Family tree of Napoléon BONAPARTE

French Revolution & Empire, 19th Century, Head of state

FrenchBorn Napoleone di BUONAPARTE

Military and political leader of France and Emperor of the French as Napoleon I

Born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corse du Sud , France

Died on May 5, 1821 in Île Sainte-Hélène , United Kingdom

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Napoleon Bonaparte was born the second of eight children, in Casa Buonaparte in the town of Ajaccio, Corsica, on 15 August 1769, one year after the island was transferred to France by the Republic of Genoa. He was initially named Napoleone di Buonaparte, acquiring his first name from an uncle who had been killed fighting the French, but later adopted the more French-sounding Napoléon Bonaparte.

The Corsican Buonapartes originated from minor Italian nobility, who had come to Corsica in the 16th century. His father Nobile Carlo Buonaparte, an attorney, was named Corsica's representative to the court of Louis XVI in 1777. The dominant influence of Napoleon's childhood was his mother, Maria Letizia Ramolino, whose firm discipline restrained a rambunctious child. He had an elder brother, Joseph; and younger siblings Lucien, Elisa, Louis, Pauline, Caroline and Jérôme. Napoleon was baptised Catholic just before his second birthday, on 21 July 1771 at Ajaccio Cathedral.


Napoleon's noble, moderately affluent background and family connections afforded him greater opportunities to study than were available to a typical Corsican of the time. In January 1779, Napoleon was enrolled at a religious school in Autun, mainland France, to learn French, and in May he was admitted to a military academy at Brienne-le-Château. He spoke with a marked Corsican accent and never learned to spell properly. Napoleon was teased by other students for his accent and applied himself to study.[note 2] An examiner observed that Napoleon "has always been distinguished for his application in mathematics. He is fairly well acquainted with history and geography... This boy would make an excellent sailor."[note 3] On completion of his studies at Brienne in 1784, Napoleon was admitted to the elite École Militaire in Paris; this ended his naval ambition, which had led him to consider an application to the British Royal Navy. Instead, he trained to become an artillery officer and, when his father's death reduced his income, was forced to complete the two-year course in one year. He was examined by the famed scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace, whom Napoleon later appointed to the Senate.

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Geographical origins

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