing that, as "King of Croatia", the territory was rightfully Hungary's. As the region had become a hotbed of revolt in recent decades, the Byzantine Empire welcomed an exit from it, but in return wanted Hungarian trading rights in Egypt and India.
Initially it appeared Napoleone would get the diplomatic solution he craved, until it was revealed that Hungary had placed over 50,000 troops on its border with the Byzantine Empire during the course of the conference. Enraged, the Byzantines broke off the talks and mobilized their own army. A skirmish near a Serbian border town prompted the Byzantine Emperor and Senate to declare war on May 14, 1866.
Invoking their mutual defense agreement, Hugary called for Italian help. While this was what precisely Napoleone wanted to avoid, he decided to honor the alliance for fear that breaking it would cause only more isolation.
Bringing together an army of 375,000, Napoleone invaded the Byzantine Empire in a two pronged attack, an army of 150,000 would invade via land with the Hungarians, while the other 225,000 crossed the Strait of Otranto into Ipiros. The maneuver allowed Napoleone to quickly gain a foothold on Byzantine soil, and the two army groups reunited in southern Serbia.
Meeting a 130,000 strong Byzantine army at Scupi, Napoleone was dealt nearly 25,000 casualties while inflicting 21,000 on the Byzantines, despite forcing them to retreat. Following the Battle of Scupi, the Byzantine Senate ordered guerrilla warfare to be conducted. Small bands of raiders attacked Italian supply trains, and sometimes detachments from the main army.
The Byzantines also forged a scorched earth policy, taking with the anything that can be used to aid the Italians, and burning what they couldn't take. Scorched earth and the repeated raids frustrated Napoleone, who felt he needed just a single decisive battle to crush the last successor to the Roman Empire.
He finally got his battle when his 320,000 troops met a Byzantine army of 250,000, entrenched in a series of fortifications, near the city of Thessalonica. Although the Byzantines withdrew after a two day battle, it was hardly the stunning victory Napoleone hoped, as he suffered 35,000 dead, and thousands more wounded. Marching on, Napoleone would push towards Athens, only to find it burning, set alight by the retreated Byzantine army.
Receiving word of incidents along the borders with the Coalition, and of an attempted coup back in Florence, Napoleone decided to cut his losses and return home.
Even though he had turned north towards the Hungarian border, the Byzantines refused to back down, continuing their raids, and inflicting thousands of casualties. Napoleone would score a final victory at the Battle of Theranda, inflicting 17,000 dead on the Byzantines, but lost more than 20,000 casualties.
Napoleone finally crossed into Hungarian Croatia on November 29, 1866 with about 100,000 men left, not including the Hungarian units. The campaign was the worst defeat, and bloodiest six months he had been a part of, with the 275,000 casualties suffered were greater than his losses against the Fourth and Fifth Coalitions combined.
War of the Sixth Coalition
There was a lull in the fighting during the winter of 1866-1867 as Italy and the Byzantine Empire rebuilt theit forces. This inactivity allowed Napoleone to put together an army of 325,000 Italian soldiers.
It was also in this respite that a Sixth Coalition was formed, its formation spearheaded by the Byzantine Empire, Prussia, and Brittany. In the ensuing days and weeks, numerous other countries signed on, including Austria, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Jorvik. While the Byzantines took time to recover their losses, it was decide amongst the Holy Roman and Francian allies to have their armies meet at Metz.
With most of his losses recovered via a new wave of conscripts, Napoleone marched for Francia, looking to see off this new coalition as he had before. Pulling together the armies of his client states, Napoleone fielded an army of over 400,000 troops, but faced a combined strength of almost 800,000.
Napoleone would win several early battles, inflicting 50,000 casualties on the allies at the Battles of Limoges and Tulle, but also suffered comparable numbers himself. Meanwhile, the Allies' losses would be quickly made up with a 300,000 strong Byzantine army entering Hungary, and Wessex landing two armies in Castile, bringing the total allied force count to almost 1.2 million.
