179 Facts About Napoleon I


Napoleon, Napoleon Bonaparte was born on Napoleone Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821, and and later known by his regnal name Napoleon I, was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars.

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Napoleon I was the de facto leader of the French Republic as First Consul from 1799 to 1804, and as Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814 and again in 1815.

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Napoleon I was born on the island of Corsica, not long after its annexation by France, to a native family descending from minor Italian nobility.

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Napoleon I supported the French Revolution in 1789 while serving in the French army, and tried to spread its ideals to his native Corsica.

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Napoleon I rose rapidly in the Army after he saved the governing French Directory by firing on royalist insurgents.

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Napoleon I shattered this coalition with victories in the Ulm Campaign, and at the Battle of Austerlitz, which led to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire.

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Napoleon I defeated Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, marched the Grande Armee into Eastern Europe, and defeated the Russians in June 1807 at Friedland, forcing the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to accept the Treaties of Tilsit.

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Two years later, the Austrians challenged the French again during the War of the Fifth Coalition, but Napoleon I solidified his grip over Europe after triumphing at the Battle of Wagram.

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Napoleon I launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812.

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Napoleon I was exiled to the island of Elba, between Corsica and Italy.

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However, Napoleon I escaped Elba in February 1815 and took control of France.

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Napoleon I had an extensive impact on the modern world, bringing liberal reforms to the many countries he conquered, especially the regions of the Low Countries, Switzerland and parts of modern Italy and Germany.

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Napoleon I implemented many liberal policies in France and Western Europe.

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Napoleon I had an elder brother, Joseph, and younger siblings Lucien, Elisa, Louis, Pauline, Caroline, and Jerome.

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Napoleon I was born in the same year that the Republic of Genoa ceded the region of Corsica to France.

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Napoleon I's parents joined the Corsican resistance and fought against the French to maintain independence, even when Maria was pregnant with him.

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Napoleon I's father Carlo was an attorney who had supported and actively collaborated with patriot Pasquale Paoli during the Corsican war of independence against France; after the Corsican defeat at Ponte Novu in 1769 and Paoli's exile in Britain, Carlo began working for the new French government and went on to be named representative of the island to the court of Louis XVI in 1777.

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Dominant influence of Napoleon I's childhood was his mother, whose firm discipline restrained a rambunctious child.

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Napoleon I was routinely bullied by his peers for his accent, birthplace, short stature, mannerisms and inability to speak French quickly.

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Napoleon I became reserved and melancholy, applying himself to reading.

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In early adulthood, Napoleon I briefly intended to become a writer; he authored a history of Corsica and a romantic novella.

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Napoleon I trained to become an artillery officer and, when his father's death reduced his income, was forced to complete the two-year course in one year.

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Napoleon I was the first Corsican to graduate from the Ecole Militaire.

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Napoleon I was examined by the famed scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace.

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Napoleon I served in Valence and Auxonne until after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789.

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Napoleon I spent the early years of the Revolution in Corsica, fighting in a complex three-way struggle among royalists, revolutionaries, and Corsican nationalists.

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Napoleon I came to embrace the ideals of the Revolution, becoming a supporter of the Jacobins and joining the pro-French Corsican Republicans who opposed Paoli's policy and his aspirations of secession.

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Napoleon I adopted a plan to capture a hill where republican guns could dominate the city's harbour and force the British to evacuate.

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Napoleon I devised plans for attacking the Kingdom of Sardinia as part of France's campaign against the First Coalition.

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Napoleon I was released within two weeks and, due to his technical skills, was asked to draw up plans to attack Italian positions in the context of France's war with Austria.

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Napoleon I took part in an expedition to take back Corsica from the British, but the French were repulsed by the British Royal Navy.

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Napoleon I was moved to the Bureau of Topography of the Committee of Public Safety and sought unsuccessfully to be transferred to Constantinople in order to offer his services to the Sultan.

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Napoleon I faced a difficult financial situation and reduced career prospects.

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Napoleon I had seen the massacre of the King's Swiss Guard there three years earlier and realized that artillery would be the key to its defence.

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Murat married one of Napoleon I's sisters, becoming his brother-in-law; he served under Napoleon I as one of his generals.

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Napoleon I immediately went on the offensive, hoping to defeat the forces of Piedmont before their Austrian allies could intervene.

