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Napoleon - 01 The Early Campaigns

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Napoleon
Episode One

The Early Campaigns

Napoleon Bonaparte 
15 August 1769 â€“ 5 May 1821
later known as Emperor Napoleon I,
and previously Napoleone di Buonaparte,
was a military and political leader of France whose actions shaped European politics in the early 19th century.

Born in Corsica and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France, Bonaparte rose to prominence under the First French 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 he crowned himself Emperor of the French. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, he turned the armies of the French Empire against every major European power and dominated continental Europe through a series of military victories. He maintained France's sphere of influence by the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states.

The French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point 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 under British supervision on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, though Sten Forshufvud and other scientists have since conjectured that he was poisoned with arsenic.

The conflict with the rest of Europe led to a period of total war across the continent and his campaigns are studied at military academies the world over. While considered a tyrant by his opponents, he is also remembered for the establishment of the Napoleonic code, which laid the administrative and judicial foundations for much of Western Europe.

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