Thursday, June 30, 2011

Genghis Khan (1162-1227), The Greatest Nomadic Conqueror

Genghis Khan

Taizu, better known as Genghis Khan. Portrait cropped out of a page from an album depicting several Yuan emperors (Yuandai di banshenxiang), now located in the National Palace Museum in Taipei (inv. nr. zhonghua 000324). Original size is 47 cm wide and 59.4 cm high. Paint and ink on silk

Genghis Khan watches in amazement as the Khwarezmi Jalal ad-Din prepares to ford the Indus

Genghis Khan statue before his Mausoleum in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China

Equestrian statue of Genghis Khan, the largest (40 metres tall) in the world, near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Genghis Khan (probably 1155 or May 31, 1162 – August 25, 1227), born Borjigin Temüjin), was the founder, Khan (ruler) and Khagan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death.

He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding the Mongol Empire and being proclaimed "Genghis Khan", he started the Mongol invasions that would result in the conquest of most of Eurasia. These included raids or invasions of the Kara-Khitan Khanate, Caucasus, Khwarezmid Empire, Western Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in Khwarezmia. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.

Before Genghis Khan died, he assigned Ögedei Khan as his successor and split his empire into khanates among his sons and grandsons. He died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. He was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia at an unknown location. His descendants went on to stretch the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering and/or creating vassal states out of all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asian countries, and substantial portions of modern Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Many of these invasions resulted in the large-scale slaughter of local populations, which have given Genghis Khan and his empire a fearsome reputation in local histories. Mongol campaigns may have resulted in the deaths of 40 million people!

Beyond his military accomplishments, Genghis Khan also advanced the Mongol Empire in other ways. He decreed the adoption of the Uyghur script as the Mongol Empire's writing system. He also promoted religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire, and created a unified empire from the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. Present-day Mongolians regard him as the founding father of Mongolia.

Temüjin was related on his father's side to Khabul Khan, Ambaghai and Qutula Khan who had headed the Mongol confederation. When the Chinese Jin Dynasty switched support from the Mongols to the Tatars in 1161, they destroyed Khabul Khan. Genghis' father, Yesügei (leader of the Borjigin and nephew to Ambaghai and Qutula Khan), emerged as the head of the ruling clan of the Mongols, but this position was contested by the rival Tayichi’ud clan, who descended directly from Ambaghai. When the Tatars grew too powerful after 1161, the Jin switched their support from the Tatars to the Keraits.

Because of the lack of contemporary written records, there is very little factual information about the early life of Temüjin. The few sources that provide insight into this period often conflict.

Temüjin was born in 1162 or 1155 in a Mongol tribe near Burkhan Khaldun mountain and the Onon and Kherlen Rivers in modern-day Mongolia, not far from the current capital Ulaanbaatar. The Secret History of the Mongols reports that Temüjin was born with a blood clot grasped in his fist, a traditional sign that he was destined to become a great leader. He was the third-oldest son of his father Yesükhei, a minor tribal chief of the Kiyad and an ally of Ong Khan of the Kerait tribe, and the oldest son of his mother Hoelun. According to the Secret History, Temüjin was named after a Tatar chieftain whom his father had just captured. The name also suggests that they may have been descended from a family of blacksmiths.

Yesükhei's clan was called Borjigin (Боржигин), and Hoelun was from the Olkhunut, the sub-lineage of the Onggirat tribe. Like other tribes, they were nomads. Because his father was a chieftain, as were his predecessors, Temüjin was of a noble background. This higher social standing made it easier to solicit help from and eventually consolidate the other Mongol tribes.

No accurate portraits of Genghis exist today, and any surviving depictions are considered to be artistic interpretations. Persian historian Rashid-al-Din recorded in his "Chronicles" that the legendary "glittering" ancestor of Genghis was tall, long-bearded, red-haired, and green-eyed! Rashid al-Din also described the first meeting of Genghis and Kublai Khan, when Genghis was shocked to find that Kublai had not inherited his red hair. Also according to al-Din Genghis' Borjigid clan, had a legend involving their origins: it began as the result of an affair between Alan-ko and a stranger to her land, a glittering man who happened to have red hair and bluish-green eyes. Modern historian Paul Ratchnevsky has suggested in his Genghis biography that the "glittering man" may have been from the Kyrgyz people, who historically displayed these same characteristics.

Temüjin had 3 brothers named Khasar (or Qasar), Khajiun, and Temüge, and one sister named Temülen (or Temülin), as well as two half-brothers named Bekhter and Belgutei. Like many of the nomads of Mongolia, Temüjin's early life was difficult. His father arranged a marriage for him, and at nine years old, he was delivered by his father to the family of his future wife Börte, who was a member of the tribe Onggirat. Temujin was to live there in service to Dei Sechen, the head of the new household, until he reached the marriageable age of 12. While heading home, his father ran into the neighbouring Tatars, who had long been enemies of the Mongols, and he was subsequently poisoned by the food they offered. Upon learning this, Temüjin returned home to claim his father's position as chieftain of the tribe; however, his father's tribe refused to be led by a boy so young. They abandoned Hoelun and her children, leaving them without protection.

For the next several years, Hoelun and her children lived in poverty, surviving primarily on wild fruits and ox carcasses, marmots, and other small game hunted by Temüjin and his brothers. It was during one hunting excursion that 10-year-old Temüjin killed his half-brother, Bekhter, during a fight which resulted from a dispute over hunting spoils. This incident cemented his position as a prisoner for manslaughter. In another incident in 1182 he was captured in a raid and held prisoner by his father's former allies, the Tayichi'ud. The Tayichi'ud enslaved Temüjin (reportedly with a cangue), but with the help of a sympathetic watcher, the father of Chilaun (who would later become a general of Genghis Khan), he was able to escape from the ger in the middle of the night by hiding in a river crevice. It was around this time that Jelme and Bo'orchu, two of Genghis Khan's future generals, joined forces with him. Temüjin's reputation also became widespread after his escape from the Tayichi'ud.

At this time, none of the tribal confederations of Mongolia were united politically, and arranged marriages were often used to solidify temporary alliances. Temujin grew up observing the tough political climate of Mongolia, which included tribal warfare, thievery, raids, corruption and continuing acts of revenge carried out between the various confederations, all compounded by interference from foreign forces such as the Chinese dynasties to the south. Temüjin's mother Hoelun taught him many lessons about the unstable political climate of Mongolia, especially the need for alliances.

As previously arranged by his father, Temüjin married Börte of the Olkut'hun tribe when he was around 16 in order to cement alliances between their respective tribes. Börte had four sons, Jochi (1185–1226), Chagatai (1187—1241), Ögedei (1189—1241), and Tolui (1190–1232). Soon after Börte's marriage to Temüjin, she was kidnapped by the Merkits, and reportedly given away as a wife. Temüjin rescued her with the help of his friend and future rival, Jamuka, and his protector, Ong Khan of the Kerait tribe. She gave birth to a son, Jochi, nine months later, clouding the issue of his parentage. Despite speculation over Jochi, Börte would be his only empress, though Temüjin did follow tradition by taking several morganatic wives. Genghis Khan also had many other children with his other wives, but they were excluded from the succession. While the names of sons were documented, daughters were not. The names of at least six daughters are known, and while they played significant roles behind the scenes during his lifetime, no documents have survived that definitively provide the number or names of daughters born to the wives and consorts of Genghis Khan.

Temujin valued loyalty above all else and also valued brotherhood. Jumuka was one of Temujin's best friends growing up. But their friendship would be tested later in life, when Temujin was fighting to become a khan. Jamuka said this to Temujin before he was killed, "What use is there in my becoming a companion to you? On the contrary, sworn brother, in the black night I would haunt your dreams, in the bright day I would trouble your heart. I would be the louse in your collar, I would become the splinter in your there was room for only one sun in the sky, there was room only for one Mongol lord."

Genghis Khan's religion is widely speculated to have been Shamanism or Tengriism, which was very likely among nomadic Mongol-Turkic tribes of Central Asia. But he was very tolerant religiously, and interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. To do so, he consulted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christian missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji.

The Central Asian plateau (north of China) around the time of Temüjin (the early 13th century) was divided into several tribes or confederations, among them Naimans, Merkits, Uyghurs, Tatars, Mongols, and Keraits, that were all prominent in their own right and often unfriendly toward each other as evidenced by random raids, revenge attacks, and plundering.

Temüjin began his slow ascent to power by offering himself as an ally (or, according to others sources, a vassal) to his father's anda (sworn brother or blood brother) Toghrul, who was Khan of the Kerait, and is better known by the Chinese title Ong Khan (or "Wang Khan"), which the Jin Empire granted him in 1197. This relationship was first reinforced when Börte was captured by the Merkits; it was Toghrul to whom Temüjin turned for support. In response, Toghrul offered his vassal 200,000 of his Kerait warriors and suggested that he also involve his childhood friend Jamuka, who had himself become Khan (ruler) of his own tribe, the Jadaran. Although the campaign was successful and led to the recapture of Börte and utter defeat of the Merkits, it also paved the way for the split between the childhood friends, Temüjin and Jamuka. Temüjin had become blood brother (anda) with Jamuka earlier, and they had vowed to remain eternally faithful.

The main opponents of the Mongol confederation (traditionally the "Mongols") around 1200 were the Naimans to the west, the Merkits to the north, Tanguts to the south, and the Jin and Tatars to the east. By 1190, Temüjin, his followers, and their advisors, had united the smaller Mongol confederation only. In his rule and his conquest of rival tribes, Temüjin broke with Mongol tradition in a few crucial ways. He delegated authority based on merit and loyalty, rather than family ties. As an incentive for absolute obedience and following his rule of law, the Yassa code, Temüjin promised civilians and soldiers wealth from future possible war spoils. As he defeated rival tribes, he did not drive away enemy soldiers and abandon the rest. Instead, he took the conquered tribe under his protection and integrated its members into his own tribe. He would even have his mother adopt orphans from the conquered tribe, bringing them into his family. These political innovations inspired great loyalty among the conquered people, making Temüjin stronger with each victory.

Toghrul's (Wang Khan) son Senggum was jealous of Temüjin's growing power, and his affinity with his father. He allegedly planned to assassinate Temüjin. Toghrul, though allegedly saved on multiple occasions by Temüjin, gave in to his son and became uncooperative with Temüjin. Temüjin learned of Senggum's intentions and eventually defeated him and his loyalists. One of the later ruptures between Toghrul and Temüjin was Toghrul's refusal to give his daughter in marriage to Jochi, the eldest son of Temüjin, a sign of disrespect in the Mongolian culture. This act led to the split between both factions, and was a prelude to war. Toghrul allied himself with Jamuka, who already opposed Temüjin's forces; however, the internal dispute between Toghrul and Jamuka, plus the desertion of a number of their allies to Temüjin, led to Toghrul's defeat. Jamuka escaped during the conflict. This defeat was a catalyst for the fall and eventual dissolution of the Kerait tribe.

