Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 - 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe. 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 monarchy which 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, and his campaigns are studied at military academies worldwide.
Napoleon was born at Ajaccio in Corsica (15 August 1769) to parents of noble Italian ancestry.
He trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. He spoke with a marked Corsican accent and never learned to spell properly. Napoleon was teased by other students for his accent and applied himself to reading.
He rose to prominence under the French First Republic and led successful campaigns against the English, who tried to exploit the chaos of the French revolution and take over France in 1794. He managed to defeat a British Army heading to Paris in 15 August 1794 (Battle of Paris) and in 3 September 1794, he crushed a royalist mob heading against the Republican Government. Those actions made him popular in the army and the people, and the Government send him in Italy to face the Austrians, thinking that Napoleon would fail and they would get rid of this Corsican.
In 1794, Austria, a huge Empire that had control of most of Northen Italy, declared war on Napoleon to "help the British Empire and restore order in France". In 1796 Napoleon was send to Italy to commander the Army of Italy.
The army Napoleon inherited was in a terrible condition. By 1796 the French armies on the Rhine were seen as the most important, and the Army of Italy was badly paid, badly provisioned and often badly under strength. By the time Napoleon had somewhere between 37,000 and 47,000 men at his disposal, spread out from the pass of Tenda at their left almost to Genoa at their right. The army was split into three divisions, commanded by Pierre Augereau, Andre Masséna and Jean Sérurier, all more experienced than their young commander.
In theory the French were outnumbered, but the 60,000 Allied troops facing them across the Apennines were split into two armies – 25,000 Piedmontese troops south of Turin and 35,000 Austrian troops further east. The two Allied armies did not cooperate well, and would soon be forced apart. Napoleon would then face a series of Austrian armies sent across the Alps in an attempt to lift the siege of Mantua, and may have taken as many as 150,000 prisoners during the course of the campaign.
At the start of his Italian campaign Napoleon's army was stretched out along the coast from Nice towards Genoa, with the Apennine Mountains between him and the Austrian and Piedmontese armies. The main Austrian army, under the command of General Beaulieu, was based around Alessandria, north of Genoa, while the Piedmontese army (Colli) was further west, defending the main passes across the Maritime Alps and the approaches to Turin. Napoleon planned to split these two armies, and defeat then in turn. He sent a messenger to the senate of neutral Genoa, asking for permission to advance through their territory. As Napoleon expected permission was refused, and the Austrians were informed of the request. Napoleon also sent a small decoy force along the coast to Voltri.
The key to Napoleon's early successes can be found in the geography of the Ligurian Apennines. Two main passes cross the mountains – the Ormea pass in the west, which ran from Ormea up to Ceva in the Tanaro valley, and the Bochetta Pass, which left the coast at Genoa. Napoleon hoped to convince the Austrians he was heading for the Bochetta Pass. In fact he intended to cross the Apennines between the two main passes, taking advantage of a gap that ran from Savona at the coast west to Carcare, at the southern end of the Bormida valley. From there the French could move north along the valley to threaten the Austrians, or west to Millesimo and Ceva (along the route used by the modern A6 motorway) to threaten the Piedmontese.
Beaulieu acted exactly as Napoleon had hoped. While Beaulieu led one Austrian army down the Bochetta Pass to attack Voltri, a second column, under General Argenteau, was sent along the Bormida valley, in the hope that Napoleon's right wing could be trapped between the two. Instead Argenteau ran into a strong defensive position in the mountains north of Savona, and on 12 April suffered a heavy defeat in the battle of Montenotte, Napoleon's first victory as a commander.
This left the Allies divided, with the Piedmontese to the west at Millesimo and the Austrians to the north at Dego. Napoleon sent troops to attack both of these positions. On 13-14 April Augereau forced the Piedmontese out of Millesimo. This overlapped with the battle of Dego (14-15 April). On the first day Masséna captured Dego, but he was then forced out by an Austrian counterattack. On the second day Napoleon launched a series of attacks, and eventually the Austrians were forced to retreat. In the aftermath of this defeat General Beaulieu decided to pull back towards his base at Alessandria to defend his communications with Austria.
This left Napoleon free to turn west and eliminate Piedmont from the war. On 16-17 April the Piedmontese managed to hold the French off at Ceva, but then pulled back to a stronger position at Mondovi, where on 21 April Napoleon won a conclusive victory. On 23 April General Colli, in command of the Piedmontese army, sued for peace and on 28 April Piedmont withdrew from the war.
Napoleon was now free to turn east and defeat Beaulieu. First he had to cross the Po. The main Austrian defenses were around Pavia, and Beaulieu assumed that Napoleon would attempt to cross the river somewhere in this area. Napoleon encouraged this belief by including a provision in the armistice of Cherasco that gave him the right to cross the Po at Valenza, thirty miles to the west of Pavia.
While Beaulieu watched the river crossings around Valenza, Napoleon moved his army east along the southern bank of the Po and crossed over at Piacenza (7 May), thirty miles to the east of Pavia. When Beaulieu realized what was happening he rushed east, but in three days of fighting around Fombio (7-9 May) the Austrians were unable to prevent the French from blocking their best line of retreat to Cremona. Beaulieu's rapid movement and the relatively slow crossing of the Po did give the Austrians time to turn to the North West and escape across the River Adda at Lodi, leaving a rearguard behind to defend the long thin bridge across the river.
On 10 May Napoleon threw his infantry across that bridge (battle of Lodi), in order to prevent the Austrians using the line of the Adda to block his advance east towards Mantua. After a struggle that lasted an hour the French were victorious. Beaulieu retreated east to Cremona, watched by the French. Napoleon then turned back to the west. On 14 May the first French troops reached Milan, and on the following day Napoleon entered in triumph.
This triumph was short lived. With Piedmont out of the war General Kellermann's Army of the Alps was free to enter Italy, and the Directory decided to give him command of the war against Austria. Napoleon was to turn south to deal with the Papal States. Napoleon sent two letters back to Paris, in which he argued strongly against a divided command. Although neither letter actually contained a threat to resign, it was clear that that was what Napoleon had in mind, and the Directory relented. After the defeat at Lodi, the Austrians retreated east to the Mincio, taking up a defensive position behind that river, running from Mantua to Lake Garda. On 30 May Napoleon broke through this line (battle of Borgetto). Beaulieu was forced to retreat up the Adige valley, leaving Napoleon free to begin his siege of Mantua. The first blockade of the city began on 4 June.
June also saw Napoleon's first campaign in the Papal States. The invasion was officially launched in revenge for the murder of Ugo Bassville, a French diplomat, in February 1793, but was motivated just as much by revolutionary hatred for the Papacy and the lure of plunder. This first campaign was over very quickly. On 19 June Napoleon reached Bologna, where he expelled the Papal authorities. Pope Pius VI then sued for peace. In the Peace of Bologna (23 June 1796), the Pope agreed to pay a large indemnity and to allow the French to occupy Bologna and Ferrara. This treaty was never ratified in Paris, and Napoleon would return to the Papal States in the following year. After dealing with the Pope the French turned west into Tuscany, passing through Florence and occupying the port of Livorno (Leghorn), before returning back to the Po plain.
By late July a fresh Austrian army, under the command of Field Marshal Dagobert Graf Würmser, was ready to attempt to lift the siege of Mantua. Würmser decided to advance in three columns. He took command of the central column, which advanced down the Adige valley. To the east General Szoboszio advanced towards Verona, while to the west General Quosdanovich advanced down the Chiese valley towards Brescia. At first all went well. Quosdanovich captured Brescia, threatening Napoleon's lines of communication with Milan. Würmser found the road to Mantua open, and entered the city on 2 August. It was this apparent success that doomed Würmser's campaign to failure.
While Würmser was marching on Mantua, Napoleon concentrated his army south of Lake Garda. On 31 July his advancing troops forced Quosdanovich out of Lonato (first battle of Lonato), and over the next two days Quosdanovich lost Brescia and was forced to move north east towards the lake. Realizing that he needed to join up with Würmser, on 3 July Quosdanovich attacked the French position at Lonato (second battle of Lonato). The Austrians failed to break through, leaving Napoleon free to turn on Würmser's column. Würmser realized his mistake and turned north from Mantua in an attempt to find Quosdanovich. On 4 July he found himself facing a large part of Napoleon's army at Castiglione, and took up a strong defensive position just to the east of the town. If Würmser had been able to hold this position, then his campaign would still have ended in success, for at this point the siege had been lifted, but Napoleon was able to bring superior numbers to the battlefield. At the start of the battle of Castiglione (5 August 1796) the French were outnumbered, and their attacks on the Austrian center were essentially feints, designed to keep Würmser pinned in place while reinforcements arrived.
Eventually fresh troops arrived from Mantua (Sérurier's division under the temporary command of General Pascal-Antione Fiorella) and from Brescia (Despinois's division), and the Austrians were forced to retreat back to the Mincio. The battle of Castiglione was an early example of Napoleon's 'strategic battle', where widely separated columns converged at a key point on the battlefield to give the French numerical superiority where it counted, even against much larger armies. Although the battle did not go entirely as Napoleon had planned, Würmser was soon forced to retreat back to the Tirol, and the French were able to re-establish the siege.
At the start of September Napoleon and Würmser both went onto the offensive. Napoleon had been ordered to cross the Alps and join up with the Army of the Rhine, then campaigning on the Danube. Napoleon's route would take him up the Adige valley towards Trento, and then across the Brenner Pass to Innsbruck.
At the same time Würmser had been ordered to make a second attempt to lift the siege of Mantua. This time he decided to advance down the Brenta valley and emerge onto the northern Italian plain to the north east of Vicenza (the upper Brenta valley comes within a few miles of the Adige just to the east of Trento and the two valleys are connected by a short low level pass).
