Napoleon Bonaparte

December 15th, 1840: Napoleon Bonaparte receives a French state funeral in Paris 19 years after his death.

One of the most controversial, influential and celebrated figures in human history, Napoleon seized upon the opportunities created by the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 and became a general at age 29. After the French Directory gave him control of the armed forces, his early military victories established him as a national hero, and he engineered a coup in 1799 that made him First Consul of the Republic. He went further and declared himself Emperor of the French in 1804. Napoleon’s stunning military victories over his European enemies – at Austerlitz in 1805, Friedland in 1807 and Wagram in 1809 – solidified his dominance of virtually the entire continent, and confirmed the rapid spread of his empire.

After launching the Peninsular War in Spain, Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, which ended in disaster and the collapse of his Grand Army. A Sixth Coalition defeated him at Leipzig, invaded France and forced him to abdicate in 1814. He was exiled to Elba, where he escaped and took control of France. He was finally defeated by a Seventh Coalition at Waterloo and exiled to St Helena in the South Atlantic where he died in 1821. Napoleon’s foreign and domestic achievements, particularly the Napoleonic Code, greatly influenced the foundations of most of the modern Western world.

Born: August 15, 1769
Birthplace: Ajaccio, Corsica, France

Died: May 5, 1821 (aged 51)
Cause of Death: Officially stomach cancer, but rumours of arsenic poisoning persist (possibly emitted by wallpaper)

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