NAPOLEON BONAPARTE BIOGRAPHY

Napoleon Bonaparte was born August 15,1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica. He had 7 brothers and sisters. His parents were Carlo (Charles) Buonaparte (1746-1785) and Letizia Ramolino Buonaparte (1750-1836). His father was a lawyer.

As a child, Napoleon Bonaparte attended a French military government school, Brienne in Paris. From 1784 to 1785, Napoleon Bonaparte attended Ecole, Militaire in Paris. He studied to be an artillery man and an officer. At 16, Napoleon Bonaparte joined the French army.

In 1792, Napoleon Bonaparte was prompted to rank of captain. In 1793, Napoleon Bonaparte led the forces in Toulon. Napoleon was promoted to rank of brigadier general.

Napoleon was made commander of the French army in Italy. He defeated four Austrian generals in succession. In 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte put down a revolt in Paris.

Napoleon became known as Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, with complete political and military power.

In 1803, war broke out between France and England. Russia, Austria and Sweden allied with Britain. Napoleon defeated Austria and Russia. Napoleon Bonaparte planned to invade England, but Englands navy defeated Napoleon’s navy. Napoleon ended his marriage to Josephine de Beauharnais in 1809, then remarried in 1810 to Hapsburg Archduchess Marie Louise.

In June of 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte attacked Russia. From day one, Russia completly outfought Napoleon. The campaign ensured Napoleons downfall. On June 22, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated in favor of his son. He retired in Malmaison. During the night of July 14-15, orders were issued by Louis XVIII for Napoleon's arrest. Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered himself to the British. He was then exiled to St. Helena. Napoleon Bonaparte died at age 51, on May 6, 1821 from stomach cancer.

Napoleon Bonaparte Biography:

Napoleon Bonaparte, (15 August 1769 - 5 May 1821) later known as Napoleon I, was a French military and political leader who had a significant impact on the history of Europe. He was a general during the French Revolution, the ruler of France as First Consul of the French Republic and Emperor of the First French Empire. Born in Corsica and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France, Napoleon Bonaparte rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. In 1799, Napoleon staged a coup d'état and installed himself as First Consul; five years later he crowned himself Emperor of the French. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, Napoleon Bonaparte turned the armies of France against every major European power and dominated continental Europe through a series of military victories - epitomised in battles such as Austerlitz and Friedland. Napoleon Bonaparte maintained France's sphere of influence by the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states. The French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point in Napoleon's fortunes. His Grande Armée was wrecked in the campaign and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig, invaded France and exiled him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, Napoleon Bonaparte returned and was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life under British supervision on the island of Saint Helena, where he died in 1821. The autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer though Sten Forshufvud and other scientists in the 1960s conjectured that he had been poisoned with arsenic. Napoleon scored major victories with a modernised French army and drew his tactics from different sources. His campaigns are studied at military academies the world over and he is widely regarded as one of history's greatest commanders. While considered a tyrant by his opponents, Napoleon Bonaparte is remembered for the establishment of the Napoleonic code, which laid the administrative foundations for much of Western Europe.

Napoleon was born the second of seven children in the town of Ajaccio, Corsica, on 15 August 1769, one year after the island was transferred to France by the Republic of Genoa. He was named Napoleone di Buonaparte (in Corsican, Nabolione or Nabulione), though he later adopted the more French-sounding Napoléon Bonaparte. His heritage earned him popularity among the local populace during his Italian military campaigns. Napoleon's father Carlo Buonaparte was Corsica's representative to the court of Louis XVI of FranceThe Corsican Buonapartes originated from minor Italian nobility, which came to Corsica in the 16th century when the island was still a possession of Genoa. His father Carlo Buonaparte, an attorney, was named Corsica's representative to the court of Louis XVI in 1777. The dominant influence of Napoleon's childhood was his mother, Maria Letizia Ramolino, whose firm discipline restrained the rambunctious Napoleon. Napoleon had an elder brother, Joseph, and younger siblings Lucien, Elisa, Louis, Pauline, Caroline and Jérôme. He was baptised Catholic just before his second birthday, on 21 July 1771 at Ajaccio Cathedral. Napoleon's noble, moderately affluent background and family connections afforded him greater opportunities to study than were available to a typical Corsican of the time. On 15 May 1779, at age nine, Napoleon Bonaparte was admitted to a French military academy at Brienne-le-Château, a small town near Troyes. He had to learn French before he entered the school, spoke with a marked Italian accent and never learned to spell properly. On completion of his studies at Brienne in 1784, Bonaparte was admitted to the elite École Militaire in Paris ending his naval ambition, which had led him to consider joining the British Royal Navy. Instead, Napoleon Bonaparte studied artillery and had to quickly complete the two-year course in one year, when his father's death reduced his income.

