Napoleon's noble, moderately affluent background and family connections afforded him greater opportunities to study than were available to a typical Corsican of the time. In January 1779, Napoleon was enrolled at a religious school in Autun, in mainland France, to learn French. In May he was admitted to a military academy at Brienne-le-Château. 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. An examiner observed 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."[note 2]
On completion of his studies at Brienne in 1784, Napoleon was admitted to the elite École Militaire in Paris. This ended his naval ambition, which had led him to consider an application to the British Royal Navy. He trained to become an artillery officer and, when his father's death reduced his income, was forced to complete the two-year course in one year. He was the first Corsican to graduate from the École Militaire. He had been tested by the famed scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace, whom Napoleon later appointed to the Senate.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born on the Mediterranean island of Corsica on August 15, 1769. Although the Bonaparte family had maintained its nobility status even after the French takeover of the Island from the Italian Republic of Genoa in 1768, it was not as financially strong as it once was. For that reason, Charles immediately set out to curry favor with the new French regime. France rewarded his services graciously, and financed a scholarship for the young Napoleon to the military college of Brienne in France. Napoleon left to begin his education there in 1777, at the age of eight. In 1784, he moved on to the Ecole Militaire (the French military academy) to spend a year...
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