Bonaparte, Napoléon

Napoléon Bonaparte

b. 15 Aug 1769, Ajaccio, Corsica
d. 5 May 1821, Longwood, Saint Helena

Title: Premier Consul de la République française (First Consul of the French Republic)
Term: 25 Dec 1799 - 18 May 1804
Chronology: 15 Dec 1799, Constitution of 1799 proclaimed [1] by the Consuls of the Republic (Art. 39 names Napoléon Bonaparte premier consul for the term of 10 years)
25 Dec 1799, entered the office according to Art. I of the Law of 3 Nivôse, Year VIII (24 Dec 1799), official proclamation published [2]
8 May 1802, reelected for the second ten-year term starting immediately after the end of the term defined in Art. 39 of the Constitution of 1799, sénatus-consulte passed by the Sénat [3][4]
2 Aug 1802, following a plebiscite, consulate for life established for the First Consul, sénatus-consulte passed by the Sénat [5]
18 May 1804, publicly accepted the title of emperor, meeting of the members of the Sénat conservateur, galerie d'Apollon (grande galerie), Palais de Saint-Cloud [6]
Names/titles: Baptismal name [21 Jul 1771]: Napoleone Bonaparte [7]; Buonaparte and Bonaparte used interchangeably, first instance of Napoléon Bonaparte found in an official report of 28 Mar 1796;
Other offices: Consul de la République française (Consul of the French Republic) [10 Nov 1799 - 25 Dec 1799] (see details); Presidente della Repubblica Italiana (President of the Italian Republic) [26 Jan 1802 - 19 Mar 1805]; Empereur des français (Emperor of the French) [18 May 1804 - 11 Apr 1814, 20 Mar 1815 - 22 Jun 1815] (see details); Protecteur de la Confédération du Rhin (Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine) [from 25 Jul 1806]; Re d'Italia; Roi d'Italie (King of Italy) [18 Mar 1805 - 11 Apr 1814]; Médiateur de la Confédération suisse (Mediator of the Swiss Confederation) [from c. 1809]; Souverain de l'Île d'Elbe; signore dell'Elba (Sovereign of Elba) [19 Apr 1814 - 26 Feb 1815]
Originated from the Corsican family of noble origin; was educated at the Collège d'Autun, Burgundy (1779), military college of Brienne, Champagne (1779-1784), and the École militaire de Paris (1784-1785); commissioned second lieutenant of artillery (1785); promoted to first lieutenant (1791), captain (1792), major (1793) and adjutant general (1793); commanded artillery in the famous siege of Toulon (1793) and was promoted to brigadier general (22 Dec 1793); was appointed commandant of the artillery in the French army of Italy (6 Feb 1794); dismissed and briefly detained after the fall of the Jacobin dictatorship (27 Jul 1794); appointed second in command of the troops of the interior (4 Oct 1795); suppressed a revolt in Paris (5 Oct 1795), helping to secure the installation of a new regime of the Directoire exécutif (Executive Directory); was appointed commander of the Army of the Interior (10 Oct 1795) and promoted to division general (16 Oct 1795); served as commander-in-chief of the Army of Italy (23 Feb 1796 - 9 Dec 1797, in personal command 27 Mar 1796 - 15 Nov 1797); defeated the Austrian armies, encouraged the creation of republican regimes in Northern Italy, concluded the Treaty of Campo Formio (17 Oct 1797); president of the French legation at the Congress of Rastadt (nominated 27 Oct 1797, appointed 8 Nov 1797); arrived to Rastadt (25 Nov 1797); left Rastadt (2 Dec 1797) after the exchange of ratifications of the Treaty of Campo Formio, and arrived to Paris (5 Dec 1797); was made commander-in-chief of the Army of England (9 Dec 1797); led the Army of the East to conquer Egypt and Syria in attempt to weaken Great Britain (1798-1799); returned to Paris (16 Oct 1799); conspired with Emmanuel Sieyès and played a key role in the coup of 18 Brumaire, Year VIII, overthrowing the Executive Directory (9 Nov 1799 - 10 Nov 1799); was appointed Consul of the Republic (10 Nov 1799 - 25 Dec 1799) along with Sieyès and Pierre-Roger Ducos; named First Consul of the Republic (25 Dec 1799 - 18 May 1804) according to the Constitution of Year VIII for 10-year term; participated in the Italian campaign of 1800, defeating the Austrian army in the Battle of Marengo (14 Jun 1800) and forcing Austria to sign the Treaty of Lunéville (9 Feb 1801); was elected President of the Italian Republic (26 Jan 1802 - 19 Mar 1805) by the Consulta at Lyon, France; following a plebiscite, promulgated a law creating him First Consul-for-Life (2 Aug 1802); carried out a number of political, administrative and social reforms, including codification of the civil law in the form of the Code Napoléon; accepted the title of Emperor of the French (18 May 1804, crowned in Paris 2 Dec 1804); was proclaimed King of Italy (18 Mar 1805, crowned in Milan 26 May 1805); planned an invasion of Great Britain, but suffered defeat on the sea (1805); won brilliant victories over the Austrians at Ulm (20 Oct 1805) and over the combined Austrian and Russian armies in the Battle of Austerlitz (2 Dec 1805); established the Confédération du Rhin = Rheinbund (Confederation of the Rhine), of which was made protector (25 Jul 1806); ordered the invasion of Portugal (1807) and secured enthronement of his brothers in Holland (1806), Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1806), Westphalia (1807) and Spain (1808); extended the territory of the French Empire by annexing various German states (1808, 1810), Parma, Piacenza, Tuscany (1808), Netherlands (1810), Rome and the Papal states (1809-1810), Catalonia (1812-1813); after divorcing his first wife (10 Jan 1810), married Maria Luisa (Marie Luise), daughter of Kaiser Franz II. (by proxy 11 Mar 1810; civil ceremony at Saint-Cloud 1 Apr 1810; religious ceremony 2 Apr 1810, Paris); launched the invasion of Russia (24 Jun 1812), resulting in the seizure of Moscow (14 Sep 1812) and ensuing disastrous retreat of the French army; left the army (5 Dec 1812) to prepare for campaign against the Sixth Coalition; returned to Paris (18 Dec 1812); appointed Empress Marie Luise as regent (sworn in 30 Mar 1813, exercised duties 15 Apr 1813 - 9 Nov 1813); suffered defeat in the Battle of Leipzig (16 Oct 1813 - 19 Oct 1813), ending the French hegemony east of the Rhine; returned to France (arrived to Saint-Cloud 9 Nov 1813) to organize the defence of the Empire against the allied armies; again appointed Marie Luise as regent (letters patent dated 23 Jan 1814) and his brother Joseph as lieutenant-general of the Empire (28 Jan 1814); was unable to repeal the invasion of the allied armies, which entered Paris 31 Mar 1814; with the fall of the Empire, he was deposed by decree of the Sénat conservateur (passed 2 Apr 1814, finalized 3 Apr 1814; confirmed by the Corps législatif 3 Apr 1814); exposed his readiness to abdicate in a letter (4 Apr 1814, Fontainebleau) rejected by the Allies; signed the act of abdication of the thrones of France and Italy for himself and his posterity (11 Apr 1814, Fontainebleau); was granted the island of Elba as a sovereign principality by the Treaty of Paris/Fontainebleau with Russia, Austria and Prussia; landed at Portoferraio, Elba (3 May 1814) and assumed the government; escaped from Elba (26 Feb 1815) and landed near Antibes, France (1 Mar 1815); won over the support of the army and entered Paris (20 Mar 1815); deposition and abdication annulated by the Conseil d'État (Council of State, 27 Mar 1815); during his second reign known as the Cent-Jours (Hundred Days), promulgated a number of amendments to the Constitution (Acte additionnel aux constitutions de l'Empire, 22 Apr 1815), aimed at creating more liberal government; held the Champ de Mai (1 Jun 1815), a grand ceremony marking the transition to a new regime, and took an oath to maintain new constitutions; after a campaign into Belgium (12 Jun 1815 - 20 Jun 1815) and defeat of the French army at Waterloo (18 Jun 1815), he signed a declaration proclaiming his abdication and accession of his son under the name of Napoléon II (22 Jun 1815, Paris); was exiled to a remote island in the south Atlantic Ocean, Saint Helena (disembarked 16 Oct 1815), where remained until his death.
Biographical sources: La grande encyclopédie: inventaire raisonné des sciences, des lettres et des arts, ed. by Berthelot, Hartwig Derenbourg, F.-Camille Dreyfus... [et al.] (Paris: H. Lamirault, 1885-1902). , 24:764-793; "Itinéraire général de Napoléon, chronologie du consulat et de l'Empire", by A.-M. Perrot (Paris: Bistor, 1845) (web site).

[1] Bulletin des lois de la République. 2e Série. Bulletin des lois de la République, N° 335, n° 3460: Proclamation des Consuls de la République.
[2] Moniteur universel, N° 96, Sextidi, 6 nivôse an 8 de la république française, une et indivisible, p. 380.
[3] Moniteur universel, N° 231, Mardi, 21 floréal an 10 de la République française, une et indivisible, p. (941).
[4] Napoléon, who intended to establish a life consulate for himself, abstained from promulgation of the sénatus-consulte of 8 May 1802, though this decision did not affect its legal coming into effect. A decree issued by the consuls on 10 May 1802 called for holding a plebiscite for proclaiming Napoléon consul for life (consul à vie).
[5] Bulletin des lois de la République. 3e Série. Bulletin des lois de la République, N° 205, n° 1875.
[6] Archives parlementaires. Série 2, Tome pp. 355-360.
[7] The baptismal register entry (photo kindly provided by Émile Rikir) actually shows the family name as Bonaparte, although the father's appended signature reads Buonaparte.
Image: portrait by Antoine-Jean Gros (1799).
Last updated on: 28 Aug 2012 05:56:43