15 August 1769 - birth in Ajaccio, Corsica, France.
His parents - Carlo, a lawyer, and Maria-Letizia - had eight children: Joseph, Napoleon, Louis, Elisa, Lucien, Pauline, Caroline and Jerome. (NU 33390)
15 May 1779 - received a scholarship to the military academy at Brienne-le-Château, north-central France.
Napoleon didn't know French very well and even in adulthood he spoke with a Corsican accent and was poor at spelling. He was bullied by other students at the school, and spent much time alone, reading. He completed his studies in 1784.
28 October 1785 - passing-out parade from the École Militaire in Paris.
He was the first Corsican to graduate and thereafter became a second lieutenant in La Fère artillery regiment. He quickly rose up in the ranks and was promoted to Commander of the Interior and was given command of the Armée d'Italie.
9 March 1796 - marriage to Joséphine de Beauharnais after a brief relationship.
Born Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, Joséphine's (NU 48891) first husband had been guillotined during the French Revolution. She later purchased Château de Malmaison in April 1799, a large estate and manor house which she renovated and expanded, including magnificent gardens.
1 July 1798 - landed in Alexandria as part of the Expedition to Egypt.
Napoleon took scientists, artists and scholars with him, and brought back illustrations of animals, plants and even historic monuments to France. He later published a multi-volume book called 'Description de l'Egypte' ('Description of Egypt') in 1809. (Copy at State Library of Victoria)
21 July 1798 - battle of Embabeh, Egypt / 'Battle of the Pyramids'.
Taking place before the official dates of the Napoleonic Wars, it was during this battle that Napoleon implemented one of his greatest military inventions, the divisional square, against the local Egyptian Mamluks, causing 10,000 dead or wounded. (NU 20824)
1-3 August 1798 - battle of Aboukir Bay, Egypt / 'Battle of Nile'.
While Napoleon tried to invade Egypt and also weaken Britain's control of trade routes to India, this battle resulted in a victory for the British Admiral Horatio Nelson and helped the British secure power over the Mediterranean. (NU 36775 and ST 015803)
9-10 November 1799 - returned to Paris and effected a coup d'état.
Napoleon took control of the city, named himself First Consul, and moved into the Palais des Tuileries, near the Louvre. The Consulate was dissolved when Napoleon became Emperor five years later.
14 June 1800 - battle of Marengo, northern Italy.
Considered by Napoleon to be one of his finest victories, the battle was close and hard-fought. It almost ended in disaster for the French, but they were helped by reinforcements led by Major General Louis Desaix. The battle resulted in the handing over of Lombardy to French control, cementing Napoleon as leader in Paris. (NU 34334)
9 November 1800 - inauguration of Musee des Antiques at the Louvre, renamed Musée Napoléon.
Napoleon often plundered great works of art during his military campaigns and brought them back to Paris (NU 34329)
1 May 1802 - decree for the establishment of a new system of widespread education including, to an extent, girls.
Children of the middle and elites classes under twelve would learn reading, writing, history, and military skills. A second grade would then split into a program for a civil career (studying languages, rhetoric and philosophy) or a military career (studying mathematics, physics, chemistry, and military expertise) (NU 34163)
21 March 1804 - introduction of the Civil code / Code Napoléon.
Abolishing feudal laws, this new code established clearly understandable and accessible laws for all people controlled by France. It dealt with four main areas: persons, property, acquisition of property, and civil procedure. (NU 34176)
2 December 1804 - coronation as Emperor in Notre-Dame, Paris.
Napoleon took the name Napoleon I and Joséphine was crowned Empress. While the ceremony was officiated over by Pope Pius VII, Napoleon actually crowned himself and then Joséphine, thus rejecting the authority of the Church. (NU 34189)
21 October 1805 - battle of Cape Trafalgar, south-west coast of Spain.
During an attempt to invade England, French and Spanish naval forces were defeated by a smaller number of British ships led by Admiral Lord Nelson. The British used a novel naval configuration to destroy over half of the Franco-Spanish ships. In the end Nelson was shot and died just after being told of an imminent victory. He became a national hero in England. (NU 36777)
2 December 1805 - battle of Austerlitz, Moravia (now the Czech Republic) / 'Battle of the Three Emperors'.
This victory saw 68,000 French troops defeat nearly 90,000 Russians and Austrians. It led to the Treaty of Pressburg (now Bratislava), which aimed to establish 'peace and amity' and ensured that Austria withdrew from the alliance of countries (the United Kingdom, the Austrian Empire, the Russian Empire, Naples, Sicily, and Sweden) fighting against France. (NU 34186)
14 October 1806 - twin battles of Jena (NU 34237) and Auerstädt, Saxony, Germany. Over the course of battles in two places, the Prussian army lost almost three times as many soldiers as the French. The defeat meant that the Kingdom of Prussia was controlled by the French Empire until 1813. (NU 34221)
6 November 1806 - battle of Lübeck, Germany.
Pursuing the remaining Prussian army in retreat, the French Grande Armée attacked them in the neutral city of Lübeck, causing massive losses among the Prussians. After the battle, the French soldiers brutally sacked Lübeck by looting, raping and murdering the inhabitants. It was the worst episode of post battle violence during the entire Napoleonic Wars.
