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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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„Bonaparte robs a nation of its independence: deposed as emperor, he is sent into exile, where the world’s anxiety still does not think him safely enough imprisoned, guarded by the Ocean.“

— Napoleon I of France
Context: Bonaparte robs a nation of its independence: deposed as emperor, he is sent into exile, where the world’s anxiety still does not think him safely enough imprisoned, guarded by the Ocean. He dies: the news proclaimed on the door of the palace in front of which the conqueror had announced so many funerals, neither detains nor astonishes the passer-by: what have the citizens to mourn? Washington's Republic lives on; Bonaparte’s empire is destroyed. Washington and Bonaparte emerged from the womb of democracy: both of them born to liberty, the former remained faithful to her, the latter betrayed her. François-René de Chateaubriand, in Mémoires d'outre-tombe (1848 – 1850), Book VI, Ch. 8 : Comparison of Washington and Bonaparte

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

— Napoleon I of France
Context: 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.

„In politics nothing is immutable. Events carry within them an invincible power.“

— Napoleon I of France
Context: In politics nothing is immutable. Events carry within them an invincible power. The unwise destroy themselves in resistance. The skillful accept events, take strong hold of them and direct them.

„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
Context: 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.

„He worked systematically to transform the people's earlier ardor for liberty into a passion for military glory and plunder.“

— Napoleon I of France
Context: In early life he may have been a sincere republican; but he hated anarchy and disorder, and, before his campaign in Italy was over, he had begun to plan to make himself ruler of France. He worked systematically to transform the people's earlier ardor for liberty into a passion for military glory and plunder. Willis Mason West http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Willis%20Mason%20West%22 in The Story of World Progress (1922), p. 434 http://www.archive.org/details/storyworldprogr00westgoog

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„Victories will be won, one of these days, without cannon, and without bayonets.“

— Napoleon I of France
Context: War is becoming an anachronism; if we have battled in every part of the continent it was because two opposing social orders were facing each other, the one which dates from 1789, and the old regime. They could not exist together; the younger devoured the other. I know very well, that, in the final reckoning, it was war that overthrew me, me the representative of the French Revolution, and the instrument of its principles. But no matter! The battle was lost for civilization, and civilization will inevitably take its revenge. There are two systems, the past and the future. The present is only a painful transition. Which must triumph? The future, will it not? Yes indeed, the future! That is, intelligence, industry, and peace. The past was brute force, privilege, and ignorance. Each of our victories was a triumph for the ideas of the Revolution. Victories will be won, one of these days, without cannon, and without bayonets.

„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
Context: 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. 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

„I may have had many projects, but I never was free to carry out any of them.“

— 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.

„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

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„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.

„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
Context: 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. Hippolyte Taine in Napoleon's views on religion.

„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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