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The Austrians launched a series of offensives against the French to break the siege, but Napoleon I defeated every relief effort, scoring victories at the battles of Castiglione, Bassano, Arcole, and Rivoli.

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Napoleon I authorized the French to loot treasures such as the Horses of Saint Mark.

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Napoleon I studied their strategy and combined it with his own.

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Napoleon I founded two newspapers: one for the troops in his army and another for circulation in France.

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Napoleon I's forces confiscated more than 300 priceless paintings and sculptures.

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Napoleon I met Talleyrand, France's new Foreign Minister—who served in the same capacity for Emperor Napoleon—and they began to prepare for an invasion of Britain.

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Napoleon I decided on a military expedition to seize Egypt and thereby undermine Britain's access to its trade interests in India.

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Napoleon I assured the Directory that "as soon as he had conquered Egypt, he will establish relations with the Indian princes and, together with them, attack the English in their possessions".

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Napoleon I fought the Battle of Shubra Khit against the Mamluks, Egypt's ruling military caste.

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Napoleon I's army had succeeded in a temporary increase of French power in Egypt, though it faced repeated uprisings.

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Napoleon I learned that France had suffered a series of defeats in the War of the Second Coalition.

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Napoleon I became "first consul" for ten years, with two consuls appointed by him who had consultative voices only.

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Napoleon I's power was confirmed by the new "Constitution of the Year VIII", originally devised by Sieyes to give Napoleon a minor role, but rewritten by Napoleon, and accepted by direct popular vote.

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Napoleon I established a political system that historian Martyn Lyons called "dictatorship by plebiscite".

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Worried by the democratic forces unleashed by the Revolution, but unwilling to ignore them entirely, Napoleon I resorted to regular electoral consultations with the French people on his road to imperial power.

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Napoleon I drafted the Constitution of the Year VIII and secured his own election as First Consul, taking up residence at the Tuileries.

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Napoleon I constantly rode out among the troops urging them to stand and fight.

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Napoleon I saw a chance to reestablish control over the colony when he signed the Treaty of Amiens.

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Aware of the expenses required to fund his wars in Europe, Napoleon I made the decision to reinstate slavery in all French Caribbean colonies.

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Napoleon I sent an expedition under his brother-in-law General Leclerc to reassert control over Saint-Domingue.

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In May 1803, Napoleon I acknowledged defeat, and the last 8,000 French troops left the island and the slaves proclaimed an independent republic that they called Haiti in 1804.

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The dispute culminated in a declaration of war by Britain in May 1803; Napoleon I responded by reassembling the invasion camp at Boulogne.

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Napoleon I believed that a Bourbon restoration would be more difficult if his family's succession was entrenched in the constitution.

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Napoleon I entered the ceremony wearing the laurel wreath and kept it on his head throughout the proceedings.

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Napoleon I was crowned King of Italy, with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, at the Cathedral of Milan on 26 May 1805.

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Napoleon I created eighteen Marshals of the Empire from among his top generals to secure the allegiance of the army on 18 May 1804, the official start of the Empire.

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Napoleon I intended to use this invasion force to strike at England.

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On top of these forces, Napoleon I created a cavalry reserve of 22,000 organized into two cuirassier divisions, four mounted dragoon divisions, one division of dismounted dragoons, and one of light cavalry, all supported by 24 artillery pieces.

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Napoleon I knew that the French fleet could not defeat the Royal Navy in a head-to-head battle, so he planned to lure it away from the English Channel through diversionary tactics.

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Napoleon I swung his forces to the southeast and the Grande Armee performed an elaborate wheeling movement that outflanked the Austrian positions.

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Napoleon I sent his army north in pursuit of the Allies but then ordered his forces to retreat so that he could feign a grave weakness.

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Desperate to lure the Allies into battle, Napoleon I gave every indication in the days preceding the engagement that the French army was in a pitiful state, even abandoning the dominant Pratzen Heights, a sloping hill near the village of Austerlitz.

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Napoleon I went on to say, "The battle of Austerlitz is the finest of all I have fought".

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Vincent Cronin disagrees, stating that Napoleon I was not overly ambitious for himself, "he embodied the ambitions of thirty million Frenchmen".

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Napoleon I continued to entertain a grand scheme to establish a French presence in the Middle East in order to put pressure on Britain and Russia, and perhaps form an alliance with the Ottoman Empire.

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Napoleon I opted for an alliance with France, calling France "our sincere and natural ally".