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On graduation in September 1785, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in La Fère artillery regiment. Napoleon served on garrison duty in Valence, Drôme and Auxonne until after the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, though he took nearly two years of leave in Corsica and Paris during this period. Napoleon Bonaparte spent the early years of the Revolution in Corsica, amidst a complex three-way struggle between royalists, revolutionaries, and Corsican nationalists. Bonaparte supported the Jacobin faction and gained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of a battalion of volunteers. It is not clear how, after he had exceeded his leave of absence and led a riot against a French army in Corsica, he was able to convince military authorities in Paris to promote him to Captain in July 1792. Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Corsica but came into conflict with Paoli after the Corsican leader sabotaged an assault, involving Napoleon, against the island of La Maddalena.

Bonaparte and his family had to flee to the French mainland in June 1793 due to the split with Paoli. Napoleon published a pro-republican pamphlet, Le Souper de Beaucaire, which gained him the admiration and support of Augustin Robespierre, younger brother of the Revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre. With the help of fellow Corsican Antoine Christophe Saliceti, Napoleon was appointed artillery commander of the French forces at the siege of Toulon. The city had risen in revolt against the republican government and was occupied by British troops. Napoleon Bonaparte spotted an ideal hill placing that allowed French guns to dominate the city's harbour and force the British ships to evacuate. The assault on the position, during which Bonaparte was wounded in the thigh, led to the recapture of the city and his promotion to Brigadier General. His actions brought Napoleon Bonaparte to the attention of the Committee of Public Safety and he was given command of the artillery arm of France's Army of Italy. During this period Napoleon Bonaparte became engaged to Désirée Clary, his sister-in-law and whose father was a rich Marseille trader.

Following the fall of the Robespierres in the Thermidorian Reaction, Napoleon was imprisoned in the Château d'Antibes in August 1794 for his association with the brothers. Although he was released after only 10 days, he remained out of favour.

In April 1795 Napoleon Bonaparte was assigned to the Army of the West which was engaged in the War in the Vendée, a civil war and counter-revolution between royalists and republicans in France's western Vendée region. As this was an infantry command it was a demotion from the rank of artillery general and he pleaded poor health to avoid the posting. Napoleon Bonaparte was moved to the Bureau of Topography of the Committee of Public Safety and sought unsuccessfully to get transferred to Constantinople. Running out of money, on 15 September he was removed from the list of generals in regular service following his transfer request. Three weeks later, royalists in Paris declared a rebellion against the National Convention after they were excluded from a new government, the Directory. One of the leaders of the Thermidorian Reaction, Paul Barras knew of Napoleon's military expertise and gave him command of the improvised forces that were defending the Convention in the Tuileries Palace. Napoleon seized artillery pieces with the aid of a young cavalry officer, Joachim Murat and used it to repel the attackers on 5 October - 13 Vendémiaire in the French Republican Calendar. 1,400 of the royalists died and the rest fled. The defeat of the Royalist insurrection extinguished the threat to the Convention and earned Napoleon Bonaparte sudden fame, wealth, and the patronage of the new Directory. Murat would later become his brother-in-law. Napoleon was promoted to Commander of the Interior and only six months later he was given command of the Army of Italy. Within weeks of Vendémiaire he was romantically attached to Barras's former mistress, Joséphine de Beauharnais, whom he married on 9 March 1796; he broke off the engagement to Clary.

