on Aug. 15, 1769. It was by chance that the future ruler of France
was born a French citizen. His family had migrated to Corsica from
the Italian mainland in the 16th century. The island had been
transferred from the Republic of Genoa to France one year before
Napoleon's birth. His christening name was Italian. It was spelled
Napoleone Buonaparte. As a boy he hated the French, whom he
considered oppressors of his native land.
been raging for three bloody years. It reached a climax on Aug. 10,
1792, with the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a
French Republic. This was a decisive event in Napoleon's life, for it
gave him his opportunity to get ahead. (See also French Revolution .)
Napoleon, however, viewed the Revolution with an open mind. The
new republic was faced with foreign and civil war. It desperately
needed able and loyal officers. In the "little Corsican" it found a willing
recruit. In 1792 Napoleon was made a captain. In 1793 he was
chosen to direct the artillery in the siege of Toulon. This was an
important French port whose citizens had rebelled against the
republic. Here he first showed his qualities as a soldier and as a leader
During the war against Europe, Napoleon continued to demonstrate his prowess as a general. He had many successes, most notably annexing part of Italy for France Napoleon's return from Italy to Paris was a triumph. No other general of the Revolution had received such a welcome. He now began to think of political as well as military power.
He persuaded the willing Directory to send him and a large army to Egypt. There he expected to duplicate the exploits of Alexander the Great by winning an eastern empire that would include Egypt, India,and other Middle- and Far-East lands. He was unsuccessful in this veture, and abandoned his troops to go back to France for the militaty coup against the Directory in 1799. For more on the battle in Egypt click here. For more on the coup click here.
Napoleon was one of three consuls in the post-coup government, but was qucickly declared first cousul for life, and had a lot of political power.
In 1804 he had secured
a popular vote changing the French government from a consulate
to an empire. As "emperor of the French" he assumed
the right to hand down the throne to his descendants. He had
created an empire.