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Napoleon Bonaparte

Geburtstag: 15. August 1769
Todesdatum: 5. Mai 1821
Andere Namen:Bonaparte Napoleon I.

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Napoleon Bonaparte, als Kaiser Napoleon I. war ein französischer General, revolutionärer Diktator und Kaiser.

Aus korsischer Familie stammend, stieg Bonaparte während der Französischen Revolution in der Armee auf. Er erwies sich als ein militärisches Talent ersten Ranges. Vor allem die Feldzüge in Italien und in Ägypten machten ihn populär. Dies ermöglichte ihm, durch den Staatsstreich des 18. Brumaire VIII , zunächst als einer von drei Konsuln die Macht in Frankreich zu übernehmen. Von 1799 bis 1804 als Erster Konsul der Französischen Republik und anschließend bis 1814 sowie nochmals 1815 als Kaiser der Franzosen stand er einem diktatorischen Regime mit plebiszitären Elementen vor.

Durch verschiedene Reformen – etwa die der Justiz durch den Code civil oder die der Verwaltung – hat Napoleon die staatlichen Strukturen Frankreichs bis in die Gegenwart hinein geprägt und die Schaffung eines modernen Zivilrechts in besetzten europäischen Staaten initiiert. Außenpolitisch errang er, gestützt auf die Armee, zeitweise die Herrschaft über weite Teile Kontinentaleuropas. Er war ab 1805 auch König von Italien und von 1806 bis 1813 Protektor des Rheinbundes und setzte in einigen weiteren Staaten Familienmitglieder und Vertraute als Monarchen ein. Durch die von ihm initiierte Auflösung des Heiligen Römischen Reiches 1806 wurde die staatliche Gestaltung Mitteleuropas zu einer zentralen Frage im 19. Jahrhundert. Hatte er anfangs selbst noch den Nationalstaatsgedanken außerhalb Frankreichs verbreitet, erschwerte der Erfolg gerade dieses Gedankens besonders in Spanien, in Deutschland und schließlich auch in Russland die Aufrechterhaltung der napoleonischen Ordnung in Europa.

Der katastrophale Ausgang des Feldzugs gegen Russland ab 1812 führte letztlich zum Sturz Napoleons. Nach einer kurzen Phase der Verbannung auf Elba kehrte er 1815 für hundert Tage an die Macht zurück. In der Schlacht bei Waterloo wurde er endgültig besiegt und bis zu seinem Lebensende auf die Insel St. Helena verbannt.

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„If I had not been defeated in Acre against Jezzar Pasha of Turk. I would conquer all of the East"“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: If I had not been defeated in Acre against Jezzar Pasha of Turk. I would conquer all of the East

„To be able to go about incognito in London and other parts of England, to the restaurateurs, with a friend, to dine in public at the expense of half a guinea or a guinea, and listen to the conversation of the company“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: "What do you think," said he, "of all things in the world would give me the greatest pleasure?" I was on the point of replying, removal from St. Helena, when he said, "To be able to go about incognito in London and other parts of England, to the restaurateurs, with a friend, to dine in public at the expense of half a guinea or a guinea, and listen to the conversation of the company; to go through them all, changing almost daily, and in this manner, with my own ears, to hear the people express their sentiments, in their unguarded moments, freely and without restraint; to hear their real opinion of myself, and of the surprising occurrences of the last twenty years." I observed, that he would hear much evil and much good of himself. "Oh, as to the evil," replied he, "I care not about that. I am well used to it. Besides, I know that the public opinion will be changed. The nation will be just as much disgusted at the libels published against me, as they formerly were greedy in reading and believing them. This," added he, "and the education of my son, would form my greatest pleasure. It was my intention to have done this, had I reached America. The happiest days of my life were from sixteen to twenty, during the semestres, when I used to go about, as I have told you I should wish to do, from one restaurateur to another, living moderately, and having a lodging for which I paid three louis a month. They were the happiest days of my life. I was always so much occupied, that I may say I never was truly happy upon the throne." Barry Edward O'Meara, in Napoleon in Exile : or, A Voice from St. Helena (1822), Vol. II, p. 155

„The issue of a battle is the result of an instant, of a thought.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: The issue of a battle is the result of an instant, of a thought. There is the advance, with its various combinations, the battle is joined, the struggle goes on a certain time, the decisive moment presents itself, a spark of genius discloses it, and the smallest body of reserves accomplish victory.