The next direct threat to Temüjin was the Naimans (Naiman Mongols), with whom Jamuka and his followers took refuge. The Naimans did not surrender, although enough sectors again voluntarily sided with Temüjin. In 1201, a kurultai elected Jamuka as Gur Khan, "universal ruler", a title used by the rulers of the Kara-Khitan Khanate. Jamuka's assumption of this title was the final breach with Temüjin, and Jamuka formed a coalition of tribes to oppose him. Before the conflict, however, several generals abandoned Jamuka, including Subutai, Jelme's well-known younger brother. After several battles, Jamuka was finally turned over to Temüjin by his own men in 1206.

According to the Secret History, Temüjin again offered his friendship to Jamuka, asking him to return to his side. Temüjin had killed the men who betrayed Jamuka, stating that he did not want disloyal men in his army. Jamuka refused the offer of friendship and reunion, saying that there can only be one Sun in the sky, and he asked for a noble death. The custom is to die without spilling blood, which is granted by breaking the back. Jamuka requested this form of death, despite the fact that in the past Jamuka had been known to have boiled his opponent's generals alive. The rest of the Merkit clan that sided with the Naimans were defeated by Subutai, who was by then a member of Temüjin's personal guard and would later become one of the most successful commanders of Genghis Khan. The Naimans' defeat left Genghis Khan as the sole ruler of the Mongol plains, which means all the prominent confederations fell and/or united under Temüjin's Mongol confederation.

Accounts of Genghis Khan's life are marked by claims of a series of betrayals and conspiracies. These include rifts with his early allies such as Jamuka (who also wanted to be a ruler of Mongol tribes) and Wang Khan (his and his father's ally), his son Jochi, and problems with the most important shaman, who was allegedly trying to drive a wedge between him and his loyal brother Qasar. His military strategies showed a deep interest in gathering good intelligence and understanding the motivations of his rivals as exemplified by his extensive spy network and Yam route systems. He seemed to be a quick student, adopting new technologies and ideas that he encountered, such as siege warfare from the Chinese.

As a result by 1206 Temüjin had managed to unite or subdue the Merkits, Naimans, Mongols, Keraits, Tatars, Uyghurs and disparate other smaller tribes under his rule. It was a monumental feat for the "Mongols" (as they became known collectively). At a Kurultai, a council of Mongol chiefs, he was acknowledged as "Khan" of the consolidated tribes and took the new title "Genghis Khan". The title Khagan was not conferred on Genghis until after his death, when his son and successor, Ögedei, took the title for himself and extended it posthumously to his father (as he was also to be posthumously declared the founder of the Yuan Dynasty). This unification of all confederations by Genghis Khan established peace between previously warring tribes and a single political and military force under Genghis Khan.

During the 1206 political rise of Genghis Khan, the Mongol Empire created by Genghis Khan and his allies shared its western borders with the Tanguts' Western Xia Dynasty. To its east and south was the Jin Dynasty, founded by the Manchurian Jurchens, who ruled northern China as well as being the traditional overlords of the Mongolian tribes for centuries.

Genghis Khan organized his people, army, and his state to first prepare for war with Western Xia, or Xi Xia, which was closer to the Mongolian lands. He correctly believed that the more powerful Jin Dynasty's young ruler would not come to the aid of Xi Xia. When the Tanguts requested help from the Jin Dynasty, they were refused. Despite initial difficulties in capturing its well-defended cities, Genghis Khan forced the surrender of Western Xia by 1209.

In 1211, after the conquest of Western Xia, Genghis Khan planned again to conquer the Jin Dynasty. The commander of the Jin Dynasty army made a tactical mistake in not attacking the Mongols at the first opportunity. Instead, the Jin commander sent a messenger, Ming-Tan, to the Mongol side, who defected and told the Mongols that the Jin army was waiting on the other side of the pass. At this engagement fought at Badger Pass the Mongols massacred thousands of Jin troops. In 1215 Genghis besieged, captured, and sacked the Jin capital of Yanjing (later known as Beijing). This forced the Emperor Xuanzong to move his capital south to Kaifeng, abandoning the northern half of his kingdom to the Mongols.

Kuchlug, the deposed Khan of the Naiman confederation that Temüjin defeated and folded into the Mongol nation, fled west and usurped the khanate of Kara-Khitan (also known as Kara Kitay). Genghis Khan decided to conquer the Kara-Khitan khanate and defeat Kuchlug, possibly to take him out of power. By this time the Mongol army was exhausted from ten years of continuous campaigning in China against the Western Xia and Jin Dynasty. Therefore Genghis sent only two tumen (20,000 soldiers) against Kuchlug, under his younger general, Jebe, known as "The Arrow".

With such a small force, the invading Mongols were forced to change strategies and resort to inciting internal revolt among Kuchlug's supporters, leaving the Khara-Khitan khanate more vulnerable to Mongol conquest. As a result, Kuchlug's army was defeated west of Kashgar. Kuchlug fled again, but was soon hunted down by Jebe's army and executed. By 1218, as a result of defeat of Kara-Khitan khanate, the Mongol Empire and its control extended as far west as Lake Balkhash, which bordered the Khwarezmia (Khwarezmid Empire), a Muslim state that reached the Caspian Sea to the west and Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea to the south.

In the early 13th century, the Khwarezmian Dynasty was governed by Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad. Genghis Khan saw the potential advantage in Khwarezmia as a commercial trading partner using the Silk Road, and he initially sent a 500-man caravan to establish official trade ties with the empire. However, Inalchuq, the governor of the Khwarezmian city of Otrar, attacked the caravan that came from Mongolia, claiming that the caravan contained spies and therefore was a conspiracy against Khwarezmia. The situation became further complicated because the governor later refused to make repayments for the looting of the caravan and handing over the perpetrators. Genghis Khan then sent again a second group of three ambassadors (two Mongols and a Muslim) to meet the Shah himself instead of the governor Inalchuq. The Shah had all the men shaved and the Muslim beheaded and sent his head back with the two remaining ambassadors. This was seen as an affront and insult to Genghis Khan. Outraged Genghis Khan planned one of his largest invasion campaigns by organizing together around 200,000 soldiers (20 tumens), his most capable generals and some of his sons. He left a commander and number of troops in China, designated his successors to be his family members and likely appointed Ogedei to be his immediate successor and then went out to Khwarezmia.

The Mongol army under Genghis Khan, generals and his sons crossed the Tien Shan mountains by entering the area controlled by the Khwarezmian Empire. After compiling intelligence from many sources Genghis Khan carefully prepared his army, which was divided into three groups. His son Jochi led the first division into the northeast of Khwarezmia. The second division under Jebe marched secretly to the southeast part of Khwarzemia to form, with the first division, a pincer attack on Samarkand. The third division under Genghis Khan and Tolui marched to the northwest and attacked Khwarzemia from that direction.

The Shah's army was split by diverse internal disquisitions and by the Shah's decision to divide his army into small groups concentrated in various cities. This fragmentation was decisive in Khwarezmia's defeats, as it allowed the Mongols, although exhausted from the long journey, to immediately set about defeating small fractions of the Khwarzemi forces instead of facing a unified defense. The Mongol army quickly seized the town of Otrar, relying on superior strategy and tactics. Genghis Khan ordered the wholesale massacre of many of the civilians, enslaved the rest of the population and executed Inalchuq by pouring molten silver into his ears and eyes, as retribution for his actions. Near the end of the battle the Shah fled rather than surrender. Genghis Khan charged Subutai and Jebe with hunting him down, giving them two years and 800,000 men. The Shah died under mysterious circumstances on a small island within his empire.

The Mongols' conquest, even by their own standards, was brutal. After the capital Samarkand fell, the capital was moved to Bukhara by the remaining men, and Genghis Khan dedicated two of his generals and their forces to completely destroying the remnants of the Khwarezmid Empire, including not only royal buildings, but entire towns, populations and even vast swaths of farmland. According to stories, Genghis Khan even went so far as to divert a river through the Khwarezmid emperor's birthplace, erasing it from the map.

The Mongols attacked Samarkand using prisoners as body shields. After several days only a few remaining soldiers, die-hard supporters of the Shah, held out in the citadel. After the fortress fell, Genghis supposedly reneged on his surrender terms and executed every soldier that had taken arms against him at Samarkand. The people of Samarkand were ordered to evacuate and assemble in a plain outside the city, where they were killed and pyramids of severed heads raised as a symbol of victory.

The city of Bukhara was not heavily fortified, with a moat and a single wall, and the citadel typical of Khwarezmi cities. The city leaders opened the gates to the Mongols, though a unit of Turkish defenders held the city's citadel for another twelve days. Survivors from the citadel were executed, artisans and craftsmen were sent back to Mongolia, young men who had not fought were drafted into the Mongolian army and the rest of the population was sent into slavery. As the Mongol soldiers looted the city, a fire broke out, razing most of the city to the ground. Genghis Khan had the city's surviving population assemble in the main mosque of the town, where he declared that he was the flail of God, sent to punish them for their sins.

Meanwhile, the wealthy trading city of Urgench was still in the hands of Khwarezmian forces. The assault on Urgench proved to be the most difficult battle of the Mongol invasion and the city fell only after the defenders put up a stout defense, fighting block for block. Mongolian casualties were higher than normal, due to the unaccustomed difficulty of adapting Mongolian tactics to city fighting.

As usual, the artisans were sent back to Mongolia, young women and children were given to the Mongol soldiers as slaves, and the rest of the population was massacred. The Persian scholar Juvayni states that 50,000 Mongol soldiers were given the task of executing twenty-four Urgench citizens each, which would mean that 1.2 million people were killed. While this is an exaggeration, the sacking of Urgench is considered one of the bloodiest massacres in human history.

In the meantime, Genghis Khan selected his third son Ögedei as his successor before his army set out, and specified that subsequent Khans should be his direct descendants. Genghis Khan also left Muqali, one of his most trusted generals, as the supreme commander of all Mongol forces in Jin China while he was out battling the Khwarezmid Empire to the west.

