Napoleon Empire Inhaltsverzeichnis
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Shrewd, ambitious and a skilled military strategist, Napoleon successfully waged war against various coalitions of European nations and expanded his empire.
However, after a disastrous French invasion of Russia in , Napoleon abdicated the throne two years later and was exiled to the island of Elba.
In , he briefly returned to power in his Hundred Days campaign. After a crushing defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, he abdicated once again and was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena, where he died at He was the second of eight surviving children born to Carlo Buonaparte , a lawyer, and Letizia Romalino Buonaparte Although his parents were members of the minor Corsican nobility, the family was not wealthy.
Napoleon later adopted a French spelling of his last name. As a boy, Napoleon attended school in mainland France, where he learned the French language, and went on to graduate from a French military academy in He then became a second lieutenant in an artillery regiment of the French army.
The French Revolution began in , and within three years revolutionaries had overthrown the monarchy and proclaimed a French republic. During the early years of the revolution, Napoleon was largely on leave from the military and home in Corsica, where he became affiliated with the Jacobins, a pro-democracy political group.
In , following a clash with the nationalist Corsican governor, Pasquale Paoli , the Bonaparte family fled their native island for mainland France, where Napoleon returned to military duty.
In France, Napoleon became associated with Augustin Robespierre , the brother of revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre , a Jacobin who was a key force behind the Reign of Terror , a period of violence against enemies of the revolution.
During this time, Napoleon was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the army. However, after Robespierre fell from power and was guillotined along with Augustin in July , Napoleon was briefly put under house arrest for his ties to the brothers.
In , Napoleon helped suppress a royalist insurrection against the revolutionary government in Paris and was promoted to major general.
The following year, the Directory, the five-person group that had governed France since , offered to let Napoleon lead an invasion of England.
Instead, he proposed an invasion of Egypt in an effort to wipe out British trade routes with India.
That summer, with the political situation in France marked by uncertainty, the ever-ambitious and cunning Napoleon opted to abandon his army in Egypt and return to France.
In November , in an event known as the coup of 18 Brumaire, Napoleon was part of a group that successfully overthrew the French Directory.
Additionally, with the Treaty of Amiens in , the war-weary British agreed to peace with the French although the peace would only last for a year.
Napoleon worked to restore stability to post-revolutionary France. One of his most significant accomplishments was the Napoleonic Code , which streamlined the French legal system and continues to form the foundation of French civil law to this day.
In , a constitutional amendment made Napoleon first consul for life. Two years later, in , he crowned himself emperor of France in a lavish ceremony at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.
In , Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais , a stylish widow six years his senior who had two teenage children.
More than a decade later, in , after Napoleon had no offspring of his own with Empress Josephine, he had their marriage annulled so he could find a new wife and produce an heir.
In , he wed Marie Louise , the daughter of the emperor of Austria. In addition to his son with Marie Louise, Napoleon had several illegitimate children.
From to , France was engaged in the Napoleonic Wars, a series of major conflicts with various coalitions of European nations. However, in December of that same year, Napoleon achieved what is considered to be one of his greatest victories at the Battle of Austerlitz, in which his army defeated the Austrians and Russians.
The victory resulted in the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine. Beginning in , Napoleon sought to wage large-scale economic warfare against Britain with the establishment of the so-called Continental System of European port blockades against British trade.
In , the French defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Wagram, resulting in further gains for Napoleon. During these years, Napoleon reestablished a French aristocracy eliminated in the French Revolution and began handing out titles of nobility to his loyal friends and family as his empire continued to expand across much of western and central continental Europe.
In , Russia withdrew from the Continental System. In retaliation, Napoleon led a massive army into Russia in the summer of In September, both sides suffered heavy casualties in the indecisive Battle of Borodino.
Variation remained in outlying areas, and in some privileges survived through the era, unaltered by Napoleon.
His introduction of his own system was less ideologically driven and more practical, and he would pragmatically accept survivals which the revolutionaries would have cut out.
His driving force was to keep control. One factor in this was the success and failure of the men Napoleon had placed in charge of conquered lands — his family and officers — because they varied greatly in their loyalty, sometimes proving more interested in their new land than aiding their patron despite in most cases owing everything to him.
In public, Napoleon was able to promote his empire by stating laudatory aims. In practice, Napoleon was driven by other motives, although their competing nature is still debated by historians.
However, a hunger for glory and a hunger for power — whatever power that may be - seem to have been his over-riding concerns for much of his career.
The cost of the new warfare, with greater armies, meant more expense than ever before, and Napoleon used the empire to for funds and troops: success funded more attempts at success.
Food, equipment, goods, soldiers, and tax were all drained out by Napoleon, much of it in the form of heavy, often annual, tribute payments.
Napoleon had another demand on his empire: thrones and crowns on which to place and reward his family and followers. Large estates were carved out of the empire both to reward and to encourage the recipients to fight to keep the empire.
However, all these appointments were told to think of Napoleon and France first, and their new homes second. The empire was created militarily and had to be enforced militarily.
Once Napoleon failed, it was swiftly able to eject him and many of the puppet leaders, although the administrations often remained intact.
But in the aftermath, as Europe adapted, a lot of the structures Napoleon put in place survived. Of course, historians debate exactly what and how much, but new, modern administrations could be found all over Europe.