Two days after the marriage, Bonaparte left Paris to take command of the Army of Italy and led it on a successful invasion of Italy. At the Battle of Lodi Napoleon Bonaparte defeated Austrian forces, then drove them out of Lombardy. He was defeated at Caldiero by Austrian reinforcements, led by József Alvinczi, though he regained the initiative at the crucial Battle of the Bridge of Arcole and proceeded to subdue the Papal States. Napoleon argued against the wishes of Directory atheists, such as Louis Marie la Révellière-Lepaux, to march on Rome and dethrone the Pope as he reasoned this would create a power vacuum that would be exploited by the Kingdom of Naples. Instead, in March 1797, Bonaparte led his army into Austria and forced it to sue for peace. The Treaty of Leoben gave France control of most of northern Italy and the Low Countries; a secret clause promised the Republic of Venice to Austria. Bonaparte then marched on Venice and forced its surrender, ending 1,100 years of independence. Authorised by Napoleon, the French looted treasures such as the Horses of Saint Mark.

His application of conventional military ideas to real-world situations effected his military triumphs, such as creative use of artillery as a mobile force to support his infantry. Napoleon Bonaparte was adept at both espionage and deception; he often won battles by his use of spies to gather information about enemy forces, concealment of troop deployments and concentration of his forces on the 'hinge' of an enemy's weakened front. In this campaign, Napoleon's army captured 150,000 prisoners, 540 cannons and 170 standards. A year's campaign had seen the French army fight 67 actions and win 18 pitched battles due to superior artillery technology and Napoleon's tactics and strategy. During the campaign, Napoleon became increasingly influential in French politics. Napoleon Bonaparte published two newspapers, ostensibly for the troops in his army, but widely circulated in France as well. In May 1797 he founded a third newspaper, published in Paris, Le Journal de Bonaparte et des hommes vertueux. Elections in mid-1797 gave the royalist party increased power which alarmed Barras and his Directory allies. The royalists attacked Bonaparte for looting Italy and claimed he had overstepped his authority in dealings with the Austrians. Bonaparte sent General Pierre Augereau to Paris to lead a coup d'état and purge the royalists on 4 September - 18 Fructidor. This left Barras and his Republican allies in control again, but dependent on Bonaparte. Napoleon proceeded to peace negotiations with Austria, the Treaty of Campo Formio, then returned to Paris in December as the conquering hero, more popular than the Directors. He met with Talleyrand, France's new Foreign Minister, who would later serve in the same capacity for Napoleon, and began to prepare for an invasion of England.

After two months of planning, Napoleon decided France's naval power was not yet strong enough to confront the Royal Navy in the English Channel and proposed a military expedition to seize Egypt and thereby undermine Britain's access to its trading interests in India. The Directory, though troubled by the scope and cost of the enterprise, agreed so the popular general would be absent from the centre of power. In May 1798, Bonaparte was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences. His Egyptian expedition included a group of 167 scientists: mathematicians, naturalists, chemists and geodesers among them; their discoveries included the Rosetta Stone and their work was published in the Description of Egypt in 1809. En route to Egypt, Napoleon reached Malta on 9 June 1798. The 200 Knights Hospitaller of French origin resented the fact that the French Grand Master Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc, had been succeeded by the Prussian Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, and made it clear they would not fight against their compatriots. Hompesch surrendered after token resistance and Napoleon captured a great naval base with the loss of only 3 men. On 1 July, Napoleon and his army landed at Alexandria, after they had eluded pursuit by the British Royal Navy. In a largely unsuccessful effort to gain the support of the Egyptian populace, Bonaparte issued proclamations that cast him as a liberator of the people from Ottoman oppression, Egypt was a province of the Ottoman Empire, and praised the precepts of Islam. He successfully fought the Battle of Chobrakit against the Mamluks, an old power in the Middle East. This helped the French plan their attack in the Battle of the Pyramids fought over a week later, about 6 km from the pyramids. Bonaparte's forces were greatly outnumbered by the Mamelukes cavalry - 20,000 against 60,000 - he formed hollow squares with supplies kept safely inside. 300 French and approximately 6,000 Egyptians were killed.

