Napoleon Bonaparte Timeline 1769-1821

Napoleon Bonaparte

Born – 15th August 1769
Died – 5th May 1821
Father – Carlo Buonaparte (1746 – 1785)
Mother – Letizia Ramolino (1750 – 1836)
Spouse – m. 1796, div. 1810 – Josephine de Beauharnais (1763 – 1814); m. 1810 – Marie Louise of Austria (1791 – 1847)
Children – by Marie Louise – Napoleon (1811 – 1832)
Emperor of France – 1804 – 1814, 1815
Succeeded by – Napoleon II 1815


1769 (15th August)
Napoleon Bonaparte was born to Carlo Maria di Buonaparte and Maria Letizia Ramolini in Ajaccio, Corsica. He was the couple’s second surviving child, his brother Joseph had been born in 1768.
1770 (during)
The island of Corsica had been part of the Italian Republic of Genoa. It had been conquered by France and now formally became a province of France. Napoleon’s parents were fiercely opposed to the French takeover.
1774 (during)
Napoleon began his education at the school in Ajaccio.
1775 (21st March)
Napoleon’s brother Lucien was born to Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Ramolini.
1776 (during)
Napoleon was given French lessons by the Abbé Recco.
1777 (during)
Bonaparte’s father was appointed Corsican representative to Lois XVI.
1777 (3rd January)
Napoleon’s sister Maria was born to Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Ramolini.
1778 (2nd September)
Napoleon’s brother Louis was born to Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Ramolini.
1779 (January)
Napoleon and his brother Joseph were sent to mainland France where he attended the school in Autun.
1779 (15th May)
Bonaparte gained a scholarship to the military academy at Brienne-le-Chateau, France. Although he did well at his studies, he did not make friends and was bullied throughout his school life.
1780 (20th October)
Napoleon’s sister Pauline was born to Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Ramolini.
1782 (25th March)
Napoleon’s sister Caroline was born to Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Ramolini.
1784 (22nd October)
Napoleon transferred to the École Militaire in Paris.
1784 (15th November)
Napoleon’s brother Jerome was born to Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Ramolini.
1785 (24th February)
Napoleon’s father, Carlo, died of stomach cancer. He had made no provision for his family who were left penniless.
1785 (28th October)
After graduating from the École Militaire Napoleon secured a commission as Second Lieutenant in La Fère Royal Artillery Corps.
1786 (10th January)
Napoleon became an officer.
1786 (April)
Bonaparte began writing his History of Corsica.
1786 (August)
Napoleon’s regiment were summoned to Lyons to deal with an uprising.
1786 (September)
Bonaparte returned to Corsica to deal with family matters.
1787 (September)
Napoleon left Corsica and travelled to Paris
1787 (November)
While in Paris, Napoleon wrote ‘Parallel Between Love of One’s Fatherland and Love of Glory’.
1787 (December)
Bonaparte was given another six months leave to deal with family matters and he returned to Corsica.
1788 (June)
Napoleon travelled to Auxonne where he rejoined his regiment.
1788 (August)
Napoleon was selected to be part of a commission examining artillery techniques.
1788 (October)
Bonaparte began writing a piece on ‘Royal Authority’.
1789 (January)
Napoleon was in Auxonne for a course on artillery. He became ill with a high temperature.
1789 (April)
Bonaparte was in Seurre to put down a riot.
1789 (14th July)
French Revolution
The storming of the Bastille in Paris signalled the beginning of the Revolution in France.
1789 (19th July)
Napoleon had returned to Auxonne where he helped to defend the castle from rioters.
1789 (September)
Bonaparte returned to Corsica. There he supported Pascal Paoli and moves for Corsican independence.
1790 (16th November)
It was announced that Corsica would be a department of France.
1791 (June)
Napoleon Bonaparte returned to France where he became First Lieutenant of the Artillery Regiment at Valence.
1791 (June)
After the Royal family’s failed escape from France, Napoleon wrote ‘Republic or Monarchy’ in which he declared himself for a republic.
1791 (Summer)
Napoleon joined the Jacobin Club, which supported a constitutional monarchy, where he spoke against the church and nobility.
1791 (September)
Bonaparte returned to Corsica where he tried to secure his brother Joseph’s election to the Legislative. He was not successful.
1792 (22nd February)
Still in Corsica, Napoleon joined the Corsican National Guard which supported Corsica becoming part of the French republic.
1792 (April)
Following clashes with the nationalists in Ajaccio, commissioners arbitrating between the groups, sent Napoleon’s battalion to Corte in northern Corsica. Napoleon left Corsica and returned to France.
1792 (May)
Bonaparte arrived in Paris to explain his actions on Corsica.
