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Napoleon Bonaparte

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

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

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 eingeleitete 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 zur Erschütterung seiner Herrschaft über große Teile Europas, den Befreiungskriegen und 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.



Wikipedia

Photo: Jacques-Louis David / Public domain

Zitate Napoleon Bonaparte

„Soldaten, seid euch bewusst, dass von diesen Pyramiden vierzig Jahrhunderte auf euch herab blicken.“

—  Napoleon Bonaparte

Vor der Schlacht bei den Pyramiden, 21. Juli 1798
Original franz.: "Soldats, songez que du haut de ces pyramides quarante siècles vous contemplent!"

„Augenblicklich hängt das Schicksal Europas und alle Berechnung im Großen von der Frage der Lebensmittel ab. Wenn ich nur Brot habe, ist es ein Kinderspiel, die Russen zu schlagen.“

—  Napoleon Bonaparte

Brief an Talleyrand vom 12. März 1807, zitiert bei Hugo Friedrich Philipp Johann Freiherr von Freytag-Loringhoven: Die Heerführung Napoleons in ihrer Bedeutung für unsere Zeit (1910) S. 27 books.google http://books.google.de/books?id=4MkJAAAAIAAJ&q=Kinderspiel
"Aujourd'hui le sort de l'Europe et les plus grands calculs dépendent des subsistances. Battre les Russes, si j'ai du pain, c'est un enfantillage." - Correspondance (1863) p. 432 books.google http://books.google.de/books?id=z63SAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA432&dq=enfantillage

„Vom Erhabenen zum Lächerlichen ist nur ein Schritt.“

—  Napoleon Bonaparte

10. Dezember 1812 in Warschau, nach Friedrich Saalfeld: Geschichte Napoleon Buonaparte's. 2. Band. F. A. Brockhaus 1817 S. 477 books.google http://books.google.de/books?id=KOBBAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA477&dq=Erhabenen & 479
Original franz.: "Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas." - Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon 1906 bei zeno.org http://www.zeno.org/nid/20006523668

Diese Übersetzung wartet auf eine Überprüfung. Ist es korrekt?

„Conscience is the most sacred thing among men.“

—  Napoleon I of France

Napoleon : In His Own Words (1916)
Kontext: Conscience is the most sacred thing among men. Every man has within him a still small voice, which tells him that nothing on earth can oblige him to believe that which he does not believe. The worst of all tyrannies is that which obliges eighteen-twentieths of a nation to embrace a religion contrary to their beliefs, under penalty of being denied their rights as citizens and of owning property, which, in effect, is the same thing as being without a country.

„Religious wars are basically people killing each other over who has the better imaginary friend.“

—  Napoleon I of France

There is no known basis to attribute this saying to Napoleon. It is found (unattributed) in a Usenet post from July 1999 https://groups.google.com/forum/message/raw?msg=soc.penpals/QIUrpkacWyE/FbCj7pij5WwJ.
Misattributed

„There are only two forces that unite men — fear and interest.“

—  Napoleon I of France

Napoleon : In His Own Words (1916)
Kontext: There are only two forces that unite men — fear and interest. All great revolutions originate in fear, for the play of interests does not lead to accomplishment.

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

—  Napoleon I of France

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...

„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

Napoleon : In His Own Words (1916)
Kontext: 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.

„Dante has not deigned to take his inspiration from any other. He has wished to be himself, himself alone; in a word, to create.“

—  Napoleon I of France

Napoleon : In His Own Words (1916)
Kontext: Dante has not deigned to take his inspiration from any other. He has wished to be himself, himself alone; in a word, to create. He has occupied a vast space, and has filled it with the superiority of a sublime mind. He is diverse, strong, and gracious. He has imagination, warmth, and enthusiasm. He makes his reader tremble, shed tears, feel the thrill of honor in a way that is the height of art. Severe and menacing, he has terrible imprecations for crime, scourgings for vice, sorrow for misfortune. As a citizen, affected by the laws of the republic, he thunders against its oppressors, but he is always ready to excuse his native city, Florence is ever to him his sweet, beloved country, dear to his heart. I am envious for my dear France, that she has never produced a rival to Dante; that this Colossus has not had his equal among us. No, there is no reputation which can be compared to his.

„I do not care to play the part of Monk; I will not play it myself, and I do not choose that others shall do so.“

—  Napoleon I of France

Conversation at Turin, as quoted in Memoirs of Count Miot de Melito (1788 - 1815) as translated by Frances Cashel Hoey and John Lillie (1881), Vol. II, p. 113
'Monk' refers to George Monck, military ruler of Puritan England after Cromwell, who ultimately gave up power when he invited Charles II in and enabled the English Restoration
Kontext: I do not care to play the part of Monk; I will not play it myself, and I do not choose that others shall do so. But those Paris lawyers who have got into the Directory understand nothing of government. They are poor creatures. I am going to see what they want to do at Rastadt; but I doubt much that we shall understand each other, or long agree together. They are jealous of me, I know, and notwithstanding all their flattery, I am not their dupe; they fear more than they love me. They were in a great hurry to make me General of the army of England, so that they might get me out of Italy, where I am the master, and am more of a sovereign than commander of an army. They will see how things go on when I am not there. I am leaving Berthier, but he is not fit for the chief command, and, I predict, will only make blunders. As for myself, my dear Miot, I may inform you, I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up. I have made up my mind, if I cannot be master I shall leave France; I do not choose to have done so much for her and then hand her over to lawyers.

„I am the instrument of providence, she will use me as long as I accomplish her designs, then she will break me like a glass.“

—  Napoleon I of France

As quoted in The Linguist and the Emperor : Napoleon and Champollion's Quest to Decipher the Rosetta Stone (2004) by Daniel Meyerson
Attributed

„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.“

—  Napoleon I of France

Barry Edward O'Meara, in Napoleon in Exile : or, A Voice from St. Helena (1822), Vol. II, p. 155
About
Kontext: "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."

„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

Barry Edward O'Meara, in Napoleon in Exile : or, A Voice from St. Helena (1822), Vol. II, p. 155
About
Kontext: "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."

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

—  Napoleon I of France

Napoleon : In His Own Words (1916)
Kontext: 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.

„Napoleon, far more Italian than French, Italian by race, by instinct, imagination, and souvenir, considers in his plan the future of Italy, and, on casting up the final accounts of his reign, we find that the net profit is for Italy and the net loss is for France.“

—  Napoleon I of France

Hippolyte Taine in Napoleon's views on religion.
About
Kontext: Napoleon, far more Italian than French, Italian by race, by instinct, imagination, and souvenir, considers in his plan the future of Italy, and, on casting up the final accounts of his reign, we find that the net profit is for Italy and the net loss is for France. Since Theodoric and the Lombard kings, the Pope, in preserving his temporal sovereignty and spiritual omnipotence, has maintained the sub-divisions of Italy; let this obstacle be removed and Italy will once more become a nation. Napoleon prepares the way, and constitutes it beforehand by restoring the Pope to his primitive condition, by withdrawing from him his temporal sovereignty and limiting his spiritual omnipotence, by reducing him to the position of managing director of Catholic consciences and head minister of the principal cult authorized in the empire.

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

—  Napoleon I of France

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.
Kontext: 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.

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