All the while, Napoleone's own numbers would continue to drop, years of forced conscription having finally dried up the reserves.
Napoleone did get a slight relief when an outnumbered Hungarian army defeated a Byzantine one and stopped the advance on Budapest. Concentrating his forces, Napoleone pushed back into Burgundy, where one wing of the Coaliton army was isolated. Hearing of Napoleones advance, other allied armies marched their forces day and night, trying to beat Napoleone there.
The two sides met outside the city of Bisanz, with the total troop count exceeding 750,000. In the largest battle in history, Napoleone faced a Coalition army twice the size of his own. The four day battle saw the allies suffer almost 100,000 casualties, but they emerged victorious when Napoleones supposed allies in the Confederation of the Rhone armies defect. As that happened, those forces from his Kingdom of Spain also rebelled, and those from Aragon chanting "Visca Carlos" (Long Live Charles).
The battle effectively ended the Confederation of the Rhone, though Napoleone refused to accept it and still styled himself its Protector. But the battle would force Napoleone out of Francia entirely.
The Coalition leader mulled offering peace terms at this point, but ultimately decide to press their advantage. The Helvetic Republic collapsed under a multi pronged invasion, allowing the Coalition to advance into Italy via the Alps. Napoleone would launch a six day campaign against Coalition armies in northern Italy, winning four battles and inflicting 25,000 casualties. But it was too little, too late.
As the allies advance south, towards Florence, the Senate passed an emergency act, declaring Napoleone deposed. Napoleone, again, refused to acknowledge it, fighting several more battles. But after the fall of Modena, and the subsequent invasion of Tuscany, he conceded defeat and abdicated the thrones of Italy and Spain, and the defunct Confederation of the Rhone Protectorship, on September 14, 1868. Ordering his men to stand down and to go home, though many refused to leave their emperor, Napoleone allowed himself to be captured on September 18.
Napoleone was briefly exiled to the Byzantine island of Malta while the victorious Allies deliberated on what was to become of them. While there, he became friends with the Duke of Malta, a distant relative to the Byzantine Emperor, and was a frequent dinner guest. It was from the distance that Malta provided that Napoleone observed the systematic dismantling of his realm, where he read of the Genoese and Venetian Doges, the Milanese Viscontis, and the Tuscan Medicis returning, and of Charles V of Aragon leading an army of loyalists towards his palace in Zaragoza to the cheers of thousands.
Upon learning of the jubilant responses to the Monarchs he usurped being restored, it's said that Napoleone became depressed at how he'd failed to spread the Revolution.
After four months exiled in Malta, Napoleone received a letter from the Grand Duke of Tuscany, offering him the position of Sovereign of the Island of Elba, as one of his highest ranking lords. Seeing the position as a place where he could possibly restart the Revolution, he accepted.
Sovereign of Elba
When Napoleone arrived in Tuscany, he first met with the Grand Duke, who told him that he didn't expect Napoleone to apologize or feel remorse for his conquests, and that most of the reforms Napoleone enacted would remain in place. Following a dinner with the Grand Duke and his family and the new Prime Minister, Napoleone left Florence for would prove to be the last time in January, 1864.
Arriving in Elba four days later, Napoleone was met by a crowd of supporters, and a group of Napoleonic War veterans, most of whom showed up to salute their Emperor one last time, the rest to see the man who had them march from Toledo to Athens, and everywhere in between, humbled.
As Sovereign of Elba, Napoleone looked to continue the reforms he was implementing as Emperor of the Italians, but was also looking beyond the rocky shores of the island. He maintained a large network of informants, mainly across northern Italy, to test how recptive a potential return to power the people were. He was disheartened to learn that a seemingly majority of the people had come to view the Revolution, and Napoleones subsequent campaigns, in a negative light due to the ravaging of the Italian lands it caused.
Seeing that he would have a minority of support in a restoration, Napoleone resigned himself to governing Elba to the best of his ability.