1792 (10th July)
In spite of his actions in Corsica and his extended leave, Napoleon was promoted to Captain in the French army.
1792 (September)
Bonaparte removed his sister from Saint-Cyr School and accompanied her back to Corsica.
1793 (21st January)
King Louis XVI was executed by guillotine.
1793 (11th June)
After further conflict with Pasquale Paoli, the Bonaparte family left Corsica for Marseilles on the French mainland.
1793 (mid June)
Once his family was settled, Napoleon joined the French army in Nice.
1793 (Summer)
Napoleon wrote ‘Supper at Beaucaire’ which called for republicans to unite.
1793 (29th August)
Siege of Toulon
Bonaparte was given the position of Artillery Commander in this siege to force the British out of Toulon. His plan to capture a hill overlooking the harbour where artillery could be positioned was decisive in the French victory on 19th December.
1793 (December)
Bonaparte was promoted to Brigadier General.
1794 (February)
Napoleon’s actions in Toulon had brought him to the attention of Augustin Robespierre, commissioner to the army. Augustin was the brother of Maximilien Robespierre, leader of the government. They appointed Napoleon Artillery Commander of the French army in Italy.
1794 (28th July)
Robespierre fell from power and was executed by guillotine.
1794 (late July)
Bonaparte was arrested on a charge of treason due to his assosciation with Robespierre.
1794 (September)
Napoleon was released from prison due ot lack of evidence against him. He was not restored to his army position.
1795 (around)
Napoleon Bonaparte began a relationship with his sister-in-law, Desiree Clary.
1795 (March)
Bonaparte refused an offer of Artillery Commander in the Army of the West claiming poor health. He did not want the commission because he felt it did not offer opportunities for promotion.
1795 (3rd October)
Royalists in Paris rebelled against the new constitution. Napoleon was appointed to defend the Tuileries Palace. As the crowd approached the palace, Napoleon fired into the crowd killing around 1,400 people. The rest fled.
1795 (Autumn)
Napoleon began a relationship with Josephine de Beauharnais, a widow with two children.
1795 (2nd November)
The Directory
This committee of five members now took over the government of France.
1796 (March)
Bonaparte convinced the Directory to give him command of a French army in order to invade Italy.
1796 (9th March)
Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais in Paris.
1796 (11th March)
Napoleon left Paris for Italy.
1796 (28th April)
Italian Campaign
Napoleon had launched a lightning attack on Piedmont and defeated their forces before Austrian forces could march to their aid. Piedmont agreed terms with France.
1796 (9th May)
Italian Campaign
Napoleon forced the Austrians out of Lombardy.
1797 (15th January)
Italian Campaign – Battle of Rivoli
Having secured a string of victories against the Austrians, this battle saw the decisive defeat of Austria in Italy.
1797 (17th October)
Treaty of Campo Formo
Following Napoleon’s victory in Italy, Austria withdrew from war with France.
1798 (early)
Napoleon told the Directory that France could not defeat Britain and got them to agree an invasion of Egypt with a view to establishing a French colony there. The capture of Egypt and the Red Sea would prevent Britain accessing India.
1798 (9th June)
On the way to Egypt, the island of Malta was captured for the French.
1798 (1st July)
Egyptian Campaign
Bonaparte landed in Egypt at the head of 54,000 men. Napoleon had brought along a number of scientists and scholars to investigate, draw and describe Egypt and its culture.
1798 (2nd July)
Egyptian Campaign
Napoleon took control of Alexandria.
1798 (24th July)
Egyptian Campaign – Battle of the Pyramids
Napoleon was victorious and took control of Cairo.
1798 (1st August)
Egyptian Campaign – Battle of the Nile
The British fleet commanded by Horatio Nelson, defeated the French in this naval battle.
1798 (5th September)
Jordan’s Law
This decree re-introduced conscription in France. It was not well received.
1798 (October)
Egyptian Campaign
The people of Cairo rebelled against the French rule in Egypt and killed any Frenchmen they discovered on the streets.
1799 (early)
Egyptian Campaign
Napoleon turned his attention to Syria and led a force of the French army to conquer the region.
1799 (21st May)
Egyptian Campaign – Siege of Acre
The French army had placed the city of Acre under siege but failed to take the city.
1799 (25th July)
Battle of Abukir
Napoleon and the French army had returned to Egypt and defeated an Egyptian force at Abukir.
1799 (23rd August)
Napoleon knew that ultimately the Egyptian campaign would fail. He decided to return to France while he could still be seen as a victorious general. Taking a small retinue with him, he left Cairo supposedly to make a voyage in the Nile. Instead he left for France leaving his army in Egypt under the control of General Kléber.
1799 (8th October)
Napoleon landed in France and made his way to Paris.