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The very first thing Alexander said to Napoleon I was probably well-calibrated: "I hate the English as much as you do".

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Napoleon I decided to focus his attention on the Kingdom of Portugal, which consistently violated his trade prohibitions.

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Unhappy with this change of policy by the Portuguese government, Napoleon I negotiated a secret treaty with Charles IV of Spain and sent an army to invade Portugal.

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On 16 February 1808, secret French machinations finally materialized when Napoleon I announced that he would intervene to mediate between the rival political factions in the country.

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Napoleon I appointed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as the new King of Spain in the summer of 1808.

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At the Congress of Erfurt in October 1808, Napoleon I hoped to keep Russia on his side during the upcoming struggle in Spain and during any potential conflict against Austria.

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Napoleon I then unleashed his soldiers against Moore and the British forces.

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The outbreak of the Spanish American wars of independence in most of the empire was a result of Napoleon I's destabilizing actions in Spain and led to the rise of strongmen in the wake of these wars.

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The early Austrian attack surprised the French; Napoleon I himself was still in Paris when he heard about the invasion.

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Napoleon I finished off the battle with a concentrated central thrust that punctured a hole in the Austrian army and forced Charles to retreat.

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Metternich and Archduke Charles had the preservation of the Habsburg Empire as their fundamental goal, and to this end, they succeeded by making Napoleon I seek more modest goals in return for promises of friendship between the two powers.

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Napoleon I turned his focus to domestic affairs after the war.

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Empress Josephine had still not given birth to a child from Napoleon I, who became worried about the future of his empire following his death.

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Desperate for a legitimate heir, Napoleon I divorced Josephine on 10 January 1810 and started looking for a new wife.

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On 20 March 1811, Marie Louise gave birth to a baby boy, whom Napoleon I made heir apparent and bestowed the title of King of Rome.

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Napoleon I ignored repeated advice against an invasion of the Russian heartland and prepared for an offensive campaign; on 24 June 1812 the invasion commenced.

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Napoleon I refused to manumit the Russian serfs because of concerns this might provoke a reaction in his army's rear.

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The Russians again avoided battle, although in a few cases this was only achieved because Napoleon I uncharacteristically hesitated to attack when the opportunity arose.

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Napoleon I entered the city, assuming its fall would end the war and Alexander would negotiate peace.

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In early November Napoleon I became concerned about the loss of control back in France after the Malet coup of 1812.

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Napoleon I assumed command in Germany and inflicted a series of defeats on the Coalition culminating in the Battle of Dresden in August 1813.

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Napoleon I would remain as Emperor of the French, but it would be reduced to its "natural frontiers".

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Metternich told Napoleon I these were the best terms the Allies were likely to offer; after further victories, the terms would be harsher and harsher.

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The British wanted Napoleon I permanently removed, and they prevailed, but Napoleon I adamantly refused.

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Napoleon I withdrew into France, his army reduced to 70,000 soldiers and little cavalry; he faced more than three times as many Allied troops.

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Napoleon I launched a series of victories in the Six Days' Campaign.

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Napoleon I had advanced as far as Fontainebleau when he learned that Paris had fallen.

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When Napoleon I asserted the army would follow him, Ney replied the army would follow its generals.

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Napoleon I was then forced to announce his unconditional abdication only two days later.

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Napoleon I attempted suicide with a pill he had carried after nearly being captured by the Russians during the retreat from Moscow.

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Napoleon I was conveyed to the island on HMS Undaunted by Captain Thomas Ussher, and he arrived at Portoferraio on 30 May 1814.

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Napoleon I was devastated by the news, locking himself in his room and refusing to leave for two days.

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Napoleon I's forces fought two Coalition armies, commanded by the British Duke of Wellington and the Prussian Prince Blucher, at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

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Napoleon I returned to Paris and found that both the legislature and the people had turned against him.

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Napoleon I left Paris three days later and settled at Josephine's former palace in Malmaison.

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When Napoleon I heard that Prussian troops had orders to capture him dead or alive, he fled to Rochefort, considering an escape to the United States.

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Napoleon I was moved to Longwood House on Saint Helena in December 1815; it had fallen into disrepair, and the location was damp, windswept and unhealthy.

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Lowe cut Napoleon I's expenditure, ruled that no gifts were allowed if they mentioned his imperial status, and made his supporters sign a guarantee they would stay with the prisoner indefinitely.

