Napoleon Bonaparte I was definitely one of the most influential people in the history of Europe and the rest of the world. He quickly rose through the ranks of being a Corsican National Guard soldier to being the one of the greatest military commanders of all time and the French emperor who would try to conquer the entire world.
On August 15, 1769, Napoleon was born into a family that would have a total of 8 children, him being the second. He was the son of Carlo Buonaparte, a lawyer who fought for Corsican independence and Letizia Ramolino Buonaparte (the name was changed from Buonaparte to Bonaparte when he went to France). His siblings included four brothers: Jerome, Louis, Lucien, and Joseph, and three sisters: Maria Anna Elisa, Pauline, and Maria Carolina. He was born in Ajaccio, on the island of Corsica, in the Mediterranean Sea. He was educated at the expense of King Louis XVI at the schools of Brienne, Champagne and the Royal Military Academy at Paris where he was an outsider.
At the age of sixteen he graduated from the academy and became the first Buonaparte to ever be a professional soldier when he became part of the National Guard in Corsica. Then he joined the artillery as a second lieutenant. Since he was a Frenchman, he fled to France with his family when Corsica declared its independence in 1793. There he was assigned, as a captain, to an army that was besieging the British aided city of Toulon. He replaced the wounded artillery general and seized a hill where he could drive away the English and the French captured the port city. After this he was promoted to brigadier general at the young age of twenty-four. Later he enhanced his reputation and saved the new government by dispersing a riotous mob.
In 1796 he married a widow of a nobleman who had been guillotined and had two children. Later in the year he was put in charge of the French army in Italy. There he defeated four Austrian generals, who had greater numbers, and forced them and their allies to make peace in the Treaty of Campo. In northern Italy he founded the Cisalpine Republic. He also sent an army to Egypt, and defeated the Turks there. The British, under the leadership of Admiral Horatio Nelson crushed his fleet and left him stranded. Napoleon later crossed the Alps and defeated the Austrians to mark the Rhine River as the eastern border of France.
Upon returning from Egypt, Bonaparte joined the Coup díetat, which overthrew the government and established a new political system. Napoleon was consul and had almost dictatorial powers. Later the constitution was revised to make him consul for life and then the emperor. As leader he reorganized the court system to make it simplified and he put the schools under centralized control. The French law was standardized with the Code Napoleon and 6other codes, which guaranteed the right of equality before the law and other laws for the working class.
In 1805 Napoleon beat the Austro-Russian armies at Austerlitz. He conquered the Kingdom of Naples and his brother Joseph on the throne there. He also captured the Kingdom of Holland for his brother Louis and formed the Confederation of the Rhine for himself. Russia and Prussia chose to attack the Confederation and he destroyed them at the battles of Jena, Auerstadt and Friedland. The Russians under Czar Alexander I allied with the French and greatly reduced the size of the Prussian army. After this he added some new states to his vast empire: the Kingdom of Westphalia, with Jerome as king, the Duchy of Warsaw and others.
In 1807 Napoleon seized Portugal and made his brother Joseph king of Spain. This started rebellions there and the British backed Spanish guerillas cost France about 300,000 casualties and unknown amounts of money.
In 1810 he divorced Josephine and married the Austrian emperorís daughter, Mary Louise. By doing this he hoped his son (who he had a year later and named King of Rome) would be more accepted by the European monarchs. In the same year his empire reached its greatest extension.
Two years after that Napoleonís truce with the Czar dissipated and he launched an attack on Russia. This ended in a terrible retreat