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Napoleon Bonaparte

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Napoleon Bonaparte was born August 15, 1769 in the town of Ajaccio, Corsica.  Considered an Italian by ancestry it was France’s takeover of Corsica in 1768 that made him a French citizen.  His parents were Letizia and Carlo Bonaparte, a great lawyer, both from Italy.  He had an older brother and the old proverb that the first born son was the best, most likely propelled Napoleon in to his determination to succeed. At the age of nine, Bonaparte was sent to school in France.  He trained at military schools and graduated from E`cole Militaire in Paris in 1785.  By September of 1785 Bonaparte was designated a second lieutenant of artillery.  When the head of the artillery was stricken with illness, Napoleon was given the title and thus began his illustrious military career.

Napoleon Bonaparte

In 1789, when France was thrust into a national revolution, the world was given the opportunity to see Napoleon’s military leadership.  He was an impassioned supporter of the revolution and then turned supporter of the Jacobin cause.  The Jacobins was one of the most radical groups of the French Revolution.  Led by two distinguished lawyers, George Danton and Maximilien Robespirre, they pushed for a new commonwealth with equality in all areas of society.  This was called the reign of terror with any one being accused of being an enemy of the republic being executed.  Danton and Robespirre were eventually executed along with 20,000 to 40,000 others.

After defeating the British in Toulon he was promoted to brigadier general and subsequently almost lost this same position when the Jacobins were thrown from power the following year.  After a brief imprisonment, his personal influence gave the new government reason to restore his position and by 1795 he was moving rapidly in rank through public office.

Napoleon Bonaparte married Josephine de Beauharnais in 1796 and that same year he changed his name to the French spelling to hide his Italian ancestry and he was appointed Commander of the French Army of Italy.  His astute military strategies during the Italian campaigns against the Austrians and Sardinians made him a national hero.  During these battles Napoleon continually proved his leadership qualities by his run of victories, his concern for his troops, and his own bravery.  He ultimately brought this war with Austria to a close when at Campo Formio the Campo Treaty was negotiated and signed in 1797.

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