Napoleon the Great

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On August 15, 1769, a man by the name of Napoleon Bonaparte was the second of eight children born to Carlo Bonaparte and Maria Letizia Ramolino. Napoleon was born into Italian nobility in Ajaccio, Corsica, which one year before transferred its power to France by the Republic of Genoa. While such a birth might be so miniscule to so many during that age of time, the infant, known as Napoleon Bonaparte, would grow to be one of the most feared men and successful military leaders in all of Europe and shape European politics for the better part of the early 19th century. Growing up Napoleon and his family maintained minor Italian Nobility, with his father being an attorney and named Corsica’s representative to the Court of Louis XVI in 1777. His mother though, was the major influence during his childhood; she was able to maintain firm discipline allowing for her to restrain her rambunctious child. This strict upbringing and the nobility of his family provided Napoleon with bigger and better opportunities to study compared to the opportunities of the average Corsican of that time. Due to his family’s ability to provide him with a better education in 1779 Napoleon was enrolled in a religious school in Autun, located in the mainland of France. Later that year Napoleon was admitted to a military academy at Brienne-le-Chateau. During his time at the military academy Napoleon still spoke with a Corsican accent and he never learned to spell properly. This caused many of the kids to tease him and as a direct result the young Napoleon turned to studying and becoming the best student he could be. This willingness to be a good student caused an observer to comment that Napoleon "has always been distinguished for his application in mathematics. He is fairly well acquainted with history and geography... This boy would make an excellent sailor." Following the completion of his studies at Brienne in 1784 Napoleon was admitted to the elite Ecole Militaire, in Paris. This quickly brought an end to his naval ambitions, which had led to his consideration of joining the British Royal Navy. With his change in direction in life, Napoleon trained to become an artillery officer, and following his father’s death, and his loss of finance, Napoleon was forced to complete a two year course in just one year. Following the completion of his artillery officer training and his graduation from the elite military school, Napoleon was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the La Fere artillery regiment. Once he was commissioned as a lieutenant, Bonaparte served on garrison duty in Valence, Drome, and Auxonne, until after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. At the same time though Napoleon took nearly two years of leave in Corsica and Paris. Following the outbreak of the French Revolution and his departure from his position as lieutenant, Bonaparte became somewhat of a Corsican nationalist and wrote the Corsican leader in 1789. Napoleon stated, "As the nation was perishing I was born. Thirty thousand Frenchmen were vomited on to our shores, drowning the throne of liberty in waves of blood. Such was the odious sight which was the first to strike me." The early parts of the French Revolution, and the Revolution in Corsica, Napoleon spent his time fighting a complex struggle, between revolutionaries, Corsican nationalists, and royalists. Bonaparte took the side of the Jacobin faction of revolutionaries and was able to gain the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and command a group of volunteer fighters. After exceeding his leave of absence from the French army and leading a riot against a French Army in Corsica, Bonaparte was able to convince French military authorities in Paris to promote him to Captain in 1792. With his newly gained leadership role Napoleon returned to Corsica where he came into conflict with the Corsican leader, Paoli, who had decided to split with France and sabotage a French assault on the Sardinian island of La Maddalena,...
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