Although he inspired new social, economic, and political ideas, Napoleon Bonaparte is better known for his military tactics. Even today, his battle plans are used and studied by many in the military. Napoleon, who started out as an extremely short and wimpy foreigner who rose to become Emperor of France, died in 1821 at St. Helena, a remote island in the South Atlantic. He was fifty-two years old. Th cause is uncertain: either he was poisoned or he died of a stomach ailment.
Bonaparte was born in 1769 on the island of Corsica just as France conquered it. At age ten, Napoleon was sent to military school outside Paris. At sixteen, he graduated and became a lieutenant in the artillery. When the French revolution broke out, Napoleon sided with the new government. Along with the help of his army, he dissolved the revolutionary government and made himself emperor. Saying he was saving the Revolution, Napoleon established a new government that stressed equality. Through his prowess, Napoleon greatly enlarged the French Empire. Though he ran into many problems and was soon defeated, he came back to fight one more battle before his last defeat, and was then taken to St. Helena as a prisoner.
Of all his accomplishments, Napoleon’s political decisions had the most lasting influence. His guiding principle was that everyone should have an equal chance regardless of their social status at birth. Napoleon believed in a meritocracy, a novel system where people would be placed in positions according to merit and not their birth. Napoleon also established the Napoleonic Code. Through these laws, Napoleon declared all people equal before the law and the three estates of France’s old government abolished. Ironically, though he believed in equality, as emperor, Napoleon stood above his new laws for he loved power.
As a general, Napoleon is ranked beside the greatest military geniuses. He conquered nearly all of Europe creating an empire that had not…


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