Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 - 5 May 1821), was a military and political leader of France and Emperor of the French as Napoleon I, whose actions shaped European politics in the early 19th century.
Born in Corsica and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France, Bonaparte rose to prominence under the First French Republic and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. In 1799, he staged a coup d'état and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him Emperor. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, the French Empire under Napoleon, engaged in a series of conflicts - the Napoleonic Wars - involving every major European power. After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states.
The French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point in Napoleon's fortunes. His Grande Armée was badly damaged in the campaign and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig; the following year the Coalition invaded France, forced Napoleon to abdicate and exiled him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he escaped Elba and returned to power, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life under British supervision on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer, though Sten Forshufvud and other scientists have since conjectured that he was poisoned with arsenic.
Napoleon's campaigns are studied at military academies the world over. While considered a tyrant by his opponents, he is also remembered for the establishment of the Napoleonic code, which laid the administrative and judicial foundations for much of Western Europe.
1. A celebrated people lose dignity upon a closer view.
2. A Constitution should be short and obscure.
3. A leader is a dealer in hope.
4. A man cannot become an atheist merely by wishing it.
5. A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.
6. A picture is worth a thousand words.
7. A revolution can be neither made nor stopped. The only thing that can be done is for one of several of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories.
8. A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.
9. A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.
10. A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.
11. A true man hates no one.
12. Ability is nothing without opportunity.
13. All religions have been made by men.
14. Ambition never is in a greater hurry that I; it merely keeps pace with circumstances and with my general way of thinking.
15. Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress.
16. An army marches on its stomach.
17. Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.
18. Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.
19. Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.
20. Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight.
21. Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.
22. France has more need of me than I have need of France.
23. From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us.
24. Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
25. Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.
26. He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.
27. He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.
28. History is a set of lies agreed upon.
29. History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.
30. I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion. The whole secret of government lies in knowing when to be the one or the other.
31. I am the successor, not of Louis XVI, but of Charlemagne.
32. I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.
33. I have only one counsel for you - be master.
34. I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies.
35. I made all my generals out of mud.
36. If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.
37. If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.
38. If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.
39. If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
40. Imagination rules the world.
41. Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.
42. In order to govern, the question is not to follow out a more or less valid theory but to build with whatever materials are at hand. The inevitable must be accepted and turned to advantage.
43. In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
44. In politics... never retreat, never retract... never admit a mistake.
45. It is the cause, not the death, that makes the martyr.
46. It requires more courage to suffer than to die.
47. Let the path be open to talent.
48. Medicines are only fit for old people.
49. Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.
50. Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self interest.
51. Men take only their needs into consideration - never their abilities.
52. Music is the voice that tells us that the human race is greater than it knows.
53. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
54. Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
55. Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
56. One must change one's tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one's superiority.
57. One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent.
58. Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.
59. Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly consult.
60. Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.
61. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
62. Respect the burden.
63. Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them.
64. Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy.
65. Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.
66. Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
67. Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.
68. The act of policing is, in order to punish less often, to punish more severely.
69. The army is the true nobility of our country.
70. The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.
71. The best cure for the body is a quiet mind.
72. The best way to keep one's word is not to give it.
73. The extent of your consciousness is limited only by your ability to love and to embrace with your love the space around you, and all it contains.
74. The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.
75. The French complain of everything, and always.
76. The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one's designs to one's means.
77. The herd seek out the great, not for their sake but for their influence; and the great welcome them out of vanity or need.
78. The human race is governed by its imagination.
79. The infectiousness of crime is like that of the plague.
80. The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.
81. The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.
82. The surest way to remain poor is to be an honest man.
83. The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one's self to destiny.
84. The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.
85. The word impossible is not in my dictionary.
86. There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.
87. There are only two forces that unite men - fear and interest.
88. There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed.
89. There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.
90. There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
91. Throw off your worries when you throw off your clothes at night.
92. To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.
93. Victory belongs to the most persevering.
94. War is the business of barbarians.
95. Water, air, and cleanness are the chief articles in my pharmacy.
96. We must laugh at man to avoid crying for him.
97. What is history but a fable agreed upon?
98. When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.
99. When soldiers have been baptized in the fire of a battle-field, they have all one rank in my eyes.
100. With audacity one can undertake anything, but not do everything.
101. Women are nothing but machines for producing children.
102. You must not fear death, my lads; defy him, and you drive him into the enemy's ranks.
103. You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.