Napoleon Proclaimed First Emperor of France – 12/2/1804

World History |


In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Napoleon I in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, making him the first Frenchman to have the title of an emperor in a thousand years. The conqueror of Europe had placed the crown on Pope Pius VII who now proclaimed Napoleon emperor of France.

Born on August 15, 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica, France to an average family from the minor nobility, he became one of the most celebrated leader and military strategist in the history of the West. Napoleon served as an artillery officer in the French army during the French Revolution of 1789. By 1798, Napoleon led a military expedition to Egypt but returned in 1789 when France was at war with most of Europe, and engineered a coup to take over the French government and save his country from destruction. 

In February of 1800, he became the First Consul and later led an organized military campaign that defeated Austria. Two years later, he created the Napoleonic Code, another arrangement of French law, and in 1804, he set up the French empire and was proclaimed emperor of France. By 1807, Napoleon's reign had extended from the River Elbe in the north, down through Italy in the south, and from the Pyrenees to the Dalmatian coast in the west.

Napoleon experienced his first major military defeat in 1812, when Austria and Prussia joined Russia forces against France, and then he lost Spain to the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula War, and in 1813, a full military crusade was launched by the Allied Forces against France, which led to the fall of his empire. Captured and banished to the island of Elba near Rome, yet he found his way back into France in 1815, raised another Grand Army and took over France once again. However, his success did not last before the Allied Forces responded and defeated him in the Battle of Waterloo in June of the same year.

Captured again, Napoleon was exiled to the Island of Saint Helena in the southern Atlantic off the coast of Africa, where he was placed under house arrest along with a few of his followers. He was allowed to do what he want in his new home, he write often and read a lot. Unfortunately, Napoleon died of possibly stomach ulcer in May 1821, at the age of 51. In 1840, Louis Philippe I received permission from the British to return Napoleon's remains to France. A glorious funeral service was held in his honor. A hearse carried his body through the Arc de Triomphe, before buried under the dome at Les Invalides.

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Nancy Reyes

Senior Writer

One of our top senior writers, Nancy came to us wanting to break away from the politics that comes with major news corporations. She leads our team of historical writers in creating the best engaging content out there that keeps our readers coming back for more. She is an enthusiast of all things medieval and has been a member of her renaissance fair group for 15 years. She received her degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California and hopes to one day travel the world.