Napoleon I (born Napoleone di Buonaparte, later Napoléon Bonaparte) (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who had significant impact on modern European history. He was a general during the French Revolution, the ruler of France as Premier Consul of the French Republic, Empereur des Français, King of Italy, Mediator of the Swiss Confederation and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine.
During his reign, Napoleon systematically, either by conquest or alliance, asserted hegemony over almost the entirety of the continent of Europe at its peak. This series of military engagements have come to be known as the Napoleonic Wars. In 1812, Napoleon staged an invasion of Russia, which ultimately proved a disaster for France. By 1813, Napoleon was in retreat after his defeat at Leipzig. In 1814, France's enemies invaded, and Napoleon was forced into exile. He returned in 1815, but was finally defeated famously at Waterloo. Napoleon was exiled again, this time to the British-controlled island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, where he remained for the last six years of his life.
During the reign of King Louis XVI, Lieutenant Colonel Napoléon Bonaparte made a name for himself that lived on in either history or infamy. On that day, a Parisian crowd attempted to storm the Bastille. Colonel Bonaparte prevented this by ordering troops under his command to open fire, declaring "Ils ne passeront pas" ("they shall not pass"). Respectable society viewed Bonaparte as a great man who preserved peace and order, although radical elements viewed it as a tragedy, a viewpoint expressed in Beethoven's "Fallen Innocents" symphony.
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