- Name of Officer: Napoleon Bonaparte.
- Other Names/Aliases:
- Napoleon I
- Napoleon the Great
- The Little Corporal
- Emperor of the French
- King of Italy
- Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine
- President of the Italian Republic
- First Consul of France.
- Name of Service and Branch: The French Armies.
- Dates of Birth: 08/15/1769.
- Place of Birth: Ajaccio, Corsica, France.
- Height: 5 feet 6,5 inches.
- Weight: Unknown.
- Hair: Brown.
- Eyes: Gray.
- Sex: Male.
- Build: Average.
- Citizenship: France.
- Languages: Italian, Corsican, French.
- Scars and Marks: None.
- Last known address: Longwood, Saint Helena, UK.
Current Possition and Date of Rank
Napoleon is considered as one of the most celebrated military leaders in human history. Among his many innovations, the maneuverability of his armies and an increase in skirmishers were recognized as the best and most significant strategies that allowed the great commander to achieve his most notable victories. By being able to move fast and flexibly, Napoleon could fight the enemy in circumstances of his own choosing, setting his soldiers up for success. However, one should not disregard his great artillery innovation in which he concentrated the firepower of guns. By gathering guns together into batteries, Napoleon was able to achieve local superiority in areas of the battlefields (Knighton). One may only add that the success of the great military leader stands as a testament to his exceptional skills and extraordinary talent, as well as to his unique style of warfare that transformed how wars were fought.
Napoleon was the fourth child of Letizia Romolino and Carlo Buonaparte. The future great commander began his education at a boys’ school in Ajaccio. At the age of ten, he entered one of the French military schools and was sent in 1779 to the College of Autun in Burgundy, France. Trained to become an artillery officer, young Napoleon was then transferred to the College of Brienne and became a second lieutenant in the French army by 1785. In 1796, he married Josephine de Beauharnais, but he annulled their marriage because there was no offspring. He wed Marie Louise in 1810 who gave birth to their son, Napoleon Francois Joseph Charles Bonaparte, or Napoleon II (“Napoleon Bonaparte Biography”).
After seizing his political power in 1799, Napoleon’s government, the Consulate, quickly became an authoritarian one-man system. By centralizing power in Paris, the great commander reformed the army and instituted an efficient tax system. Of utmost importance was the Napoleonic Code that recognized the principles of the secular character of the state, civil liberty, and equality before the law. Napoleon also resolved most of the problems related to the complex history of religious conflicts and tensions in France and implemented fundamental liberal policies throughout Western Europe. In addition, he ended rural banditry, abolished feudalism, added a rational local administration, and encouraged science and the arts (“Napoleon’s Government”).
Napoleon Bonaparte is widely regarded as a military genius. His military career spanned over twenty years. He held commands of Army of Italy, Army of the Orient, French Army, and the Grande Armee, fighting sixty battles and losing only seven. Originally trained as an artillerist, he reached the rank of Commander in Chief and is rightfully considered as one of the grandest commanders in world history (Dean).
Date of Ranks
After studying at the military academy in France, Napoleon became an artillery officer in 1785. Ten years later, he was promoted to major general after suppressing a royalist insurrection against the Parisian revolutionary government. Winning battles against the Austrians, Italians, and Egyptians, Napoleon won most of the so-called Napoleonic Wars, building a large empire that ruled over most of continental Europe until it finally collapsed in 1815. This success brought Napoleon glory and the rank of Commander in Chief, Emperor of the French, and King of Italy as well (“Napoleon Bonaparte”).
Besides being an outstanding military leader, Napoleon was also a great writer. He wrote dozens of speeches and proclamations addressed to his troops. He engaged in personal correspondence with the Pope and the King of England. He also wrote a short novella, making one of the greatest commanders to be a failed novelist (Barry). However, his manuscripts, memorabilia, “Memoirs of Napoleon,” “Art of War,” and “The Memorial of Saint Helena” are considered as emblematic of this man, revealing Napoleon’s brilliant efforts at reinvention (Zaretsky).
Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaigns and wars are studied at military schools all around the world (Dean). His cultural and political legacy made him one of the most controversial leaders in human history. This man’s triumphs in numerous battles demonstrate his talent as a general. Hence, one may suggest that the career of Napoleon Bonaparte can be considered as both formidable and extensive.
In 1814, Napoleon was declared to be an obstacle to the restoration of order and peace in Europe. He was exiled to the island of Elba where he was given the sovereignty over the island and allowed to retain his Emperor title. In 1815, however, Napoleon managed to escape from Elba, only to find out that both the people and the legislature had turned against him. Understanding that his position was untenable, the military leader abdicated in favor of his son and fled to Rochefort. However, he was forced to surrender to the British, who kept him on the island of Saint Helena, where he died in 1821 (Williams).
Napoleon Bonaparte is considered as one of the grandest military leaders in human history. His innovations in technology and logistics made him a genius in the operational art of war. However, Napoleon’s biggest influence and success was in the conduct of warfare. Under his command, a new emphasis towards the destruction of the armies of enemies emerged, and invasions of their territories occurred over broader fronts, making wars more decisive. Even though such an approach could portrait Emperor of the French as a cruel despot, one may suggest that he also could be seen as a wise reformer whose ambitions helped him reform France, liberate its people, and place the country at the heart of a unified Europe. Hence, assessing the great commander’s legacy makes one see that he was indeed an exceptional strategist, outstanding operational commander, and extraordinary battlefield tactician.
Barry, Rebecca Rego. “Napoleon Bonaparte, Failed Novelist: Manuscript Goes to Auction.” The Guardian. 2016, Web.
Dean, Peter J. “Napoleon as a Military Commander: the Limitations of Genius.” The Napoleon Series, 2005, Web.
Holmberg, Tom. “First-Hand Descriptions of Napoleon.” The Napoleon Series, 2002, Web.
Knighton, Andrew. “The Military Innovations of One of the Most Terrifying European Conquerors, Napoleon Bonaparte.” War History Online. 2016, Web.
“Napoleon Bonaparte.” History, 2019, Web.
“Napoleon Bonaparte Biography.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2019, Web.
“Napoleon’s Government.” ER Services, 2019, Web.
Von Humboldt, Alexander Wilhelm. “A Physical Description of Napoleon and Josephine in 1798, Eyewitness Accounts by Alexander Wilhelm von Humboldt.” Napoleon.org, 2015, Web.
Williams, Jasmin K. “Napoleon Bonaparte.” New York Post. 2007, Web.
Zaretsky, Robert. “Napoleon Wrote the Best Political Memoir.” Politico, 2015, Web.