Once on the Italian plains Würmser would join with another Austrian army under General Mészáros, and the combined army would advance towards Mantua from the east. Field Marshal Davidovich would defend the area around Trento. Both expeditions began at about the same time, so while Würmser was moving east along the Brenta, Napoleon was moving north up the Adige valley. On 3 September the French forced their way past Davidovich's defences around Rovereto, and on 4 September broke through a second line at Calliano. Davidovich was forced to abandon Trento.
Only now did Napoleon learn of Würmser's movements. Napoleon's response demonstrated another of the keys to his military success – rapidity of movement. While a small force under General Vaubois was sent north to follow Davidovich, Napoleon's main army turned east to catch Würmser. Some sources suggest that Napoleon learnt of Würmser's movements before the battle of Rovereto, but a look at the map would suggest that this is incorrect. From any position south of Rovereto Napoleon had much better routes east to intercept Würmser, including retracing his steps down the Adige valley. Only the slow pace of Würmser's movement allowed Napoleon to catch and defeat him at Bassano.
Würmser was caught completely off guard, and dangerously out of position. His army was spread out, with one division still in the mountains at Primolano, a second at Bassano, at the edge of the plains, and a third at Vicenza. Napoleon's advance guard defeated Quosdanovich's division at Primolano (7 September 1796). On the following day, after another rapid march, Napoleon defeated Würmser at Bassano (8 September 1796) and split his army in two. Quosdanovich was forced to retreat east towards Treviso, while Würmser escaped towards Vicenza. Over the next few days Napoleon attempted to complete the destruction of Würmser's army, but eventually he and around 12,000 men arrived outside Mantua. A two day long battle followed (San Giorgio), but on 15 September Würmser was forced to seek refuge inside the city.
The trapped Würmser was replaced as Austrian commander-in-chief in northern Italy by Field Marshal Joseph Alvinczy. He was given command of two armies – 27,000-30,000 men under General Quosdanovich at Friuli, at the north eastern corner of the north Italian plain and 17,000-20,000 men under Davidovich in the Tyrol. Alvinczy accompanied Quosdanovich's army.
Sickness and the accumulated losses of a long campaign meant that Napoleon now had around 28,000 men available for his field army. General Vaubois had 10,000 men at Lavis, just to the north of Trento in the upper Adige valley, facing Davidovich. Masséna had 9,500-10,000 men at Bassano, on the Brenta River, facing Quosdanovich. Augereau had 8,000 men at Verona, from where he could move to support either wing. Finally 8,000 men under General Kilmaine were blockading Mantua.
Alvinczy is normally criticized for splitting his forces and thus allowing Napoleon to defeat him in detail, but the Austrian plan came very close to success. Alvinczy realized that both of his field armies outnumbered their French opponents. With three divisions at his disposal Napoleon could only bring two of them to bear against a single Austrian army, and would still be outnumbered. It was unlikely that Napoleon would risk a second advance up the Adige valley to fall on Davidovich, so he would probably have to move east to attack Quosdanovich's larger army.
Alvinczy began his campaign on 1 November, when he crossed the Paive River. On 4 November Masséna pulled back from Bassano to Vicenza, and then to Montebello, where he met up with Augereau, giving him around 18,000 men to face at least 27,000 Austrians. Despite this Napoleon, ordered Masséna to attack the Austrians on the Brenta River. On 6 November Masséna and Augereau launched attacks on the Austrians at Citadella and Bassano, but were repulsed by Generals Liptay and Provera. Masséna and Augereau then pulled back to San Martino, three miles east of Verona. Alvinczy reached Vicenza on 8 November and Montebello on 9 November.
Davidovich's advance down the Adige valley also met with success. On 2 November he repulsed a French attack at Lapis. After fighting on 6-7 November Vaubois was forced back from Caliano, and retreated to Rivoli. The two Austrian armies were now dangerously close to joining up. By 11 November Alvinczy had reached Caldiera, on the road between Vicenza and Verona, while his rearguard was at Villanova. Davidovich was only fifteen miles away, and if he had continued to press down the Adige valley would almost certainly have been able to join up with his commander. The Austrian plan failed because it took Davidovich ten days to advance from Rivoli onto the plains west of Verona, a delay that gave Napoleon a chance to concentrate on Alvinczy.
Even with this advantage Napoleon came close to failure. On 12 November Masséna and Augereau attacked the Austrians at Caldiera, and suffered a heavy defeat. Even Napoleon was discouraged by this, sending a very downbeat letter to the Directory in Paris, but he decided to risk one more attack. The Austrian position did have one weak spot. Alvinczy was advancing west towards the fortified and defended city of Verona, with the mountains to his right and the un-fordable Adige to his left. His only line of retreat was across a narrow band of dry ground at Villanova, at the northern tip of a triangle of swampy ground between the junction of the Adige and Alpone rivers.
Napoleon decided to attack across the Adige at Ronco, just above the junction with the Alpone. The battle that followed took its name from the village of Arcole, on the eastern bank of the Alpone, where some of the key fighting took place (battle of Arcola, 15-17 November 1796). Napoleon's first attack on 15 November failed, but it did alert Alvinczy to his danger, and gave him time to withdraw most of his troops from the trap. On the third day of the battle the French were finally successful, and the Austrians were forced to retreat east.
This victory came in the nick of time. On 17 November Davidovich finally forced the French back to Peschiera. If this advance had come any earlier Napoleon might have been trapped between two armies, but it did at least save Alvinczy from any serious pursuit. Napoleon was forced to turn west to help Vaubois. For a moment there was a chance that Davidovich would be trapped, but after fighting around Castelnuovo (21 November) he managed to escape north. Alvinczy took advantage of this to move west back to Caldiera, before retreating east against after the defeat of Davidovich.
Two months passed before Alvinczy launched the fourth and final relief effort. This time he led the main Austrian army, 28,000 strong, down the Adige valley, while General Provera with 18,000 men advanced towards Verona and Legnago from the east. This time the two Austrian armies were meant to operate independently, and both should have been strong enough to defeat the French troops on their respective fronts. Napoleon had less than 30,000 men available for his field armies, split into three divisions. Augereau was based around Vicenza, where he would face Provera. Joubert with 10,000 men was at La Corona, just to the north of Rivoli, where he would face Alvinczy. Finally Masséna was in a central position at Verona.
The Austrian advance was underway by 10 January. Two days later one of Provera's columns was repulsed from Verona, but on 14 January his main column crossed the Adige, broke through Augereau's center and made for Mantua. This success came to nothing, for on 13 January Napoleon realized that Alvinczy's was the main effort, and ordered all of his available troops to concentrate at Rivoli. Napoleon himself arrived just after midnight, Masséna arrived at about dawn and Rey arrived at around noon. Napoleon was thus able to feed reinforcements into the fighting whenever a crisis loomed.
He was also helped by the Austrian plan of attack, designed on the previous day to ensure the complete destruction of Joubert's isolated division. Alvinczy's six divisions attacked in three main columns – two divisions attacked along the Adige, three attacked the center of the French line and the final division was sent on a wide outflanking movement. Napoleon was able to defeat each part of the Austrian army in turn, and Alvinczy was eventually forced to abandon the attack. By the end of the battle of Rivoli the Austrians had lost around 10,000 men, and another 5,000 were captured by Joubert over the next couple of days.
While Joubert moved north after Alvinczy Napoleon and Masséna rushed south to prevent Provera from reaching Mantua. On 16 January Provera was caught at between Masséna and the troops besieging Mantua, and was forced to surrender (battle of La Favorita). The defeat of the forth relief effort effectively doomed Mantua. Two weeks later, on 2 February, Würmser surrendered to Sérurier.
As Mantua was capitulating Napoleon was heading south on a second invasion of the Papal States. This time he advanced down the east coast as far as Ancona before the Pope sued for peace. On 19 February Napoleon and the Papal representatives agreed to the Treaty of Tolentino. The Pope ceded Bologna, Ferrara and Ancona to the French and recognized the seizure of Avignon and the surrounding area in 1791.
Napoleon's next task was the invasion of Austria. He now faced the same problem that had crippled every Austrian attempt to save Mantua – there were two routes across the Alps and Napoleon couldn't afford to leave either of them unguarded while he used the other. The first route led up the Adige valley into the Tyrol, across the Brenner Pass to Innsbruck then east along the northern side of the Alps to Vienna. The second crossed the Julian and Carnatic Alps, at the north eastern corner of Italy, and ran from Udine to Villach, then east to Klagenfurt before turning north east to run around the eastern end of the Alps up to Vienna. It was also possible to advance to the southern end of the Brenner Pass and then turn east to pass through the mountains to Klagenfurt.
The court at Vienna realized that it faced a serious crisis and appointed the Archduke Charles to command the army facing Napoleon. Charles had recently inflicted a serious defeat on the French armies operating across the Rhine, and was perhaps the most able of all Austrian generals of the period. He immediately realized that the best way to oppose Napoleon was to concentrate his army in the Tyrol. If Napoleon attempted to use the eastern route across the Alps then Charles could move south and cut him off. The French would have to turn north to fight the Austrians in the Tyrol. Charles's original position around Innsbruck also made it much easier for Austrian reinforcements to reach him.
Unfortunately for Charles the Austrian government didn't agree with his plan, and he was ordered to make his stand on the Piave River to cover the port of Trieste. He arrived on the Piave on 11 February 1797 and prepared to fight a defensive campaign. At this date he had 22,000 soldiers on the Piave, and 10,000 soldiers and as many militia in the Tyrol, and he had been promised close to 50,000 reinforcements, but very few would reach him in time to play any part in the battles to come.
Napoleon now had the largest army available to him at any point in the campaign. He had requested 30,000 reinforcements, and had received 20,000 of them, under Delmas and Bernadotte, and the fall of Mantua freed up thousands more. When the campaign began he was able to leave 18,000 men in the Tyrol (Joubert, Delmas and Baraguay d'Hilliers) and lead 34,000 men in four divisions himself (Sérurier, Masséna, Guyeux and Bernadotte). Napoleon's plan was for Joubert to push the Austrians in the Tyrol back across the Brenner Pass to Innsbruck, while he advanced across the Carnatic and Julian Alps. If Joubert was successful he could turn east and advance along the Drave Valley to join Napoleon at Villach or Klagenfurt.
