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Not Just a ‘Short French Emperor’: These Facts About Napoleon Will Amaze You

Napoleon Bonaparte remains one of the most discussed emperors in history. He was a French general who later became an emperor– then later became exiled. While we’ve all heard about his ‘small stature,’ most people don’t know much about him. Expected to hit theaters later this month, there is a movie about Napoleon that stars Joaquin Phoenix. Before then, you’ll be amazed by these Napoleon facts.

He had to grow up fast

Born in Corsica in 1769, he was named Napoleone di Buonaparte. As a young adult, he later changed his name to Napoleon Bonaparte to make it more French. He attended the reputable École Militaire in Paris as his family was of minor nobility and could afford it.

Courtesy: Britannica

His father died after his first year in military school. Supporting his family financially made him graduate as the 42nd in a 58-student class, although he was the first Corsican to graduate from École Militaire. He became an officer in the French Army at age 16.

A general, a revolutionary, and an emperor

Although Napoleon was responsible for the first French empire, he didn’t always support the French. In fact, he wanted his homeland to overthrow French rule and even called them ‘enemies of the free man’.

Courtesy: Biography

However, a clash between the Bonaparte family and the Corsican governor, Paoli, made him leave his hometown permanently. As an emperor, he liberated Jews in European areas to worship freely and own property. He claimed that he didn’t have ‘one religion.’  

Did he really have a petite frame and a fear of cats?

Napoleon’s height is probably the first thing anyone knows about him. The note on his coffin said he was 5 feet, 2 inches tall– that was ‘average height’ then. He was always referred to as being diminutive.

Courtesy: History Ville

We’ve been made to believe that Napoleon excessively feared cats. However, the truth is that there isn’t any record of the French icon liking or disliking cats. So we can stop naming him as one of the historical cat haters.

He wrote a book

Thinking about the French general writing a book would make many people automatically assume it was a war history or, at least, a documentary of some sort. However, Napoleon wrote a novel.


Just after he met and married his first wife, Joséphine, in 1795, Napoleon wrote a romance novel. The novel Clisson et Eugénie wasn’t published until after his death. It tells the story of two lovers separated by war and then death. Who would’ve pegged Napoleon for a romance novelist?

He once tried to commit suicide

On April 11, 1814, Napoleon was forced to step aside as part of the Treaty of Fontainebleau after a tragic campaign in Russia. He had been in possession of a poisonous pill, and after he was forced to go into exile, he took the pill.

Courtesy: National Geographic 

Well, the pill didn’t kill him- probably because it became less potent since he’d been carrying it around for a while. When he was exiled to St. Helena, there were several ‘prison break’ plans, including submarines. He eventually died in exile at the age of 51.

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