After the defeat of the Khwarezmian Empire in 1220, Genghis Khan gathered his forces in Persia and Armenia to return to the Mongolian steppes. Under the suggestion of Subutai, the Mongol army was split into two component forces. Genghis Khan led the main army on a raid through Afghanistan and northern India towards Mongolia, while another 20,000 (two tumen) contingent marched through the Caucasus and into Russia under generals Jebe and Subutai. They pushed deep into Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Mongols destroyed the kingdom of Georgia, sacked the Genoese trade-fortress of Caffa in Crimea and overwintered near the Black Sea. Heading home, Subutai's forces attacked the allied forces of the Cuman-Kipchaks and the poorly coordinated 80,000 Kievan Rus' troops led by Mstislav the Bold of Halych and Mstislav III of Kiev who went out to stop the Mongols' actions in the area. Subutai sent emissaries to the Slavic princes calling for a separate peace, but the emissaries were executed. At the Battle of Kalka River in 1223, Subutai's forces defeated the larger Kievan force, while losing the battle of Samara Bend against the neighboring Volga Bulgars. The Russian princes then sued for peace. Subutai agreed but was in no mood to pardon the princes. As was customary in Mongol society for nobility, the Russian princes were given a bloodless death. Subutai had a large wooden platform constructed on which he ate his meals along with his other generals. Six Russian princes, including Mstislav III of Kiev, were put under this platform and crushed to death.

The Mongols learned from captives of the abundant green pastures beyond the Bulgar territory, allowing for the planning for conquest of Hungary and Europe. Genghis Khan recalled Subutai back to Mongolia soon afterwards, and Jebe died on the road back to Samarkand. Subutai and Jebe's famous cavalry expedition, in which they encircled the entire Caspian Sea defeating all armies in their path, except for that of the Volga Bulgars, remains unparalleled to this day, and word of the Mongol triumphs began to trickle to other nations, particularly Europe. These two campaigns are generally regarded as reconnaissance campaigns that tried to get the feel of the political and cultural elements of the regions. In 1225 both divisions returned to Mongolia. These invasions added Transoxiana and Persia to an already formidable empire while destroying any resistance along the way. Later under Genghis Khan's grandson Batu and the Golden Horde, the Mongols returned to conquer Volga Bulgaria and the Kievan Rus in 1237, concluding the campaign in 1240.

The vassal emperor of the Tanguts (Western Xia) had earlier refused to take part in the war against the Khwarezmid Empire after Genghis Khan and the main army marched towards Kharezmian Empire. Plus Western Xia and the defeated Jin Dynasty formed a coalition to resist the Mongols, counting on the campaign against the Khwarezmians to drain the Mongols' ability to respond effectively.

In 1226, immediately after returning from the west, Genghis Khan began a retaliatory attack on the Tanguts. His armies quickly took Heisui, Ganzhou and Suzhou (not the Suzhou in Jiangsu province), and in the autumn he took Xiliang-fu. One of the Tangut generals challenged the Mongols to a battle near Helanshan, but was defeated. In November, Genghis laid siege to the Tangut city Lingzhou, and crossed the Yellow River, defeating the Tangut relief army. According to legend, it was here that Genghis Khan reportedly saw a line of five stars arranged in the sky, and interpreted it as an omen of his victory.

In 1227, Genghis Khan's army attacked and destroyed the Tangut capital of Ning Hia, and continued to advance, seizing Lintiao-fu, Xining province, Xindu-fu, and Deshun province in quick succession in the Spring. At Deshun, the Tangut general Ma Jianlong put up a fierce resistance for several days and personally led charges against the invaders outside the city gate. Ma Jianlong later died from wounds received from arrows in battle. Genghis Khan, after conquering Deshun, went to Liupanshan (Qingshui County, Gansu Province) to escape the severe summer. The new Tangut emperor quickly surrendered to the Mongols, and the rest of the Tanguts officially surrendered soon after. Not happy with their betrayal and resistance, Genghis Khan ordered the entire imperial family to be executed, effectively ending the Tangut lineage.

Some accounts say that Genghis Khan was castrated by a Tangut princess using a hidden knife, who wanted revenge against his treatment of the Tanguts and stop him from raping her. After his castration, Genghis Khan died, and the Tangut princess committed suicide by drowning in the Yellow River according to the legend. In some mythical legends, it is claimed that Genghis fell into a trance after being castrated and is waiting to be sent back to the Mongol people.

The succession topic of Genghis Khan was already significant during the later years of Genghis Khan's reign since he was already reaching his older years. Also the long running paternity discussion about Genghis' oldest son Jochi was already a relatively hot topic behind the scenes, which particularly was contentious because of the seniority of Jochi among the brothers. According to traditional historical accounts, the issue over Jochi's paternity was voiced most strongly by Chagatai. In The Secret History of the Mongols, just before the invasion of the Khwarezmid Empire by Genghis Khan, Chagatai declares before his father and brothers that he would never accept Jochi as Genghis Khan's successor. In response to this tension and possibly for other reasons, it was Ögedei who was appointed as successor.

Jochi died in 1226, during his father's lifetime. Some scholars, notably Ratchnevsky, have commented on the possibility that Jochi was secretly poisoned by an order from Genghis Khan. Rashid al-Din reports that the great Khan sent for his sons in the spring of 1223, and while his brothers heeded the order, Jochi remained in Khorasan. Juzjani suggests that the disagreement arose from a quarrel between Jochi and his brothers in the siege of Urgench. Jochi had attempted to protect Urgench from destruction, as it belonged to territory allocated to him as a fief. He concludes his story with the clearly apocryphal statement by Jochi: "Genghis Khan is mad to have massacred so many people and laid waste so many lands. I would be doing a service if I killed my father when he is hunting, made an alliance with Sultan Muhammad, brought this land to life and gave assistance and support to the Muslims." Juzjani claims that it was in response to hearing of these plans that Genghis Khan ordered his son secretly poisoned; however, as Sultan Muhammad was already dead in 1223, the accuracy of this story is questionable.

Genghis Khan was aware of this friction between his sons (particularly between Chagatai and Jochi) and worried of possible conflict between them if he died and therefore he decided to divide his empire among his sons and make all of them Khan in their own right and by appointing one of his sons as his successor. Chagatai was considered unstable due to his temper and rash behavior because of his statements he made that he would not follow Jochi if he were to become his father's successor. Tolui, Genghis Khan's youngest son was not to be his successor because he was the youngest and in the Mongol culture, youngest sons were not given a huge responsibility due to their age. If Jochi was to become successor, it was likely that Chagatai would engage in warfare with him and collapse the empire. Therefore Genghis Khan decided to give the throne to Ogedei. Ogedei was seen by Genghis Khan as dependable in character and relatively stable and down to earth and would be a neutral candidate and might defuse the situation between his brothers.

In 1227, after defeating the Tangut people, Genghis Khan died (according to The Secret History of the Mongols). The reason for his death is uncertain and speculations abound. Some historians maintain that he fell off his horse during a horseback pursuit from the land of present day Egypt due to battle wounds and physical fatigue, dying of his injuries. Others contend that he was felled by a protracted illness such as pneumonia. The Galician-Volhynian Chronicle alleges he was killed by the Tanguts in battle. Later Mongol chronicles connect Genghis' death with a Tangut princess taken as war booty. One chronicle from the early 17th century even relates that the princess hid a small pair of pliers inside her vagina, and hurt the Great Khan so badly that he died. Some Mongol authors have doubted this version and suspected it to be an invention by the rival Oirads.

Genghis Khan asked to be buried without markings, according to the customs of his tribe. After he died, his body was returned to Mongolia and presumably to his birthplace in Khentii Aimag, where many assume he is buried somewhere close to the Onon River and the Burkhan Khaldun mountain (part of the Kentii mountain range). According to legend, the funeral escort killed anyone and anything across their path to conceal where he was finally buried. The Genghis Khan Mausoleum, constructed many years after his death, is his memorial, but not his burial site.

In 1939 Guomindang Chinese Nationalist soldiers took the mausoleum from its position at the 'Lord's Enclosure' (Mongolian: Edsen Khoroo) in Mongolia to protect it from Japanese troops. It was taken through Communist-held territory in Yan'an some 900 km on carts to safety at a Buddhist monastery, the Dongshan Dafo Dian, where it remained for ten years. In 1949, as Communist troops advanced, the Nationalist soldiers moved it another 200 km further west to the famous Tibetan monastery of Kumbum Monastery or Ta'er Shi near Xining, which soon fell under Communist control. In early 1954, Genghis Khan's bier and relics were returned to the Lord's Enclosure in Mongolia. By 1956 a new temple was erected there to house them. In 1968 during the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards destroyed almost everything of value. The "relics" were remade in the 1970s and a great marble statue of Genghis was completed in 1989.

On October 6, 2004, a joint Japanese-Mongolian archaeological dig uncovered what is believed to be Genghis Khan's palace in rural Mongolia, which raises the possibility of actually locating the ruler's long-lost burial site.[38] Folklore says that a river was diverted over his grave to make it impossible to find (the same manner of burial as the Sumerian King Gilgamesh of Uruk and Atilla the Hun). Other tales state that his grave was stampeded over by many horses, and that trees were then planted over the site, and the permafrost also did its part in hiding the burial site.

Genghis Khan left behind an army of more than 129,000 men; 28,000 were given to his various brothers and his sons. Tolui, his youngest son, inherited more than 100,000 men. This force contained the bulk of the elite Mongolian cavalry. By tradition, the youngest son inherits his father's property. Jochi, Chagatai, Ögedei Khan, and Kulan's son Gelejian received armies of 4,000 men each. His mother and the descendants of his three brothers received 3,000 men each.

The Mongol Empire was governed by a civilian and military code, called the Yassa, created by Genghis Khan. The Mongol Empire did not emphasize the importance of ethnicity and race in the administrative realm, instead adopting an approach grounded in meritocracy. The exception was the role of Genghis Khan and his family. The Mongol Empire was one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse empires in history, as befitted its size. Many of the empire's nomadic inhabitants considered themselves Mongols in military and civilian life, including Turks, Mongols, and others and included many diverse Khans of various ethnicities as part of the Mongol Empire such as Muhammad Khan.

There were tax exemptions for religious figures and, to some extent, teachers and doctors. The Mongol Empire practiced religious tolerance to a large degree because Mongol tradition had long held that religion was a very personal concept, and not subject to law or interference. Sometime before the rise of Genghis Khan, Ong Khan, his mentor and eventual rival, had converted to Nestorian Christianity. Various Mongol tribes were Buddhist, Muslim, shamanist or Christian. Religious tolerance was thus a well established concept on the Asian steppe.