He would be Sovereign of Elba until January 9, 1883, when he died of pneumonia. His health was reportedly declining in the months prior, and had asked for a confession in the local Catholic Church on Christmas, 1882. It's recorded that his last words were, "Italy is my home, Margaret is my love".
Napoleones son, Napoleone Victor di Buonaparte, had initially expressed little interest in his father's title and responsibility, as well as being under the eye of every noble in Italy. He later relented after receiving a request for him to do so by the mayor of Portoferraio, his father's highest ranking elected official. Unlike other nobles in Tuscany, Napoleone Victor was allowed a regnal number in recognition of his special status. As such, he took the name "Napoleone II".
Napoleone many reforms over the course of his time, including to education and tax codes, now-vital infrastructure such as roads and sewer systems, as well as establishing the first central bank, the Banca d'Italia, which still services the Italian states today.
Napoleones principal reform was in the restructuring of the social hierarchy. Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century still largely clung to feudalism and aristocratic rights. Monarchs sought to win the support of not the people, but of their nobles and vassals. This system, in a continent quickly reaping the fruits of the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, meant that rapidly growing lower classes became more and more repressed economically.
Napoleone was always quick to throw out the old aristocracy in a state he conquered, replacing it a smaller one, and one who wielded far less influence than their predessecors. The rights of the common man he was always sure to include in the newly drafted constitutions of his creations.
He created a standard civil code in Italy that he would then spread to his client states. This code abolished the preceding patchwork of laws that varied based on local customs, as well as eliminating birth-based privileges. It enshrined the right to trial by jury, abolition of ex post facto laws, and also gave judges the authority to interpret the laws when applied to a certain situation.
The Italian Civil Code, though more commonly known as the Napoleonic Code, or some form has been generally adopted by many European and New World states. In monarchies, the Code resulted in the reduced influence the power of many nobilities, while in republics like Genoa and Venice, it saw the end of the stranglehold on the government that merchant families had held for centuries.
The metric system, a measuring system based on increments of ten, was adopted by the Tuscan revolutionary council, but its use expanded during Naopleone's campaigns. Indeed, the adoption of the metric system was often one of the first reforms passed by Napoleone's creations. Use of the metric system declined briefly after Napoleones fall as the old regimes returned, but many re-adopted it, seeing it simpler and more efficient than the standard system, now known as the Imperial system.
As first general-in-chief, and later emperor, Napoleone led a reorganization effort in the army. He created the corps unit, replacing the division as the largest sub-unit in the army, and allowing him to delegate more troops to his lower ranked generals. Napoleone also saw the potential role fast, mobile artillery could play in a battle, and he and his staff worked diligently to better integrate it into the formations. So successful were his military reforms were that, by 1857, the coalition members were quickly trying copy Napoleone's tactics. The importance of artillery was greatly expanded during and following the Napoleonic Wars, and remains so in modern militaries.
During Napoleone's reign, his education reforms established a bedrock on which most European school systems today are based off. Taking influence from the monarchies he abolished, and the teachings of the Revolutions, Napoleone looked to create a well educated population. Stripping religious orders of much of their operating of primary schools, he also increased government funding for secondary education. The Tuscan Italian dialect was taught in all schools, from Naples to Milan. Napoleones government sponsored curriculum changes that focused more on math and the sciences. His focus on reforming Italy's education system created some of the best performing students in Europe. As a result, Napoleones education reforms were kept in place by the returning regimes after his defeat, and today Italy and southern Francia boast some of the best schools in Europe.
Despite waging war across Europe, and ravaging lands from Galicia to Greece, Napoleone is generally held in a positive light across Europe. With the benefit of hindsight, many historians agree that his widespread weakening of nobility over much of Europe was overdue, and his reforms to education, military, and society were widely beneficial. The Napoleonic Code was kept or re-adopted later by his former client states, and later adopted in some form by the majority of European states. Recently, several non-European originating New World and Indian states have looked at adding some of the Codes tenets to their own laws. The metric system proved just as popular, with Francia and the Holy Roman Empire eventually making it their standard unit of measurement.
