Italian Catholic Maria Letizia Buonaparte was born in Corsica in the metal horse year of 1750 under Virgo sun of the 24 August. Her mother was Angela Maria Pietrasanta, a stay at home mother, and her father was Giovanni Geronimo Ramolino, an army man who was Captain of the Corse Regiments of Chivalry and Infantry in the Italian Republic of Genoa.
In Maria's day, Genoa was a coastal area of rugged land in the far north of Italy. It was divided by social conflict and banditry, which was controlled by a tiny elite of patrician families. Its economy was based on shipping and the silk industry. Genoa was an important centre of banking where most bankers loans were made to the Spanish Crown. This meant that much of Spain’s gold was sent to Genoa and as a consequence Genoa was gold wealthy.
When Maria was born, Corsica was fighting Genoa for independence.
Corsica was formed through volcanic explosions, and is the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean. It is 183 kilometres longest and 83 kilometres widest with 1,000 kilometres of coastline.
Corsica is 90 kilometres from Tuscany in Italy and 170 kilometres from the Côte d'Azur in France. It is separated from Sardinia to the south by the Strait of Bonifacio, which is 11 kilometres wide.
Maria’s father was employed to fight for the Republic of Genoa. When she was 5 years old, Corsican revolutionaries won their war against Genoa and Maria’s mother was widowed. At the time of her fathers death, he was 32 years old.
In 1755, the independent Corsican Republic was formed under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli and his Constitution of Independence was decreed in Corsica’s official language of Italian.
Two months before her 15th birthday, in June of 1964, Maria married Corsican Attorney at Law Carlo Buonaparte. Under the Virgo sun of August 15 in the Earth Ox year of 1769, Maria birthed her 4th Child who she christened as a Catholic in the name of Napoleone di Buonaparte II, after her first born son who had died in infancy.
In the previous year, the Corsican Republic had been occupied by French forces under the command of the Comte de Vaux. France had seized control of the island as a pledge from the Genoese Republic via the Treaty of Versailles of 1768. After losing the island to the independents, Genoa decided to not reclaim Corsica by force. Instead they sold the rights, they no longer had, to the French who were keen to buy the territory to replace what they had lost during the Seven Years' War. In the year of Maria’s pregnancy with Napoleone, she was subjected to France's offensive against Paoli’s Corsican army. In the year Napoleone was born, the French forces had successfully de-throned Paoli and taken Corsica as their own. This meant that the birth of her 4th child was registered as belonging to France.
It’s unknown what effect the wars had on Maria. She reportedly was a highly disciplined and stoic Catholic Italian full time mother who obsessed about cleanliness. Who is to say that her habits were a result of her desire to cleanse her family of the turbulent times she lived in.
Maria was 35 years old when her husband Carlo Buonaparte died of cancer. His career as a Corsican lawyer and politician saw him briefly serve as personal assistant to the revolutionary leader Pasquale Paoli. Just before he died he had risen to become Corsica's representative to the court of Louis XVI. As a result, Carlo and Maria’s children were educated in French.
It was 1784 and Napoleone had just been admitted to the École Militaire in Paris to train as an Artillery Officer. Napoleone had learned to speak French in Catholic School, and he spoke it with an Italio Corsican accent.
Napoleone completed his course in one year because, after the death of his father, his mother Maria could no longer afford to pay for him to stay the normally required two years. He was the first Corsican to ever graduate from the École Militaire and on his graduation in September 1785 Napoleone was made a second lieutenant in the La Fère artillery regiment. He served on garrison duty in Valence, Drôme and Auxonne until after the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789.
In July 1793, Napoleon Bonaparte (as he now called himself in favour of promoting his identity as a French man) published a pro-republican pamphlet which gained him the admiration and support of the younger brother of the Revolutionary leader Robespierre. The Revolutionary leader decided that Napoleon was to be the Artillery Commander of the republican forces against the British military occupation of France. After Napoleon’s successful assault on British Troops in Toulon, he was promoted to Brigadier General and put in charge of the Artillery of the French Army of Italy. Following the fall of Robespierre in the July of 1794, Bonaparte became engaged to a Désirée Clary. In April 1795, he was demoted and the shock of this depressed him into refusing postings. So he was moved to the Bureau of Public Safety where, at 26 years old , he wrote himself a romantic novella, Clisson et Eugénie. An excerpt of which is provided here:-
“ Depuis qu'il a été habitué à des difficultés, il avait besoin d'action et beaucoup d'activité physique. Aucune profession lui apporta plus de plaisir que de se promener dans les bois. Là, il se sentait en paix avec lui-même, au mépris de l'homme méprisant wickednessand folie et la cruauté. Clisson a été surpris de le trouver enchanté par le spectacle qu'il a vu. La naissance et la fin de la journée, le cours de l'étoile du soir car il jette sa lumière argentée sur taillis et sur le terrain, le changement des saisons, les paysages variés, les concerts de chants d'oiseaux ...”