1799 (9th November)
Coup d’Etat
Emmanuel Sieyes, Napoleon Bonaparte and Roger Ducos organised a successful coup d’état. The Directory was overthrown and they proclaimed the French Consulate with themselves as three ruling consuls. However, Napoleon was soon calling himself First Consul and he dominated the new government. The years of the French Revolution were over.
1799 (24th December)
Constitution of Year VIII
This new constitution gave Napoleon, as First Consul, dictatorial powers.
1800 (January)
60 newspapers were closed down in Paris leaving just 13 in existence.
1800 (7th February)
Constitution of Year VIII
A plebiscite approved the new constitution.
1800 (Spring)
Second Italian Campaign
While Napoleon had been in Egypt, the Austrians had reoccupied parts of Italy. Napoleon now crossed the Alps to regain control of Italy.
1800 (14th June)
Second Italian Campaign – Battle of Marengo
After initial Austrian gains, they were defeated by the French army. The Austrians agreed to leave Italy.
1800 (24th December)
Plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise
Napoleon and Josephine escaped an assassination attempt by explosion. The explosion killed a number of people in the street.
1801 (15th July)
Concordat of 1801
This was an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII. The pontiff agreed not to attempt to take French lands and recognised the validity of the Revolution. Additionally, churchmen in France would be appointed by the state not the Pope.
1802 (during)
Around 45 secondary schools (lycees) were established. Places were free for sons of army officers.
1802 (25th March)
Treaty of Amiens
This treaty ended war between Britain and France.
1802 (Spring)
Constitution of Year X
A new plebiscite approved this amended constitution which secured the appointment of Napoleon as First Consul for life.
1802 (19th May)
Bonaparte introduced the Legion of Honour, an order of merit for both military and civil achievements.
1803 (May)
A campaign to assert French control over Saint-Domingue, which was run by Toussaint Louverture, and re-establish slavery failed due to high rates of illness and disease in the army.
1803 (May)
The peace between France and Britain broke down and Britain declared war on France.
1803 (4th July)
Louisiana Purchase
Bonaparte agreed to sell the American colony of Louisiana to the United States for $15 million.
1804 (during)
Constitution of Year XII
This amended constitution established the French Empire with Napoleon as Emperor.
1804 (during)
The slaves in Saint-Domingue, proclaimed their independence from France and named the state Haiti.
1804 (21st March)
The Civil Code
This document clarified the legal system.
1804 (December)
Sweden joined Britain against France.
1804 (2nd December)
Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of France at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, in the presence of Pope Pius VII.
1805 (during)
More secondary schools (lycees) were established bringing the total to around 300. A standardised curriculum was introduced.
1805 (during)
Aware that other countries were joining an alliance against France, Napoleon had expanded the French army to 350,000 men.
1805 (March)
Napoleon was proclaimed King of France.
1805 (April)
Britain agreed an alliance with Russia.
1805 (22nd July)
Battle of Cape Finisterre
Napoleon knew that the French navy was no match for the British and sent ships to attack British islands in the Caribbean. He hoped this would lure British ships away from France. However, the two navies clashed in this battle which was won by the British.
1805 (25th September)
Battle of Ulm
In a bid to gain the upper hand, Bonaparte invaded southern Germany and forced the surrender of forces at Ulm.
1805 (21st October)
Battle of Trafalgar
Although British Admiral Nelson was killed, the British fleet secured a decisive victory over the French.
1805 (2nd December)
Battle of Austerlitz
The French army, led by Napoleon, secured a decisive victory over Russian and Austrian forces.
1805 (26th December)
Austria agreed terms with France.
1806 (during)
Selim III of the Ottoman Empire formed an alliance with France.
1806 (during)
An illegitimate son, Charles Leon, was born to Napoleon by his mistress Eleonore Denuelle de la Plaigne.
1806 (during)
Napoleon attempted to defeat Britain economically by blocking the British from trading at European ports.
1806 (September)
Prussia joined the war against France.
1806 (14th October)
Battles of Jenna and Auerstadt
The Prussian army was defeated by the French in these two battles.
1806 (2nd December)
Confederation of the Rhine
Napoleon organised a number of German states into a Confederation designed to repel any invasion of France from Central Europe.
1806 (December)
The French army pushed into Poland.
1807 (7th February)
Battle of Eylau
This battle between Russia and France ended with the Russians withdrawing.
1807 (June)
Battle of Friedland
This battle between Russia and France ended with the Russians defeated.
1807 (July)
Tsar Alexander I agreed peace terms with Bonaparte.
1807 (July)
Napoleon was able to return to France.
1807 (17th October)
Peninsular Campaign
Portugal had consistently ignored the trade embargo with Britain so Napoleon sent his army to invade Portugal.