At the start of March the Austrians had 3,000 men under General Lusignan just inside the mountains at Feltre on the Piave, guarding their lines of communication to the Tyrol and 22,000 men under the Archduke Charles along the Piave between the mountains and the sea. Napoleon sent Masséna to deal with Lusignan, while he led his main force to the Piave. Masséna began his advance on 10 March. Lusignan retreated up the river from Belluno, but on 13 March was forced to stand and fight between Polpet, where the valley of the Piave turns north and enters the high mountains, and Longarone, five miles to the north.
Masséna was then free to turn south, crossing the Tagliamento River near Spilimbergo (five miles south of the start of the mountains) on 16 March. Masséna then moved north along the Tagliamento to Gemona. He then advanced north east along the mountain passes to Pontebba, from where he threatened Charles's right and the crucial Tarvis pass.
On 13 March Napoleon's main force crossed the Piave and advanced towards the Tagliamento at Valvasone. On 16 March Bernadotte and Guyeux's divisions forced their way across the river (battle of the Tagliamento) in one of the few recognized set-piece battles of the campaign. The Austrians lost 500 men and were forced to retreat east.
After the defeat on the Tagliamento, Charles split his army. Bajalich, with his division, 25 guns and a large supply convoy, was sent east to Cividale, at the edge of the mountains. From there he was to cross the mountains to Caporetto in the upper Isonzo valley and then follow an alternative route to Tarvis. Charles hoped that this division would arrive in time to keep the pass open, for if the French captured Tarvis then Charles's reinforcements would have had to follow a very long route around the eastern side of the mountains to reach him on the Isonzo. The rest of the army pulled back to Gradisca on the lower Isonzo. Charles hoped to defend that river, which was the last natural barrier before Trieste.
The French soon forced their way across the Isonzo, taking 3,000 prisoners in Gradisca. Napoleon attempted to push the Austrians into the mountainous upper reaches of the Isonzo valley, but Charles escaped this trap and withdrew east towards Adelsberg (now Postojna) then north east towards Laybach (Ljubljana), with Bernadotte in pursuit. Napoleon now turned north. Guyeux was sent to chase Bayalitsch through Cividale and Caporetto while Napoleon and Sérurer advanced up the Isonzo towards Caporetto. At the same time Masséna was advancing towards the Tarvis pass. On 20 March he captured Chiusa, at the southern end of the Pontebba pass, and on 21 March he reached Pontebba. Charles now realized that Bajalich's column was in serious danger, with Masséna ahead of him and Napoleon close behind. Tarvis was defended by a weak force under General Ocskay, made up of the survivors of Lusignan's division. Charles made a dash through the mountains, using a minor pass at Krainberg (near Arnoldstein, east of Tarvis) and reached Villach. There he gathered together around 6,000 men and advanced towards Tarvis.
The exact sequence of events around Tarvis is somewhat obscure, with different sources giving different details. The basic outline seems clear – Masséna captured the pass. Charles counterattacked and drove the French east back towards Pontebba. Masséna then gathered his entire division together and retook the pass. Bajalich then arrived on the scene, although his exact route is not given, and found himself trapped between Masséna and Napoleon. Bajalich and around 4,000 of his men were captured. The name generally given to this battle is Malborghetto (23 March 1797), but that village is some way west of the top of the pass, where the fighting against Charles is said to have taken place, and so may refer to the capture of Bajalich. At the end of this battle Charles withdrew to Klagenfurt.
Napoleon was now across the Alps, and in the valley of the Drave. He was still faced by a large Austrian army, and Charles was now beginning to receive reinforcements. Napoleon had taken this into account, and soon after crossing the Tagliamento had ordered Joubert to join him on the Drave.
Joubert's own campaign had been just as successful as Napoleons. He was facing two Austrian generals – Kerpen and Laudon – who repeatedly received reinforcements from the north, but he defeated them at St. Michael on 20 March and Neumark on 22 March. After this second defeat the Austrian forces split. Joubert chased Kerpen to Brixen, at the foot of the Brenner Pass, and defeated him twice more, at Klausen (Chiusa) and Mittenwald. Kerpen retreated across the Brenner to Innsbruck, leaving Joubert free to turn east to advance down the Drave.
On 31 March Napoleon advanced to Klagenfurt. His plan was to approach Vienna across the Semmering pass, taking the road that led to Leoben. On 31 March, while at Klagenfurt, he wrote a letter to the Archduke making tentative peace feelers. Napoleon was aware that he was in a vulnerable position. A revolt had broken out in Venice, which threatened his rear, and if the campaign went on too long then the Austrians could concentrate new armies against him. Napoleon needed a quick diplomatic victory.
For the moment all Charles could do was forward the letter to Vienna and attempt to stop Napoleon's advance. On 1 April the French pushed back the Austrian advance guard at St. Veit, their main force at Friesach, and forced them out of the gorges of Neumark. Another victory followed at Unzmarkt (3 April), and on 7 April the French entered Leoben.
Napoleon's advance had triggered a panic in Vienna. While the court prepared to evacuate the city, Generals Bellegrade and Meerfeld were sent to Leoben to ask for a ten day armistice. Napoleon agreed to five days, and pushed his advance guards forward to Semmering. Negotiations began on 13 April, and 18 April resulted in the Preliminaries of Leoben. The Emperor Francis II agreed to surrender Belgium to France and to acknowledge France's new frontier on the Rhine. Lombardy was also surrendered, and the new republics in northern Italy acknowledged (Cisalpine around Milan and Cispadine around Modena). In return Austria was to be given Venice's land provinces in northern Italy although at this stage Venice herself was to remain independent. Although the negotiations dragged on for most of the year, Leoben marked the effective end of the War of the First Coalition. Napoleon spent most of 1797 as the virtual ruler of northern Italy, negotiating on equal terms with the Austrian emperor. The peace was finally formalized as Treaty of Campo Fornio (17th October 1797).
First Consul of FranceEdit
With the British in Normady ready to invade again France, and the Spanish Empire declaring war on France in 1797 to restore the monarchy, the Directory called Napoleon back to France.
Bonaparte was approached by one of the Directors, Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, for his support in a coup to overthrow the constitutional government. The leaders of the plot included his brother Lucien; the speaker of the Council of Five Hundred, Roger Ducos; another Director, Joseph Fouché; and Talleyrand. On 9 November—18 Brumaire by the French Republican Calendar—Bonaparte was charged with the safety of the legislative councils, who were persuaded to remove to the Château de Saint-Cloud, to the west of Paris, after a rumour of a Jacobin rebellion was spread by the plotters. By the following day, the deputies had realised they faced an attempted coup. Faced with their remonstrations, Bonaparte led troops to seize control and disperse them, which left a rump legislature to name Bonaparte, Sieyès, and Ducos as provisional Consuls to administer the government.
Though Sieyès expected to dominate the new regime, he was outmanoeuvred by Bonaparte, who drafted a new Constitution and secured his own election as First Consul, and he took up residence at the Tuileries. This made Bonaparte the most powerful person in France. Soon Napoleon united the Italian Republics into one united Republic of Italy in North Italy and became it's President.
In 1798, Napoleon invaded Spain. Until then, the War in the Pyrenees was a stalemate, with no side being able to defeat the other. His army of Spain numbered 40,000 men. He crossed the Pyrenees in 23th of May 1798. In 2 June, he fought and defeated a Spanish army of 50,000 men in Zaragoza. He then moved against the mountain of Sistema Ibérico, where for 15 days he fought against several small forces who had fortified in the mountains.
After securing the Zaragoza region, Napoleon moved in the Tarragona province and after a siege that lasted 25 days, Napoleon captured the city of Tarragona (12 June). The city was defended only by 12,000 men who managed, mainly because of their bravery, to stop the advance of Napoleon in Madrid and allow King Charles IV to gather huge forces to stop Napoleon and put an end to the "Corsican Monster".
Charles IV had managed to gather a huge army of over 89,000 men. Against this army, Napoleon had only 25,000 men, as his other 12,000 men had to guard the flanks of Napoleon and occupy the conquered provinces.
Napoleon was going to advance against Madrid, but a Revolt in Barcelona forced him to move against Barcelona instead. The city, guarded by only 1,500 men, fell to rebel forces who declared the "Republic of Spain". Napoleon left 20,000 of his men in Zaragoza, just in case King Charles would try to go on the offensive, and he moved against Barcelona with only 5,000 troops.
The siege lasted from 21 June until 19 July, mainly because of the huge force of the Defenders, 17,000 men. Using this event, King Charles moved his army of 89,000 men against Zaragoza, where he managed to crush the French Army, and re-took the province. Then he moved against Tarragona with 65,000 troops and he send the rest of his army to the Pyrenees to cut off Napoleon from France, with two goals in his mind:
1) To prevent Napoleon from calling reinforcements from France.
2) To prevent Napoleon from escaping to France.
Only 7,000 soldiers in Tarragona managed to escape the Spanish Army and unite with Napoleon in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, the British invaded France and defeated three times the French Army and were ready to move against Paris, while Napoleon was isolated in Barcelona with only 12,000 men.
But Charles made a mistake that would cost him the war: he divided again his forces. He send 20,000 men in Pasaia, near France, to begin an invasion of France, and sent other 20,000 men back to Madrid after hearing rumours that France had promised Portugal half of Spain, if they invaded Spain and helped Napoleon. The rumours proved to be false, but Charles did not wanted to face an ugly surprise by the Portugese.
So, Charles had only 25,000 men to use against Napoleon. Althought still outnumbered, Napoleon now could face small armies of almost 20,000 soldiers each than a huge army of 89,000 soldiers.
