Biography of Napoléon I - Archontology
Napoléon I

Napoléon Ier

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

Title: Par la grâce de Dieu et les constitutions de la République, Empereur des Français (By the Grace of God and Constitutions of the Republic, Emperor of the French) [1]
Term: 18 May 1804 - 11 Apr 1814
Chronology: 18 May 1804, proclaimed Emperor of the French under the name of Napoléon after the presentation of Sénatus-consulte organique du 28 floréal, an XII (Constitution of 1804) on establishment of the Empire, public ceremony, galerie d'Apollon (grande galerie), Palais de Saint-Cloud [2][3]
2 Dec 1804, consecrated and crowned, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris [4]
3 Apr 1814, declared to have forfeited the throne, an act (sénatus-consulte) passed by the Sénat conservateur (concurred in by the Corps législatif) [5][6]
11 Apr 1814, signed an act of abdication of the thrones of France and Italy, Fontainebleau; confirmed by the Treaty of Paris/Fontainebleau between Napoléon and the Allied Forces [7]
Title: Par la grâce de Dieu et les constitutions de l'Empire, Empereur des Français (By the Grace of God and Constitutions of the Empire, Emperor of the French)
Term: 1 Mar 1815 - 22 Jun 1815
Chronology: 1 Mar 1815, resumed the functions of head of state upon entering the national territory [8]
22 Jun 1815, abdication is announced, declaration dated 22 Jun 1815, Paris [9]
22 Jun 1815, abdication is acknowledged, resolution of the Chambre des représentants (Chamber of Representatives) (concurred in by Chambre des pairs [Chamber of Peers]) [10][11]
Names/titles: Baptised (21 Jul 1771): Napoleone; 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)
Premier Consul de la République (First Consul of the Republic) [25 Dec 1799 - 18 May 1804] (see details)
Presidente della Repubblica Italiana (President of the Italian Republic) [26 Jan 1802 - 17 Mar 1805]
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) [17 Mar 1805 - 11 Apr 1814]
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: "Itinéraire général de Napoléon, chronologie du consulat et de l'Empire", by A.-M. Perrot (Paris: Bistor, 1845) (web site); "Biographie des premières années de Napoleon Bonaparte c'est-à-dire depuis sa naissance jusqu'à l'epoque de son commandement en chef de l'armee d'Italie", ed. by François G. de Coston (Paris: Marc Aurel frères, 1840), 2 vols. (web site: volume 1; volume 2).

[1] This style was approved in Art. 1, 140 and 141 of the Sénatus-consulte organique du 28 floréal, an XII (Constitution of 1804), but in actual practice was modified to reflect the changes in the offices occupied by Napoléon; "roi d'Italie" started to appear in international treaties (1805), such as Treaty of Presburg of 26 Dec 1805, and formed a part of the imperial style for promulgation of laws in 1806 (see Bulletin des lois); reference to the republican form of government was gradually replaced by the reference to the Empire in 1807-1809: the phrase "Par la grâce de Dieu et les constitutions de la République" was replaced with "Par la grâce de Dieu et les constitutions" in Bulletin des lois in 1807, the legend on coins was modified by decree of 22 Oct 1808, replacing RÉPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE with EMPIRE FRANÇAIS effective 1 Jan 1809; in 1807 "Protecteur de la Confédération du Rhin" was also added to the full imperial style, and "Médiateur de la Confédération suisse" appeared regularly in Bulletin des lois after 29 Oct 1809 when the Treaty of Schönbrunn (signed 14 Oct 1809) was published. The style used by Napoléon in 1809-1814 was Par la grâce de Dieu et les constitutions, Empereur des Français, Roi d'Italie, Protecteur de la Confédération du Rhin, Médiateur de la Confédération suisse, &c., &c., &c.
[2] Archives parlementaires - Série 2, 8:355-360; Moniteur universel, N° 239, Samedi, 29 floréal an 12 de la République (19 mai 1804), p. (1083); Moniteur universel, N° 240, Dimanche, 30 floréal an 12 de la République (20 mai 1804), pp. 1086-1090.
[3] Unofficial agreement on accepting the title of empereur and coronation was reached at a private meeting of Napoléon with higher state officials at Saint-Cloud (23 Apr 1804); 26 Apr 1804 Napoléon sent a message to the Sénat suggesting changes in government; a commission appointed by the Sénat drafted a bill (sénatus-consulte) offering imperial title to the First Consul and passed it to the Tribunat which approved it on 30 Apr 1804; Conseil d'État discussed the sénatus-consulte at two meetings in Saint-Cloud 11 May 1804 and 12 May 1804; after the approval given by the Conseil d'État (12 May 1804), the sénatus-consulte was submitted to another private meeting presided by Napoléon (13 May 1804); on 16 May 1804 the sénatus-consulte was introduced in the Sénat which returned it to the commission; after deliberation, the commission presented its judgment to the Sénat on 18 May 1804 and the bill was immediately voted with only three votes against it (Sénatus-consulte organique du 28 floréal, an XII); at about 17:00 18 May 1804 the Sénat and a great number of dignitaries met with the First Consul at the Saint-Cloud Palace, who solemnly accepted the nomination.
[4] Journal des débats et des décrets, 3 and 4 Dec 1804 (12 and 13 Frimaire, Year XIII), pp. 1-4.
[5] Archives parlementaires - Série 2, 12:10; Bulletin des lois, 5e série, Tome premier, pp. 7-9, N° 1, n° 8: Sénatus-consulte portant que Napoléon Bonaparte est déchu du trône, et que le droit d'hérédité établi dans sa famille est aboli.
[6] Archives parlementaires - Série 2, 12:11; Bulletin des lois, 5e série, Tome premier, pp. 9-11, N° 1, n° 9: Acte par lequel le Corps législatif, adhérant à l'acte du Sénat, reconnaît et déclare la déchéance de Napoléon Bonaparte et des membres de sa famille.
[7] Napoléon signed a letter (4 Apr 1814) indicating his readiness to give up the throne (... l'empereur Napoléon, fidèle à son serment, déclare qu'il est prêt à descendre du trône...), but the Allies demanded the abdication in clear terms, which was eventually signed by the emperor on 11 Apr 1814. The representatives of Allies (Austria, Russia and Prussia) and the representatives of Napoléon also signed a treaty of Paris (11 Apr 1814), providing for the abdication; the treaty was ratified by Napoléon on 12 Apr 1814 at Fontainebleau. Bittner, L. (ed.). Chronologisches Verzeichnis der österreichischen Staatsverträge. Vienna : Holzhause, 1903-1917, 2:94-95; Martens, G.F. von. Nouveau recueil de traités. Göttingen : 1817-1842. 16 vols. 1:696-703; AT-OeStA/HHStA UR AUR 1814 IV 12 online
[8] Moniteur universel, No. 80, 21 Mar 1815, p. 323.
[9] Moniteur universel, No. 174, 23 Jun 1815, p. 611.
[10] Archives parlementaires - Série 2, 14:515.
[11] Archives parlementaires - Série 2, 14:507.
[12] Baptismal record is preserved in the Archives of the Corse-du-Sud département, 6 MI 4/21, p. 25/94; family name is recorded as Bonaparte, although the father's appended signature reads Buonaparte. The record was published in Biographie des premières années de Napoleon Bonaparte, op. cit., 2:33-34.
Image: portrait by Jacques-Louis David.