“ Since he was accustomed to hardship, he needed action and plenty of physical activity. No occupation brought him greater pleasure than to wander in the woods. There he felt at peace with himself, scorning human wickedness and despising folly and cruelty. Clisson was surprised to find himself enchanted by the sights he saw. The birth and the close of the day, the course of the evening star as it casts its silvery light over copse and field, the changing seasons, the varying vistas, the concerts of birdsong...”
On 15 September 1795, Napoleon was removed from the Generals list because of his inability to accept his demotion. He now had no income. On 3 October 1795 Parisian Royalists declared a rebellion against the political national convention after they were excluded from the new government. Paul Barras offered Napoleon command against the rebellion. On 5 October 1795 the rebellion had succeeded in murdering 1400 royalists. Napoleon’s reward was influence and wealth and he afforded some of this wealth to his mother, who had adopted her middle name of Letizia and changed her family name to Bonaparte in support of her son’s French ambitions.
Napoleon was immediately promoted to Commander of the Interior and given the command of the Army of Italy. On 9 March 1796 Napoleon married Joséphine de Beauharnais after a whirlwind affair, ending his engagement to Désirée Clary.
Two days into his marriage, Napoleon left Paris to take command of the Army of Italy and led it on a successful invasion of Italy. At the Battle of Lodi he defeated Austrian forces before he was defeated at Caldiero by Austrian reinforcements. He marched on into Rome and dethroned the Pope. Then, in March 1797, Napoleon led his army into Austria and forced it into negotiations. The resultant treaty gave France control of most of northern Italy and the Low Countries. Napoleon then marched his troops into Venice and forced its surrender. Napoleon was on a roll with Julius Caesar as his role model.
In a letter to Josephine, he wrote:
"I have fought sixty battles and I have learned nothing which I did not know at the beginning. Look at Caesar; he fought the first like the last."
As a result of his battle successes, Napoleon became a celebrity. He founded two newspapers: one for the troops in his army and another for circulation in France. Unforgiving royalists, who had fled Napoleons war against them, now attacked him for looting Italy. Napoleon retaliated by ordering General Pierre Augereau to Paris to kill the Royalists. With the Royalists “now out of the way” the Republicans political control was safe. Napoleon then rode his horses and soldiers to Austria where they ‘negotiated’ a peace Treaty in favour of more assets for France. On his return to France, he was at the head of his game, so he turned his war interests towards Britain because he’d always wanted to ‘rule the waves’ since the time he had considered joining the British Royal Navy; When they had control of the French control of his home in Corsica in the year that he was accepted into the French Military Academy in Paris.
As France's naval power was not strong enough to confront the British dominance of eighteenth century maritime trade wars, Napoleon decided to undermine British trade interests in India with a war against Egypt. His intention was to align his army with the Muslim enemy of the British in India, Tipu Sultan.
In May 1798, Napoleon and his army set off for Egypt, with 167 French scientists in tow to help him establish a new province. They reached Malta on 9 June 1798, where Napoleon’s army took possession of Malta’s naval base. General Napoleon Bonaparte then landed at Alexandria and declared war. He successfully commanded the Battle of Shubra Khit and the Battle of the Pyramids. However, on 1 August, British Horatio Nelson destroyed all, but two, French vessels in the Battle of the Nile. Bonaparte's goal of a Muslim allegiance was sinking fast from Egyptian rebellions as well as the raging bubonic plague. So, for reasons of his own, Napoleon decided to go back home.