Napoleon defeated the army of Charles in the Battle of Barcelona (23 July) and killed more than 15,000 Spanish soldiers, losing only 500 men. Charles then gave the order that the 24,000 Spanish soldiers in the Pyrenees should merge with the 20,000 men in Pasaia, and retreat to Zaragoza, where they would fortify and face Napoleon.
Napoleon, through rapid march, managed to march to the Pyrenees before the Spanish Army there could retreat to Zaragoza and unite with the Spanish Army of Pasaia, and defeated them (27 July). Napoleon then moved against the Army of Pasaia that had retreated to Zaragoza and defeated them (1 August). He then moved fast against Madrid and in 8 August, he defeated the 20,000 men of King Charles and took over Madrid.
After the takeover of Madrid, Napoleon forced King Charles to agree to the Peace Treaty of Madrid, signed in 15 August 1798, which forced the Spanish King to allow French soldiers to occupy the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and also declared that France and Spain are allies. After the treaty was signed, Napoleon moved fast to France, because the British laid siege on Paris.
Conquest of NormandyEdit
Napoleon moved fast with 9,000 troops against the British who laid siege in Paris. He quickly defeated the British army (23,000 men) in 21 August. After the defeat of the British, Napoleon re-grouped his army and prepared an invasion force of 53,000 men to take over Normandy.
Normandy had long been a French - speaking and Catholic region and French Nationalists viewed it as part of the French Nation. Many Normans viewed themselves as French and the British needed to station huge numbers of troops in Normandy every time they went at war with France.
So the Napoleonic Propaganda machine tried to make the invasion look as a war of liberation of the French people from British rule. In 7 September 1798, Napoleon moved against Normandy with his army of 53,000 men.
However, Normandy fend off well, especially with its supply links from Britain. The British fortified in cities near the English Channel, like Dieppe. Napoleon, knowing that the British using the English Channel could transport supplies to the cities he besieged, decided to retreat back to France.
The Campaign would have been a total failure, had Commander of the British Forces in Normandy, James Williams, not invaded France. Sir Williams, having an army of over 120,000 men in Normandy, though that Napoleon's time has ended and that his defeat in Normandy had been total and that all support for Napoleon in the French Army had been lost because of the failure of the Campaign in Normandy. So, he decided to invade France and defeat once and for all the "Corsican Monster".
At first, Williams had huge success, not because Napoleon was afraid to fight him, but because Napoleon decided to lure Williams further into France. When Williams almost reached Paris, Napoleon, send an army of 12,000 men to invade Normandy, which was undefended, and he mvoed with 41,000 men against Williams.
In the Third Battle of Paris (21 October 1798), the 120,000 men of Williams were crushed by Napoleon's 40,000 men because of a trick of Napoleon. After a few hours of stalemate, he ordered a fake retreat and Williams though that Napoleon was defeated and ordered an all out attack to finish once and for all Napoleon. However, Napoleon's men ambushed the British forces and crushed them. Although only a small part of William's huge army had been defeated, the rest of the army panicked and routed.
The 12,000 men that Napoleon send in Normandy managed to take it over and cut off the retreat rout of the British army. Almost 100,000 British soldiers became POW's of the French and the British Government was forced to sign the Peace Treaty of Paris (2 November 1798), in which Britain recognized the union of Normandy and France.
Emperor of FranceEdit
Napoleon faced royalist and Jacobin plots as France's ruler, including the Conspiration des poignards (Dagger plot) in October 1803 and the Plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise (also known as the infernal machine) two months later. In January 1804, his police uncovered an assassination plot against him which involved Moreau and which was ostensibly sponsored by the Bourbon, former rulers of France. On the advice of Talleyrand, Napoleon ordered the kidnapping of Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien. After a secret trial the Duke was executed, even though he had not been involved in the plot.
Napoleon used the plot to justify the re-creation of a hereditary monarchy in France, with himself as emperor, as a Bourbon restoration would be more difficult if the Bonapartist succession was entrenched in the constitution. Pope Pius VII crowned Napoleon "Emperor Napoleon I" on 2 December 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris and then crowned Joséphine Empress. Napoleon was also crowned King of Italy in 7 December 1804.
War of the Third CoalitionEdit
In December 1804, an Anglo-Swedish agreement led to the creation of the Third Coalition. British Prime Minister William Pitt spent 1804 and 1805 in a flurry of diplomatic activity geared towards forming a new coalition against France, and by April 1805, Britain and Russia had signed an alliance. Having been defeated twice in recent memory by France, and being keen on revenge, Austria joined the coalition a few months later. The French Grande Armée, led by Napoleon, with 210,000 troops organized into seven corps, hoped to knock out the Austrian army in the Danube before Russian reinforcements could arrive. Through rapid marching, Napoleon conducted a large wheeling maneuver that captured an Austrian army of 23,000 under General Mack on October 20 at Ulm, bringing the total number of Austrian prisoners in the campaign to 60,000. The victory at Ulm did not end the war, since a large Russian army under Kutuzov was still near Vienna. The Russians withdrew to the northeast to await reinforcements and to link up with surviving Austrian units. The French followed and captured Vienna on November 12.
On November 17, 1805, Napoleon decided his army needed a little time to rest and reorganize. The Moravian town of Brünn seemed like a nice location, located due north of Vienna and close to the marshalling Russian army in Olmütz. Napoleon had received word that the Austrian Emperor, Francis, was currently in Brünn, and sent word that his advance would be delayed to allow Francis time to leave the city. The next day, Murat's cavalry won a decisive engagement against the Russian rearguard at Porhlitz, and entered Brünn the following day (November 19). Meanwhile, the rest of the pursuit slowed as French troops took in a day's rest. As luck would have it, Brünn was well stocked in supplies.
Murat and Bessiers pursued the Russians through the town of Wischau, pushing the Russian cavalry back to the army's center at Olmütz. The allied army at Olmütz consisted of Kutusov's pursued troops (36,000), Buxhöwden's army (30,000), and some Austrian forces under Prince Johann von Lichtenstein. The total allied army numbered roughly 86,000, and was nominally under the command of Tsar Alexander I, the Russian monarch. The Austrians and Russians were uncomfortable allies. The Russians behaved more like an invading army while in Austrian territory, and held little respect for the Austrian military. Prussia began to stand down from the brink of war; not only did the allied defeats dissuade them from supporting a losing cause, but they were none too pleased with continued English activity in Hanover. They had hoped too that Napoleon would make them some sort of offer for not joining the Coalition.
Kutusov wished to continue the withdrawal, at the very least, relocating the army to a location that hadn't been heavily pillaged. The winter weather was beginning to take its toll, and sickness was beginning to run rampant over the exposed troops. Withdrawal was unacceptable to the Austrians, however, who wanted the French out of their homeland; and Russian hawks had the ear of the Tsar, who also supported a renewed offensive. On November 27, the Russians moved against Brünn, while Ferdinand and 9,000 tired troops moved south from Prague. Napoleon had centered his army in a position where it could react swiftly to a major attack from either the Tsar to his east, or the Archdukes Charles and John to the south. Massena was ordered to stay on Charles tail and keep his army of 80,000 (he had combined with John on November 26) from coordinating with the Russians at all costs. On November 25, the Austrians requested peace negotiations with Napoleon. Knowing full well this was a delaying tactic, he sent his own intelligence expert, General Savary, to the Russian camp to assess their capabilities while the Austrian delegates were sent to Vienna to talk to Talleyrand.
Savary confirmed that the Russians were mobilizing earlier than expected, but Napoleon was determined to meet them and on his terms. Murat and Soult were ordered to withdraw behind the Goldbach River (a small stream or brook), leaving outposts on the Pratzen Heights. The French army still had not concentrated in the area, and Napoleon was prepared to withdraw if the allied attack came before December 1, when Bernadotte and Davout would be available after a forced march. The Russians moved at a glacial pace, however, and on November 30, their lines were still in disarray. Alexander offered Napoleon terms to call off the battle which included his evacuation from Italy and Belgium. Napoleon refused, but gave the impression of being greatly concerned. As a final show for the Russian observers, he ordered Soult to evacuate the town of Austerlitz and the high ground of the Pratzen Heights, and to do so with the appearance of disorder and haste. Napoleon didn't simply want another victory…he wanted to bag the entire allied army.
The allies took the bait, hook, line and sinker. Soult's withdrawal gave the appearance of a weak right flank on the French line. Napoleon had around 50,000 men to the ally's 86,000. The allied army slowly advanced, occupying Austerlitz and the Pratzen Heights. The allies thought the French to be half-beaten, which would account for their curious withdrawal from such advantageous ground. From their position, however, much of the French army was obscured from view. Allied plans called for an enveloping assault on the French right, rolling up the line from the flank. Kutusov advised a more cautious approach to the battle, but the Austrians were desperate for revenge, and the Austrian commanders present, Weyrother, Kollowrath, and Keinmeyer, all had Tsar Alexander's ear. The Russian monarch was not much of a military man, and he likely was present in the pursuit of excitement, so he favored the hawks over his more esteemed Commander-in-Chief. By November 30, Bernadotte's I Corps would arrive (less Wrede's division of Bavarians, who were left behind as a rearguard should events not go as planned), putting La Grande Armee's strength over 60,000. Davout was ordered to force-march from Vienna, and they would actually arrive as the battle was in progress, boosting the French strength to a more equitable 73,000.
Dawn arrived late on December 2, a heavy fog shrouding the battlefield. Austrian and Russian troops began their maneuvers, but quickly became disordered after crossing each other’s lines of communication. When asked by the Tsar why Kollowrath and Miloradovich had not yet begun their descent from the Pratzen Heights, an agitated Kutusov replied, "Your highness, I am waiting for all of the other columns to get into position."
