Little Bits of History

Complex Napoleon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 26, 2013
Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte

May 26, 1805: Napoleon “the Little Corporal” Bonaparte is crowned King of Italy. Bonaparte took command of the French “Army of Italy” in 1796. He rid Lombardi of her Austrian rulers and then took over two Papal States. Ignoring orders, he marched on Rome and took the Pope prisoner. His first Italian assault is often deemed to be his greatest campaign. His army captured 160,000 prisoners, 2,000 cannons and 170 flags.

In May 1798, Napoleon proposed that Egypt be brought under French control to undermine British access to India. Along with military and political staff, Bonaparte included 167 scientists in his expedition confirming his devotion to the principles of the Enlightenment. While there were many discoveries were made, including the Rosetta Stone, but the Egyptian campaign was not truly successful.

Bonaparte returned to France and continued to advance and win battles. He and others orchestrated a coup d’état and overthrew the constitutional government. Bonaparte, ever the brilliant strategist, maneuvered himself into the position of First Consul. He continued to broker agreements and tried to reconcile with the Catholic Church. He also worked to codify criminal and commercial law.

By 1800, Napoleon returned to Italy and evicted the Austrians again – they had returned while Bonaparte was in Egypt. All of his campaigns were straining the coffers and to help finance his increased costs, he sold off property in the Americas in 1803. The US made the Louisiana Purchase for only three cents per acre. This not only improved Bonaparte’s economic position, but also gave him one less front to defend. In 1804 he was declared Emperor in Paris. Continuing to amass titles, he was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, an ancient royal insignia of Europe. The coronation took place in the Duomo di Milano cathedral in Milan, Italy. Napoleon remained King of Italy until 1814.

“I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.”

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.”

“Religion is what keeps the poor man from murdering the rich.”

“If you start to take Vienna – take Vienna.”

“He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.” – all from Napoleon Bonaparte

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Rosetta Stone was carved in 196 BC on the orders of King Ptolemy V. It is a granodiorite stele (a rock slab or pillar similar to granite) and gives the proclamation in three scripts. The upper text is written in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion is Demotic script, and the lowest portion is written in ancient Greek. Since the text is essentially the same between the three languages, this stone provided a way to understand the ancient hieroglyphs. What we have in our possession is just part of the original stele. No other pieces have ever been located. The hieroglyphs suffered the most damage and only the last fourteen lines can be seen and they are only partially extant. Because it was key to translating the ancient script, the term has become common to idiomatically convey the notion of a key to translate from an unknown script to a known language.

Also on this day Who Was That? – In 1828 a strange teenager is found on the streets.
Sailing to Oblivion – In 1854, Khufu or Cheops’ ship was discovered.
Alse Young – In 1647, Alse was hung as a witch.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on May 26, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Former US President Harry Truman said to me that Napoleon Bonaparte was actually quite simple but the new printing press industry was producing writers,like today’s media people, that each was making up fictitious stores so that they could each make money.

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