While the battle on land was a resounding French victory, the British Royal Navy won control of the sea. The ships that had landed Bonaparte and his army sailed back to France, while a fleet of ships of the line remained to support the army along the coast. On 1 August the British fleet under Horatio Nelson captured or destroyed all but two French vessels in the Battle of the Nile and Napoleon's goal of a strengthened French position in the Mediterranean Sea was frustrated. His army had succeeded in temporarily increasing French power in Egypt, though it faced repeated uprisings. In early 1799, he moved the army into the Ottoman province of Damascus (Syria and Galilee). Napoleon led 13,000 French soldiers in the conquest of the coastal towns of Arish, Gaza, Jaffa, and Haifa. The storming of Jaffa was particularly brutal. The French took control of the city after a French officer guaranteed the 3,000 defenders they would be spared. Napoleon then ordered them, and 1,400 prisoners, to be executed by bayonet or drowning, to save bullets. Men, women and children were robbed and murdered for three days. With his army weakened by disease - mostly bubonic plague - and poor supplies, Napoleon was unable to reduce the fortress of Acre, and returned to Egypt in May. To speed up the retreat, he ordered plague-stricken men to be poisoned. His supporters have argued this decision was necessary given the continued harassment of stragglers by Ottoman forces and those left behind alive were indeed dealt with severely by the Ottomans. Back in Egypt, on 25 July, Bonaparte defeated an Ottoman amphibious invasion at Abukir.

While in Egypt, Bonaparte stayed informed of European affairs through irregular delivery of newspapers and dispatches. He learnt France had suffered a series of defeats in the War of the Second Coalition. On 24 August 1799 he took advantage of the temporary departure of British ships from French coastal ports and set sail for France, despite the fact he had received no orders from Paris. The army was left in the charge of Jean Baptiste Kléber. Unknown to Napoleon, the Directory had earlier sent him orders to return with his army to ward off possible invasions of French soil but poor lines of communication meant the messages had failed to reach the French general. By the time he reached Paris in October, France's situation had been improved by a series of victories. The Republic was bankrupt however, and the ineffective Directory was unpopular with the public. The Directory discussed Napoleon's "desertion" but was too weak to punish him. Bonaparte was approached by one of the Directors, Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, for his support in a coup to overthrow the constitutional government. The leaders of the plot included Bonaparte's brother Lucien, the speaker of the Council of Five Hundred, Roger Ducos, another Director, Joseph Fouché and Talleyrand. On 9 November - 18 Brumaire - Bonaparte was charged with the safety of the legislative councils, who were persuaded to remove to Château de Saint-Cloud, to the west of Paris, after a rumour of a Jacobin rebellion was spread by the plotters. By the following day, the deputies had realised they faced an attempted coup. Faced with their remonstrations, Napoleon led troops to seize control and disperse them, which left a rump legislature to name Bonaparte, Sièyes, and Ducos as provisional Consuls to administer the government. Though Sieyès expected to dominate the new regime, he was outmaneuvered by Bonaparte, who drafted the Constitution of the Year VIII and secured his own election as First Consul. This made Bonaparte the most powerful person in France, powers that were increased by the Constitution of the Year X, which declared him First Consul for life.

Bonaparte instituted lasting reforms, including centralised administration of the départements, higher education, a tax code, road and sewer systems and the Banque de France - the country's central bank. Napoleon Bonaparte negotiated the Concordat of 1801 with the Catholic Church, which sought to reconcile the mostly Catholic population to his regime. It was presented alongside the Organic Articles, which regulated public worship in France. His set of civil laws, the Code Civil - now known as the Napoleonic code - has importance to this day in modern continental Europe, Latin America and the US, specifically Louisiana. The Code was prepared by committees of legal experts under the supervision of Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès, who held the office Second Consul from 1799 to 1804; Bonaparte participated actively in the sessions of the Council of State that revised the drafts. Other codes were commissioned by Bonaparte to codify criminal and commerce law. In 1808, a Code of Criminal Instruction was published, which enacted rules of due process.

