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Wikipedia Summary for Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoléon Bonaparte (born Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821), usually referred to as simply Napoleon in English, was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars. He was the de facto leader of the French Republic as First Consul from 1799 to 1804. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814 and again in 1815. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. One of the greatest commanders in history, his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. He remains one of the most celebrated and controversial political figures in human history.

Born on the island of Corsica not long after its annexation by the Kingdom of France, Napoleon's modest family descended from minor Italian nobility. He supported the French Revolution in 1789 while serving in the French army, and tried to spread its ideals to his native Corsica. He rose rapidly in the Army after he saved the governing French Directory by firing on royalist insurgents. In April 1796, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians and their Italian allies, scoring a series of decisive victories and becoming a national hero. Two years later, he led a military expedition to Egypt that served as a springboard to political power. He engineered a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing the War of the Third Coalition by 1805. Napoleon shattered this coalition with decisive victories in the Ulm Campaign, and a historic triumph at the Battle of Austerlitz, which led to the dissolving of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1806, the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. Napoleon quickly knocked out Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, then marched the Grande Armée deep into Eastern Europe, annihilating the Russians in June 1807 at Friedland, and forcing the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to accept the Treaties of Tilsit. Two years later, the Austrians challenged the French again during the War of the Fifth Coalition, but Napoleon solidified his grip over Europe after triumphing at the Battle of Wagram.

Hoping to extend the Continental System (his embargo against Britain), Napoleon invaded the Iberian Peninsula and declared his brother Joseph the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support in the Peninsular War, which lasted six years, featured brutal guerrilla warfare, and culminated in a defeat for Napoleon's marshals. Napoleon launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the catastrophic retreat of Napoleon's Grande Armée and encouraged his enemies. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France. A chaotic military campaign culminated in a large coalition army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813. The coalition invaded France and captured Paris, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April 1814. He was exiled to the island of Elba, between Corsica and Italy, while in France, the Bourbons were restored to power. However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France, "without spilling a drop of blood" as he wished. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition, which ultimately defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. The British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821 at the age of 51. Napoleon had an extensive impact on the modern world, bringing liberal reforms to the numerous territories that he conquered and controlled, especially the Low Countries, Switzerland, and large parts of modern Italy and Germany. He implemented fundamental liberal policies in France and throughout Western Europe.

Sirs, if it were not for that one red spot I would have conquered the world!

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The inevitable fate of large groups is to perish because of lack of unity.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The poor man and the beggar are two quite different classes: one commands respect, the other arouses anger.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

I am for the whites because I am white; I have no other reason, and that one is good.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The reading of history very soon made me feel that I was capable of achieving as much as the men who are placed in the highest ranks of our annals.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Always carry champagne! In victory You deserve it and in defeat You need it!

--Napoléon Bonaparte

In war, the moral is to the physical as ten to one.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

History is a set of lies agreed upon.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

In victory, you deserve Champagne. In defeat you need it.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

A battle sometimes decides everything and sometimes the most trifling thing decides the fate of a battle.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The friendship of a great man is a favor of the gods.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

You try to distract yourself from the pain, but only death will end it.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Soldiers usually win the battles and generals get the credit for them.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Champagne. In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

If I had to have a religion, I should adore the sun, for it is the sun that fertilizes everything.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Independence, like honor, is a rocky island without a beach.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

All celebrated people lose dignity upon close inspection.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Audacity succeeds as often as it fails; in life it has an even chance.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Passionate people invariably deny their anger, and cowards often boast their ignorance of fear.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

A general must be a charlatan.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The only true conquests-those that awaken no regrets- are those obtained over our ignorance.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The only way to lead people is to show them a future: a leader is a dealer in hope.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Religion is, in fact, the dominion of the soul; it is the hope, the anchor of safety, the deliverance from evil. What a service has Christianity rendered to humanity!

--Napoléon Bonaparte

If we could read the past histories of all our enemies we would disregard all hostility for them.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Diplomacy is the police in grand costume.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

From triumph to downfall there is but one step.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

There is no place in a fanatic's head where reason can enter.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

There are two kinds of fidelity, that of dogs and that of cats; you, gentleman, have the fidelity of cats who never leave the house.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Fools have a great advantage over the wise; they are always self-satisfied.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Impatience is a great obstacle to success; he who treats everything with brusqueness gathers nothing, or only immature fruit which will never ripen.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Necessity dominates inclination, will, and right.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

In politics nothing is immutable. Events carry within them an invincible power.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Longer Version:

In politics nothing is immutable. Events carry within them an invincible power. The unwise destroy themselves in resistance. The skillful accept events, take strong hold of them and direct them.