Napoleone has been the subject of various propaganda campaigns. By his supporters, he is portrayed as a hero with his flaws, fighting for righteous causes against regressive oppressors. To his critics, he is often painted as a tyrannical megalomaniac, constantly fighting a war to further his own ambitions. Most, however subscribe to somewhere in between those viewpoints: a brilliant battlefield commander, an intelligent politician, who waged war when necessary, but often took all he could.
Depiction in Popular Culture
- In the 1978 book The Man in Rome, author Albert Zücken describes an alternate timeline where Napoleone continued to soundly defeat the Coalitions, eventually conquering Europe. The royal families of the major coalition members, Prussia, Luxembourg, Brittany, Wessex are forced to flee Europe, like Aragon's Charles V, and set up "Exile States" in their colonies, where they continue to fight against a bloated Italian Empire and its sphere of influence to the modern day.
Napoleone married Margaret of Brussels in 1861, when he was 43 and she was 37. Napoleone had met her in 1852 when Luxembourg sent a staff to observe the treaty negotiations following the Tuscan Republics victory in the War of the First Coalition. As Napoleone wasn't deemed needed for the negotiations, he'd been sent to welcome foreign observers, including Luxembourg's, eager to make a good impression on a leading Imperial power.
The marriage was a provision Napoleone was able to get the defeated Third Coalition to agree to in the Treaty of Klagenfurt, in hopes that marrying into one of the oldest dynasties in Europe (the Luxembourgs) would further legitimize his newfound monarchy. Despite that, there appeared to be genuine attraction between them, as evident by Napoleones mentions of her in his journals after meeting her in 1852, and in Margaret's memoirs after the marriage. It is known that they both loved their son, Napoleone Victor di Buonaparte, dearly.
After Napoleones ultimate defeat after the War of the Sixth Coalition, his marriage to Margaret was ended, a demand put forth by her uncle, King John VIII. Though she didn't raise objections to the demand, she did visit Napoleone several times afterward while he was Sovereign of Elba.
Napoleone was deeply devoted to his family, and after he became a household name, he sponsored the rise of several of his siblings and cousins. It became common for him to install one of them as a monarch of a state he created out of conquered, notably his sister Caroline as Duchess of Rodez, Princess-Primate of the Confederation of the Rhone, and his cousin Michael as King of Aquitaine. He also planned to install his cousin Louis as King of Greece after his victory over the Byzantine Empire that never came to pass. After the collapse of Napoleones empire, his family members were too forced to flee, and most resigned themselves to living in modest estates throughout Italy.
Titles and Styles
- April 20, 1818 - 1848: Nobile Napoleone di Buonaparte
- 1848 - October 3, 1854: Napoleone di Buonaparte
- October 3, 1854 - July 24, 1858: Napoleone di Buonaparte, First Consul of the Italian Republic
- July 24, 1858 - August 13, 1859: His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of the Italians
- August 13, 1859 - September, 14, 1868: His Imperial and Royal Majesty The Emperor of the Italians and King of Spain
- January 10, 1869 - January 9, 1883: His Imperial Majesty The Sovereign of Elba
1858 - 1859
Napoleone I, By the Grace of God, the Will of the People, and the Constitution of the Republic, Emperor of the Italians
1859 - 1861
Napoleone I, By the Grace of God, the Will of the People, and the Constituion of the Republic, Emperor of the Italians, King of Spain
1861 - 1863
Napoleone I, By the Grace of God, the Will of the People, and the Constitution of the Republic, Emperor of the Italians, King of Spain, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhone
1863 - 1868
Napoleone I, By the Grace of God, the Will of the People, and the Constitution of the Republic, Emperor of the Italians, King of Spain, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhone, President of the Helvetic Republic
1869 - 1883
Napoleone I, Sovereign of Elba