In 1800, Bonaparte returned to Italy, which the Austrians had reconquered during his absence in Egypt. With his troops he crossed the Alps on a mule, as depicted in Bonaparte Crossing the Alps by Hippolyte Delaroche. Though the campaign began badly, Napoleon's forces routed the Austrians in June at the Battle of Marengo, which resulted in an armistice. Napoleon's brother Joseph, led the peace negotiations in Luneville. He reported that Austria, emboldened by British backing, would not recognise France's newly gained territory. As negotiations became more and more fractious, Bonaparte gave orders to his general Moreau to strike Austria once more. Moreau led France to victory at Hohenlinden. As a result, the Treaty of Luneville was signed in February 1801: the French gains of the Treaty of Campo Formio were reaffirmed and increased. Later that year, Bonaparte became President of the French Academy of Sciences and appointed Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre its Permanent Secretary. He re-established slavery in France which had been banned following the revolution. Temporary peace in Europe, the Haitian Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase The British signed the Treaty of Amiens in October 1801 and March 1802, this set the terms for peace, which included the withdrawal of British troops from most colonial territories recently occupied. The peace between France and Britain was uneasy and short-lived; the monarchies of Europe were reluctant to recognise a republic as they feared the ideas of the revolution might be exported to them. Britain failed to evacuate Malta as promised, and protested against Napoleon's annexation of Piedmont, and his Act of Mediation which established a new Swiss Confederation, though neither of these territories were covered by the Treaty. The dispute over Malta culminated in a declaration of war by Britain in 1803. Concurrently, Bonaparte faced a major setback and eventual defeat in the Haitian Revolution. Following a slave revolt, he sent an army to reconquer Saint-Domingue and establish a base. The force was, however, destroyed by yellow fever and fierce resistance led by Haitian generals Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Faced by imminent war against Britain and bankruptcy, he recognised French possessions on the mainland of North America would be indefensible and sold them to the United States - the Louisiana Purchase - for less than three cents per acre ($7.40 per km²).

In January 1804, Bonaparte's police uncovered an assassination plot against him, ostensibly sponsored by the former rulers of France, the Bourbons. In retaliation, Bonaparte ordered the arrest of the Duke of Enghien, in violation of Baden's sovereignty. After a secret trial, the Duke was executed in March. Bonaparte used the plot to justify the re-creation of a hereditary monarchy in France, with him as Emperor; he believed a Bourbon restoration would be impossible once the Bonapartist succession was entrenched in the constitution. Napoleon crowned himself Emperor on 2 December 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris and then crowned Joséphine Empress. At Milan Cathedral on 26 May 1805, Napoleon was crowned King of Italy with the Iron Crown of Lombardy. Ludwig van Beethoven, a long-time admirer and disappointed at this turn towards imperialism, scratched his dedication to Napoleon from his 3rd Symphony. In 1805 Britain convinced Austria and Russia to join a Third Coalition against France. Napoleon knew the French fleet could not defeat the Royal Navy and had a plan to lure it away from the English Channel. The French navy would escape from the British blockades of Toulon and Brest and threaten to attack the West Indies, thus drawing-off the British defence of the Western Approaches, in the hope a Franco-Spanish fleet could take control of the Channel long enough for French armies to cross and invade England. However, after defeat at the naval battle of Cape Finisterre and because Austria and Russia had prepared an invasion of France, Napoleon had to change his plans and turn his attention to the continent. The newly formed Grande Armée secretly marched to Germany in a turning movement, Napoleon's Ulm Campaign, that encircled the Austrian forces and severed their lines of communication. On 20 October 1805, the French captured 30,000 prisoners at Ulm, though the next day Britain's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar meant the Royal Navy gained control of the seas. Six weeks later, on the first anniversary of his coronation, Napoleon defeated Austria and Russia at Austerlitz ending the Third Coalition; Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned the Arc de Triomphe to commemorate the victory. Again Austria had to sue for peace: the Peace of Pressburg led to the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine with Napoleon named as its Protector.

The Fourth Coalition was assembled the following year, and Napoleon defeated Prussia at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt in October. Napoleon Bonaparte marched against advancing Russian armies through Poland, and was involved in the bloody stalemate of the Battle of Eylau on 6 February 1807. After a decisive victory at Friedland, Napoleon Bonaparte signed the Treaties of Tilsit with Tsar Alexander I of Russia which divided the continent between the two powers. He placed puppet rulers on the thrones of German states, including his brother Jerome as king of the new Kingdom of Westphalia. In the French-controlled part of Poland, he established the Duchy of Warsaw with King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony as ruler. With his Milan and Berlin Decrees, Napoleon attempted to enforce a Europe-wide commercial boycott of Britain called the Continental System. This act of economic warfare did not succeed, as it encouraged British merchants to smuggle into continental Europe and Napoleon's exclusively land-based customs enforcers could not stop them.