Fighting began with Keinmeyer's advance guard leaving Aujest Markt and advancing on Tellnitz. Here the Austrian commander was opposed by Legrand's 3rd Infantry regiment and the Corsican Light Infantry. After an hour, the French still held Tellnitz. As Doctorov's column approached, the heavily outnumbered French executed their orders to withdraw. Fourteen squadrons of Austrian cavalry poured past Tellnitz, where they were met by the three regiments of IV Corps light cavalry under General Margaron, who in turn gave ground, pulling back to the north. Doctorov sent word back that the French were giving ground everywhere; and that so far, the attack was going according to Weyrother's plan.
Doctorov had halted, however, awaiting the appearance of Langeron to his right. The Second Column, however, was delayed when it became apparent that Lichtenstein's cavalry had camped at the wrong spot, and had to be repositioned, blocking the path. At this time, Friant's division arrived on the scene (initially suffering friendly fire from Legrand's troops, who thought them to be Austrians) and immediately launched an attack against Tellnitz, regaining the town briefly before withdrawing. By now, Langeron had arrived and duly occupied Sokolnitz, and further north, Pryzbyswski's Third Column was attacking Sokolnitz Castle and the pheasantry. While execution was slower than anticipated, the Allied fortunes still seemed to be going according to Weyrother's plan.
Convinced that timing is everything in a battle, the Allied timing was way off and Napoleon could not be happier. The Allies had now begun crossing to the west bank of the Goldbach and were immediately counterattacked by the III Corps six regiments of dragoons under General Bourcier. This was immediately followed by an assault by Heudelet's Infantry Brigade under the personal command of Marshal Davout. The counterattack succeeded in disrupting Doctorov's column and regaining the village of Tellnitz. Meanwhile, General of Division Friant launched Lochet's Brigade into Langeron's flank and rear, ejecting them from Sokolnitz and pushing them back to the east bank of the Goldbach. All in all, about 10,300 French troops had stopped then defeated an army of more than 50,000 who moments earlier had thought themselves to be victorious. By 10 am, the French had reoccupied all of the Allied objectives, and the flank attack was officially a failure.
Meanwhile, Napoleon watched from his command post at Zurlan as the Allies emptied their center to execute the massive flanking maneuver to the south. The divisions of Saint-Hilaire and Vandamme remained hidden, and the Allies showed no indication that they were aware of their presence. When asked how long it would take for these troops to occupy the Pratzen Heights, Soult replied, "less than 20 minutes, sire." By 9:00, the bulk of Buxhöwden's army was engaged or well in motion. Napoleon told Soult, "One sharp blow and the war is over."
Napoleon then turned to his staff officers. "The enemy is more numerous than us," he observed, pointing south. "They expect to attack and vanquish me. No-it’s more-not only to beat us but cut us off from Vienna and round up the French army! They think I am a novice! Well, they'll come to regret it. Come on! Let us put an end to this campaign with a crash of thunder that will stun the enemy!"
To the north, Lannes and Bagration met with neither force gaining the upper hand. Lichtenstein was ordered to offer support, and when he arrived, promptly charged some French light cavalry, who withdrew through between some infantry squares that stopped the charge. Shortly afterwards, he was ordered back to the center, where Vandamme and Saint-Hilaire had broken Miloradovich and Kollowrath's forces on the Pratzen Heights. Lichtenstein was determined to close the developing gap between Bagration's advance guard and the remainder of the Allied army, and marshaled 4,000 cavalry in a massive charge against Lannes' V Corps. At point-blank range, however, the divisional and regimental artillery opened fire, mauling the densely-packed cavalry and sending them into retreat, where they were rallied by General Uvarov. General Kellerman's light cavalry attempted to maintain pressure on the Allied troops, but were counter-charged by Lichtenstein. The cavalry withdrew through intervals opened by Caffarelli's infantry, which immediately closed up the gaps and opened fire on the pursuing Allied horse. Kellerman's squadrons reformed but were then assailed by Russian hussars and dragoons. In the ensuing melee, Prince Murat and his staff were forced to draw their sabers and defend themselves. The situation was saved by the arrival of General Etienne Nansouty's Heavy Cavalry division; his carabineers and cuirassiers chasing off the leading elements of Lichtenstein's force. Nansouty then withdrew behind Caffarelli's infantry to rest and regroup. Lichtenstein sent his next group in to attack, but Caffarelli had formed a square, checking the charge. Once again, the lines opened up and Nansouty's heavies charged through, sending Lichtenstein's troops into a full route.
In the center, the battle was beginning to reach its climax. Approaching Austrians from Langeron's Second column, under the command of Major-General Kaminsky and claiming to be allied Bavarians, were allowed to get within 150 yards of General Thiébault's 36th line regiment before the 12pdr artillery opened fire, tearing massive holes in the line. The ensuing battle raged for 30 minutes, as Saint-Hilaire was prevented from withdrawing by an Austrian attack on the south. The Austrians finally had enough and pulled back, only to be reinforced by two battalions of the Kursk Regiment as well as the Podolia regiment. The French, however, were in complete control of the situation along the Goldbach, and General Legrand was able to spare General Levasseur's Brigade to assist. The Kursk Regiment was crushed, losing 1,550 men, its guns, and its colors while the Podolia fled downhill only to be stopped by the stone walls of the pheasantry. Langeron hurried back to a drunken General Buxhöwden to report the situation, and was ridiculed by the army commander in a heated exchange.
The last card to be played by the Allies was committing the giants of the Russian Imperial Guard. First ordered to contest Vandamme in a show of force, evaporating fortunes prompted Grand Duke Constantine to commit the entire reserve. The grenadiers of the guard attempted to rush the elevated feature known as Staré Vinohrady and managed to breakthrough Vandamme's 3rd brigade before being repulsed by artillery. Vandamme then ordered the 4th line regiment to pursue and prevent the Russians from reforming; a move that was duly met by a charge by the 15 available squadrons of the Guard Cavalry with 1000 cuirassiers. The leading battalion formed a square to meet the charge, but at the last second, the cavalry veered off to reveal horse artillery which opened fire on the square using canister shot. Vandamme attempted to reinforce with the 24th regiment, but it was too late and the 4th broke. The gap was filled by Napoleon's own Imperial Guard, with Marshal Bessières sending Colonel Morland with three squadrons of chasseurs-à-cheval, three of grenadiers- à-cheval and a battery of horse artillery. Constantine countered with Chevalier Gardes (a formation comprised of noble-born horsemen) and the Guard Cossacks. When the Semenovsky and Preobrazensky Life Guards re-entered the combat, the French Guard cavalry suddenly found themselves under attack on three sides, and its commander, Colonel Morland, struck dead. The grenadiers and horse artillery managed to extract the chasseurs, but only after heavy losses were taken.
The situation at the moment appeared bleak. Saving the day, however, was I Corps Drouet d'Erlon's leading brigade under the command of Colonel Gérard. Napoleon, Soult and Bernadotte would all claim credit for this fortunate tactical stroke, which allowed time for the situation to stabilize. Napoleon then ordered more Guard cavalry into the fray, with his senior aide, General Jean Rapp, leading two squadrons of chasseurs and the spectacular Mamelukes of the Guard regiment, adorned in their oriental splendor. Another detachment of grenadiers was also sent in to support the chasseurs. In one instance, d'Erlon's brigade turned back an audacious attempt by Russian cavalry to ride through their ranks and attack the reforming chasseurs. With the Chevaliers engaged in hand-to-hand combat and faring poorly, the Guard infantrymen could not bring their muskets to bear out of fear of hitting their comrades. Suddenly, the Russian Guard broke, retreating at full tilt towards Krzenowitz, due west of Austerlitz. Had it not been for Bernadotte's typical inaction, the entire Russian Guard could have been destroyed at that moment. Instead, the Marshal halted his troops at the edge of the Pratzen Heights, observing the Russian retreat.
To the north, Bagration had withdrawn eastward in good order, and it was no longer convenient for Napoleon to proceed with his original plan of enveloping and destroying this unit. Bernadotte was ordered to deploy on the Pratzen and Staré Vinohrady, while Saint-Hilaire, Vandamme, and the Imperial Guard were to turn south and set about the destruction of Buxhöwden's army. With expert timing, Friant launched an attack on Sokolnitz with the 33rd regiment, and surviving elements of the 48th, along with remnants of the Tirailleurs du Pô and Corses (light infantry of the Po and Corsica).
This assault penetrated as far as the castle, and sent the disorganized Allies, now without a working command structure, into general panic. They were just now becoming aware of the French troops marching towards them off the Pratzen. The Allied advance was marred by traffic snarls and chaos, and its attempted withdrawal was far worse. Pryzbyswsky found himself under attack from the rear by the 36th regiment, and 4,000 troops were forced to surrender. Doctorov, Kienmayer and Langeron were engulfed by Friant, Saint-Hilaire, and Vandamme, with Marshal Davout ordering "let no one escape." Vandamme was ordered to seize Aujest Markt, the only viable avenue of retreat. The general executed these orders despite taking heavy casualties from a large Russian battery (claimed to be as much as 50 guns). "You cannot make omelets without breaking a few eggs," Vandamme remarked.
The main avenue of retreat blocked, the Allies began withdrawing towards the frozen Satschan ponds. Napoleon had deployed 25 cannon overlooking the scene. There were few avenues of passage through the ponds, and one bridge collapsed under the weight of a retreating artillery piece. Another causeway was blocked when a howitzer shell struck an ammunition cart, causing a massive explosion. Men and horses began crossing the frozen ice, and Napoleon ordered his cannon to be loaded with hot shot (iron balls heated until red hot). Shelling the ice, the resulting havoc resulted in numerous casualties, particularly among horses. 38 cannon were recovered from the waters afterward. Buxhöwden would escape with just 2,000 men, or 6% of his original command. Casualty figures were about 2,000 dead and 7,000 wounded for the French and 16,000 dead and wounded for the Allies. 30,000 prisoners were also taken by the French
Three days after the battle, Emperor Francis II disgusted with Tsar Alexander and his Russians signed an armistice with France. Alexander, disgusted with Francis II and his Austrians, limped away to the east. The Third Coalition collapsed. On December 26, 1805, France signed the Peace of Pressburg with Austria. By the treaty Austria lost Venice, Istria and Dalmatia to France, and the Austrian Tyrol to Bavaria.
