May 5th 1821: Napoleon Bonaparte dies


Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821)


On this day in 1821 French Emperor Napoleon I, aged 51, died in exile on the island of Saint Helena. Napoleon became Emperor in 1804 and led France in the wars against various European coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars; for his leadership in these wars he is considered one of the greatest generals of all time. France had initial success in the wars but by 1812 was in decline, partly due to Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812.


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Napoleon retreats from Russia



Napoleon was forced to abdicate and was exiled to Elba in 1814 after defeat at the Battle of Leipzig. He returned to power in 1815, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo which sealed the fate of the French army, and the coalitions declared victory; France and thus Napoleon were defeated. Napoleon was then exiled on Saint Helena, and in 1821 died of stomach cancer.



Napoleon’s tomb in Paris

“France, army, head of the army, Joséphine.”
– Napoleon’s last words – Joséphine was his first wife


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