Modern Mongolian historians say that towards the end of his life, Genghis Khan attempted to create a civil state under the Great Yassa that would have established the legal equality of all individuals, including women. However, there is no contemporary evidence of this, or of the lifting of discriminatory policies towards sedentary peoples such as the Chinese. Women played a relatively important role in Mongol Empire and in family, for example Töregene Khatun was briefly in charge of the Mongol Empire when next male Khagan was being chosen. Modern scholars refer to the alleged policy of encouraging trade and communication as the Pax Mongolica (Mongol Peace).

Genghis Khan realised that he needed people who could govern cities and states conquered by him. He also realised that such administrators could not be found among his Mongol people because they were nomads and thus had no experience governing cities. For this purpose Genghis Khan invited a Khitan prince, Chu'Tsai, who worked for the Jin and had been captured by the Mongol army after the Jin Dynasty were defeated. Jin had captured power by displacing Khitan. Genghis told Chu'Tsai, who was a lineal descendant of Khitan rulers, that he had avenged Chu'Tsai's forefathers. Chu'Tsai responded that his father served the Jin Dynasty honestly and so did he; he did not consider his own father his enemy, so the question of revenge did not apply. Genghis Khan was very impressed by this reply. Chu'Tsai administered parts of the Mongol Empire and became a confidant of the successive Mongol Khans.

Genghis Khan put absolute trust in his generals, such as Muqali, Jebe and Subutai, and regarded them as close advisors, often extending them the same privileges and trust normally reserved for close family members. He allowed them to make decisions on their own when they embarked on campaigns far from the Mongol Empire capital Karakorum. Genghis Khan expected unwavering loyalty from his generals, and granted them a great deal of autonomy in making command decisions. Muqali, a trusted general, was given command of the Mongol forces against the Jin Dynasty while Genghis Khan was fighting in Central Asia, and Subutai and Jebe were allowed to pursue the Great Raid into the Caucausus and Kievan Rus, an idea they had presented to the Khagan on their own initiative. The Mongol military was also successful in siege warfare, cutting off resources for cities and towns by diverting certain rivers, taking enemy prisoners and driving them in front of the army, and adopting new ideas, techniques and tools from the people they conquered, particularly in employing Muslim and Chinese siege engines and engineers to aid the Mongol cavalry in capturing cities. Another standard tactic of the Mongol military was the commonly practiced feigned retreat to break enemy formations and to lure small enemy groups away from the larger group and defended position for ambush and counterattack.

Another important aspect of the military organization of Genghis Khan was the communications and supply route or Yam, adapted from previous Chinese models. Genghis Khan dedicated special attention to this in order to speed up the gathering of military intelligence and official communications. To this end, Yam waystations were established all over the empire.

The followers of Temujin consisted of several Christians, three Muslims, and several Buddhists. They were united only in their devotion to Temujin and their oath to him and each other. The oaths sworn at Baljuna created a type of brotherhood, and in transcending kinship, ethnicity, and religion, it came close to being a type of modern civic citizenship based upon personal choice and commitment. This connection became a metaphor for the new type of community among Temujin's followers that would eventually dominate as the basis of unity within the Mongol Empire.

Several years before his death, Genghis Khan divided his empire among his sons Ögedei, Chagatai, Tolui, and Jochi (Jochi's death several months before Genghis Khan meant that his lands were instead split between his sons, Batu and Orda) into several Khanates designed as sub-territories: their Khans were expected to follow the Great Khan, who was, initially, Ögedei.

Following are the Khanates the way Genghis Khan assigned them:

Empire of the Great Khan: Ögedei Khan, as Great Khan, took most of Eastern Asia, including China; this territory later to comprise the Yuan Dynasty under Kubilai Khan.
Mongol homeland (present day Mongolia, including Karakorum): Tolui Khan, being the youngest son, received a small territory near the Mongol homeland, following Mongol custom.
Chagatai Khanate: Chagatai Khan, Genghis Khan's second son, was given Central Asia and northern Iran.

Blue Horde to Batu Khan, and White Horde to Orda Khan, both were later combined into the Kipchak Khanate, or Khanate of the Golden Horde, under Toqtamysh. Genghis Khan's eldest son, Jochi, had received most of the distant Russia and Ruthenia. Because Jochi died before Genghis Khan, his territory was further split up between his sons. Batu Khan launched an invasion of Russia, and later Hungary and Poland, and crushed several armies before being summoned back by the news of Ögedei's death.

Contrary to popular belief, Genghis Khan did not conquer all of the areas of the Mongol Empire. At the time of his death, the Mongol Empire stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Japan. The empire's expansion continued for a generation or more after Genghis's death in 1227. Under Genghis's successor Ögedei Khan the speed of expansion reached its peak. Mongol armies pushed into Persia, finished off the Xi Xia and the remnants of the Khwarezmids, and came into conflict with the imperial Song Dynasty of China, starting a war that would last until 1279 and that would conclude with the Mongols gaining control of all of China. They also pushed further into Russia and eastern Europe.

Like other notable conquerors, Genghis Khan is portrayed differently by those he conquered and those who conquered with him. Negative views of Genghis Khan are very persistent within histories written by many different cultures, from various different geographical regions. They often cite the cruelties and destruction brought upon by Mongol armies, not to mention the systematic slaughter of civilians in the conquered regions; other authors cite positive aspects of Genghis Khan's conquests as well.

Genghis Khan is credited with bringing the Silk Road under one cohesive political environment. This allowed increased communication and trade between the West, Middle East and Asia, thus expanding the horizons of all three cultural areas. Some historians have noted that Genghis Khan instituted certain levels of meritocracy in his rule, was tolerant of different religions and explained his policies clearly to all his soldiers. In Turkey, Genghis Khan is looked on as a great military leader, and it is popular for male children to carry his title as name.

Traditionally Genghis Khan had been revered for centuries among the Mongols, and also among certain other ethnic groups such as the Turks, largely because of his association with Mongol statehood, political and military organization, and his historic victories in war. He eventually evolved into a larger-than-life figure chiefly among the Mongols and is still considered the symbol of Mongolian culture.

During the communist period, Genghis Khan was often described as a reactionary, and positive statements about him were generally avoided. In 1962, the erection of a monument at his birthplace and a conference held in commemoration of his 800th birthday led to criticism from the Soviet Union, and resulted in the dismissal of Tömör-Ochir, a secretary of the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee.

In the early 1990s, when democracy was established in Mongolia, the memory of Genghis Khan with the Mongolian national identity has had a powerful revival partly because of his perception during the Mongolian People's Republic period. Genghis Khan became one of the central figures of the national identity. He is looked upon positively by Mongolians for his role in uniting various warring tribes. For example, it is not uncommon for Mongolians to refer to Mongolia as "Genghis Khan's Mongolia", to themselves as "Genghis Khan's children", and to Genghis Khan as the "father of the Mongols" especially among the younger generation. However, there is a chasm in the perception of his brutality, Mongolians maintain that the historical records written by non-Mongolians are unfairly biased against Genghis Khan, and that his butchery is exaggerated, while his positive role is underrated.

In Mongolia today, Genghis Khan's name and likeness are endorsed on products, streets, buildings, and other places. His face can be found on everyday commodities, from liquor bottles to candy products, and on the largest denominations of 1,000, 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 Mongolian tögrög (₮). Mongolia's main international airport has been renamed Chinggis Khaan International Airport, and major Genghis Khan statues have been erected before the parliament and near Ulaanbaatar. There have been repeated discussions about regulating the use of his name and image to avoid trivialization.

Genghis Khan is regarded as one of the prominent leaders in Mongolia's history. He is responsible for the emergence of the Mongols as a political and ethnic identity because there was no unified identity between the various tribes that had cultural similarity. He reinforced many Mongol traditions and provided stability and unity during a time of almost endemic warfare between various tribes. He is also given credit for the introduction of the traditional Mongolian script and the creation of the Ikh Zasag, the first written Mongolian law. In summary, Mongolians see him as the fundamental figure in the founding of the Mongol Empire, and therefore the basis for Mongolia as a country.

There are conflicting views of Genghis Khan in the People's Republic of China with some viewing him positively in the Inner Mongolia section where there is a monument and buildings about him and where there are considerable Mongols in the area with a population of around 5 million, almost twice the population of Mongolia. While Genghis Khan never conquered all of China, his grandson Kublai Khan completed that conquest, and established the Yuan Dynasty that is often credited with re-uniting China. There has also been much artwork and literature praising Genghis as a great military leader and political genius. The years of the Mongol-established Yuan Dynasty left an indelible imprint on Chinese political and social structures for subsequent generations with literature during the Jin Dynasty relatively fewer. In general the legacy of Genghis Khan and his successors, who completed the conquest of China after 65 years of struggle, remains a mixed topic, even to this day.

China suffered a drastic decline in population. North China (then the most populous part) is thought to have lost about three- quarters of its population. The Chin census of 1195 showed a population of 50 million people in north China [whereas] the first Mongol census of 1235–36 counted only 18.5 million. Admittedly, some of the population decline in Northern China must also be attributed to the large migration to Southern China, but exact figures are hard to find. Within China many people still retain the more traditional view that Genghis Khan was a barbarian invader, but modern times have seen the latter's official reinvention as a Chinese hero.

In the Middle East and Iran, he is almost universally looked on as a destructive and genocidal warlord who caused enormous damage and destruction to the population of these areas. The Mongol violence and depredations killed up to three quarters of the population of the Iranian Plateau, possibly 10 to 15 million people. Some historians have estimated that Iran's population did not again reach its pre-Mongol levels until the mid-20th century. Similarly, in Afghanistan (along with other non-Turkic Muslim countries) he is generally viewed unfavorably though some groups display ambivalence as it is believed that the Hazara of Afghanistan are descendants of a large Mongol garrison stationed therein.

The invasions of Baghdad, Samarkand, Urgench, Kiev, Vladimir among others caused mass murders, such as when portions of southern Khuzestan were completely destroyed. His descendant, Hulagu Khan destroyed much of Iran's northern part and sacked Baghdad although his forces were halted by the Mamluks of Egypt. According to the works of the Persian historian Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, the Mongols killed more than 70 million people in Merv and more than 190 million in Nishapur. In 1237 Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, launched an invasion into Kievan Rus'. Over the course of three years, the Mongols destroyed and annihilated all of the major cities of Eastern Europe with the exceptions of Novgorod and Pskov.

Giovanni de Plano Carpini, the Pope's envoy to the Mongol Great Khan, traveled through Kiev in February 1246 and wrote:

"They [the Mongols] attacked Rus, where they made great havoc, destroying cities and fortresses and slaughtering men; and they laid siege to Kiev, the capital of Rus; after they had besieged the city for a long time, they took it and put the inhabitants to death. When we were journeying through that land we came across countless skulls and bones of dead men lying about on the ground. Kiev had been a very large and heavily populated town, but now it has been reduced almost to nothing, for there are at the present time scarce two hundred houses there and the inhabitants are kept in complete slavery."

