Napoleon (Part 1) – Birth of an Emperor


The story begins in 1768 in Corsica. For centuries, the island was a Genoese possession. But separatist revolts force Genoa to ask
help from the French army. In the end, the sovereignty of the island
is ceded to France. The following year, Napoleon Bonaparte is
born into a noble family from Ajaccio. He grows up with his seven brothers and sisters
and when he turns 9, is sent to the military school in Brienne, Champagne. Napoleon, a good student, is admitted to the
military academy in Paris where he specializes in artillery. The following year, at age 16, he is appointed
second lieutenant of the artillery in Valence. In France, the economic situation is catastrophic. The Seven Years War and the American Revolutionary
War have emptied the coffers of the country. Louis XVI, struggling with the country’s
financial difficulties, summons to Versailles representatives of the clergy, the nobility and the Third Estate, that is the people, to find a solution to the crisis. After disagreements, Third Estate officials
seize power by founding the National Assembly, while in Paris, insurgents take over the royal
fortress of Bastille. The revolutionaries vote for ending feudal
privileges and adopt the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen. King Louis XVI is then forcibly taken to Paris, from where he later tries to flee with his family to a royalist stronghold. But they are spotted and stopped on the way. Initially, European monarchies remain mute
about the French revolution, seeing the weakening of their French competitor as a good thing. But the arrest of Louis XVI make them fear
that revolutionary ideas might spread across the continent and threaten their thrones. Prussia and Austria then combine forces to try and restore the French monarchy. War breaks out, with the French armies in
poor condition. Facing the Allied army advance on Paris, the revolutionaries panic and execute all opponents of the revolution. But eventually an unexpected victory of the French army pushes the coalition back beyond the country’s borders. The revolutionaries regain confidence and
proclaim the Republic. Louis XVI is then tried and guillotined, further angering European monarchies. The coalition strengthens, while on the French
side, conscriptions swell up the ranks of the army. Within the country, clashes between royalist
and counter-revolutionary forces cause civil wars. Napoleon and his family, who support the revolution,
are driven away by Corsican separatists. In Toulon, royalists seize the city and receive
the military support of Britain and Spain, that enter the harbor of Toulon with
their armies. After the French army fails to retake the
city, Napoleon is summoned to replace the artillery commander who was injured. Assessing the situation, he suggests a new plan. Instead of attacking from the North, he proposes
seizing the forts south of the harbor to install his artillery and attack the allied fleet. His plan proves successful, and the city is
taken back in two days. Napoleon’s decisive intervention earns him a promotion. But in Paris, a new coup overthrows the government,
and Napoleon loses his title. A year later, a royalist revolt breaks out
in Paris and he is put in-charge of quelling the rebellion, giving him an opportunity to
prove his loyalty for the new government. He orders his men to fire on the crowd, killing
200 people and ending the insurgency. As a reward, Napoleon is given command of
the French army of Italy. Before leaving Paris, Napoleon marries Josephine,
with whom he had fallen madly in love. She is the widow of a guillotined viscount
and a mother of two. Napoleon joins his army, which he finds in
a poor state. His men are poorly fed, badly equipped and
no longer paid. Napoleon would assume the role of their charismatic leader and motivates his troops by promising them the riches of northern Italy. At this time, two armies are stationed there,
a Piedmontese army and an Austrian one. Napoleon is outnumbered and knows that if
both armies unite, he would have no chance. His plan is to speedily advance his troops, place them in between both armies, and fight them separately. On April 10, he launches his attack. The plan works and after a few battles, he
defeats the Kingdom of Sardinia. Reeling from the attack, the Austrian army
retreats to Milan and stations some troops along the Po river to prevent Napoleon from crossing. Napoleon sends over a small part of his army as a diversion while the bulk of his troops cross the river farther east. This move threatens to break the Austrian
line of communication, thus isolating its army, which then withdraws from Milan without fighting and flees eastward. For a year, Napoleon maintains an advantage
thanks to his troops’ speedy movements, and because Austrian forces divides itself
into smaller armies. Eventually, Napoleon’s army threatens Vienna,
forcing the Emperor of Austria to seek an armistice. Napoleon negotiates and himself signs the
peace treaty. He obtains the annexation of the Austrian
