Permanent Gallery

Napoleon Bonaparte


Napoleon Bonaparte (August 15, 1769 – May 5, 1821) was a military and political leader of France and Emperor of the French, whose actions shaped European politics in the early 19th century. He rose to prominence under the French First Republic. In 1799, he staged a coup d'état and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. Napoleon engaged in conflicts involving every major European power, securing a dominant position in Europe. The French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point in Napoleon's fortunes. His army was badly damaged in the campaign and never recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces, forced Napoleon to abdicate, and exiled him to the island of Elba. 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 on the island of Saint Helena. Napoleon's campaigns are studied at military academies throughout much of the world. While considered a tyrant by opponents, he is also remembered for the establishment of the Napoleonic code, laying the administrative foundations for much of Western Europe.

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