Portugal did not comply with the Continental System so, in 1807, Napoleon invaded with the support of Spain. Under the pretext of a reinforcement of the Franco-Spanish army occupying Portugal, Napoleon invaded Spain as well, replaced Charles IV with his brother Joseph and placed his brother-in-law Joachim Murat in Joseph's stead at Naples. This led to resistance from the Spanish army and civilians in the Dos de Mayo Uprising. Following a French retreat from much of the country, Napoleon took command and defeated the Spanish army, retook Madrid and then outmanoeuvred a British army sent to support the Spanish, driving it to the coast. Before the Spanish population had been fully subdued, Austria again threatened war and Napoleon returned to France. Siege of Saragossa (1809) - Most of the city was destroyed and around 54,000 people perished in the siege. The costly and often brutal Peninsular War continued, and Napoleon left 300,000 of his finest troops to battle Spanish guerrillas as well as British and Portuguese forces commanded by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. French control over the Iberian Peninsula deteriorated and collapsed in 1813; the war went on through allied victories and concluded after Napoleon's abdication in 1814.

In April 1809, Austria abruptly broke the alliance with France and Napoleon was forced to assume command of forces on the Danube and German fronts. After early successes, the French faced difficulties in crossing the Danube and then suffered a defeat in May at the Battle of Aspern-Essling near Vienna. The Austrians failed to capitalise on the situation and allowed Napoleon's forces to regroup. He defeated the Austrians again at Wagram and a new peace, Treaty of Schönbrunn, was signed between Austria and France. Britain was the other member of the coalition. In addition to the Iberian Peninsula, the British planned to open another front in mainland Europe. However, Napoleon was able to rush reinforcements to Antwerp, due to Britain's inadequately organised Walcheren Campaign. Concurrently, Napoleon annexed the Papal States because of the Church's refusal to support the Continental System. Pius VII responded by excommunicating the emperor and the Pope was then abducted by Napoleon's officers. Though Napoleon did not order his abduction, he did not order Pius' release either. The Pope was moved throughout Napoleon's territories, sometimes while ill, and Napoleon sent delegations to pressure him into issues including giving-up power and a new concordat with France. In 1810 Napoleon married the Austrian Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, following his divorce of Joséphine; this further strained his relations with the Church and thirteen cardinals were imprisoned for non-attendance at the marriage ceremony. The Pope remained confined for 5 years, and did not return to Rome until May 1814.

The Congress of Erfurt sought to preserve the Russo-French alliance and the leaders had a friendly personal relationship after their first meeting at Tilsit in 1807. By 1811, however, tensions were building between the two nations and Alexander was under strong pressure from the Russian nobility to break off the alliance. The first clear sign the alliance was deteriorating was the relaxation of the Continental System in Russia, which angered Napoleon. By 1812, advisers to Alexander suggested the possibility of an invasion of the French Empire and the recapture of Poland. Russia deployed large numbers of troops on the Polish borders, more than 300,000 of its total army strength of 410,000. On receipt of intelligence reports on Russia's war preparations, Napoleon expanded his Grande Armée to more than 450,000 men, in addition to at least 300,000 men already deployed in Iberia. Napoleon ignored repeated advice against an invasion of the vast Russian heartland, and prepared for an offensive campaign. On 23 June 1812, Napoleon's invasion of Russia commenced. In an attempt to gain increased support from Polish nationalists and patriots, Napoleon termed the war the "Second Polish War" - the first Polish war was the Bar Confederation uprising by Polish nobles against Russia. Polish patriots wanted the Russian part of partitioned Poland to be incorporated into the Duchy of Warsaw and a new Kingdom of Poland created, though this was rejected by Napoleon, who feared it would bring Prussia and Austria into the war against France. Napoleon rejected requests to free the Russian serfs, due to concerns this might provoke a reaction in his army's rear. The Russians avoided Napoleon's objective of a decisive engagement and instead retreated ever deeper into Russia. A brief attempt at resistance was made at Smolensk in the middle of August, but the Russians were defeated in a series of battles in the area and Napoleon resumed his advance. The Russians then repeatedly avoided battle, although in a few cases this was only achieved because Napoleon uncharacteristically hesitated to attack when the opportunity arose. Due to the Russian army's scorched earth tactics, the French found it increasingly difficult to forage food for themselves and their horses. Along with hunger, the French suffered from the harsh Russian winter. The Russians eventually offered battle outside Moscow on 7 September: the Battle of Borodino resulted in approximately 44,000 Russian and 35,000 French, dead, wounded or captured, and may have been the bloodiest day of battle in history. Although Napoleon had won, the Russian army had accepted, and withstood, the major battle the French had hoped would be decisive.