„I never was truly my own master but was always ruled by circumstances.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: I may have had many projects, but I never was free to carry out any of them. It did me little good to be holding the helm; no matter how strong my hands, the sudden and numerous waves were stronger still, and I was wise enough to yield to them rather than resist them obstinately and make the ship founder. Thus I never was truly my own master but was always ruled by circumstances. Conversation with Emmanuel, comte de Las Cases (11 November 1816), Mémorial de Sainte Hélène, v. 4, p. 133 http://books.google.com/books?id=945jAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA133.

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„One must indeed be ignorant of the methods of genius to suppose that it allows itself to be cramped by forms.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: One must indeed be ignorant of the methods of genius to suppose that it allows itself to be cramped by forms. Forms are for mediocrity, and it is fortunate that mediocrity can act only according to routine. Ability takes its flight unhindered.

„What I have done up to this is nothing. I am only at the beginning of the course I must run.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: What I have done up to this is nothing. I am only at the beginning of the course I must run. Do you imagine that I triumph in Italy in order to aggrandise the pack of lawyers who form the Directory, and men like Carnot and Barras? What an idea! As quoted in Memoirs of Count Miot de Melito (1788 - 1815) as translated by Frances Cashel Hoey and John Lillie (1881), Vol. II, p. 94

„We are born, we live, and we die in the midst of the marvelous.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: What are we? What is the future? What is the past? What magic fluid envelops us and hides from us the things it is most important for us to know? We are born, we live, and we die in the midst of the marvelous.

„At the beginning of a campaign it is important to consider whether or not to move forward; but when one has taken the offensive it is necessary to maintain it to the last extremity.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: At the beginning of a campaign it is important to consider whether or not to move forward; but when one has taken the offensive it is necessary to maintain it to the last extremity. However skilfully effected a retreat may be, it always lessens the morale of an army, since in losing the chances of success, they are remitted to the enemy. A retreat, moreover, costs much more in men and materials than the bloodiest engagements, with this difference, also, that in a battle the enemy loses practically as much as you do; while in a retreat you lose and he does not.

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„What is a throne? — a bit of wood gilded and covered in velvet. I am the state“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: What is a throne? — a bit of wood gilded and covered in velvet. I am the state— I alone am here the representative of the people. Even if I had done wrong you should not have reproached me in public — people wash their dirty linen at home. France has more need of me than I of France. Statement to the Senate (1814) He echoes here the remark attributed to Louis XIV L'état c'est moi ( "The State is I" or more commonly: "I am the State.") Variant translation: A throne is only a bench covered with velvet...

„In a battle, as in a siege, the art consists in concentrating very heavy fire on a particular point.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: In a battle, as in a siege, the art consists in concentrating very heavy fire on a particular point. The line of battle once established, the one who has the ability to concentrate an unlooked for mass of artillery suddenly and unexpectedly on one of these points is sure to carry the day.

„My waking thoughts are all of thee.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: My waking thoughts are all of thee. Your portrait and the remembrance of last night's delirium have robbed my senses of repose. Sweet and incomparable Josephine, what an extraordinary influence you have over my heart. Are you vexed? Do I see you sad? Are you ill at ease? My soul is broken with grief, and there is no rest for your lover. Letter to Joséphine de Beauharnais (February 1796), as translated in Napoleon's Letters to Josephine 1796-1812 (1901) edited by Henry Foljambe Hall

„It is not that addresses at the opening of a battle make the soldiers brave. The old veterans scarcely hear them, and recruits forget them at the first boom of the cannon.“

—  Napoleon I of France
Context: It is not that addresses at the opening of a battle make the soldiers brave. The old veterans scarcely hear them, and recruits forget them at the first boom of the cannon. Their usefulness lies in their effect on the course of the campaign, in neutralizing rumors and false reports, in maintaining a good spirit in the camp, and in furnishing matter for camp-fire talk. The printed order of the day should fulfill these different ends.

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