Netherlands and pushes the boundaries of the country to the Rhine. Austria receives the Republic of Venice and recognizes the new Italian republics created by Napoleon. Upon his return to Paris, Napoleon is welcomed
as a hero. The government now asks him to invade Britain,
the last enemy of France. But England has control over the seas and
Napoleon is aware of the risk that this entails. He instead suggests attacking Britain where
they least expect it. By seizing Egypt, he thinks he can threaten
the important colony of India. The government accepts the proposal, as for
them this young general, who is a bit too ambitious and influential, is less dangerous while he is on a mission. Napoleon leaves from Toulon with hundreds
of ships carrying a 40,000-man army. Along the way, he captures Malta, while British Admiral Nelson, not knowing Napoleon’s final destination, tries looking for him. Nelson reaches Alexandria before Napoleon
and continues searching for him northward. Napoleon lands near Alexandria in the Ottoman
province of Egypt. He captures the city and then goes on further south. At the gates of Cairo, he defeats the Mamluk
army and seizes the city. But in the north, British ships eventually
find the French fleet and completely destroy it. Napoleon and his army find themselves stuck in Egypt. This information spreads in Europe and leads
to the creation of a second anti-French coalition joined by the Ottoman Empire. Napoleon then goes back to the east, seizing
towns along the way, and begins the siege of Acre. But the Ottoman resistance, supported by the
British, prevents the city from being captured. Napoleon then hears that the British are preparing
for the landing of an Ottoman army in Alexandria. He leaves to fight them and wins the battle
with the last soldiers he had available. Hearing about the complicated situation in
France, he travels alone, leaving behind his army. When he reaches France, the situation is tense. Austrian and Russian armies retake Northern
Italy, while Paris suffers from political instability. Napoleon, supported by the people and the army, involves himself in a coup and is named as First Consul for the following 10 years. He is now head of the country and can reform
it at will. He consolidates power and prepares a new army
to reconquer the North of Italy. To Austria’s surprise, he crosses the Great
St Bernard Pass, usually deemed impassable, and wins a battle against the Austrians. A second victory further north eventually
defeats the empire. Within months, a peace treaty was signed by all European powers, including the UK, their arch enemy. In France, Napoleon put an end to 10 years
of revolutions and instability and is rewarded with the title of lifelong Consul. Napoleon takes advantage of peacetime to reform
the country. He reforms the administration, economy, and
education. He begins writing the Civil Code and completely restructures the country’s army. Beyond France, he continues with his expansionist and interventionist policy by redrawing boundaries at will, which angers other powers, especially
the United Kingdom for whom France is too big a risk. Aware of the situation, Napoleon sells Louisiana
to the United States to finance future wars and to prevent the territory from falling into
the hands of the British. War resumes, but the UK cannot afford to attack
France on its territory and instead decides to focus on diplomatic efforts to rally other powers. Napoleon, who narrowly escaped an attack,
knows his live is in danger. He tries to sustain the new French model by
creating an empire, hoping that the revolutionary values remain strong, even if he were to die. On December 2nd, 1804, Napoleon becomes the emperor, and crowns himself and his wife Josephine in Notre Dame de Paris. He implements a more authoritarian regime. From a military standpoint, he makes Spain
go to war against the United Kingdom because he needs its military fleet. Having now brought together enough armies
along the Channel, Napoleon is ready to invade the United Kingdom.

100 Replies to “Napoleon (Part 1) – Birth of an Emperor”

  1. Why did the British dislike the French Revolution? Wasn't Britain a constitutional monarchy having itself had a revolution?

  2. Awesome presentation:)
    Please do the Punic wars, American Revolution, and Spanish conquest of Americas, War of 1812, and any other significant events ^_^

  3. Notice they all ganged up together to fight France that have no monarch. Just to show all wars are already pre-planned by rulers, and all the rulers are friends with each other behind the scene. Sometimes not even friends, but literally cousins.

  4. call napoleon whatever you want , nevertheless he is still a great man. He brought upon many policies to modernise european society and he conquerored half of europe in such a short span of time shows his great military leadership

  5. French and allies VS Prussia, Britain, Russia, Austria, Spain, Italian states, Netherlands, German states.

    Winner:

    Ottomans

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