1808 (24th March)
Peninsular Campaign
The situation in Spain was volatile and the French now intervened marching 120,000 troops into the country. The Spanish rebelled against the invasion.
1808 (6th June)
Napoleon Bonaparte made his brother Joseph, King of Spain, a move which further angered the Spanish.
1808 (16th July)
Peninsular Campaign – Battle of Bailen
The Spanish were victorious against the French in this battle.
1808 (November)
Peninsular Campaign
Bonaparte personally led the French force in Spain.
1809 (during)
Napoleon’s wife, Josephine had not become pregnant. Napoleon wanted an heir to succeed him as Emperor and so had his marriage annulled so he could remarry.
1809 (16th January)
Peninsular Campaign – Battle of Corunna
The French had driven the British back to the coast and this battle forced them to leave Spain.
1810 (during)
Russia withdrew from its alliance with France.
1810 (1st April)
Napoleon Bonaparte married Marie Louise, daughter of Emperor of Austria.
1810 (June)
An official censorship programme had been set up. All publications had to pass censorship controls before being put on sale.
1811 (around)
There were now just four newspapers being published in Paris and these were censored.
1811 (20th March)
A son, Napoleon Francois Joseph Charles Bonaparte was born to Napoleon and Marie Louise. He was styled King of Rome.
1812 (June)
Russia signed an alliance with Britain and Sweden.
1812 (24th June)
Russian Campaign
Napoleon marched into Russia at the head of 450,000 men. From the outset French progress was hampered by bad weather. The Russian policy of scorched earth (burning all vegetation as they retreated) meant food was in short supply.
1812 (7th September)
Russian Campaign – Battle of Borodino
Although Napoleon took Moscow, this battle saw huge casualties on both sides with the French army losing around 40,000 men.
1812 (mid September)
Russian Campaign
Despite the Russian loss at Borodino, Alexander I refused to agree terms with Napoleon.
1812 (23rd October)
General Claude-Francois de Malet attempted a coup d’etat in Paris by announcing that Napoleon had died in Russia.
1812 (19th October)
Russian Campaign
On hearing of the failed attempted coup in Paris, Napoleon abandoned the Russian Campaign and began the retreat to France.
1812 (late November)
Russian Campaign
Winter had arrived early in Russia and the retreating French were not equipped for the harsh conditions. Napoleon was left with just 37,000 men.
1813 (April)
The countries of Europe had formed a new coalition against Napoleon. Hoping to preempt a coalition attack, Napoleon advanced on Leipzig.
1813 (2nd May)
Battle of Lutzen
A Prussian/Russian army met the French. The battle was a draw.
1813 (16th October)
Battle of Leipzig
This battle between the French and the coalition armies saw Napoleon defeated.
1813 (November)
Napoleon and the remains of the French army retreated to Paris.
1814 (March)
The Coalition army invaded France and took Paris.
1814 (6th April)
Napoleon was forced to abdicate and was exiled to the isle of Elba off the coast of Italy. Marie-Louise and his son, went to Austria. The monarchy was restored in France under King Louis XVIII.
1814 (30th May)
Napoleon reached the Isle of Elba.
1814 (around July)
Napoleon Bonaparte learned that Josephine had died on 29th May. He was devastated and locked himself in his room for two days.
1815 (26th February)
Napoleon managed to escape from Elba and made his way back to France.
1815 (20th March)
Bonaparte returned to Paris where he was met with crowds of cheering people.
1815 (June)
Napoleon invaded Belgium. He knew that British and Prussian troops were in Belgium and hoped to defeat them.
1815 (16th June)
Battle of Ligny
Bonaparte defeated a Prussian force.
1815 (18th June)
Battle of Waterloo
Napoleon and the French army were defeated by the British army supported by the Prussians.
1815 (22nd June)
Napoleon was forced to abdicate for the second time.
1815 (October)
Napoleon was exiled to the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic with a small retinue.
1815 (December)
Napoleon reached Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. His accommodation, Longwood House, had fallen into disrepair and was damp, draughty and unhealthy.
1816 (April)
Sir Hudson Lowe arrived at Saint Helena as the new governor of the island. He enforced all regulations strictly, cut Napoleon’s allowance and refused to allow the receiving of any gifts. He and Napoleon disliked each other.
1817 (late)
Napoleon began suffering from stomach complaints.
1821 (January)
Napoleon was now very ill.
1821 (5th May)
Napoleon Bonaparte died on the island of Saint Helena.


Published Jul 15, 2020 @ 7:06 pm – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2020). Napoleon Bonaparte 1769 – 1821. Last accessed [date]


Leave a comment