Napoleon

 

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Aug 15, 1769 – May 5, 1821

Military Leader, Consul, Emperor

Corsican, French

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

“Conquest has made me what I am, conquest alone can maintain me.”

Napoleon’s height of 5-feet 2-inches was recorded in French feet. His height in English feet was 5-feet 6.5-inches, which is slightly taller than the average Frenchman of his time.

It is hard to separate fact from fiction when discussing Napoleon’s life. There is no question, however, he was one of the greatest military commanders in history. His success did not come from his violent methods but from his genius in military strategies. This enabled him to conquer most of western and central Europe, the largest empire in Europe since the days of Rome. He was only ten when he started in the military machine. He was an average student in most subjects, but he excelled in math and had a passion for history and geography. By the time he was 26, he was put in charge of France’s army in Italy. Ironically, he was leading the army of a nation he had hated as a child -- his native homeland, the island of Corsica, had been taken from Italy by the French. He was a foreigner in an adopted country, but, at the height of his popularity, he seized the opportunity to become France’s most powerful political leader. He wanted to keep neighboring countries from rising up against him, so he conquered them. His goal was to build a federation of free numbers united under his government. He put into place efficient systems of law and education, but his ambitions were too greedy. He extended France’s rule and resources too far, and his empire became vulnerable to attacks from its enemies. He married a woman seven years older than himself. He loved her, but when she could not provide him with an heir, he divorced her to marry another. His second wife bore him a son, and he was named Napoleon II.