Five obscure facts about Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon has no shortage of books, documentaries, myths, and speculations about him. Here are some lesser-known facts about the life of this man, who died 200 years ago.

Five obscure facts about Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte is the son of an anti-French nationalist who became the Emperor of the French

Considered either a national hero or a tyrant, Napoleon Bonaparte is probably the most famous military and political leader in history. He led many successful military campaigns, overthrew the revolutionary government in 1799 to become the de-facto leader of the French republic, and was crowned as the Emperor in 1804. 

A fragment of The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David (1807)

He continued waging numerous wars and invasions, winning most of the battles—until the defeats in 1814 and 1815, which collapsed his empire.

Despite his exploits being widely documented and researched, he remains the subject of many myths and speculations. His life is fictionalized in films, TV series, and books. 

When learning about a historical figure—especially of this caliber—it is easy to fall into the narrative tracks of significant events, remarkable victories, and crushing defeats, neatly ordered in chronological order. But, unfortunately, the real person often becomes obscured behind this aura of grandeur and mystique. 

So, we won’t touch the conquests nor the political maneuvers. Instead, we’ve assembled some, perhaps, less obvious facts about Napoleon.

Statue of Napoleon in Ajaccio, Corsica

Born in Corsica, Napoleone di Buonaparte was the son of Carlo Buonaparte, a lawyer, and his wife, Letizia Ramolino, both from minor noble families of Florentine and Genoese origin. 

In 1755, the island of Corsica proclaimed independence from the Republic of Genoa—and after the 14-year struggle, Genoa finally ceded the island to France. Then, in the year of Napoleon’s birth, 1769, French troops occupied Corsica; Napoleon’s parents joined Corsican nationalist resistance. Later, before entering big politics, Napoleon would write the history of Corsica to commemorate it.

Read on as we go off the beaten path and explore the less-known sides of Napoleon: his ambition to become a writer, his laws that remain in force to this day, his discoveries that shed light on ancient Egyptian history, and the mystery of his death.

You will find out the answers on:

  • How did Napoleon Bonaparte become the writer of a romantic story about Queen of Sweden.
  • How did Napoleon become the figurehead of judicial revolution and what is his legacy we used nowadays.
  • What was the role of Napoeon in Roseta Stone discovering?
  • What was wrong with Napoleon Bonaparte death?

Napoleon Bonaparte: the writer of a romantic story about Queen of Sweden

In time, the nationalist resistance in Corsica was pacified. In 1777, Carlo Buonaparte became one of the Corsican representatives to the court of Louis XVI. Napoleon and his brother Joseph were sent to the Collège d’Autun in Paris. 

Classmates bullied Napoleon for being a foreigner, and he had trouble learning the French language.  Nevertheless, Napoleon went on to study at the military college of Brienne and the military academy in Paris. As his father died and the family’s income dried out, he rushed to complete a two-year course in a year.

After graduation, he was appointed a lieutenant in an artillery regiment. He adopted a French spelling of his name—Napoléon Bonaparte—and quickly rose through the military ranks as the French Revolution swept through the country.

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