How much does Napoleon owe to the French Revolution? Without the French Revolution, there would be no Napoleon. Napoleon’s life was forever affected and directed by the revolution in France. His relationship with France was complex, even from the very beginning of his life. Taking a path that began with his ultimate goal of ejecting France from his homeland of Corsica to ruling the nation he had so dearly despised.
Only a year before Napoleon was born, Genoa had been forced to sell Corsica to France. In one of history’s amazing coincidences, this would forever tie Napoleon to France, even going so far as to change his name to a more French sounding name. Had Genoa kept hold of Corsica, Napoleon would have been born an Italian, and the thousands of books since written about him would have ceased to exist. Alas, fate had a role to play, and Napoleon found himself a part of a minor noble family in an island wishing for independence. From a young age Napoleon would wish to be a part of the struggle to regain sovereignty for Corsica. Here is where he would become fascinated with history in an attempt to write a history of his homeland. At that time one could not learn about history without learning about the great empire of Rome. This knowledge of Rome would influence Napoleon’s actions for the rest of his life.
Being a part of a small noble family, Napoleon found he was able to attend a school in mainland France. He eventually found himself at Brienne, a school where his Corsican background and lack of French nobility caused him great hardship and stress from other students. This would plant the seeds of hatred for nobility inside Napoleon that would eventually lead him to destroying noble privilege based on birth in his empire.
After completing his education, Napoleon became an officer in the artillery corps. However, his obsession with independence for Corsica would be the cause of him being exiled from his home country after his subversive actions and the falling out with the revolutionary Paoli. Because the revolution had forced most noblemen to flee from France, Napoleon was able to convince the military in Paris to make him a Captain in 1792. Without the French Revolution, and the loss of military officers, Napoleon would not have been able to make this quick advancement. It was because of his skill and rank he found himself in Toulon. His quick thinking and skill with artillery allowed him to route the British and his success gained him the rank of General and made the revolutionary government notice him. After the Directory took control of the French government, Barras needed a competent military commander to put down insurrection. He remembered Napoleon’s exploits in Toulon, and invited him to Paris to preserve the peace. Due to his artillery expertise, Napoleon was able to put down the threat, and became quite famous.
Because of this success, Napoleon was placed in command of the Italian Army, and was instrumental in pacifying...