On 24 August 1799, Napoleon got on a British ship bound for France, leaving his army in the capable hands of Jean Baptiste Kléber. By the time he got to Paris, in the October, the Republic was bankrupt and unpopular with the general public. Their authority was so weak they were not able to punish Napoleon for his desertion of their French Army in Egypt and so they accepted his decision. On 10 November 1799 the failing Republic Directoire was suppressed by troops led by Napoleon. On 18 May 1804, Napoleon elected himself Emperor of the French after he drafted a new constitution that secured his own election as First Consul. Corsican born Napoleone de Buonaparte was now the most powerful soldier in France.
In May of 1803, despite an assets share peace treaty, Britain re-instated their war against France. At the time Napoleon was at civil war with insider royalists who were plotting against his military rule. To protect his interests, he argued that political acts of war against his rule justified the re-institution of a hereditary monarchy in France. On 2 December 1804 Napoleon crowned himself Emperor Napoleon I at Notre Dame de Paris and then he crowned his wife, Joséphine, Empress.
Maria was now the Mother of His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of France.
On 26 May 1805, Napoleon also orchestrated his crowning as King of Italy at Milan Cathedral. He then created eighteen Marshals of the Empire from amongst his top generals to secure the allegiance of his closest soldier confederates, before selling some French occupation of Spanish land to Thomas Jefferson’s America, to fund his military defence against the British.
In February 1806, following Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz and the ensuing dismemberment of the Habsburg Empire, the Ottoman Emperor Selim III finally recognised Napoleon as Emperor, by forming an alliance with France. Together they declared war on Russia and Britain.
Napoleon issued a proclamation decree, for a commercial boycott of Britain. The decree was named The Continental System.
Portugal refused to comply, so in 1807 Napoleon declared war on Portugal with the support of Spain, then he turned around and declared war on Spain, appointing his brother Joseph as Monarch of Spain, to secure the territory, after his win.
In 1807, Napoleon formed an alliance with Persia against Russia and Great Britain. This alliance ended in 1809 when he decided to undermine Persia by getting into bed with Russia. With a substantial amount of conquests under his belt, Napoleon signatured asset share peace treaties with Russia, Prussia, Germany and Poland. He also assured these property assets with his family members by again, turning them into ruling Monarchs and placing them on the thrones of these countries.
The Italian Catholic Church's refusal to support The Continental System and Pope Pius VII ex-communication of Emperor Napoleon, saw the Pope abducted by Napoleon's officers and imprisoned.
In 1804, Napoleon had introduced a codification of laws that established the civil and criminal legal system in France. The Code Napoleon undermined the Catholic Church authorities and revolutionized French society and the societies he plundered as well. The influence of Napoleons father, in Napoleone's developing years, may have been the reason for Napoleons interest in legal reform. Irrespective, this reform upset the Pope.
The first code provided for the fact that all laws must be published and no secret laws could exist. It also prevented ex post facto laws and prohibited judges from legislating from the bench, encouraging them to interpret the laws that were in place. The Code Napoleon addressed public concerns over religion. Crimes of religion such as heresy, sacrilege and witchcraft were no longer acceptable and divorce was also deemed a civil manner, offering a brand new way of disciplining public conduct, outside of the realm of the Catholic church.
In much the same way Britain's Henry VIII introduced a new religion to combat his need for a divorce disallowed by the Catholic religion, Napoleon arguably introduced a civil law to defend the very same identified need. With the Code in place and the Pope confined, Napoleon divorced Joséphine in 1810 and married Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria who birthed their son. Thirteen of Pope Pius VII Catholic Cardinals refused to attend his marriage ceremony and so Napoleon had them imprisoned.
The Code Napoleon, or the Napoleonic Code as it is now called, identified the role of married women as under the authority and protection of their husbands; The implications of which continued the religious theme of women as being under the guardianship of men. The code both protected women from religious abuse and subjected them to lifelong parental decision making in accordance to their husbands station in life, decision making capabilities and means. Napoleon legitimised the financial poverty of French women by according full rights of the financial administration of all family matters to men. He also enforced an almost incestuous 'child-like' dependent status upon women by affording them, unquestionable male, judicial guardianship for the term of their natural lives.
Personality Psychologist David West Keirsey suggests that Napoleon probably had an ENTJ Myers Briggs/Jungian personality profile because of his observable
“natural tendency to marshal and direct”.