The Russian army withdrew and retreated past Moscow. Napoleon entered the city, assuming its fall would end the war and Alexander would negotiate peace. However, on orders of the city's military governor and commander-in-chief, Fyodor Rostopchin, rather than capitulating, Moscow was ordered burned. Within the month, concerned about loss of control back in France, Napoleon and his army left. The French suffered greatly in the course of a ruinous retreat; the Armée had begun as over 450,000 frontline troops, but in the end fewer than 40,000 crossed the Berezina River in November 1812, to escape. The strategy employed by the Russians had worn down the invaders: French losses in the campaign were about 570,000 in total. The Russians lost 150,000 in battle and hundreds of thousands of civilians.

There was a lull in fighting over the winter of 1812-13 while both the Russians and the French recovered from their massive losses. A small Russian army harassed the French in Poland and French troops withdrew to the German states to rejoin the expanding force there. The French force continued to expand and Napoleon was able to field 350,000 troops. Heartened by Napoleon's losses in Russia, Prussia rejoined the Coalition that now included Russia, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal. Napoleon assumed command in Germany and inflicted a series of defeats on the Allies which culminated in the Battle of Dresden on 26-27 August 1813 - the battle resulted in 38,000 casualties to the Coalition forces and the French sustained around 10,000. Despite these initial successes, the numbers continued to mount against Napoleon as Sweden and Austria joined the Coalition. Eventually the French army was pinned down by a force twice its size at the Battle of Leipzig from 16-19 October. Some German states switched sides in the midst of the battle to fight against France. This was by far the largest battle of the Napoleonic Wars and cost more than 90,000 casualties in total.[87] Napoleon withdrew back into France; his army was reduced to 70,000 men still in formed units and 40,000 stragglers, against more than three times as many Allied troops. The French were surrounded and vastly outnumbered: British armies pressed from the south, and other Coalition forces positioned to attack from the German states. Napoleon won a series of victories in the Six Days Campaign, though this was not significant enough to change the overall strategic position and Paris was captured by the Coalition in March 1814.

When Napoleon proposed the army march on the capital, his Marshals decided to mutiny. On 4 April, led by Ney, they confronted Napoleon. Ney said the army would not march on Paris. Napoleon asserted the army would follow him and Ney replied the army would follow its generals. On 6 April, Napoleon abdicated in favour of his son, the Allies refused to accept this and demanded unconditional surrender. Napoleon abdicated unconditionally 5 days later. In the Treaty of Fontainebleau the victors exiled Napoleon Bonaparte to Elba, an island of 12,000 inhabitants in the Mediterranean Sea 20 km off the coast of Italy. They gave Napoleon Bonaparte sovereignty over the island and allowed him to retain his title of Emperor. Napoleon attempted suicide with a pill he had carried since a near capture by Russians on the retreat from Moscow. Its potency had weakened with age and he survived to be exiled, while his wife and son took refuge in Vienna. In the first few months on Elba Napoleon Bonaparte created a small navy and army, developed the iron mines, and issued decrees modernising agricultural methods.

In France, the royalists had taken over and restored Louis XVIII to power. Napoleon, separated from his wife and son (who had come under Austrian control), cut off from the allowance guaranteed to him by the Treaty of Fontainebleau, and aware of rumours he was about to be banished to a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, escaped from Elba on 26 February 1815. Napoleon Bonaparte landed at Golfe-Juan on the French mainland, two days later. The 5th Regiment was sent to intercept Napoleon Bonaparte and made contact just south of Grenoble on 7 March 1815. On 13 March, the powers at the Congress of Vienna declared Napoleon Bonaparte an outlaw and four days later the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Russia, Austria and Prussia bound themselves to put 150,000 men into the field to end his rule. Napoleon arrived in Paris on 20 March and governed for a period called the Hundred Days. By the start of June the armed forces available to Napoleon had reached 200,000. Napoleon decided to go onto the offensive to attempt to drive a wedge between the oncoming British and Prussian armies: the French Army of the North crossed the frontier into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, in modern-day Belgium. Napoleon's forces fought the allies, led by Wellington and Von Blücher, at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815. Wellington's army withstood repeated attacks by the French and drove them from the field while the Prussians arrived in force and broke through Napoleon's right flank. The French army left the battlefield in disorder, which allowed Coalition forces to enter France and restore Louis XVIII to the French throne. Off the port of Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, after quickly considering an escape to the United States, Napoleon made his formal surrender to the British Captain Frederick Maitland on HMS Bellerophon on 15 July 1815.

