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Napoleon

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I love power, but I love it only as an artist loves his art. I have only one passion and one mistressвЂ"France. I wake with her. I sleep with her. My only mistress is power, and I work too hard in winning her to allow myself easily to be robbed of her or even envied for possessing her. Ambition is so much a part of me and my temperament, of my constitution, that is has become the very blood of my veins and the air I breathe.

вЂ"Napoleon Bonaparte

(Casey, P. 23)

Many have seen Napoleon as a madman for his dreams and ambitions, but he looked at them as goals within his reach that only required strength of character to achieve. Despite his short stature and his heritage of the petty nobility of Italian Corsica, he would grow to become the almighty Emperor of the West in Europe. He is a prime example of one who reached for the impossible, and achieved his dreams, if only for a short time.

Napoleone Buonaparte was born on August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, on Corsica. His father, Carlo Maria Buonaparte, decided that his first son, Giusseppe, later Joseph, would be an ecclesiastic, and he would make his second son, Napoleone, a soldier. Stories claim that he would go to the citadel every night to watch the maneuvers, and once organized a gang of urchins to fight with the boys from the faubourg (Castelot, P. 4). Between the ages of 9 and 10, Napleone attended two military academies: the CollÐ"Ёge d’Autun, and the military academy at Brienne. He was so tormented by the boys for being a foreigner and for his accent that he changed his name to the French spelling, Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1784, he was accepted to the elite military academy Ð"?cole Militaire. He excelled in his studies and graduated within a year of being accepted. At the age of sixteen, he was made a second Lieutenant of artillery in the French Army.

It was then that Napoleon began his distinguished military career. He went on leave to visit his family in Corsica frequently until he was called back to service in 1791. In 1793, his big break came. He was instrumental in capturing Toulon from the British. He was promoted to brigadier general at the age of twenty-four. After the fall of Robespierre he drifted for a while without a purpose. However, in 1795 he was put in charge of keeping an insurrection from getting out of hand. He handled the situation so well that the insurrection completely vanished. He was promoted to major general on October 11, 1795, and on the 25th, he replaced Barras as commander-in-chief of the Army of the Interior.

On March 6, 1796, Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais. Three days after he married Josephine, he set off for his famous Italian campaign. Through this yearlong campaign, Napoleon defeated Austria in Italy through a series of great victories. After spending some time in the capital performing menial tasks, he decided that he needed to get away from France and advance his career. He headed an expedition to Egypt that was doomed to failure because of the vast area and fact that the land and people were completely undesirable. After safely arriving in Cairo, his fleet was destroyed and he was trapped in Egypt. Feeling that his prospects in Egypt were limited, he set off to conquer Syria. He had some early successes, but he was forced to retreat back to Egypt when defeated by a former schoolmate of his, PhÐ"Ёlippeaux. He decided that there was no potential for advancement in Egypt, so he snuck aboard the frigate Muiron, and went back to France.

Upon his return, he seized power in France by becoming First Consul. The new government was made up of the three person Consulate, of which Napoleon became the head. He was well liked by the populace, but the few royalists that remained detested him. An assassination attempt on December 24, 1800, failed, and the suspected leaders were executed. His power was strengthened when he was made Consul for Life in 1802.

Finally, in 1804, he was elected Emperor of France by the Senate, and crowned himself on December 2. He soon began his quest of world domination, which advanced rapidly. His plan was to defeat Britain at sea, which turned out to be impossible, then turn to continental Europe unhindered by the British giant. Russia, England, Austria, and Sweden joined in a Coalition to prevent Napoleon from dominating all of Europe. His and his ally Spain’s fleets were destroyed by Lord Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805. However, his campaign on land against the countries in the Coalition went magnificently. At Austerlitz, on December 2, 1805, Napoleon met Austrian and Russian forces. Napoleon crushed the Russian and Austrian armies, losing only 8,000 men, while the Austrians and Russians lost more than 37,000. The Russians were forced to sign an armistice, while Napoleon made peace with the Austrians. He soon had almost all of Continental Europe in his power.

He was now Emperor of Europe, excluding England. England continued to be invincible on her island with her navy to protect her. Napoleon realized that a landing in England was impossible, so he decided to cripple her economically by cutting off all trade with England in Continental Europe. This tactic was formidable, but was unsuccessful at disabling England. She could still trade with the rest of the world and with her navy, that was an easily accomplished task.

The Continental Blockade required the cooperation of all of Napoleon’s territories and allies. In late 1810, a fleet of British merchant ships escorted by 20 British war ships went from port to port seeking harbor for their goods. They were refused by Sweden, Denmark, and Prussia, before turning to Russia. Napoleon informed the Russian Czar that if they accepted the 1,200 British merchant ships, he would continue the war and proceed towards Moscow. Czar Alexander opened the ports however, and subsequently closed all ports to French merchandise.

Napoleon decreed that the Grand Army be built up once again. It grew to 400,000, although this did not consist solely of Frenchmen, it included Netherlanders, Belgians, Germans, Italians, and Illyrians. He proceeded to march his entire army to Moscow. However, he suffered heavy losses and had no supplies for his men. Czar Alexander ordered the city burned to the ground in order to make the city unable to support the invading French army. But this was to no avail, as the fires died down long before the city was in ruins. It was still not able to sustain the invading French, and they were forced to leave. The retreat home was long and hard through the Russian winter. Napoleon’s armies died of starvation and cold. By the time he reached France, in late 1812, his armies had been destroyed,

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