Although the famous Mughal Emperors were descendants of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, they distanced themselves from the Mongol atrocities against the Khwarizim Shahs, Turks, Persians, the citizens of Baghdad and Damascus and historical figures such as Attar of Nishapur.

Among the Iranian peoples, he is regarded along with Tamerlane as one of the most despised conquerors of Iran. In much of Russia, Middle East, Korea, China, Ukraine, Poland and Hungary, Genghis Khan and his regime are credited with considerable damage, destruction and loss of population.

Zerjal et al. [2003] identified a Y-chromosomal lineage present in about 8% of the men in a large region of Asia (about 0.5% of the world total). The paper suggests that the pattern of variation within the lineage is consistent with a hypothesis that it originated in Mongolia about 1,000 years ago. Because the rate of such a spread would be too rapid to have occurred by genetic drift, the authors propose that the lineage is carried by likely male-line descendants of Genghis Khan, and that it has spread through social selection. In Mongolia alone as many as 200,000 of the country's 2 million people could be Khan descendants. In addition to most of the Mongol nobility up to the 20th century, the Mughal emperor Babur's mother was a descendant. Timur (also known as Tamerlane), the 14th century military leader, claimed descent from Genghis Khan.

There have been several films, novels and other adaptation works on the Mongolian ruler.

  • Genghis Khan (1965 film) starring Omar Sharif.
  • Genghis Khan (1992 film) starring Richard Tyson, Charlton Heston and Pat Morita.
  • Genghis Khan - A Proud Son Of Heaven (1998 film), made in Mongolian, with English subtitles.
  • Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea, also known as "The Descendant of Gray Wolf", a Japanese-Mongolian film released in 2007 about the life of Genghis Khan.
  • Mongol, a film by Sergei Bodrov released in 2007. (Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.)
  • "By the Will of Genghis Khan", a Russian film released in 2009.
  • The Conqueror, released in 1956 and starring John Wayne as Temüjin and Susan Hayward as Börte
  • Genghis Khan, a 1950 Philippine film directed by Manuel Conde.
  • West German pop band Dschinghis Khan took its name from Genghis Khan. They participated in the Eurovision contest of 1979 with a song of the same name.
  • English Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden titled an instrumental track Genghis Khan on their 1981 album Killers.
  • The band Protest The Hero's song bloodmeat references Genghis Khan and the Khanate, and re-tells the tale of a small un-militiarised, and unequiped town fighting off a large, elite enemy, which may also be a reference to Genghis Khan.
  • Ace Frehley composed and recorded a song named after Genghis Khan in his 2009 album Anomaly.

  • Genghis Khan (video game)
  • Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf
  • Aoki Ookami to Shiroki Mejika IV: Genghis Khan
  • Age of Empires II (and its expansion)
  • Medieval: Total War
  • Medieval II: Total War, his name is mentioned.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization Series, he is a recurring leader for the Mongol empire, appearing in nearly every game.

Name and title
There are many theories about the origins of Temüjin's title. Since people of the Mongol nation later associated the name with ching (Mongolian for strength), such confusion is obvious, though it does not follow etymology.

One theory suggests the name stems from a palatalised version of the Mongolian and Turkic word tenggis, meaning "ocean", "oceanic" or "wide-spreading". (Lake Baikal and ocean were called tenggis by the Mongols. However, it seems that if they had meant to call Genghis tenggis they could have said (and written) "Tenggis Khan", which they did not. Zhèng meaning "right", "just", or "true", would have received the Mongolian adjectival modifier -s, creating "Jenggis", which in medieval romanization would be written "Genghis". It is likely that the 13th century Mongolian pronunciation would have closely matched "Chinggis".

The English spelling "Genghis" is of unclear origin. Weatherford claims it to derive from a spelling used in original Persian reports. Even at this time some Iranians pronounce his name as "Ghengiss". However, review of historical Persian sources does not confirm this.

According to the Secret History of the Mongols, Temüjin was named after a powerful warrior of the Tatar tribe that his father Yesügei had taken prisoner. The name "Temüjin" is believed to derive from the word temür, meaning iron (modern Mongolian: төмөр, tömör). The name would imply skill as a blacksmith.

More likely, as no evidence has survived to indicate that Genghis Khan had any exceptional training or reputation as a blacksmith, the name indicated an implied lineage in a family once known as blacksmiths. The latter interpretation is supported by the names of Genghis Khan's siblings, Temülin and Temüge, which are derived from the same root word.

Genghis Khan's name is spelled in variety of ways in different languages such as Chinese; pinyin: Chéngjísī Hán, Turkic: Cengiz Han, Çingiz Xan, Çingiz Han, Chingizxon, Çıñğız Xan, Chengez Khan, Chinggis Khan, Chinggis Xaan, Chingis Khan, Jenghis Khan, Chinggis Qan, Djingis Kahn, Russian: Чингисхан (Čingiskhan) or Чингиз-хан (Čingiz-khan), etc. Temüjin is written in Chinese as simplified Chinese; pinyin: Tiěmùzhēn.

When Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, he had his grandfather Genghis Khan placed on the official record as the founder of the dynasty or Taizu. Thus, Genghis Khan is also referred to as Yuan Taizu in Chinese historiography.


  1. Probably 1155, 1162, or 1167: Temüjin was born in the Khentii mountains.
  2. At the age of nine, Temüjin's father Yesükhei was poisoned by Tatars, leaving him and his family destitute.
  3. c. 1184: Temüjin's wife Börte was kidnapped by Merkits; he called on blood brother Jamuka and Wang Khan for aid, and they rescued her.
  4. c. 1185: First son Jochi was born; leading to doubt about his paternity later among Genghis' children, because he was born shortly after Börte's rescue from the Merkits.
  5. 1190: Temüjin united the Mongol tribes, became leader, and devised code of law Yassa.
  6. 1201: Victory over Jamuka's Jadarans.
  7. 1202: Adopted as Wang Khan's heir after successful campaigns against Tatars.
  8. 1203: Victory over Wang Khan's Keraits. Wang Khan himself is killed by accident by allied Naimans.
  9. 1204: Victory over Naimans (all these confederations are united and become the Mongols).
  10. 1206: Jamuka was killed. Temüjin was given the title Genghis Khan by his followers in a Kurultai (around 40 years of age).
  11. 1207–1210: Genghis led operations against the Western Xia, which comprises much of northwestern China and parts of Tibet. Western Xia ruler submitted to Genghis Khan. During this period, the Uyghurs also submitted peacefully to the Mongols and became valued administrators throughout the empire.
  12. 1211: After the kurultai, Genghis led his armies against the Jin Dynasty ruling northern China.
  13. 1215: Beijing fell; Genghis Khan turned to west and the Khara-Kitan Khanate.
  14. 1219–1222: Conquered Khwarezmid Empire.
  15. 1226: Started the campaign against the Western Xia for forming coalition against the Mongols, the second battle with the Western Xia.
  16. 1227: Genghis Khan died after conquering the Tangut people. Cause of death is uncertain, although legend states that he was thrown off his horse in the battle and contracted a deadly fever soon after.

Sources :

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), The Greatest French Conqueror

Bonaparte at the Pont d'Arcole, by Baron Antoine-Jean Gros, (ca. 1801), Musée du Louvre, Paris

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, by Jacques-Louis David, 1812

Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris by Jacques-Louis David

Battle of Waterloo, 1815 - painting by William Sadler

Napoléon sur son lit de mort [Napoleon on his death bed], by Horace Vernet, 1826

Napoleon Bonaparte (French: Napoléon Bonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815. His legal reform, the Napoleonic code, has been a major influence on many civil law jurisdictions worldwide, but he is best remembered for his role in the wars led against France by a series of coalitions, the so-called Napoleonic Wars, during which he established hegemony over much of Europe and sought to spread revolutionary ideals.
Napoleon was born in Corsica to parents of noble Genoese ancestry and trained as an artillery officer in mainland France. Bonaparte rose to prominence under the French First Republic and led successful campaigns against the First and Second Coalitions arrayed against France. In 1799, he staged a coup d'état and installed himself as First Consul; five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. In the first decade of the 19th century, the French Empire under Napoleon engaged in a series of conflicts—the Napoleonic Wars—involving every major European power. After a streak of victories, France secured a dominant position in continental Europe, and Napoleon maintained the French sphere of influence through the formation of extensive alliances and the appointment of friends and family members to rule other European countries as French client states. Napoleon's campaigns are studied at military academies throughout much of the world.

The French invasion of Russia in 1812 marked a turning point in Napoleon's fortunes. His Grande Armée was badly damaged in the campaign and never fully recovered. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition defeated his forces at Leipzig; the following year the Coalition invaded France, forced Napoleon to abdicate and exiled him to the island of Elba. Less than a year later, he escaped Elba and returned to power, but was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of Saint Helena. An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer.

Napoleon Bonaparte was born the second of eight children, in Casa Buonaparte in the town of Ajaccio, Corsica, on 15 August 1769, one year after the island was transferred to France by the Republic of Genoa. He was christened Napoleone di Buonaparte, probably acquiring his first name from an uncle (though an older brother, who did not survive infancy, was also named Napoleone), and called by this name until his twenties when he adopted the more French-sounding Napoléon Bonaparte.

The Corsican Buonapartes originated from minor Italian nobility, who had come to Corsica from Liguria in the 16th century. His father Nobile Carlo Buonaparte, an attorney, was named Corsica's representative to the court of Louis XVI in 1777. The dominant influence of Napoleon's childhood was his mother, Letizia Ramolino, whose firm discipline restrained a rambunctious child. He had an elder brother, Joseph; and younger siblings Lucien, Elisa, Louis, Pauline, Caroline and Jérôme. There were also two other children, a boy and girl, who were born before Joseph but died in infancy. Napoleon was baptised as a Catholic just before his second birthday, on 21 July 1771 at Ajaccio Cathedral.