15 June to 13 August 1808 - first siege of Zaragoza, Spain.
Despite being unmatched against the French army, the larger Spanish resistance used the narrow streets of Zaragoza to block and eventually repulse the forces led by General Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes and later by General Jean-Antoine Verdier. A second siege later in the year was more brutal, with massive losses among the Spanish (up to 5,000 either killed, wounded or captured), resulting in the destruction of many city buildings including the Real Monasterio de Santa Engracia.
17 August 1808 - battle of Roliça, Portugal.
While not a major battle, this was the first significant conflict by the British over the control of the Iberian (Spanish-Portuguese) peninsula. Fought by the combined forces of Spain, Portugal and England, the Anglo-Portuguese soldiers outnumbered the French three to one and forced them into retreat.
2 April 1810 - marriage to Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria (NU 34332).
After divorcing Joséphine because she had not yet given him an heir, Napoleon married the daughter of the emperor of Austria, Francis I, Marie Louise (NU 34281). In 1811, she gave birth to Napoléon François Joseph Charles. He was given the title 'King of Rome'. (NU 34292)
7 September 1812 - battle of Borodino, Moscow Oblast, Russia.
A particularly bloody battle between 130,000 French soldiers and 120,000 Russians, with hundreds of artillery guns on both sides. On 14 September Napoleon captured Moscow unopposed (NU 34300). Although victorious, the losses sustained were effectively a defeat for the French. The extreme cold, and the hunger and exhaustion of his soldiers, forced him to return to France without a Peace Treaty. It's estimated that up to 35,000 French soldiers died during this battle. (NU 33416)
16-19 October 1813 - battle of Leipzig, Saxony, Germany / 'Battle of the Nations'.
A major defeat for Napoleon. There were 370,000 Russian, Prussian, Swedish and Austrian soldiers against 198,000 French. The French army suffered severe losses (around 38,000 killed or wounded and 325 artilery guns were destroyed) and it would be the largest battle in Europe before World War I. This battle ended France's control of Germany and Poland. Napoleon retreated to France.
11 April 1814 - abdication at Fontainebleau, France.
After several battles inside France, a coalition of forces entered Paris and the French Senate declared that Napoleon was deposed as Emperor. A treaty was signed and Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba, Italy, with his mother and sister Pauline.
16 June 1815 - battle of Ligny, now Belgium.
After a surprise return to Paris, taking back control from King Louis XVIII (NU 34306), this was the last ever military victory of Napoleon. French troops of the Armée du Nord defeated part of the Prussian Army - a tactical victory but a strategic failure for Napoleon as the remaining Prussian army soon joined the British forces at the Battle of Waterloo. (ST 040482.7)
18 June 1815 - defeat at Waterloo, Belgium.
Napoleon was defeated by the combined British, German and Belgian armies led by the Duke of Wellington, as well as Prussian reinforcements (ST 040482). This final defeat signalled the end of his military success, and he was forced to abdicate for a second time. King Louis XVIII was restored as ruler of France (NU 36397)
15 October 1815 - exile on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.
St Helena was chosen by the British for Napoleon's exile (MM 035044). There, he wrote his memoirs, 'Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène' and befriended Elizabeth ('Betsy') Balcombe, the 14 year old daughter of the family who owned the house in which he first stayed. In 1830 Betsy relocated to Australia and later wrote her own memoire, 'Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon, during the first three years of his captivity on the island of St. Helena: including the time of his residence at her father's house, "The Briars"'. (Copy at National Library of Australia)
5 May 1821 - death at age 51 (NU 33392 and NU 48875).
Although there is some conjecture, especially about his housing and treatment on St Helena, Napoleon most likely died from stomach cancer. Initially buried by the British on the island (NU 34338), nineteen years later King Louis-Philippe I brought his body back to France, as Napoleon had wished (NU 34326). On 15 December 1840 he was given a state funeral attended by thousands of people and buried in the crypt of Saint-Louis des Invalides in Paris. (NU 34456)
Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Napoleon-I
Fondation Napoléon: https://www.napoleon.org/en/
Napoleonic Guide: https://www.napoleonguide.com/index.htm
The Napoleon Series, The Waterloo Association: https://www.napoleon-series.org/