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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoléon 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. 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 throughout much of the world.

Napoleon was born in Corsica to parents of noble Genoese ancestry, and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. He rose to prominence under the French First Republic and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. In 1799, he staged a coup d'état and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. In the first decade of the 19th century, the French Empire under Napoleon engaged in a series of conflicts—the Napoleonic Wars—involving every major European power.

After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states.

The Peninsular War and 1812 French invasion of Russia marked turning points in Napoleon's fortunes. His Grande Armée was badly damaged in the campaign and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig; the following year the Coalition invaded France, forced Napoleon to abdicate and exiled him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he escaped Elba and returned to power, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, although this claim has sparked significant debate, as some scholars have held that he was a victim of arsenic poisoning.

Propaganda and memory


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.

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.

Hazareesingh (2004) explores how Napoleon's image and memory is best understood when considered within its socio-political context. It played a key role in collective political defiance of the Bourbon restoration monarchy in 1815–30. People from all walks of life and all areas of France, particularly Napoleonic veterans, drew on the Napoleonic legacy and its connections with the ideals of the 1789 revolution.

Widespread rumors of Napoleon's return from St. Helena and Napoleon as an inspiration for patriotism, individual and collective liberties, and political mobilization manifested themselves in seditious materials, notably displaying the tricolor and rosettes, and subversive activities celebrating anniversaries of Napoleon's life and reign and disrupting royal celebrations, and demonstrated the prevailing and successful goal of the varied supporters of Napoleon to constantly destabilize the Bourbon regime.

Datta (2005) shows that following the collapse of militaristic Boulangism in the late 1880s, the Napoleonic legend was divorced from party politics and revived in popular culture. Concentrating on two plays and two novels from the period—Victorien Sardou's Madame Sans-Gêne (1893), Maurice Barrès's Les Déracinés (1897), Edmond Rostand's L'Aiglon (1900), and André de Lorde and Gyp's Napoléonette (1913) Datta examines how writers and critics of the Belle Epoque exploited the Napoleonic legend for diverse political and cultural ends.

Reduced to a minor character, the new fictional Napoleon was not a world historical figure but an intimate one fashioned by each individual's needs and consumed as popular entertainment. In their attempts to represent the emperor as a figure of national unity, proponents and detractors of the Third Republic used the legend as a vehicle for exploring anxieties about gender and fears about the processes of democratization that accompanied this new era of mass politics and culture.

International Napoleonic Congresses are held regularly and include participation by members of the French and American military, French politicians and scholars from different countries.

Slated for completion in 2014, the Napoleonland theme park near Montereau-Fault-Yonne on the site of Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Montereau, will have attractions detailing his life.

 
Legacy outside France

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.

A number of leaders have been influenced by Napoleon. Muhammad Ali of Egypt sought alliance with Napoleon's France and sought to modernize Egypt along French governmental lines. In the 20th century, Adolf Hitler admired and emulated Napoleon as a leader and empire-builder, Hitler paid hommage to Napoleon by visiting his tomb after Germany occupied France in World War II.
Marriages and children
Napoleon's first wife, Joséphine, Empress of the French, painted by François Gérard, 1801         Empress Marie-Louise and the King of Rome, by Joseph Franque, 1812.


Napoleon married Joséphine de Beauharnais in 1796, when he was 26; she was a 32-year-old widow whose first husband had been executed during the Revolution. Until she met Bonaparte, she had been known as 'Rose', a name which he disliked. He called her 'Joséphine' instead, and she went by this name henceforth. Bonaparte often sent her love letters while on his campaigns. He formally adopted her son Eugène and cousin Stéphanie and arranged dynastic marriages for them. Joséphine had her daughter Hortense marry Napoleon's brother Louis.

Joséphine had lovers, including a Hussar lieutenant, Hippolyte Charles, during Napoleon's Italian campaign. Napoleon learnt the full extent of her affair with Charles while in Egypt, and a letter he wrote to his brother Joseph regarding the subject was intercepted by the British. The letter appeared in the London and Paris presses, much to Napoleon's embarrassment. Napoleon had his own affairs too: during the Egyptian campaign he took Pauline Bellisle Foures, the wife of a junior officer, as his mistress. She became known as Cleopatra after the Ancient Egyptian ruler.

While Napoleon's mistresses had children by him, Joséphine did not produce an heir, possibly because of either the stresses of her imprisonment during the Reign of Terror or an abortion she may have had in her 20s. Napoleon ultimately chose divorce so he could remarry in search of an heir. In March 1810, he married Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, and a great niece of Marie Antoinette by proxy; thus he had married into a German royal and imperial family.

They remained married until his death, though she did not join him in exile on Elba and thereafter never saw her husband again. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles (1811–1832), known from birth as the King of Rome. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks. He was awarded the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis aged 21, with no children.

Napoleon acknowledged two illegitimate children: Charles Léon (1806–1881) by Eléonore Denuelle de La Plaigne, and Count Alexandre Joseph Colonna-Walewski (1810–1868) by Countess Marie Walewska. He may have had further unacknowledged illegitimate offspring as well, such as Karl Eugin von Mühlfeld by Victoria Kraus; Hélène Napoleone Bonaparte (1816–1910) by Albine de Montholon; and Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire, whose mother remains unknown.


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