War of the Fourth CoalitionEdit
With the beginning of the War of the Fourth Coalition in 1806, Napoleon advanced against Prussia and won stunning victories at Jena and Auerstadt. Having brought Prussia to heel, the French pushed into Poland with the goal inflicting a similar defeat on the Russians. Following a series of minor actions, Napoleon elected to enter winter quarters to give his men a chance to recover from the campaigning season. Opposing the French were Russian forces led by General Count von Bennigsen. Seeing an opportunity to strike at the French, he began moving against the isolated corps of Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte.
Sensing a chance to cripple the Russians, Napoleon ordered Bernadotte to fall back while he moved with the main army to cut off the Russians. Slowly drawing Bennigsen into his trap, Napoleon was foiled when a copy of his plan was captured by the Russians. Pursuing Bennigsen, the French army became spread over the countryside. On February 7, the Russians turned to make a stand near Eylau. In the resulting Battle of Eylau, the French were checked by Bennigsen on February 7-8, 1807. Departing the field, the Russians retreated north and both sides moved into winter quarters.
Renewing the campaign that spring, Napoleon moved against the Russian position at Heilsberg. Having taken a strong defensive stance, Bennigsen repelled several French assaults on June 10, inflicting over 10,000 casualties. Though his lines had held, Bennigsen elected to fall back again, this time towards Friedland. On June 13, Russian cavalry, under General Dmitry Golitsyn, cleared the area around Friedland of French outposts. This done, Bennigsen crossed the Alle River and occupied the town. Situated on the west bank of the Alle, Friedland occupied a finger of land between the river and a mill stream.
Pursuing the Russians, Napoleon's army advanced over several routes in multiple columns. The first to arrive in the vicinity of Friedland was that Marshal Jean Lannes. Encountering Russian troops west of Friedland a few hours after midnight on June 14, the French deployed and fighting began in the Sortlack Wood and in front of the village of Posthenen. As the engagement grew in scope, both sides began racing to extend their lines north to Heinrichsdorf. This contest was won by the French when cavalry led by the Marquis de Grouchy occupied the village.
Pushing men over the river, Bennigsen's forces had swollen to around 50,000 by 6:00. While his troops were exerting pressure on Lannes, he deployed his men from the Heinrichsdorf-Friedland Road south to the upper bends of the Alle. Additional troops pushed north as far as Schwonau, while reserve cavalry moved into position to support the growing battle in the Sortlack Wood. As the morning progressed, Lannes struggled to hold his position. He was soon aided by the arrival of Marshal Edouard Mortier's VIII Corps which approached Heinrichsdorf and swept the Russians out of Schwonau.
By midday, Napoleon had arrived on the field with reinforcements. Ordering Marshal Michel Ney's VI Corps to assume a position south of Lannes, these troops formed between Posthenen and Sortlack Wood. While Mortier and Grouchy formed the French left, Marshal Claude Victor-Perrin's I Corps and the Imperial Guard moved into a reserve position west of Posthenen. Covering his movements with artillery, Napoleon finished forming his troops around 5:00. Assessing the confined terrain around Friedland due to the river and Posthenen mill stream, he decided to strike at the Russian left.
Moving behind a massive artillery barrage, Ney's men advanced on the Sortlack Wood. Quickly overcoming the Russian opposition, they forced the enemy back. On the far left, General Jean Gabriel Marchand succeeded in driving the Russians into the Alle near Sortlack. In an attempt to retrieve the situation, Russian cavalry mounted a determined attack on Marchand's left. Surging forward, the Marquis de Latour-Maubourg's dragoon division met and repulsed this attack. Pushing forward, Ney's men succeeded in penning the Russians into the bends of the Alle before being halted.
Though the sun was setting, Napoleon sought to achieve a decisive victory and was unwilling to let the Russians escape. Ordering forward General Pierre Dupont's division from the reserve, he sent it against the mass of Russian troops. It was aided by the French cavalry which pushed back its Russian counterparts. As the battle re-ignited, General Alexandre-Antoine de Sénarmont deployed his artillery at close range and delivered a stunning barrage of case-shot. Tearing through the Russian lines, fire from Sénarmont's guns shattered the enemy position causing them to fall back and flee through the streets of Friedland.
With Ney's men in pursuit, the fighting at the southern end of the field became a rout. As the assault against the Russian left had moved forward, Lannes and Mortier had endeavored to pin the Russian center and right in place. Spotting smoke rising from a burning Friedland, they both advanced against the enemy. As this attack moved forward, Dupont shifted his attack north, forded the mill stream, and assaulted the flank of the Russian center. Though the Russians offered fierce resistance, they were ultimately compelled to retreat. While the Russian right was able to escape via the Allenburg Road, the remainder struggled back across the Alle with many drowning in the river.
In the fighting at Friedland, the Russians suffered around 30,000 casualties while the French incurred around 10,000. With his primary army in shambles, Tsar Alexander I began suing for peace less than a week after the battle. This effectively ended the War of the Fourth Coalition as Alexander and Napoleon concluded the Treaty of Tilsit on July 7. This agreement ended hostilities and began an alliance between France and Russia. While France agreed to aid Russia against the Ottoman Empire, the latter joined the Continental System against Great Britain. A second Treaty of Tilsit was signed on July 9 between France and Prussia. Eager to weaken and humiliate the Prussians, Napoleon stripped them of half their territory.
Conquest of SpainEdit
During the Wars of the Third and Fourth Coalitions, Spain traded with Britain. Napoleon was furious. The road to war began in the autumn of 1807 when Napoleon moved French troops through Spain to invade Portugal, a British ally. After feeding more than 100,000 troops into Spain under the pretext of supporting the invasion, Napoleon deposed the existing Spanish monarch in April 1808 in order to place his own brother Joseph on the throne.
In 19 July 1808, Napoleon invaded Portugal and defeated the combined British and Portugese Army (79,000 men against 81,000 French soldiers) in the Battle of Lisbon (29 July 1808). Napoleon then decided to crown himself king of Portugal.
In Spain, however, the Spanish revolted against Joseph and took over Madrid. Napoleon moved fast against the rebels and in 17 August 1808, he laid siege to Madrid. In 21 August he took the city and ordered his troops to massacre the entire population of the City. This act of Napoleon was the most cruel Europe had seen since the Mongol invasions.
Then Napoleon moved against all other Rebel cities and in 22 October, he massacred the entire population of Barcelona. This send a clear warning to the Spanish people: "Stop your resistance or I shall massacre all of you."
By the end of 1808, Spain was stabilized and Napoleon decided to make Joseph King of Portugal and he would become King of Spain. And so, in 13 December of 1808, Napoleon was crowned King of Spain.
Selim III, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, was finaced by Britain to declare war on France. Selim III at first did not wanted to ally with Britain and did not wanted to declare war on France, but because of the Treaty of Tilsit, in which the French agreed to help Russia against the Ottomans, Selim III agreed to ally with Britain and in 8 February 1811, the Ottoman Empire declared War on France.
Using French Dalmatia as a base of operation, Napoleon begun his invasion of the Balkans in 15 February 1810 with an army of 65,000 men. His first goal was to take over Sarajevo and gain control of Bosnia. In 23 February, Napoleon defetead an Ottoman Army of 35,000 men near Sarajevo and Bosnia was taken over by French Forces.
Napoleon then moved fast to take over Belgrade (1 March) and soon all of Ottoman Serbia was under French control. Napoleon then moved against Skopje. In 7 March, he met an Ottoman army of near 120,000 men, including 25,000 Janissaries, near Skopje.
Napoleon's well trained army easily defeated the Albanian and Turkish irregulars send against them, and the Janissaries proved ineffective. The Ottomans lost 45,000 men while the French only 3,000.
With the takeover of Skopje, Napoleon moved against Thessalonica, the main Ottoman city in Macedonia. After a siege that lasted 17 days (9 March - 26 March), the city surrendered and the road to Constantinople was open.
Selim III decided to ask Napoleon for a peace treaty. Napoleon agreed and the Treaty of Constantinople (29 March) was signed. Selim III agreed to stop trade with Britain and to sign a military alliance with France. In exchange, France did not annex any Ottoman territory.
While Selim III stopped trade with Britain, the Mamelukes who ruled Egypt continued to trade with the British. Napoleon was furious and demanded that Selim should force the Mamelukes to stop trading with the British. Selim, however, did not have the real pwoer in Egypt and asked the French to help him restore order in Egypt.
Napoleon accepted to invade Egypt it and restore it to the Ottoman Empire. He was very happy that he would invade Egypt and follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Also, a takeover of Egypt would mean that France would interfere with Great Britain's trade monopoly in India.
Napoleon gathered a huge force of more than 370,000 men from all over his Empire, with plans not only to take over Egypt, but march into India and destroy the British colonial Empire.
At first things went according to plan, with the French capturing the island of Malta from the English in 17 June 1812 before making an unopposed landing at Alexandria, Egypt on July 1st of that year. It was shortly after the landing at Alexandria that things began to go wrong for the French.
Their most pressing problem were the Mamelukes, who had been in control of Egypt since the time of the Crusades. Napoleon knew that hed had to face them. So, Napoleon left the majority of his soldiers to secure the coasts of Egypt, crush any revolutions and make sure that supplies would arrive for his huge army and then moved with 70,000 of his best soldiers in the interior of Egypt.
Napoleon soon found his army of 70,000 men facing a Mameluke force of over 80,000 men near the Egyptian Pyraminds (23 July). Napoleon organized his army into small squares with their supporting artillery in the center of each square. When the Mamelukes attacked they were cut down by the murderous combination of French artillery and rifles.
