Today Marks 200th Anniversary of the Death of Napoleon, Former French Emperor


Napoleon Bonaparte, former French Emperor 

Today, May 5, 2021, marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous French Emperor. 

Although Napoleon made France a world power after becoming its leader during a coup and leading the country to many military victories, leaders of the racial justice movement have sparked debate over his controversial decision to re-establish slavery in France in 1802.  Napoleon's decision to reinstate slavery, eight years after it was abolished following the French Revolution, made France the only country to bring slavery back after outlawing it.  

Napoleon was born August 15, 1769, on the Mediterranean island of Corsica off the coast of Italy that was declared as a French province. He went to school in France and graduated from the French military academy in 1785. Napoleon moved quickly up the ranks in the French military,  becoming a general and leading to victories on the battlefield that gained him more power as France became a dominant force in Europe. 

In November 1799, Napoleon was part  of a group that overthrew the French leadership, and within three years he became France's first consul, according to By 1804, Napoleon proclaimed himself to be the first emperor of France. After leading France to a series of victories against other nations in Europe, Napoleon suffered a string of military losses beginning in 1812. 

A year after losing Spain to the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War,  Napoleon and his forces were defeated by Wellington again in 1815 and he was exiled to  an island off the coast of Africa. Napoleon died six years later on May 5, 1821, most likely due to stomach cancer, according to the

As the nation marks the bicentennial of Napoleon's death, many French TV channels are airing documentaries and other programs on the highs and lows of the late emperor's life. 

 If you want to learn more about Napoleon, members of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, including the Birmingham Public Library, have lots of books and DVDs about the famous Frenchman.