Napoleon's noble, moderately affluent background and family connections afforded him greater opportunities to study than were available to a typical Corsican of the time. In January 1779, Napoleon was enrolled at a religious school in Autun, mainland France, to learn French, and in May he was admitted to a military academy at Brienne-le-Château. He spoke with a marked Corsican accent and never learned to spell properly. Napoleon was teased by other students for his accent and applied himself to reading. An examiner observed that Napoleon "has always been distinguished for his application in mathematics. He is fairly well acquainted with history and geography...This boy would make an excellent sailor." On completion of his studies at Brienne in 1784, Napoleon was admitted to the elite École Militaire in Paris; this ended his naval ambition, which had led him to consider an application to the British Royal Navy. Instead, he trained to become an artillery officer and when his father's death reduced his income, was forced to complete the two-year course in one year. He was the first Corsican to graduate from the Ecole Militaire and was examined by the famed scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace, whom Napoleon later appointed to the Senate.

Upon graduating in September 1785, Bonaparte was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in La Fère artillery regiment. He served on garrison duty in Valence, Drôme and Auxonne until after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, though he took nearly two years' leave in Corsica and Paris during this period. A fervent Corsican nationalist, Bonaparte wrote to the Corsican leader Pasquale Paoli in May 1789: "As the nation was perishing I was born. Thirty thousand Frenchmen were vomited on to our shores, drowning the throne of liberty in waves of blood. Such was the odious sight which was the first to strike me."

He spent the early years of the Revolution in Corsica, fighting in a complex three-way struggle between royalists, revolutionaries, and Corsican nationalists. He supported the revolutionary Jacobin faction, gained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and command over a battalion of volunteers. After he had exceeded his leave of absence and led a riot against a French army in Corsica, he was somehow able to convince military authorities in Paris to promote him to captain in July 1792. He returned to Corsica once again and came into conflict with Paoli, who had decided to split with France and sabotage a French assault on the Sardinian island of La Maddalena, where Bonaparte was one of the expedition leaders. Bonaparte and his family had to flee to the French mainland in June 1793 because of the split with Paoli.

In July 1793, he published a pro-republican pamphlet, Le Souper de Beaucaire (Supper at Beaucaire), which gained him the admiration and support of Augustin Robespierre, younger brother of the Revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre. With the help of fellow Corsican Antoine Christophe Saliceti, Bonaparte was appointed artillery commander of the republican forces at the siege of Toulon. The city had risen against the republican government and was occupied by British troops. He adopted a plan to capture a hill that would allow republican guns to dominate the city's harbour and force the British ships to evacuate. The assault on the position, during which Bonaparte was wounded in the thigh, led to the capture of the city and his promotion to Brigadier General at the age of 24. His actions brought him to the attention of the Committee of Public Safety, and he was put in charge of the artillery of France's Army of Italy. Whilst waiting for confirmation of this post, Napoleon spent time as inspector of coastal fortifications on the Mediterranean coast near Marseille. He devised plans for attacking Piedmont as part of France's campaign against the First coalition and was then sent on a mission, by Augustin, to the Republic of Genoa, to understand that country's intentions towards France.

Following the fall of the Robespierres in the July 1794 Thermidorian Reaction, Bonaparte was put under house arrest at Nice for his association with the brothers. He was released within two weeks and due to his technical skills was asked to draw-up plans to attack Italian positions in the context of France's war with Austria. He also took part in an expedition to take back Corsica from the British, but the French were repulsed by the Royal Navy.

Bonaparate became engaged to Désirée Clary, whose sister, Julie Clary, married Bonaparte's elder brother Joseph; the Clarys were a wealthy merchant family from Marseilles. In April 1795, he was assigned to the Army of the West, which was engaged in the War in the Vendée—a civil war and royalist counter-revolution in Vendée, a region in west central France, on the Atlantic Ocean. As an infantry command, it was a demotion from artillery general – for which the army already had a full quota – and he pleaded poor health to avoid the posting. He was moved to the Bureau of Topography of the Committee of Public Safety and sought, unsuccessfully, to be transferred to Constantinople in order to offer his services to the Sultan. During this period he wrote a romantic novella, Clisson et Eugénie, about a soldier and his lover, in a clear parallel to Bonaparte's own relationship with Désirée. On 15 September, Bonaparte was removed from the list of generals in regular service for his refusal to serve in the Vendée campaign. He now faced a difficult financial situation and reduced career prospects.

On 3 October, royalists in Paris declared a rebellion against the National Convention after they were excluded from a new government, the Directory. One of the leaders of the Thermidorian Reaction, Paul Barras, knew of Bonaparte's military exploits at Toulon and gave him command of the improvised forces in defence of the Convention in the Tuileries Palace. Bonaparte had witnessed the massacre of the King's Swiss Guard there three years earlier and realised artillery would be the key to its defence. He ordered a young cavalry officer, Joachim Murat, to seize large cannons and used them to repel the attackers on 5 October 1795—13 Vendémiaire An IV in the French Republican Calendar. One thousand four hundred royalists died, and the rest fled. He had cleared the streets with "a whiff of grapeshot", according to the 19th century historian Thomas Carlyle in The French Revolution: A History.

The defeat of the Royalist insurrection extinguished the threat to the Convention and earned Bonaparte sudden fame, wealth, and the patronage of the new Directory; Murat would become his brother-in-law and one of his generals. Bonaparte was promoted to Commander of the Interior and given command of the Army of Italy. Within weeks he was romantically attached to Barras's former mistress, Joséphine de Beauharnais, whom he married on 9 March 1796 after he had broken off his engagement to Désirée Clary.

Two days after the marriage, Bonaparte left Paris to take command of the Army of Italy and led it on a successful invasion of Italy. At the Battle of Lodi he defeated Austrian forces and drove them out of Lombardy. He was defeated at Caldiero by Austrian reinforcements, led by József Alvinczi, though Bonaparte regained the initiative at the crucial Battle of the Bridge of Arcole and proceeded to subdue the Papal States. Bonaparte argued against the wishes of Directory atheists to march on Rome and dethrone the Pope as he reasoned this would create a power vacuum which would be exploited by the Kingdom of Naples. Instead, in March 1797, Bonaparte led his army into Austria and forced it to negotiate peace. The Treaty of Leoben gave France control of most of northern Italy and the Low Countries, and a secret clause promised the Republic of Venice to Austria. Bonaparte marched on Venice and forced its surrender, ending 1,100 years of independence; he also authorised the French to loot treasures such as the Horses of Saint Mark.

His application of conventional military ideas to real-world situations effected his military triumphs, such as creative use of artillery as a mobile force to support his infantry. He referred to his tactics thus: "I have fought sixty battles and I have learned nothing which I did not know at the beginning. Look at Caesar; he fought the first like the last." He was adept at espionage and deception and could win battles by concealment of troop deployments and concentration of his forces on the 'hinge' of an enemy's weakened front. If he could not use his favourite envelopment strategy, he would take up the central position and attack two co-operating forces at their hinge, swing round to fight one until it fled, then turn to face the other. In this Italian campaign, Bonaparte's army captured 150,000 prisoners, 540 cannons and 170 standards. The French army fought 67 actions and won 18 pitched battles through superior artillery technology and Bonaparte's tactics.

During the campaign, Bonaparte became increasingly influential in French politics; he founded two newspapers both for the troops in his army and also for circulation in France. The royalists attacked Bonaparte for looting Italy and warned he might become a dictator. Bonaparte sent General Pierre Augereau to Paris to lead a coup d'état and purge the royalists on 4 September—Coup of 18 Fructidor. This left Barras and his Republican allies in control again but dependent on Bonaparte who proceeded to peace negotiations with Austria. These negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Campo Formio, and Bonaparte returned to Paris in December as a hero. He met with Talleyrand, France's new Foreign Minister—who would later serve in the same capacity for Emperor Napoleon—and they began to prepare for an invasion of England.

After two months of planning, Bonaparte decided France's naval power was not yet strong enough to confront the Royal Navy in the English Channel and proposed a military expedition to seize Egypt and thereby undermine Britain's access to its trade interests in India. Bonaparte wished to establish a French presence in the Middle East, with the ultimate dream of linking with a Muslim enemy of the British in India, Tipu Sultan. Napoleon assured the Directory that "as soon as he had conquered Egypt, he will establish relations with the Indian princes and, together with them, attack the English in their possessions." According to a February 1798 report by Talleyrand: "Having occupied and fortified Egypt, we shall send a force of 15,000 men from Suez to India, to join the forces of Tipu-Sahib and drive away the English." The Directory agreed in order to secure a trade route to India.

In May 1798, Bonaparte was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences. His Egyptian expedition included a group of 167 scientists: mathematicians, naturalists, chemists and geodesists among them; their discoveries included the Rosetta Stone, and their work was published in the Description de l'Égypte in 1809.

En route to Egypt, Bonaparte reached Malta on 9 June 1798, then controlled by the Knights Hospitaller. The two hundred Knights of French origin did not support the Grand Master, Prussian Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim, who had succeeded a Frenchman and made it clear they would not fight against their compatriots. Hompesch surrendered after token resistance, and Bonaparte captured a very important naval base with the loss of only three men!

General Bonaparte and his expedition eluded pursuit by the Royal Navy and on 1 July landed at Alexandria. He fought the Battle of Chobrakit against the Mamluks, Egypt's ruling military caste. This helped the French practice their defensive tactic for the Battle of the Pyramids fought on 21 July, about 24 km from the pyramids. General Bonaparte's forces of 25,000 roughly equalled those of the Mamluks' Egyptian cavalry, but he formed hollow squares with supplies kept safely inside. 29 French and approximately 2,000 Egyptians were killed. The victory boosted the morale of the French army.

On 1 August, the British fleet under Horatio Nelson captured or destroyed all but two French vessels in the Battle of the Nile, and Bonaparte's goal of a strengthened French position in the Mediterranean was frustrated. His army had succeeded in a temporary increase of French power in Egypt, though it faced repeated uprisings. In early 1799, he moved an army into the Ottoman province of Damascus (Syria and Galilee). Bonaparte led these 13,000 French soldiers in the conquest of the coastal towns of Arish, Gaza, Jaffa, and Haifa. The attack on Jaffa was particularly brutal: Bonaparte, on discovering many of the defenders were former prisoners of war, ostensibly on parole, ordered the garrison and 1,400 prisoners to be executed by bayonet or drowning to save bullets. Men, women and children were robbed and murdered for three days.

With his army weakened by disease—mostly bubonic plague—and poor supplies, Bonaparte was unable to reduce the fortress of Acre and returned to Egypt in May. To speed up the retreat, he ordered plague-stricken men to be poisoned. (However, British eyewitness accounts later showed that most of the men were still alive and had not been poisoned.) His supporters have argued this was necessary given the continued harassment of stragglers by Ottoman forces, and indeed those left behind alive were tortured and beheaded by the Ottomans. Back in Egypt, on 25 July, Bonaparte defeated an Ottoman amphibious invasion at Abukir.