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Napoleon I studied English under the tutelage of Count Emmanuel de Las Cases with the main aim of being able to read English newspapers and books, as access to French newspapers and books was heavily restricted to him on Saint Helena.

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Napoleon I devoted himself to compiling a book "Memorial de Ste-Helene", an account which reflected his self-depiction as a liberal, visionary ruler for European unification, deposed by reactionary elements of the Ancien Regime.

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However, Arnold argues that, while Napoleon I played cards in exile, the notion that he played numerous patience games is "based on a misunderstanding".

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For English poet Lord Byron, Napoleon I was the epitome of the Romantic hero, the persecuted, lonely, and flawed genius.

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In February 1821, Napoleon I's health began to deteriorate rapidly, and he reconciled with the Catholic Church.

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Napoleon I died on 5 May 1821 at Longwood House at age 51, after making his last confession, Extreme Unction and Viaticum in the presence of Father Ange Vignali from his deathbed.

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Napoleon I's casket was opened to confirm that it still contained the former emperor.

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In 1861, Napoleon I's remains were entombed in a sarcophagus of red quartzite from Russia in the crypt under the dome at Les Invalides.

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Napoleon I's father had died of stomach cancer, although this was apparently unknown at the time of the autopsy.

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Furthermore, in a 1978 book with Ben Weider, Forshufvud noted that Napoleon I's body was found to be well preserved when moved in 1840.

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Forshufvud and Weider observed that Napoleon I had attempted to quench abnormal thirst by drinking large amounts of orgeat syrup that contained cyanide compounds in the almonds used for flavouring.

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Napoleon I was raised as a Catholic but never developed much faith, though he recalled the day of his First Communion in the Catholic Church to be the happiest day of his life.

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Napoleon I noted the influence of Catholicism's rituals and splendors.

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Napoleon I had a civil marriage with Josephine de Beauharnais, without religious ceremony.

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Napoleon I was crowned Emperor on 2 December 1804 at Notre-Dame de Paris in a ceremony presided over by Pope Pius VII.

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On 1 April 1810, Napoleon I married the Austrian princess Marie Louise in a Catholic ceremony.

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Napoleon I was excommunicated by the Pope through the bull Quum memoranda in 1809, but later reconciled with the Catholic Church before his death in 1821.

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In January 1813, Napoleon I personally forced the Pope to sign a humiliating "Concordat of Fontainebleau" which was later repudiated by the Pontiff.

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In 1806 an assembly of Jewish notables was gathered by Napoleon I to discuss 12 questions broadly dealing with the relations between Jews and Christians, as well as other issues dealing with the Jewish ability to integrate into French society.

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Napoleon I was seen as so favourable to the Jews that the Russian Orthodox Church formally condemned him as "Antichrist and the Enemy of God".

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Napoleon I understood military technology, but was not an innovator in that regard.

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Napoleon I was an innovator in using the financial, bureaucratic, and diplomatic resources of France.

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Napoleon I maintained strict, efficient work habits, prioritizing what needed to be done.

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Napoleon I cheated at cards, but repaid the losses; he had to win at everything he attempted.

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Unlike many generals, Napoleon I did not examine history to ask what Hannibal or Alexander or anyone else did in a similar situation.

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Critics said he won many battles simply because of luck; Napoleon I responded, "Give me lucky generals", arguing that "luck" comes to leaders who recognize opportunity, and seize it.

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Napoleon I reorganized France itself to supply the men and money needed for wars.

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Napoleon I inspired his men—the Duke of Wellington said his presence on the battlefield was worth 40,000 soldiers, for he inspired confidence from privates to field marshals.

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Napoleon I has been portrayed in hundreds of films and discussed in hundreds of thousands of books and articles.

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Napoleon I's nose was not very large, but straight, with a slight, hardly noticeable bend.

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Napoleon I surrounded himself with tall bodyguards and was affectionately nicknamed le petit caporal, reflecting his reported camaraderie with his soldiers rather than his height.

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When he became First Consul and later Emperor, Napoleon I eschewed his general's uniform and habitually wore the green colonel uniform of a colonel of the Chasseur a Cheval of the Imperial Guard, the regiment that served as his personal escort many times, with a large bicorne.

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Napoleon I habitually wore the blue uniform of a colonel of the Imperial Guard Foot Grenadiers.

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Napoleon I wore his Legion d'honneur star, medal and ribbon, and the Order of the Iron Crown decorations, white French-style culottes and white stockings.