The fleet that had deposited Napoleon and his army at Alexandria had done so while being followed at a distance by an English fleet under the command of a gentleman named Horatio Nelson. The French escort ships, having done their job, had set sail for France in order to bring back the reinforcements that would be needed to maintain control of Egypt while leaving behind a fleet of battleships to guard the harbor at Alexandria. The French had deployed these battleships in a single line, believing that they could repulse any attack that came from the sea while using the shoreline as protection against being attacked from both sides at once.
Nelson sent half of his ships to the inside of the French line and hammered away from both sides after catching the French completely unprepared for such a move. By sunrise of the next morning (2 August) only two French warships were still afloat, which pretty well ended any hopes of reinforcements from France arriving by sea.
The French, having exhausted their supplies, began to rely on what was available locally for water and food. The locally-available water promptly induced dysentery while the local food was not properly cooked and added food poisoning to the rapidly increasing number of problems facing the French.
The huge army of over 370,000 men could not be supported by only local food and heat and plague destroyed Napoleon's Army. Soon, in 7 September, the Ottomans, with the support of Britain, declared war against France. Napoleon now had from a force of 370,000 men only 200,000 and he had to left 120,000 men in Egypt and move to Ottoman Syria with only 80,000 men.
Napoleon managed to win several battles against numerically superior Ottoman forces. However, when the army laid siege to the city of Acre in 3 October, it was defeated, thanks to the support of the city by the British Navy.
When Napoleon returned to Egypt in 12 November, he found that from the 120,000 men he left to guard Egypt, only 35,000 were alive. The rest died because of several Muslim revolts, lack of proper supplies, the plague and heat. With Austria, Russia and Prussia declaring war on France, Napoleon left behind his army and returned to France (2 December).
War of the Fifth CoalitionEdit
With the loss of almost 400,000 men in Egypt, Napoleon's old enemies, Russia, Prussia and Austria, formed the Fifth Coalition to defeat Napoleon.
That Napoleon had raised a new army of 170,000 by the start of the 1813 campaign season was remarkable, even if they were generally inexperienced troops with inexperienced officers, boosted by a core of specially transferred veterans; they had little ability to live off the land, little equipment, and no stamina to perform Napoleon's marches, but they had good morale, and over the next year he was to show some of the flair that characterized his early years. True to form, Napoleon intended to advance into Germany and defeat his enemies before they could link up, and he managed to take Dresden and defeat the allies first at Lützen and Bautzen, where a war damaged Ney let the allies escape; Napoleon's raw force could not strike decisively. The armistice of Pläswitz allowed the emperor to try and further drill his inexperienced force. But his enemies were also gathering, (they had accepted the offer for the same reason) and soon he was opposed by large forces.
The Coalition planned to defeat Napoleon's subsidiary armies and knock the props out from under the Emperor, avoiding him until necessary, with 240,000 under Schwarzenberg, 120,000 under Bernadotte, 95,000 under Blucher and 60,000 under Benningsen. Bernadotte and Blücher beat Oudinot and Macdonald, and when Napoleon managed to defeat Schwarzenberg he was again too out of sorts to catch and finish them off, while the other coalition armies were pushing on. As Napoleon tried to engage Blücher the latter refused, while Bernadotte now defeated Marshal Ney. As more former Napoleonic states switched to the coalition the three enemy armies surrounded Napoleon, who was delaying and slow.
The resulting Battle of Leipzig, otherwise known as the Battle of the Nations, involved 570,000 people and saw Napoleon try and hold off three coalition armies over three days, but although he managed to escape, an accident destroyed a vital causeway and many troops were stuck behind; it was a massive victory for the coalition, and stripped Napoleon of all remaining allies. He now had to retreat back to the Rhine, fighting his way through a battle at Hanau. Esdaile believes that if Napoleon had won at Leipzig, or been able to make a full withdrawal, he would have boosted his support and been able to seriously challenge the coalition, but he failed, and his support began to ebb away.
By the end of 1813 Germany and the rest of central Europe had been liberated from French domination. But the coalition was willing to talk peace, with many members equally afraid of Russia dominating the continent instead of France - it was the Tsar who wanted to invade France and remove Napoleon - and offered a remarkably generous deal which would have reduced France's borders back to the Rhone and the Alps. But Napoleon, a man whose government was founded on military victory, and a man whose mind was used to successful conquest, refused fearing he would lose power. The allies then prepared to fight on, Napoleon accepted the terms, the allies refused to go back to them, and Napoleon branded them traitors. By now three coalition armies, now under Bernadotte, Blücher and Schwarzenberg, were invading from across the border to try and link up in Paris. Napoleon tried to ease a peace deal by restoring Charles IV in Spain; it didn't work. The allies discussed what they wanted: a strong France was needed to balance Russia, but who to lead it? The return of the French monarchy under Louis XVIII seemed right.
Napoleon's campaign in 1814 has been described as desperate, but he did have some success. He won a string of victories against Blücher, pushing him back, then turned to fight Schwarzenberg, winning at Montereau, then back to Blücher who was close to Paris. But Schwarzenberg managed to defeat Macdonald, and the shock of defeats forced the increasingly divided coalition to redouble their efforts and find some unity. Furthermore, it became apparent to everyone that Napoleon could not be in two, or the necessary three or four, places at once, and there were just too many coalition armies for him to deal with, no matter how much of his old talents were showing themselves.
Napoleon wanted to continue the fight for better terms, but he had run out of time and resources, and the French people had now clearly had enough of the conscription, the war and the drain on finance. Blücher and Schwarzenberg made it to Paris, which Napoleon had left under a theoretical mass mobilization order which failed and Marshall Marmont defected. As Napoleon prepared to march up to save it the defenders gave up as Mashal Mortier surrendered, and Paris was taken by the coalition. Napoleon ordered his army north to retake it, but his Marshals refused.
The Senate, for so long just a puppet of Napoleon, was organised by Talleyrand into deposing the emperor and the male members of the Bonaparte family, and with the leaders of his army losing the last of their faith, Napoleon decided he had no choice but to abdicate, and he did so on April 6th. Beauharnais had managed to retain Italy, but also abdicated upon hearing about his step-father. Napoleon was exiled to Elba, France had the borders of 1792 restored, as well as the Bourbon monarchy. But Napoleon had one more act left.
Exile to ElbaEdit
In the Treaty of Fontainebleau, the victors exiled Napoleon to Elba, an island of 12,000 inhabitants in the Mediterranean, 20 km off the Tuscan coast. They gave him sovereignty over the island and allowed him to retain his title of emperor. In the first few months on Elba he created a small navy and army, developed the iron mines, and issued decrees on modern agricultural methods.
War of the Sizth CoalitionEdit
The French were highly dissatisfied with King Louis XVIII and the Bourbon rule. The Congress of Vienna, set up by the Coalition after Napoleon’s exile, were also at odds with each other to the point of almost starting a war.
Always being a man of action, Napoleon acted. On February 16, 1815, Napoleon wrote to General Douot: “Give the order for the Brig to enter the dock and turn it around on its keel, shine it, seal the water ways, resurface the careening and everything else necessary for taking it to the sea. Have it painted as an English Brig. Everything shall be done in anticipation as if I were to arrive tomorrow. You will supply the Brig with biscuits, rise, legumes, cheese, half of the provisions in aquavit and the other half in wine, and enough water for 120 men for three weeks. As much salted meat to last for 15 days. You will ensure enough wood and that there is absolutely nothing lacking. I wish that from the 24th to the 25th of this month that everything will be as I have asked and ready at the anchorage” Napoleon then left secretly on February 26th after a Carnival Ball held at the Teatro dei Vigilanti that was created out of the deconsecrated church of Carmine and which still remains on Elba today. With English surveillance lapsing due to the absence of Colonel Campbell who had left for Livorno, the Brig “Incostant”, under the command of Captain Chautard set sail with Napoleon on board. It was armed with 18 canons. Normally it would have had a crew of 64, but given the circumstance, it had much less. The small fleet also included two schooners and a French two-masted sailing ship. 400 grenadiers were aboard the “Incostant”, 200 on the “Etoille” and the cavalry was aboard the “Saint-Esprit”, and 40 artillerymen and 300 Corsican hunters followed on other ships. One of the schooners acted as lookout. Out of precaution the destination was secret. The warships head separately towards the west so as not to look like a convoy. Campbell was none the wiser as he left the following day from Livorno on his way to Elba Island. They landed in the south of France near Cannes. His plan was to first make his way to Grenoble, picking up followers as he went and followers he gained. He knew that the soldiers who had followed him fanatically before would do so again. On his march north, all of the garrison soldiers came over to his side.
When royalist troops deployed to stop the march of Napoleon’s force at Lyon, Napoleon stepped out in front of them, ripped open his coat and said “If any of you will shoot your Emperor, shoot him now.” The men all joined his cause. In Paris, the King was not overly concerned as yet. Marshal Ney promised to bring Napoleon back to Paris in an “iron cage”. Ney left Paris with 6,000 men to accomplish this. But on March 14th, outside Grenoble, Napoleon again worked his magic. Ney and all of his men joined him. The triumphant march now continued toward Paris picking up more followers on the way.
Back in Paris, King Louis was now concerned indeed. He bowed to the inevitable and fled the country. On March 20th, without firing a single shot, Napoleon entered Paris and re-established his rule. Napoleon quickly raised a professional army of 140,000 men and a volunteer corps of some 200,000.
The Battle of Waterloo was essentially a battle fought by Napoleon Bonaparte against the rest of Europe, who had pooled their armies under the joint capable command of England's Duke of Wellington and the equally capable Gebhard von Blücher of Prussia.
Napoleon had correctly anticipated that the response of the European powers would not be one of elation when they learned of his escape from Elba and had also correctly anticipated that if he were to have a chance of remaining in power, his only military option was to keep the English and Prussian armies from joining forces, which would allow him to engage (and hopefully defeat) two smaller armies rather than one that would be much closer in size to that of his own.