While in Egypt, Bonaparte stayed informed of European affairs through irregular delivery of newspapers and dispatches. He learned France had suffered a series of defeats in the War of the Second Coalition. On 24 August 1799, he took advantage of the temporary departure of British ships from French coastal ports and set sail for France, despite the fact he had received no explicit orders from Paris. The army was left in the charge of Jean Baptiste Kléber. Unknown to Bonaparte, the Directory had sent him orders to return to ward off possible invasions of French soil, but poor lines of communication meant the messages had failed to reach him. By the time he reached Paris in October France's situation had been improved by a series of victories. The Republic was bankrupt, however, and the ineffective Directory was unpopular with the French population. The Directory discussed Bonaparte's "desertion" but was too weak to punish him.

Bonaparte was approached by one of the Directors, Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, for his support in a coup to overthrow the constitutional government. The leaders of the plot included his brother Lucien; the speaker of the Council of Five Hundred, Roger Ducos; another Director, Joseph Fouché; and Talleyrand. On 9 November—18 Brumaire by the French Republican Calendar—Bonaparte was charged with the safety of the legislative councils, who were persuaded to remove to the Château de Saint-Cloud, to the west of Paris, after a rumour of a Jacobin rebellion was spread by the plotters. By the following day, the deputies had realised they faced an attempted coup. Faced with their remonstrations, Bonaparte led troops to seize control and disperse them, which left a rump legislature to name Bonaparte, Sieyès, and Ducos as provisional Consuls to administer the government.

Though Sieyès expected to dominate the new regime, he was outmanoeuvred by Bonaparte, who drafted the Constitution of the Year VIII and secured his own election as First Consul, and he took up residence at the Tuileries. This made Bonaparte the most powerful person in France.

In 1800, Bonaparte and his troops crossed the Alps into Italy, where French forces had been almost completely driven out by the Austrians whilst he was in Egypt. The campaign began badly for the French after Bonaparte made strategic errors; one force was left besieged at Genoa but managed to hold out and thereby occupy Austrian resources. This effort, and French general Louis Desaix's timely reinforcements, allowed Bonaparte narrowly to avoid defeat and to triumph over the Austrians in June at the significant Battle of Marengo. Bonaparte's brother Joseph led the peace negotiations in Lunéville and reported that Austria, emboldened by British support, would not recognise France's newly gained territory. As negotiations became increasingly fractious, Bonaparte gave orders to his general Moreau to strike Austria once more. Moreau led France to victory at Hohenlinden. As a result, the Treaty of Lunéville was signed in February 1801; the French gains of the Treaty of Campo Formio were reaffirmed and increased.

Bonaparte set up a camp at Boulogne-sur-Mer to prepare for an invasion of Britain, but both countries had become tired of war and signed the Treaty of Amiens in October 1801 and March 1802; this included the withdrawal of British troops from most colonial territories it had recently occupied. The peace was uneasy and short-lived; Britain did not evacuate Malta as promised and protested against Bonaparte's annexation of Piedmont and his Act of Mediation, which established a new Swiss Confederation, though neither of these territories were covered by the treaty. The dispute culminated in a declaration of war by Britain in May 1803, and he reassembled the invasion camp at Boulogne.

Bonaparte faced a major setback and eventual defeat in the Haitian Revolution. By the Law of 20 May 1802 Bonaparte re-established slavery in France's colonial possessions, where it had been banned following the Revolution. Following a slave revolt, he sent an army to reconquer Saint-Domingue and establish a base. The force was, however, destroyed by yellow fever and fierce resistance led by Haitian generals Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Faced by imminent war against Britain and bankruptcy, he recognised French possessions on the mainland of North America would be indefensible and sold them to the United States—the Louisiana Purchase—for less than three cents per acre!

Bonaparte instituted lasting reforms, including higher education, a tax code, road and sewer systems, and established the Banque de France (central bank). He negotiated the Concordat of 1801 with the Catholic Church, which sought to reconcile the mostly Catholic population to his regime. It was presented alongside the Organic Articles, which regulated public worship in France. Later that year, Bonaparte became President of the French Academy of Sciences and appointed Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre its Permanent Secretary. In May 1802, he instituted the Legion of Honour, a substitute for the old royalist decorations and orders of chivalry, to encourage civilian and military achievements; the order is still the highest decoration in France. His powers were increased by the Constitution of the Year X including: Article 1. The French people name, and the Senate proclaims Napoleon-Bonaparte First Consul for Life. After this he was generally referred to as Napoleon rather than Bonaparte.

Napoleon's set of civil laws, the Code Civil—now often known as the Napoleonic code—was prepared by committees of legal experts under the supervision of Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès, the Second Consul. Napoleon participated actively in the sessions of the Council of State that revised the drafts. The development of the code was a fundamental change in the nature of the civil law legal system with its stress on clearly written and accessible law. Other codes were commissioned by Napoleon to codify criminal and commerce law; a Code of Criminal Instruction was published, which enacted rules of due process.

The official introduction of the metric system in September 1799 was unpopular in large sections of French society, and Napoleon's rule greatly aided adoption of the new standard across not only France but the French sphere of influence. Napoleon ultimately took a retrograde step in 1812 when he passed legislation to introduce the mesures usuelles (traditional units of measurement) for retail trade – a system of measure that resembled the pre-revolutionary units but were based on the kilogram and the metre; for example the livre metrique (metric pound) was 500 g instead of 489.5 g – the value of the livre du roi (the king's pound). Other units of measure were rounded in a similar manner. This however laid the foundations for the definitive introduction of the metric system across Europe in the middle of the 19th century.

The Napoleonic code was adopted throughout much of Europe, though only in the lands he conquered, and remained in force after Napoleon's defeat. Napoleon said: "My true glory is not to have won 40 battles...Waterloo will erase the memory of so many victories. ... But...what will live forever, is my Civil Code." The Code still has importance today in a quarter of the world's jurisdictions including in Europe, the Americas and Africa. Dieter Langewiesche described the code as a "revolutionary project" which spurred the development of bourgeois society in Germany by the extension of the right to own property and an acceleration towards the end of feudalism. Napoleon reorganised what had been the Holy Roman Empire, made up of more than a thousand entities, into a more streamlined forty-state Confederation of the Rhine; this provided the basis for the German Confederation and the unification of Germany in 1871. The movement toward national unification in Italy was similarly precipitated by Napoleonic rule. These changes contributed to the development of nationalism and the nation state.

Seeking national reconciliation between revolutionaries and Catholics, the Concordat of 1801 was signed on 15 July 1801 between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII. It solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France and brought back most of its civil status.

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly had taken Church properties and issued the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which made the Church a department of the State, removing it from the authority of the Pope. This caused hostility among the Vendeans towards the change in the relationship between the Catholic Church and the French government. Subsequent laws abolished the traditional Gregorian calendar and Christian holidays.

While the Concordat restored some ties to the papacy, it was largely in favor of the state; the balance of church-state relations had tilted firmly in Napoleon's favour. Now, Napoleon could win favor with the Catholics within France while also controlling Rome in a political sense. Napoleon once told his brother Lucien in April 1801, "Skillful conquerors have not got entangled with priests. They can both contain them and use them." As a part of the Concordat, he presented another set of laws called the Organic Articles.

Napoleon emancipated Jews (as well as Protestants in Catholic countries and Catholics in Protestant countries) from laws which restricted them to ghettos, and he expanded their rights to property, worship, and careers. Despite the anti-semitic reaction to Napoleon's policies from foreign governments and within France, he believed emancipation would benefit France by attracting Jews to the country given the restrictions they faced elsewhere. He stated "I will never accept any proposals that will obligate the Jewish people to leave France, because to me the Jews are the same as any other citizen in our country. It takes weakness to chase them out of the country, but it takes strength to assimilate them." He was seen as so favourable to the Jews that the Russian Orthodox Church formally condemned him as "Antichrist and the Enemy of God".

Napoleon faced royalist and Jacobin plots as France's ruler, including the Conspiration des poignards (Dagger plot) in October 1800 and the Plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise (also known as the infernal machine) two months later. In January 1804, his police uncovered an assassination plot against him which involved Moreau and which was ostensibly sponsored by the Bourbon former rulers of France. On the advice of Talleyrand, Napoleon ordered the kidnapping of Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien, in violation of neighbouring Baden's sovereignty. After a secret trial the Duke was executed, even though he had not been involved in the plot.

Napoleon used the plot to justify the re-creation of a hereditary monarchy in France, with himself as emperor, as a Bourbon restoration would be more difficult if the Bonapartist succession was entrenched in the constitution. Napoleon crowned himself Emperor Napoleon I on 2 December 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris and then crowned Joséphine Empress. The story that he seized the crown out of the hands of Pope Pius VII during the ceremony to avoid his subjugation to the authority of the pontiff is apocryphal; the coronation procedure had been agreed in advance. At Milan Cathedral on 26 May 1805, Napoleon was crowned King of Italy with the Iron Crown of Lombardy. He created eighteen Marshals of the Empire from amongst his top generals, to secure the allegiance of the army. Ludwig van Beethoven, a long-time admirer, was disappointed at this turn towards imperialism and scratched his dedication to Napoleon from his 3rd Symphony.

By 1805, Britain had convinced Austria and Russia to join a Third Coalition against France. Napoleon knew the French fleet could not defeat the Royal Navy in a head-to-head battle and planned to lure it away from the English Channel. The French Navy would escape from the British blockades of Toulon and Brest and threaten to attack the West Indies, thus drawing off the British defence of the Western Approaches, in the hope a Franco-Spanish fleet could take control of the channel long enough for French armies to cross from Boulogne and invade England. However, after defeat at the naval Battle of Cape Finisterre in July 1805 and Admiral Villeneuve's retreat to Cadiz, invasion was never again a realistic option for Napoleon.

Instead, he ordered the army stationed at Boulogne, his Grande Armée, to march to Germany secretly in a turning movement—the Ulm Campaign. This encircled the Austrian forces about to attack France and severed their lines of communication. On 20 October 1805, the French captured 30,000 prisoners at Ulm, though the next day Britain's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar meant the Royal Navy gained control of the seas. Six weeks later, on the first anniversary of his coronation, Napoleon defeated Austria and Russia at Austerlitz. This ended the Third Coalition, and he commissioned the Arc de Triomphe to commemorate the victory. Austria had to concede territory; the Peace of Pressburg led to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and creation of the Confederation of the Rhine with Napoleon named as its Protector. Napoleon would go on to say, "The battle of Austerlitz is the finest of all I have fought." Frank McLynn suggests Napoleon was so successful at Austerlitz he lost touch with reality, and what used to be French foreign policy became a "personal Napoleonic one". Vincent Cronin disagrees, stating Napoleon was not overly ambitious for himself, that "he embodied the ambitions of thirty million Frenchmen".