The English have no exaulted sentiments. They can all be bought.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

England would be better off without Canada; it keeps her in a prepared state for war at a great expense and constant irritation.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

From first to last, Jesus is the same; always the same -- majestic and simple, infinitely severe and infinitely gentle.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The first method is that of a schemer and leads only to mediocre results; the other method is the path of genius and changes the face of the world.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

It is easy to know when a government wishes for peace by observing the character of the person sent to negotiate for it.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

History is a myth that men agree to believe.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

To attach no importance to public opinion, is a proof that you do not merit its suffrage.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

If you know a country's geography, you can understand and predict its foreign policy.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Men soon get tired of shedding their blood for the advantage of a few individuals, who think they amply reward the soldiers perils with the treasures they amass.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Immortality is the best recollection one leaves.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The conscience is the sacred haven of the liberty of man.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

You do not get peace by shouting: Peace. Peace is a meaningless word; what we need is a glorious peace.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The sovereignty of the people is inalienable.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Men are ruled by toys.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

War is like government, a matter of tact.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Men are led by trifles.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Generals who save troops for the next day are always beaten.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

A man becomes the creature of his uniform.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

I cannot believe there is a god who punishes and rewards, for I see honest folk unlucky, and rogues unlucky.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Variety made the Revolution. Liberty was just a pretext.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

It is not by whining that one carries out the job of king.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Vengeance is without foresight.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

My true glory is not to have won 40 battles ... Waterloo will erase the memory of so many victories, ... But ... what will live forever, is my Civil Code.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The World is not ruined by the wickedness of the wicked, but by the weakness of the good.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Not one cent should be raised unless it is in accord with the law.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

If I had not been defeated in Acre against Jezzar Pasha of Turk. I would conquer all of the East.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The best generals are those who have served in the artillery.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

It is with artillery that war is made.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Leave the Artillerymen alone, they are an obstinate lot.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Oh Man, Man. How despicable in slavery, how great when fired with the love of freedom!

--Napoléon Bonaparte

I am a soldier and accustomed to risking my life every day. I am full of the fire of youth; I cannot act with the restraint of an accomplished diplomat.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

There is no class of people so hard to manage in a state, as those whose intentions are honest, but whose consciences are bewitched.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Man is entitled by birthright to a share of the earth's produce sufficient to fill the needs of his existence.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The basic principle that we must follow in directing the armies of the Republic is this: that they must feed themselves on war at the expense of the enemy territory.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Cavalry is useful before, during, and after the battle.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Ordinary men died, men of iron were taken prisoner: I only brought back with me men of bronze.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The Concordat is not the victory of any one party but the consolidation of all.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Democracy, if it is reasonable, limits itself to giving everyone an equal opportunity to compete and to obtain.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The Emperor died forsaken by all, on this horrible rock. (St. Helena) His death struggle was awful!

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The battle of Austerlitz is the grandest of all I have fought.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

France will always be a great nation.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

In a great nation, the majority are incapable of judging wisely of things.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

It is in times of difficulty that great nations like great men display the whole energy of their character and become an object of admiration to posterity.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

There shall be no Alps.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

In Russia there are no roads -- only areas.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The greatest general is he who makes the fewest mistakes.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Do you wish to find out the really sublime? Repeat the Lord's Prayer.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

I have come to realise that men are not born to be free.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Victory and disaster establish indestructible bonds between armies and their commanders.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The first quality of the commander-in-chief is a cool head to receive a correct impression of things. He should not allow himself to be confused by either good or bad news.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Cossacks are the best light troops among all that exist. If I had them in my army, I would go through all the world with them.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Orders and decorations are necessary in order to dazzle the people.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

It is only by prudence, wisdom, and dexterity that great ends are attained and obstacles overcome. Without these qualities nothing succeeds.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Where flowers degenerate man cannot live.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Whatever may be the position in life of a parent, it is his duty to share his crust with his children. If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The reason I beat the Austrians is, they did not known the value of five minutes.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

All things proclaim the existence of God.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The secret of great battles consists in knowing how to deploy and concentrate at the right time.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Whatever misanthropists may say, ingrates and the perverse are exceptions in the human species.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

The bullet that will kill me is not yet cast.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

We should wash our dirty linen at home.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks, glory would become the prey of mediocre minds.... I have made all the calculations; fate will do the rest.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Great men are meteors, consuming themselves to light the world.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Democracy may become frenzied, but it has feelings and can be moved. As for aristocracy, it is always cold and never forgives.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

You become strong by defying defeat and by turning loss into gain and failure to success.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Speeches pass away, but acts remain.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

Few really believe. The most only believe that they believe or even make believe.

--Napoléon Bonaparte

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