Key dates in the epic life of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military and political leader who rose to prominence in the wake of the French revolution:
– August 15, 1769: Napoleon is born at Ajaccio on the island of Corsica, to a minor noble family of Italian-Corsican ancestry.
– 1796-1799: Promoted to general at the age of 25, Bonaparte launches an Italian military campaign and scores a series of decisive military victories that make him famous across Europe.
In 1798 he embarks on a military expedition to Egypt, at the head of 400 ships, conquering the Ottoman province at the Battle of the Pyramids.
– November 9, 1799: Napoleon and his supporters engineer a coup. He is installed as First Consul and progressively extends his personal control over France.
– May 20, 1802: Slavery, abolished under the French Revolution, is reestablished in the French colonies.
– March 21, 1804: A series of national laws collectively known as the Civil Code, or Napoleonic Code, is promulgated, replacing previous French law. It has since been adopted by dozens of nations around the world.
– December 2, 1804: Napoleon is declared Emperor of the French, setting the stage for the French Empire.
– October 21, 1805: His plans to invade Britain are shelved after the Battle of Trafalgar, won by the British fleet under Admiral Nelson.
On December 2 Napoleon wins a decisive victory over the Austrian and Russian armies at the Battle of Austerlitz, considered his tactical masterpiece.
– April 11, 1814: After the catastrophic failure of his invasion of Russia in late 1812, Napoleon is forced to abdicate and is exiled to the island of Elba off the Italian coast.
– February 26, 1815: Napoleon escapes from Elba and returns to lead the French government. He finds himself up against another coalition led by the British and the Prussians.
– June 18, 1815: Beaten at Waterloo, Belgium, Napoleon abdicates a second time three days later. He is taken on an English ship to the remote island of St Helena, off the African coast, where he dies on May 5, 1821, at the age of 51.