Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.
As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815. His legal reform, the Napoleonic Code, has been a major influence on many civil law jurisdictions worldwide, but he is best remembered for his role in the wars led against France by a series of coalitions, the so-called Napoleonic Wars. He established hegemony over most of continental Europe and sought to spread the ideals of the French Revolution, while consolidating an imperial monarchywhich restored aspects of the deposed ancien régime. Due to his success in these wars, often against numerically superior enemies, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time.
Napoleon was born in Corsica to parents of noble Genoese ancestry and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. He rose to prominence under theFrench First Republic and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. In 1799, he staged a coup d'état and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. In the first decade of the 19th century, the French Empireunder Napoleon engaged in a series of conflicts—the Napoleonic Wars—involving every major European power.
After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states. Napoleon's campaigns are studied at military academies throughout much of the world.
The Peninsular War and 1812 French invasion of Russia marked turning points in Napoleon's fortunes. His Grande Armée was badly damaged in the campaign and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig; the following year the Coalition invaded France, forced Napoleon to abdicate and exiled him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he escaped Elba and returned to power, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, although this claim has sparked significant debate, as some scholars have held that he was a victim of arsenic poisoning. ...
.. In February 1821, his health began to fail rapidly, and on 3 May two British physicians, who had recently arrived, attended on him but could only recommend palliatives. He died two days later, after confession, Extreme Unction and Viaticum in the presence of Father Ange Vignali. His last words were, "France, armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine."("France, army, head of the army, Joséphine.")
Napoleon's original death mask was created around 6 May, though it is not clear which doctor created it.[note 10] In his will, he had asked to be buried on the banks of the Seine, but the British governor said he should be buried on St. Helena, in the Valley of the Willows. Hudson Lowe insisted the inscription should read 'Napoleon Bonaparte'; Montholonand Bertrand wanted the Imperial title 'Napoleon' as royalty were signed by their first names only. As a result the tomb was left nameless.
Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides
In 1840, Louis Philippe I obtained permission from the British to return Napoleon's remains to France. The remains were transported aboard the frigate Belle-Poule, which had been painted black for the occasion, and on 29 November she arrived in Cherbourg. The remains were transferred to the steamshipNormandie, which transported them to Le Havre, up the Seine to Rouen and on to Paris.
On 15 December, a state funeral was held. The hearse proceeded from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées, across the Place de la Concorde to theEsplanade des Invalides and then to the cupola in St Jérôme's Chapel, where it stayed until the tomb designed by Louis Visconti was completed. In 1861, Napoleon's remains were entombed in a porphyry sarcophagus in the crypt under the dome at Les Invalides.
Cause of death
Napoleon's physician, François Carlo Antommarchi, led the autopsy, which found the cause of death to be stomach cancer. Antommarchi did not, however, sign the official report. Napoleon's father had died of stomach cancer though this was seemingly unknown at the time of the autopsy. Antommarchi found evidence of a stomach ulcer, and it was the most convenient explanation for the British who wanted to avoid criticism over their care of the emperor.
Napoléon sur son lit de mort (Napoleon on his death bed), by Horace Vernet, 1826.
In 1955, the diaries of Napoleon's valet, Louis Marchand, appeared in print. His description of Napoleon in the months before his death led Sten Forshufvud to put forward other causes for his death, including deliberate arsenic poisoning, in a 1961 paper in Nature. Arsenic was used as a poison during the era because it was undetectable when administered over a long period. Forshufvud, in a 1978 book with Ben Weider, noted the emperor's body was found to be remarkably well-preserved when moved in 1840. Arsenic is a strong preservative, and therefore this supported the poisoning hypothesis. Forshufvud and Weider observed that Napoleon had attempted to quench abnormal thirst by drinking high levels of orgeat syrup that contained cyanide compounds in the almonds used for flavouring.
