Napolean Bonaparte: Timeline of Greatness

Napolean Bonaparte is one of the most brilliant achievers in history. He was a great soldier, a great politician, an excellent administrator, and a merciless dictator. His military conquests and ruthlessness helped him achieve an unparalleled stature in world history. His administrative achievements are no less than his military conquests. He supervised and translated the French law into law codes. These French law codes defined the freedoms gained by French nationals during the French revolution. Napolean believed in a government “for” the people, but he dismissed the idea of a government “by” the people. The colorful life and different shades of his character triggered the imaginations of writers, scholars, playwrights, and film makers.

1769 - Napolean Bonaparte was born on 15th August, 1769. His birthplace was Ajaccio, on Corsica Island. One year before his birth, Corsica was annexed to France; hence by birth, Napolean was a French citizen.

1785 - He graduated in this year from Ecole Militaire and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in La Fère artillery regiment. He served on garrison duty in Valence, Drôme, and Auxonne until French Revolution occurred in 1789.

1793 - The seeds of Napolean’s military conquests were sown by this time. He was appointed as the Artillery Commander of the republican forces in the French battle to capture Toulon. Napoleon adopted a plan to capture a hill and overpower the British at Toulon’s harbor, forcing the British troops to withdraw. His courage and military acumen fetched him the new rank of Brigadier General. 

1796 - Napolean entered into matrimony at the age of twenty-six. He married his first wife Joséphine de Beauharnais, a thirty-two year old widow. [Much later in 1810, he married again divorcing his first wife. His second wife was Marie Louise.] In 1796, Napolean defeated the Austrians in the Battle of Lodi after assuming the command of the French army in Italy. He also won the battle of Arcole in this year.

1801 - Napolean’s Austrian conquests got further strengthened in this year. Napolean gave orders to his general Moreau to strike Austria repeatedly and attempted to force the Austrians into a treaty. The French eventually became victorious and the Treaty of Lunéville was signed.

1804 - In this year, Napolean introduced the French civil code. The code is still referred to in Europe, America, and Africa – the important jurisdictions of the world. His chivalry was acknowledged when he was proclaimed Emperor by the Senate. In December that year, Napoleon crowned himself the Emperor, in the Pope’s company. He also crowned Joséphine as the Empress of France.

1805 - The year 1805 bears testimony to some of the most important battles in Napolean’s life. In this year, the British convinced Austria and Russia to form a third coalition against France. Napolean deemed it to be difficult to face a head-to-head battle against the British. Instead, he chalked out tricky plans to outweigh the Austrians and weaken the coalition. He was successful in his mission at the Battle of Ulm. The British force took revenge in the Battle of Trafalgar. However, Napoleon won at the end at the battle of Austerlitz and that dissolved the third coalition.

1813 - The world got proof of Napolean’s might when he defeated a coalition force comprising of Austria, Sweden, Russia, Britain, Spain, and Portugal (this was known as the sixth coalition) at the Battle of Dresden. However, this fortune was short-lived when the French army was outnumbered and defeated by the coalition force at the battle of Leipzig. The battle of Leipzig was the largest of Napoleanic battles and cost about 90,000 casualties. This war may be considered to be reversal point in Napoleon’s career. 

1814 - Napoleon struck back and won a series of victories against the sixth coalition in a battle known as Six Days Campaign. These victories were not significant enough and Paris fell to the Sixth Coalition in the Battle of Paris. In this very year, Napolean abdicated his throne. The victors made him sign the Treaty of Fontainebleau and forced him to go to exile in the Mediterranean island of Elba. His wife and son took refuge in Vienna.

1815 - Napolean made a last attempt to spring back when he escaped from Elba in this year. Napoleon landed on the French mainland, reorganized the troops, and advanced towards Paris. Louis XVIII, the reigning monarch fled. Napolean again governed France for a period which is now known as Hundred Days. However, Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia became united to put an end to Napolean’s conquests. Napolean was finally defeated in the Battle of Waterloo. The emperor was imprisoned and was exiled to the island of St. Helena for the last phase of his life.

1821 - In February 1821, the condition of his health fell down rapidly and he succumbed to illness (It is believed that he had stomach cancer.). On May 5th he died. Thus, ended the life of an emperor whose life was full of military activities – both conquests and failures.

Additional Resources:

Historic doubts relative to Napoleon Bonaparte

Painting on Napolean

Napolean Biography