However, PhD Psychologist Alfred Jones considers Napoleon as:
“ self-serving, often disloyal, unreliable, greedy, and unscrupulous. He had seemingly little feelings for his fellowman. He demanded complete obedience from anyone associated with him. Logical processes were structured to meet his desires. Drive, ambition and intelligence were the watchwords of Napoleon. In my practice of psychology, I have seen neurotic patients with a following of those who would wait in line to accede to the wishes of those with often very disabling problems. The crazier you are, the greater your following. This was very true of Napoleon. Regardless of how deviate his wishes or commands might be, the more they were acceded to.From a modern day psychological point of view, Napoleon Bonaparte was a psychopath. This type of person has great tolerance for stress and anxiety. Where more rational individuals would be very cautious, Napoleon had no manifestation of fear. Was he a true military genius? He was intelligent, he could read people and could envision outcomes. His limited anxiety enabled him to take rash action and overwhelm his enemies.”
There was a lull in fighting in the winter of 1812–13, both the Russians and the French rebuilt their forces; but encouraged by France's loss in Russia, Prussia joined with Austria, Sweden, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal in a new coalition against Napoleon’s rule. These wars were all about gaining control of trade resources and Napoleon was polarising the fight to gain to control of resources through his determination be number one.
While Napoleon took command in Germany and won against the Coalition in the Battle of Dresden of 1813, Napoleon’s popularity as a reputable ally diminished, and the French Army found itself “pinned down” by a force twice its might at the Battle of Leipzig. This was by far the largest battle of Napoleon’s “war of changes” and an estimated 90,000 men murdered eachother along with an unrecorded amount of civilian and live stock casualties. Napoleon was surrounded and his army’s faith in their ability to win was now pessimistic. When Napoleon optimised that the army should continue to march on to protect the capital of France, his marshals said no more bloodshed.
On 4 April 1814, Napoleon had lost all military support and as a consequence of finding himself alone, he was forced to unconditionally abdicate his role as Emperor. The treaty read:
The Allied Powers, having declared that Emperor Napoleon was the sole obstacle to the restoration of peace in Europe, Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he renounces, for himself and his heirs, the thrones of France and Italy, and that there is no personal sacrifice, even that of his life, which he is not ready to do in the interests of France. Fontainebleau, 11 April 1814.
Napoleons love, of Julius Caesar style military warfare, had over spent its resources in both human life and gold. Military bankrupt, the Treaty of Fontainebleau now prescribed Napoleon’s sovereignty as Emperor of Elba; a small island of 12,000 inhabitants in the Mediterranean, 20 km off the Tuscan coast. In reply, Napoleon tried to kill himself with an poison pill that only gave him a bad headache. Letizia joined her son in Elbe and with some of the money she always saved to ensure the welfare of her children, he escaped from Elba on 26 February 1815 to land at Golfe-Juan on the French mainland, two days later. The 5th Regiment was sent to intercept Napoleon and made contact with him just south of Grenoble on 7 March 1815.
Napoleon approached the regiment alone. He stopped and dismounted his horse, Then when he was within gunshot range he raised arms and his voice to the Artillery Regiment before him he called out
"Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish"
Where upon the soldiers replied
In June of 1815, a renewed military supported Napoleon began his offensive against the British and Prussian armies. The French Army of the North crossed the frontier into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, in modern-day Belgium. Napoleon's new army fought the Allies led by Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815: But his army was outnumbered and Napoleon lost the battle.
It may well have been that Napoleon would have preferred to die a soldiers death in the Battle of Waterloo. As it was, he was imprisoned then exiled by his enemies to the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, 1,870 km from the west coast of Africa, where once again, his mother joined him.
In his first two months there, he lived in a pavilion on the Briars estate, which belonged to a William Balcombe. Napoleon became friendly with this family, especially the younger daughter Lucia Elizabeth, who authored the now classic, Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon. The British didn’t care for this friendship and removed the family from the island.
Maria Letizia Buonaparte’s son, Napoleone di Buonaparte II, died from a diagnosed stomach cancer, may-be caused by arsenic poisoning, on the Island of Saint Helena on the 5th May 1821 when she was 71 years old.
Maria died from frail age, in the care of the Roman Catholic Church, on 2 February 1836.
War of Change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDz5SzpA3Xw
© Chris Tyne, 2012.