Napoleon managed to move his two armies northward without being detected by either the Prussians or the British. Crossing the Belgian border near the town of Charleroi he encountered a series of small Prussian forward observation positions whose occupants, upon seeing some 250,000 French soldiers bearing down on them, promptly fled to the relative safety of the main body of the Prussian Army. In doing so, they also revealed to the French the general position of von Blücher's Prussians.
Napoleon realized that since he had marched northward without encountering opposition and that since the Prussians had fled to the east, the English forces must be to his west. He then divided his army into 3 groups sending the center and right, which he personally commanded, groups to engage von Blücher while sending the left wing (commanded by Marshal Ney) to block Wellington from coming to the aid of the aid of the Prussians.
The French engaged both the Prussians and the British almost simultaneously on the morning of June 16th. By the end of the day's fighting, Ney had managed to inflict only moderate casualties on the British forces but, more importantly, had blocked the main road that led from Wellington's position to von Blücher's army, which although it had not been defeated by Napoleon, had been forced to make as less than orderly retreat in the direction of the Rhine River. Under the heavy rain that fell throughout the day on June 17th Wellington withdrew, with Marshal Ney in close pursuit, to a ridge line about a mile south of the town of Waterloo.
Napoleon and Ney had joined forces on the night of the 17th and devised a plan to quickly defeat Wellington before von Blücher's Prussians could arrive. The only problem with this plan is that no one knew exactly where the Prussians had gone following their withdrawal on the afternoon and early evening of the 16th. At this point, Napoleon made a crucial mistake.
Both Ney and Napoleon reasoned that von Blücher would have withdrawn his army to the relative safety of the Rhine River and was thus at least a two day's march to the east and that therefore the French would throw everything they had at Wellington, defeat the English army, and then hold the high ground around Waterloo while waiting for von Blücher to come to them. Military historians generally agree that this was the proper course of action had the situation been as Napoleon and Ney had thought. There were only two factors that they hadn't considered.
The first was that von Blücher, in typical Prussian fashion, had not retreated to the banks of the Rhine but had instead regrouped his army only a few hours, rather than days, to the east of Waterloo. This possibility had not been anticipated by the French when, at around 10:00 on the morning of June 18th, they went after Wellington's army. It was shortly after the fighting began that problem number 2 announced its presence on the field of battle.
You will recall that Wellington had repositioned his army during the previous day's driving rains. Now, Belgium is one of those countries that consider any collection of dirt and rocks over 100 feet tall to be a mountain. This in turn means that it takes very little rainfall to convert the countryside into a mud pit and that the said mud pit is not what you want to have to drag your heavy artillery through.
Napoleon's troops had been accustomed to attacking positions that had previously been pounded by the French artillery, which was now bogged down in mud. The English, however, had their artillery already in place and were demonstrating to the attacking French how unpleasant artillery barrages can be. In spite of all this the French were making a good showing of themselves; having forced Wellington to constantly shift both his main and reserve troops time and time again to deal with French penetrations of his battle lines. Then the one thing that Napoleon and Ney had failed to consider occurred: von Blücher's Prussians attacked from the east. Outnumbered, the French army left the battlefield in disorder, which allowed Coalition forces to enter France and restore Louis XVIII to the French throne. Off the port of Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, after considering an escape to the United States, Napoleon formally demanded political asylum from the British Captain Frederick Maitland on HMS Bellerophon on 15 July 1815.
Exile on Saint HelenaEdit
Napoleon was imprisoned and then exiled to the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, 1,870 km from the west coast of Africa. In his first two months there, he lived in a pavilion on the Briars estate, which belonged to a William Balcombe. Napoleon became friendly with his family, especially his younger daughter Lucia Elizabeth who later wrote Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon. This friendship ended in 1818 when British authorities became suspicious that Balcombe had acted as an intermediary between Napoleon and Paris and dismissed him from the island. Napoleon moved to Longwood House in December 1815; it had fallen into disrepair, and the location was damp, windswept and unhealthy. The Times published articles insinuating the British government was trying to hasten his death, and he often complained of the living conditions in letters to the governor and his custodian, Hudson Lowe. With a small cadre of followers, Napoleon dictated his memoirs and criticised his captors—particularly Lowe. Lowe's treatment of Napoleon is regarded as poor by historians such as Frank McLynn. Lowe exacerbated a difficult situation through measures including a reduction in Napoleon's expenditure, a rule that no gifts could be delivered to him if they mentioned his imperial status, and a document his supporters had to sign that guaranteed they would stay with the prisoner indefinitely.
In 1818, The Times reported a false rumour of Napoleon's escape and said the news had been greeted by spontaneous illuminations in London. There was sympathy for him in the British Parliament: Lord Holland gave a speech which demanded the prisoner be treated with no unnecessary harshness. Napoleon kept himself informed of the events through The Times and hoped for release in the event that Holland became prime minister. He also enjoyed the support of Lord Cochrane, who was involved in Chile's and Brazil's struggle for independence and wanted to rescue Napoleon and help him set up a new empire in South America, a scheme frustrated by Napoleon's death in 1821. There were other plots to rescue Napoleon from captivity including one from Texas, where exiled soldiers from the Grande Armée wanted a resurrection of the Napoleonic Empire in America. There was even a plan to rescue him with a primitive submarine. For Lord Byron, Napoleon was the epitome of the Romantic hero, the persecuted, lonely and flawed genius. The news that Napoleon had taken up gardening at Longwood also appealed to more domestic British sensibilities.
His personal physician, Barry O'Meara, warned the authorities of his declining state of health mainly caused, according to him, by the harsh treatment of the captive in the hands of his "gaoler", Lowe, which led Napoleon to confine himself for months in his damp and wretched habitation of Longwood. O'Meara kept a clandestine correspondence with a clerk at the Admiralty in London, knowing his letters were read by higher authorities: he hoped, in such way, to raise alarm in the government, but to no avail. In February 1821, Napoleon's 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. 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"; Montholon and Bertrand wanted the Imperial title "Napoleon" as royalty were signed by their first names only. As a result the tomb was left nameless.
The development of the Napoleonic Code was a fundamental change in the nature of the civil law system, making laws much clearer and more accessible. It also superseded the former conflict between royal legislative power. The Napoleonic Code also created an elected parliament, the Senate, to share power with the Emperor. So the people had a say in the Government in a time when most European nations were absolute Monarchies.
As Napoleon had said: "My true glory is not to have won 40 battles..... But...what will live forever, is my Civil Code."
However Napoleon did not really followed the Napoleonic Code, as he rigged elections, censored the press and ruled as an absolute monarch. Only after his death the Napoleonic Code was used as a constitution by the monarchs of France, and they started to respect the Code. The first truly free elections in France took place in 1832. However that does not make the Napoleonic code less importand.
In the field of military organisation, Napoleon borrowed from previous theorists such as Jacques Antoine Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert, and from the reforms of preceding French governments, and then developed much of what was already in place. He continued the policy, which emerged from the Revolution, of promotion based primarily on merit. Corps replaced divisions as the largest army units, mobile artillery was integrated into reserve batteries, the staff system became more fluid and cavalry returned as an important formation in French military doctrine. These methods are now referred to as essential features of Napoleonic warfare. Though he consolidated the practice of modern conscription introduced by the Directory, one of the restored monarchy's first acts was to end it.
His opponents learned from Napoleon's innovations. The increased importance of artillery after 1807 stemmed from his creation of a highly mobile artillery force, the growth in artillery numbers, and changes in artillery practices. As a result of these factors, Napoleon, rather than relying on infantry to wear away the enemy's defenses, now could use massed artillery as a spearhead to pound a break in the enemy's line that was then exploited by supporting infantry and cavalry.
Under Napoleon, a new emphasis towards the destruction, not just outmanoeuvring, of enemy armies emerged. Invasions of enemy territory occurred over broader fronts which made wars costlier and more decisive. The political impact of war increased significantly; defeat for a European power meant more than the loss of isolated enclaves. The annexation of entire states, that had been independent for hundreds of years, and Near-Carthaginian peaces intertwined whole national efforts, intensifying the Revolutionary phenomenon of total war.
Napoleon's masterful use of propaganda contributed to his rise to power, legitimated his regime, and established his image for posterity. Strict censorship, controlling aspect of the press, books, theater, and art, was only part of his propaganda scheme, aimed at portraying him as bringing desperately wanted peace and stability to France. The propagandistic rhetoric changed in relation to events and the atmosphere of Napoleon's reign, focusing first on his role as a general in the army and identification as a soldier, and moving to his role as emperor and a civil leader. Specifically targeting his civilian audience, Napoleon fostered an important, though uneasy, relationship with the contemporary art community, taking an active role in commissioning and controlling different forms art production to suit his propaganda goals.
Napoleon was responsible for overthrowing multiple Ancien Régime–type monarchies in Europe and spreading the official values of the French Revolution to other countries. In particular, Napoleon's French nationalism had the effect of influencing the development of nationalism elsewhere—often inadvertently. German nationalism of Fichte rose to challenge Napoleon's conquest of Germany. Napoleon was also responsible for inventing the green-white-red tricolour basis of the flag of Italy during the period when Napoleon ruled as King of Italy alongside his position as French Emperor.
The Napoleonic Code is a codification of law including civil, family and criminal law that Napoleon imposed on French-conquered territories. After the fall of Napoleon, not only was Napoleonic Code retained by many such countries including the Netherlands, Belgium, parts of Italy and Germany, but has also been used as the basis of certain parts of law outside Europe including the Dominican Republic, the US state of Louisiana and the Canadian province of Quebec.
The memory of Napoleon in Poland is highly favorable, for his support for independence and opposition to Russia, his legal code, the abolition of serfdom, and the introduction of modern middle class bureaucracies. In France, he is loved because he was the one who united Normandy with the rest of France.