Napoleon and French Revolution

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Eventually, Napoleon ended up at the military college of Brienne, where he studied for five years, before moving on to the military academy in Paris. In 1785, while Napoleon was at the academy, his father died of stomach cancer. This propelled Napoleon to take the reins as the head of the family. Graduating early from the military academy, Napoleon, now second lieutenant of artillery, returned to Corsica in 1786.

Back home Napoleon got behind the Corsican resistance to the French occupation, siding with his father's former ally, Pasquale Paoli. But the two soon had a falling-out, and when a civil war in Corsica began in April 1793, Napoleon, now an enemy of Paoli, and his family relocated to France, where they assumed the French version of their name: Bonaparte.

Rise To Power

For Napoleon, the return to France meant a return to service with the French military. Upon rejoining his regiment at Nice in June 1793, the young leader quickly showed his support for the Jacobins, a far-left political movement and the most well-known and popular political club from the French Revolution.

It had certainly been a tumultuous few years for France and its citizens. The country was declared a republic in 1792, three years after the Revolution had begun, and the following year King Louis VXI was executed.

Ultimately, these acts led to the rise of Maximilien Robespierre and what became, essentially, the dictatorship of the Committee of Public Safety. The years of 1793 and 1794 came to be known as the Reign of Terror, in which many as 40,000 people were killed. Eventually the Jacobins fell from power and Robespierre was executed. In 1795 the Directory took control of the country, a power it would it assume until 1799.

All of this turmoil created opportunities for ambitious military leaders like Napoleon.
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