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Napoleon I is very sallow, with light grey eyes, and rather thin, greasy-looking brown hair, and altogether a very nasty, priestlike-looking fellow.

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Napoleon I is often portrayed wearing a large bicorne hat—sideways—with a hand-in-waistcoat gesture—a reference to the painting produced in 1812 by Jacques-Louis David.

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In 1908 Alfred Adler, a psychologist, cited Napoleon I to describe an inferiority complex in which short people adopt an over-aggressive behaviour to compensate for lack of height; this inspired the term Napoleon I complex.

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Napoleon I negotiated the Concordat of 1801 with the Catholic Church, which sought to reconcile the mostly Catholic population to his regime.

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Napoleon I dissolved the Holy Roman Empire prior to German Unification later in the 19th century.

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Napoleon I participated actively in the sessions of the Council of State that revised the drafts.

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Napoleon I reorganized what had been the Holy Roman Empire, made up of about three hundred Kleinstaaterei, into a more streamlined forty-state Confederation of the Rhine; this helped promote the German Confederation and the unification of Germany in 1871.

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Napoleon I directly overthrew remnants of feudalism in much of western Continental Europe.

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Napoleon I liberalized property laws, ended seigneurial dues, abolished the guild of merchants and craftsmen to facilitate entrepreneurship, legalized divorce, closed the Jewish ghettos and made Jews equal to everyone else.

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Napoleon I continued the policy, which emerged from the Revolution, of promotion based primarily on merit.

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Napoleon I was regarded by the influential military theorist Carl von Clausewitz as a genius in the operational art of war, and historians rank him as a great military commander.

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Napoleon I synthesized the best academic elements from the Ancien Regime, The Enlightenment, and the Revolution, with the aim of establishing a stable, well-educated and prosperous society.

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Napoleon I left some primary education in the hands of religious orders, but he offered public support to secondary education.

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Napoleon I founded a number of state secondary schools designed to produce a standardized education that was uniform across France.

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Napoleon I gave special attention to the advanced centers, such as the Ecole Polytechnique, that provided both military expertise and state-of-the-art research in science.

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Napoleon I made some of the first efforts at establishing a system of secular and public education.

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Napoleon I was considered a tyrant and usurper by his opponents at the time and ever since.

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Napoleon I was compared to Adolf Hitler by the historian Pieter Geyl in 1947, and Claude Ribbe in 2005.

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Napoleon I left great and lasting testimonies to his genius—in codes of law and national identities which survive to the present day.

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Many historians have blamed Napoleon I's poor planning, but Russian scholars instead emphasize the Russian response, noting the notorious winter weather was just as hard on the defenders.

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The propagandistic rhetoric changed in relation to events and to the atmosphere of Napoleon I's reign, focusing first on his role as a general in the army and identification as a soldier, and moving to his role as emperor and a civil leader.

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Specifically targeting his civilian audience, Napoleon I fostered a relationship with the contemporary art community, taking an active role in commissioning and controlling different forms of art production to suit his propaganda goals.

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In England, Russia and across Europe—though not in France—Napoleon I was a popular topic of caricature.

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Napoleon I Crossing the Alps, romantic version by Jacques-Louis David in 1805.

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Napoleon I was responsible for spreading the values of the French Revolution to other countries, especially in legal reform.

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Napoleon I had an influence on the establishment of modern Germany.

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Napoleon I caused the end of the Holy Roman Empire and helped create middle sized states such as Bavaria and Wurttemberg along the great powers Prussia and Austria.

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Napoleon I married Josephine in 1796, when he was 26; she was a 32-year-old widow whose first husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais, had been executed during the Reign of Terror.

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Napoleon I called her "Josephine" instead, and she went by this name henceforth.

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Napoleon I formally adopted her son Eugene and second cousin Stephanie and arranged dynastic marriages for them.

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Napoleon I had his own affairs too: during the Egyptian campaign he took Pauline Bellisle Foures, the wife of a junior officer, as his mistress.

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Napoleon I chose divorce so he could remarry in search of an heir.

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Napoleon I's great-aunt had been executed in France, while Napoleon had fought numerous campaigns against Austria all throughout his military career.

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Napoleon I was awarded the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis aged 21, with no children.

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Napoleon I acknowledged one illegitimate son: Charles Leon by Eleonore Denuelle de La Plaigne.

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