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Napoleon Bonaparte
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Britain forced Napoleon
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Hi, I'm Christina Hartman for About.com and today we're getting you informed on one of France's most famous men, Napoleon Bonaparte.Bonaparte was born in 1769 on the French island of Corsica. He began a military life at an early age, attending military school. Bonaparte saw a rapid rise through the ranks; he graduated a second lieutenant in the artillery, and completed courses in one year that took most students three.
The French Revolution changed things for Bonaparte. He and his family headed to France, where the tumultuous times meant the tide ebbed and flowed on his military success. One general favored him, the next did not and saw him arrested for treason.
But in 1795, he was considered a hero, having fended off counter-revolutionary forces. His ambition and blunt attitude helped him grow into a respected military figure in France. In 1796, he was named commander of the French forces in Italy.Napoleon's career continued, with a failure or two, and many victories. Within a few years he was appointed First Consul, leader of France accompanied by a constitution. France was at war with other European nations, and Napoleon set out to conquer. Within a year he had done so. He followed up with treaties that put Europe at peace, then focused on France.
Napoleon soon transitioned to Emperor of France, elected by the people in 1804. He reformed the legal system, church, military, economy, education and government within his nation. He was popular with his people. But peace in Europe didn't last. Fellow nations feared Napoleon, and he constantly proved his power through battles -- including great ones like Austerlitz in 1805.By 1811, Napoleon's empire was showing some signs of decline. It all came to a head with war on Russia. Napoleon assembled a force of hundreds of thousands of men, but Russia retreated, drawing the troops into its cold, harsh environment. Separated from their supplies, the majority of the soldiers had died by the end of 1812.
With Napoleon's reputation tarnished and France's supplies dwindled, other countries in Europe grew independent and strong again. In 1814, Paris surrendered to allied forces, Napoleon abdicated as Emperor of France and was exiled to the Island of Elba.
Undeterred, Napoleon returned to France in secret, and in a miraculous move, reassembled support for himself. He reclaimed his power and reorganized France's government, but after a series of altercations, was narrowly defeated at one of the world's most famous battles: Waterloo.
Britain forced Napoleon into exile again, this time to St. Helena. His death is still somewhat of a mystery, but within six years he died at age 51 -- on May 5th, 1821.
Ultimately, Napoleon is known for his political savvy, his military genius and for having luck on his side. He was often a hero to the French, and he is buried in Paris. Thanks for watching our overview of Napoleon Bonaparte, for more information visit About.com
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