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Soon, the fragile peace between France and her neighbors crumbled.
By 1803, France had annexed the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. Napoleon had also become president of the Italian Republic. Napoleon was determined to force Britain, that "nation of shopkeepers," to its knees.
Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States to raise money for the war.
In 1802, the French approved an amendment to the constitution that made Napoleon first consul for life.
The Napoleonic Code or Civil Code was formed in 1804. It secured the gains of the peasants and middle class during the French Revolution. The Code, however, took away all the gains made by the women during the Revolution. They were dependent on their husbands, the "family monarch."
Freedom of speech and press was cut down and a secret police was formed.
Napoleon was voted as emperor by the Senate and the people in May 1804.
On December 2, 1804, the coronation took place at the Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris. Napoleon put the first crown on his head. He then took the second crown and put it on Josephine’s head.
After Napoleon became emperor, he made some changes. The Marseillaise, which was developed during the French Revolution, was no longer the anthem. Napoleon also got rid of other aspects that conflicted with his new system. The revolutionary slogan was changed to "emperor, country, honor."
Napoleon's enormous force of personality, and the great popularity he enjoyed with his troops, characterized his conduct. From 1803 to 1805, Napoleon's chief enemy was Britain. Napoleon gathered his troops on the Channel and ordered his Mediterranean fleet to come. Napoleon’s plans of conquering Great Britain were destroyed at Trafalgar on October 21, 1805. At Trafalgar, around the Strait of Gibraltar, Lord Nelson destroyed the French and Spanish fleets. This gave Britain complete control of the seas and made invasion of Britain impossible.
In 1805, however, Britain managed to organize a coalition of Austria, Russia, Sweden, and Naples, the Third Coalition, against France.
In October, Napoleon defeated the Austrians at Ulm. In December, he crushed the Austrian and Russian armies at Austerlitz. Russia pulled back down and Austria surrendered, causing the Third Coalition to collapse.
With each victory, France gained more land. Napoleon carved out Europe as he saw fit. He put in the Confederation of the Rhine and placed it under his protection.
Now that the Coalition was gone, Napoleon turned his attention back to Britain. Instead of taking Britain directly, Napoleon decided to starve it out. In 1806, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree, barring all British ships from French controlled ports. In 1807, Napoleon issued the Milan Decree aimed at destroying British trade with the continent. This system, called the Continental System, ordered French ships to attack any British vessel in sight.
The reshaping of Europe by Napoleon alarmed the Prussians. When Prussia joined Russia in mounting a new offensive, Napoleon overwhelmed the Prussian armies at Jena and Auerstedt. In June of 1807, Napoleon demolished the Russians at Friedland. Alexander I of Russia had enough and called for peace.
In treaties of Tilsit, Prussia lost half its land. Russia agreed to recognize the new Europe set up by Napoleon. Alexander I was also to enforce the Continental System.
When the Austrians attacked again, Napoleon defeated them at Wagram, near Vienna.
Napoleon gave his other brother Jerome the throne of Westphalia, which added the Grand Duchy of Warsaw to France.
When Portugal refused to follow the decrees and Spain revolted against France, French forces moved into Spain and Portugal starting the Peninsular War. Marshal Joachim Murat seized Madrid in 1808. The people of Spain used guerilla tactics to kill the French soldiers. The soldiers retaliated by killing ten Spanish for every dead soldier. However, the Spanish kept on striking and Spain became the "ulcer of the French Empire."
In 1808, Napoleon removed King Ferdinand VII of Spain and put his brother Joseph in control of Spain. Marshal Murat took Joseph’s place as king of Naples.
In 1809, he gave his sister Elisa the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Then Napoleon annexed the Illyrian Provinces.
By 1809, Napoleon was concerned about Josephine’s inability to produce a child. After an attempt on his life, Napoleon felt that he needed someone to take his place when he’s gone. In December of 1809, Napoleon divorced Josephine to marry someone else. In April 1810, he married the 18-year-old Archduchess Marie Louise, daughter of Emperor Francis I of Austria. Later, the couple had a son. They named him Napoleon.
In 1810, Napoleon’s empire reached its height by annexing Holland and much of Germany. Then in late 1810, disaster struck.
This is the detailed biography.
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