They maintained that the potassium tartrate used in his treatment prevented his stomach from expellation of these compounds and that the thirst was a symptom of poisoning. Their hypothesis was that the calomel given to Napoleon became an overdose, which killed him and left behind extensive tissue damage. A 2007 article stated the type of arsenic found in Napoleon's hair shafts was mineral type, the most toxic, and according to toxicologist Patrick Kintz, this supported the conclusion his death was murder.
The wallpaper used in Longwood contained a high level of arsenic compound used for colouring by British manufacturers. The adhesive, which in the cooler British environment was innocuous, may have grown mould in the more humid climate and emitted the poisonous gas arsine. This theory has been ruled out as it does not explain the arsenic absorption patterns found in other analyses.
There have been modern studies which have supported the original autopsy finding. Researchers, in a 2008 study, analysed samples of Napoleon's hair from throughout his life, and from his family and other contemporaries. All samples had high levels of arsenic, approximately 100 times higher than the current average. According to these researchers, Napoleon's body was already heavily contaminated with arsenic as a boy, and the high arsenic concentration in his hair was not caused by intentional poisoning; people were constantly exposed to arsenic from glues and dyes throughout their lives. 2007 and 2008 studies dismissed evidence of arsenic poisoning, and confirmed evidence of peptic ulcer and gastric cancer as the cause of death.
Marriages and children Napoleon's first wife, Joséphine, Empress of the French, painted by François Gérard, 1801
Napoleon married Joséphine de Beauharnais in 1796, when he was 26; she was a 32-year-old widow whose first husband had been executed during the Revolution. Until she met Bonaparte, she had been known as 'Rose', a name which he disliked. He called her 'Joséphine' instead, and she went by this name henceforth. Bonaparte often sent her love letters while on his campaigns. He formally adopted her son Eugène and cousin Stéphanie and arranged dynastic marriages for them. Joséphine had her daughter Hortense marry Napoleon's brother Louis.
Joséphine had lovers, including a Hussar lieutenant, Hippolyte Charles, during Napoleon's Italian campaign. Napoleon learnt the full extent of her affair with Charles while in Egypt, and a letter he wrote to his brother Joseph regarding the subject was intercepted by the British. The letter appeared in the London and Paris presses, much to Napoleon's embarrassment. Napoleon had his own affairs too: during the Egyptian campaign he took Pauline Bellisle Foures, the wife of a junior officer, as his mistress. She became known as Cleopatra after the Ancient Egyptian ruler.
While Napoleon's mistresses had children by him, Joséphine did not produce an heir, possibly because of either the stresses of her imprisonment during the Reign of Terror or an abortion she may have had in her 20s. Napoleon ultimately chose divorce so he could remarry in search of an heir. In March 1810, he married Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, and a great niece of Marie Antoinette by proxy; thus he had married into a German royal and imperial family.
They remained married until his death, though she did not join him in exile on Elba and thereafter never saw her husband again. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles (1811–1832), known from birth as the King of Rome. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks. He was awarded the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis aged 21, with no children.
Empress Marie-Louise and the King of Rome, by Joseph Franque, 1812. Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma with Napoleon II.
Napoleon acknowledged two illegitimate children:
Charles Léon(1806–1881) by Eléonore Denuelle de La Plaigne, and
Count Alexandre Joseph Colonna-Walewski (1810–1868) by Countess Marie Walewska.
He may have had further unacknowledged illegitimate offspring as well, such as Karl Eugin von Mühlfeld by Victoria Kraus;
Hélène Napoleone Bonaparte (1816–1910) by Albine de Montholon; and
Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire, whose mother remains unknown.
In French political history, Bonapartism has two meanings. The term can refer to people who restored the French Empire under the House of Bonaparte including Napoleon's Corsican family and his nephew Louis. Napoleon left a Bonapartist dynasty which ruled France again; Louis became Napoleon III, Emperor of the Second French Empire and was the first President of France. In a wider sense, Bonapartism refers to a broad centrist or center-right political movement that advocates the idea of a strong and centralised state, based on populism.