Napoleon was imprisoned and then exiled to the island of St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, 2,000 km from any major landmass. In his first 2 months there, Napoleon Bonaparte lived in a pavilion on the Briars estate, which belonged to a William Balcombe. Napoleon became friendly with his family, especially his younger daughter Lucia Elizabeth who later wrote Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon. This friendship ended in 1818 when British authorities became suspicious that Balcombe had acted as an intermediary between Napoleon and Paris, and dismissed him from the island. Napoleon moved to Longwood House in December 1815. It had fallen into disrepair, and the location was damp, windswept and considered unhealthy even by the British. With a small cadre of followers, Napoleon dictated his memoirs and criticised his captors - particularly Hudson Lowe, the British governor of the island and Napoleon's custodian. Lowe's treatment of Napoleon is regarded as poor by historians such as Frank McLynn. Lowe exacerbated a difficult situation through measures including a reduction in Napoleon's expenditure, a rule that no gifts could be delivered to Napoleon Bonaparte if they mentioned his imperial status, and a document that his supporters had to sign that guaranteed they would stay with the prisoner indefinitely. Napoleon and his entourage did not accept the legality or justice of his captivity. In the early years of exile Napoleon received visitors but, as the restrictions placed on him were increased, his life became that of a recluse. In 1818 The Times reported a false rumour of Napoleon's escape and said the news had been greeted by spontaneous illuminations in London a custom in which householders place candles in street-facing windows to herald good news. There was sympathy for Napoleon Bonaparte in the British Parliament. Lord Holland made a speech to the House of Lords demanding the Napoleon Bonaparte be treated with no unnecessary harshness. Napoleon kept himself informed of the events through The Times and hoped for release in the event that Holland became Prime Minister. Napoleon Bonaparte also enjoyed the support of Lord Cochrane, who was closely involved in Chile and Brazil's struggle for independence. It was Cochrane's aim to rescue and then help him set up a new empire in South America, a scheme frustrated by Napoleon's death in 1821. There were other plots to rescue Napoleon from captivity, including one from Brazil and another from Texas, where 400 exiled soldiers from the Grande Armée dreamed of a resurrection of the Napoleonic Empire in America. There was even a plan to rescue him with a submarine. For Lord Byron, among others, Napoleon was the epitome of the Romantic hero, the persecuted, lonely and flawed genius. The news that Napoleon had taken up gardening at Longwood appealed to more domestic British sensibilities.

In February 1821, his health began to fail rapidly and on 3 May, two British physicians who had recently arrived, attended him and could only recommend palliatives. Napoleon Bonaparte died two days later, having confessed his sins and received Extreme Unction and Viaticum at the hands of Father Ange Vignali. His last words were, "France, armée, tete d'armée, Joséphine." Napoleon Bonaparte had asked in his will to be buried on the banks of the Seine, but the British said he should be buried on St. Helena, in the "valley of the willows", in an unmarked tomb. In 1840, Louis-Philippe of France obtained permission from the British to return Napoleon's remains to France. The remains were transported aboard the frigate Belle-Poule, which had been painted black for the occasion and on 29 November she arrived in Cherbourg. The remains were transferred to the steamship Normandie, which transported them to Le Havre, up the Seine to Rouen and on to Paris. On 15 December a state funeral was held. In 1861 Napoleon's remains were entombed in a porphyry sarcophagus in the crypt under the dome at Les Invalides. Hundreds of millions have since visited his tomb. Napoleon's original death mask was created around 6 May, though it is not clear which doctor created it. During this period, it was customary to cast a death mask or mold of a leader. A mixture of wax or plaster was placed over his face and removed after the form hardened. From this impression, copies were cast

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