Napoleon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. As Napoleon, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Take a look below for 30 more awesome and interesting facts about Napoleon Bonaparte.
1. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars.
2. He won most of the Napoleonic wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that rules over continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815.
3. He’s considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide.
4. Napoleon’s political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.
5. He was born in Corsica to a relatively modest family of Italian ancestry from the minor nobility.
6. He was serving as an artillery officer in the French army when the French Revolution erupted in 1789.
7. Napoleon rapids rose through the ranks of the military, seizing the new opportunities presented by the Revolution and becoming a general at the age of 24.
8. At the age of 26, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians and their Italian allies, winning virtually every battle, conquering the Italian Peninsula in a year, and becoming a war hero in France.
9. Napoleon was actually 5’7”, an average male height at the time and his “shortness” was propaganda used by the British that is still believed today.
10. He was once moved to tears by the grief of a dog who he found sitting with its owner’s body.
11. Mandatory right hand traffic was introduced in Europe by Napoleon with the aim of deterring sword fighting on horseback, and because the traditional left hand traffic was seen as aristocratic. Since he conquered Britain, left hand driving would remain there.
12. To help win Egypt, Napoleon considered converting himself and his army to Islam, but decided against it because the French troops wouldn’t stand for abstinence from alcohol.
13. When George Washington died in 1799, Napoleon ordered 10 days of nationwide mourning in France.
14. Napoleon demanded a method of communication that would not require light or sound. “Night Writing” was developed as a tactile military code but proved too difficult for Napoleon’s troops to learn and was rejected. Night writing became the basis for braille.
15. When the Duke of Wellington attended a party in Vienna, some French officers turned away from the conqueror of Napoleon. When a woman apologized for their rudeness, Wellington replied: “I have seen their backs before, madam.”
16. Despite Napoleon divorcing her so he could have an heir, his first wife Josephine is the ancestor of 5 of the current royal houses of Europe. Napoleon is the ancestor of none.
17. Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte lived in New Jersey after having been King of Spain, Sicily, and Naples. He lived off selling his jewelry and eventually moved back to Europe where he died and was buried near his brother.
18. He thought that torture should be abolished because the information obtained from it is worthless.
19. Napoleon’s penis is currently located in New Jersey. It was removed from his body by the doctor performing his autopsy and was smuggled by a priest.
20. Louisiana is the only U.S. state to base its legal system on French law crafted by Napoleon. Louisiana Law students may choose to study either American Law or Louisiana Civil Code.
21. His parents and close acquaintances called him by his nickname, Nabulio.
22. As a child, Napoleon was very good at math but had awful social skills and was very domineering.
23. He liked to surround himself with extremely tall soldiers from the Elite Guard, which could have contributed to a short appearance.
24. It’s still illegal to this day for anyone to name a pig Napoleon in France. for this reason, if you read the book Animal Farm in French, the pig will be named Cesar instead of Napoleon.
25. Napoleon was famously beaten in chess by the Turk, a fake chess playing machine that actually had a person hiding inside of it.
26. He would often dress in poor clothes and walk the streets of Paris asking people questions. This way, he could judge how popular he was.
27. After defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington went on to seduce two of Napoleon’s former mistresses and was presented Napoleon’s sword and a painting of his sister at the war’s end. One mistress is quoted as having preferred the Duke in bed.
28. Napoleon always spoke French with a Corsican accent, and never learned to write French properly.
29. Napoleon’s favorite lieutenant, Marshal Michel Ney, was granted permission at his execution to order the firing squad to fire. Ney told his men, “Wait for the order. It will be my last to you.”
30. Napoleon wore poison around his neck in case of defeat. When he finally used it in 1814, it had lost its strength and only made him painfully sick.