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Timeline of the Napoleonic era (1799–1815). The Napoleonic era began in 1799 with Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état, that overthrew the Directory and established the French Consulate. It ended in 1815 during the Hundred Days with his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo or a few days later when he abdicated for the second time.


Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who had a significant impact on modern European history. He was a general during the French Revolution, the ruler of France as First Consul of the French Republic, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Mediator of the Swiss Confederation and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine.

Born in the island Corsica and trained in mainland France as an artillery officer, he first rose to prominence as a general of the French Revolution, leading several successful campaigns against the First Coalition and the Second Coalition arrayed against France. In late 1799, Napoleon staged a coup d'état and installed himself as First Consul; five years later he became the Emperor of the French. In the first decade of the nineteenth century, he turned the armies of France against almost every major European power, dominating continental Europe through a lengthy streak of military victories—epitomized through battles such as Austerlitz and Friedland—and through the formation of extensive alliance systems. He appointed close friends and several members of his family as monarchs and important government of French-dominated states.

The disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point in Napoleon's fortunes. The campaign wrecked the Grande Armée, which never regained its previous strength. In October 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig and then invaded France. The coalition forced Napoleon to abdicate in April 1814, exiling him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he returned to France and regained control of the government in the Hundred Days (les Cent Jours) prior to his final defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. Napoleon spent the remaining six years of his life under British imprisonment on the island of St. Helena.

Early years

  • August 15: Napoleon Bonaparte born in Ajaccio, Corsica
  • October 28: Graduates from Ecole Militaire with the rank of second lieutenant in the artillery.
  • November 3: Stationed in Valence
  • December 22: For his courage at an internal French battle at Toulon, Napoleon receives the new rank of brigadier general
  • August 9-20: Napoleon is imprisoned under suspicion of being a Jacobin and a supporter of Robespierre.
  • October: Royalist 13 Vendémiaire rising put down by Napoleon. Barras helps Napoleon win promotion to Commander of the interior.
  • October 15: At the home of Paul Francois Barras, a Directory member, Napoleon meets Rose de Beauharnais (Josephine)
  • 2 November: Directory established
  • March 2: Napoleon is given command of the French army in Italy
  • March 11: Italian campaign against Austria begins
  • May 10: Napoleon wins the Battle of Lodi
  • November 17: Napoleon wins the Battle of Arcole
  • January 14: Napoleon wins the Battle of Rivoli
  • October 17: Treaty of Campo-Formio with Austria.
  • December 5: Napoleon returns to Paris a hero
  • May 19: Napoleon begins his Egyptian campaign with an army of 38,000
  • July 21: Wins Battle of the Pyramids against Mamelukes in Egypt
  • July 24: Fall of Cairo
  • August 1: Under the command of Admiral Nelson, the British fleet destroys the French navy in the Battle of the Nile. Napoleon's army is cut off from supplies and communication.

Napoleonic era

  • August 23: Receiving news of turmoil in France, Napoleon gave up Egypt and returns to Paris
  • November 9-10: Coup of Brumaire Napoleon overthrows the Directory.
  • December 12: Napoleon elected First Consul of the Directory.
  • March 25: Treaty of Amiens.
  • May 1: Napoleon restructures French educational system
  • May 19: Legion of Honour established
  • August 2: New constitution adopted, plebiscite confirms Napoleon as First Consul for life
  • March 21: Introduction of the Civil Code (also known as Code Napoleon)
  • May: Napoleon proclaimed Emperor by the Senate.
  • December 2: Napoleon crowns himself Emperor, in the company of the Pope.
Lord Admiral Nelson Killed.
  • March 30: Napoleon names his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, king of Naples, and appoints other family members to various other posts
  • July 12: Confederation of the Rhine, Napoleon as ‘protector’. Initially had 16 member states, later others added, including kingdoms of Saxony and Westphalia
  • Holy Roman Empire abolished
  • September 15: Prussia joins Britain and Russia against Napoleon
  • October 14: Battle of Jena
  • October 14: Battle of Auerstadt.
  • November 21: The Berlin Decree (1806), which initiated the Continental System was issued.
  • March 17: Imperial University established
  • May 2: Spanish people rise up against France. Often referred to as Dos de Mayo Uprising.
  • July 7: Joseph crowned King of Spain, after Portugal revolts against the Continental System/Blockade Napoleon had put in place. Napoleon collected 5 armies to advance into Portugal and 'bullied' the Spanish royal family into resigning.
Peninsular War
  • March 20: Napoleon's son born, referred to as the "King of Rome"
  • February 10-14: Six Days Campaign.
  • March 30-31: Battle of Paris.
  • April 4: Napoleon abdicates his rule and Louis XVIII, a Bourbon, is restored to the French throne
  • April 11: Treaty of Fontainebleau (1814) Napoleon agrees to exile in Elba, the allies agree to pay his family a pension.
  • May 4: Napoleon is exiled to Elba; his wife and son take refuge in Vienna
Main: Hundred Days: Timeline
  • February 20: Napoleon escapes from Elba.
  • March 20: Napoleon arrives in Paris.
Beginning of the Hundred Days


  • May 5: Napoleon dies


  • Jack Allen Meyer (1987). An Annotated Bibliography of the Napoleonic Era: Recent Publications, 1945-1985 ISBN 0313249016

Further reading

  • William Leonard Langer & Peter N. Stearns. The Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically, Edition: 6, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001 ISBN 0395652375, 9780395652374 Chapter "The Napoleonic Period, 1799-1815", pp. 435–441


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