Even after the failed campaign in Egypt, Napoleon continued to entertain a grand scheme to establish a French presence in the Middle East. An alliance with Middle-Eastern powers would have the strategic advantage of pressuring Russia on its southern border. From 1803, Napoleon went to considerable lengths to try to convince the Ottoman Empire to fight against Russia in the Balkans and join his anti-Russian coalition. Napoleon sent General Horace Sebastiani as envoy extraordinary, promising to help the Ottoman Empire recover lost territories. In February 1806, following Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz and the ensuing dismemberment of the Habsburg Empire, the Ottoman Emperor Selim III finally recognised Napoleon as Emperor, formally opting for an alliance with France "our sincere and natural ally", and war with Russia and England. A Franco-Persian alliance was also formed, from 1807 to 1809, between Napoleon and the Persian Empire of Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar, against Russia and Great Britain. The alliance ended when France allied with Russia and turned its focus to European campaigns.

The Fourth Coalition was assembled in 1806, and Napoleon defeated Prussia at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt in October. He marched against advancing Russian armies through Poland and was involved in the bloody stalemate of the Battle of Eylau on 6 February 1807.

After a decisive victory at Friedland, he signed the Treaties of Tilsit; one with Tsar Alexander I of Russia which divided the continent between the two powers; the other with Prussia which stripped that country of half its territory. Napoleon placed puppet rulers on the thrones of German states, including his brother Jérôme as king of the new Kingdom of Westphalia. In the French-controlled part of Poland, he established the Duchy of Warsaw with King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony as ruler.

With his Milan and Berlin Decrees, Napoleon attempted to enforce a Europe-wide commercial boycott of Britain called the Continental System. This act of economic warfare did not succeed, as it encouraged British merchants to smuggle into continental Europe, and Napoleon's exclusively land-based customs enforcers could not stop them.

Portugal did not comply with the Continental System, so in 1807 Napoleon invaded with the support of Spain. Under the pretext of a reinforcement of the Franco-Spanish army occupying Portugal, Napoleon invaded Spain as well, replaced Charles IV with his brother Joseph and placed his brother-in-law Joachim Murat in Joseph's stead at Naples. This led to resistance from the Spanish army and civilians in the Dos de Mayo Uprising. Following a French retreat from much of the country, Napoleon took command and defeated the Spanish Army. He retook Madrid, then outmanoeuvred a British army sent to support the Spanish and drove it to the coast. Before the Spanish population had been fully subdued, Austria again threatened war, and Napoleon returned to France.

The costly and often brutal Peninsular War continued in Napoleon's absence; in the second Siege of Saragossa most of the city was destroyed and over 50,000 people perished. Although Napoleon left 300,000 of his finest troops to battle Spanish guerrillas as well as British and Portuguese forces commanded by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, French control over the peninsula again deteriorated. Following several allied victories, the war concluded after Napoleon's abdication in 1814. Napoleon later described the Peninsular War as central to his final defeat, writing in his memoirs "That unfortunate war destroyed me... All... my disasters are bound up in that fatal knot."

In April 1809, Austria abruptly broke its alliance with France, and Napoleon was forced to assume command of forces on the Danube and German fronts. After early successes, the French faced difficulties in crossing the Danube and suffered a defeat in May at the Battle of Aspern-Essling near Vienna. The Austrians failed to capitalise on the situation and allowed Napoleon's forces to regroup. He defeated the Austrians again at Wagram, and the Treaty of Schönbrunn was signed between Austria and France.

Britain was the other member of the coalition. In addition to the Iberian Peninsula, the British planned to open another front in mainland Europe. However, Napoleon was able to rush reinforcements to Antwerp, owing to Britain's inadequately organised Walcheren Campaign. He concurrently annexed the Papal States because of the Church's refusal to support the Continental System; Pope Pius VII responded by excommunicating the emperor. The pope was then abducted by Napoleon's officers, and though Napoleon had not ordered his abduction, he did not order Pius' release. The pope was moved throughout Napoleon's territories, sometimes while ill, and Napoleon sent delegations to pressure him on issues including agreement to a new concordat with France, which Pius refused. In 1810 Napoleon married the Austrian Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, following his divorce of Joséphine; this further strained his relations with the Church, and thirteen cardinals were imprisoned for non-attendance at the marriage ceremony. The pope remained confined for 5 years and did not return to Rome until May 1814.

Napoleon consented to the ascent to the Swedish throne of Bernadotte, one of his marshals and a long-term rival of Napoleon's, in November 1810. Napoleon had indulged Bernadotte's indiscretions because he was married to Désirée Clary but came to regret sparing his life when Bernadotte later allied Sweden with France's enemies.

The Congress of Erfurt sought to preserve the Russo-French alliance, and the leaders had a friendly personal relationship after their first meeting at Tilsit in 1807. By 1811, however, tensions had increased and Alexander was under pressure from the Russian nobility to break off the alliance. An early sign the relationship had deteriorated was the Russian's virtual abandonment of the Continental System, which led Napoleon to threaten Alexander with serious consequences if he formed an alliance with Britain. By 1812, advisers to Alexander suggested the possibility of an invasion of the French Empire and the recapture of Poland. On receipt of intelligence reports on Russia's war preparations, Napoleon expanded his Grande Armée to more than 450,000 men. He ignored repeated advice against an invasion of the Russian heartland and prepared for an offensive campaign; on 23 June 1812 the invasion commenced.

In an attempt to gain increased support from Polish nationalists and patriots, Napoleon termed the war the Second Polish War—the First Polish War had been the Bar Confederation uprising by Polish nobles against Russia in 1768. Polish patriots wanted the Russian part of Poland to be joined with the Duchy of Warsaw and an independent Poland created. This was rejected by Napoleon, who stated he had promised his ally Austria this would not happen. Napoleon refused to manumit the Russian serfs because of concerns this might provoke a reaction in his army's rear. The serfs later committed atrocities against French soldiers during France's retreat.

The Russians avoided Napoleon's objective of a decisive engagement and instead retreated deeper into Russia. A brief attempt at resistance was made at Smolensk in August; the Russians were defeated in a series of battles, and Napoleon resumed his advance. The Russians again avoided battle, although in a few cases this was only achieved because Napoleon uncharacteristically hesitated to attack when the opportunity arose. Owing to the Russian army's scorched earth tactics, the French found it increasingly difficult to forage food for themselves and their horses.

The Russians eventually offered battle outside Moscow on 7 September: the Battle of Borodino resulted in approximately 44,000 Russian and 35,000 French dead, wounded or captured, and may have been the bloodiest day of battle in history up to that point in time. Although the French had won, the Russian army had accepted, and withstood, the major battle Napoleon had hoped would be decisive. Napoleon's own account was: "The most terrible of all my battles was the one before Moscow. The French showed themselves to be worthy of victory, but the Russians showed themselves worthy of being invincible."

The Russian army withdrew and retreated past Moscow. Napoleon entered the city, assuming its fall would end the war and Alexander would negotiate peace. However, on orders of the city's governor Feodor Rostopchin, rather than capitulation, Moscow was burned. After a month, concerned about loss of control back in France, Napoleon and his army left.

The French suffered greatly in the course of a ruinous retreat, including from the harshness of the Russian Winter. The Armée had begun as over 400,000 frontline troops, but in the end fewer than 40,000 crossed the Berezina River in November 1812. The Russians had lost 150,000 in battle and hundreds of thousands of civilians.

There was a lull in fighting over the winter of 1812–13 while both the Russians and the French rebuilt their forces; Napoleon was then able to field 350,000 troops. Heartened by France's loss in Russia, Prussia joined with Austria, Sweden, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal in a new coalition. Napoleon assumed command in Germany and inflicted a series of defeats on the Coalition culminating in the Battle of Dresden in August 1813. Despite these successes, the numbers continued to mount against Napoleon, and the French army was pinned down by a force twice its size and lost at the Battle of Leipzig. This was by far the largest battle of the Napoleonic Wars and cost more than 90,000 casualties in total.

Napoleon withdrew back into France, his army reduced to 70,000 soldiers and 40,000 stragglers, against more than three times as many Allied troops. The French were surrounded: British armies pressed from the south, and other Coalition forces positioned to attack from the German states. Napoleon won a series of victories in the Six Days' Campaign, though these were not significant enough to turn the tide; Paris was captured by the Coalition in March 1814.

When Napoleon proposed the army march on the capital, his marshals decided to mutiny. On 4 April, led by Ney, they confronted Napoleon. Napoleon asserted the army would follow him, and Ney replied the army would follow its generals. Napoleon had no choice but to abdicate. He did so in favour of his son; however, the Allies refused to accept this, and Napoleon was forced to abdicate unconditionally on 11 April.

The Allied Powers having declared that Emperor Napoleon was the sole obstacle to the restoration of peace in Europe, Emperor Napoleon, faithful to his oath, declares that he renounces, for himself and his heirs, the thrones of France and Italy, and that there is no personal sacrifice, even that of his life, which he is not ready to do in the interests of France.
Done in the palace of Fontainebleau, 11 April 1814.
—Act of abdication of Napoleon

In the Treaty of Fontainebleau, the victors exiled him to Elba, an island of 12,000 inhabitants in the Mediterranean, 20 km off the Tuscan coast. They gave him sovereignty over the island and allowed him to retain his title of emperor. Napoleon attempted suicide with a pill he had carried since a near-capture by Russians on the retreat from Moscow. Its potency had weakened with age, and he survived to be exiled while his wife and son took refuge in Austria. In the first few months on Elba he created a small navy and army, developed the iron mines, and issued decrees on modern agricultural methods.

Separated from his wife and son, who had come under Austrian control, cut off from the allowance guaranteed to him by the Treaty of Fontainebleau, and aware of rumours he was about to be banished to a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean, Napoleon escaped from Elba on 26 February 1815. He landed at Golfe-Juan on the French mainland, two days later. The 5th Regiment was sent to intercept him and made contact just south of Grenoble on 7 March 1815. Napoleon approached the regiment alone, dismounted his horse and, when he was within gunshot range, shouted, "Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish." The soldiers responded with, "Vive L'Empereur!" and marched with Napoleon to Paris; Louis XVIII fled. On 13 March, the powers at the Congress of Vienna declared Napoleon an outlaw, and four days later Great Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia bound themselves to each put 150,000 men into the field to end his rule. Napoleon arrived in Paris on 20 March and governed for a period now called the Hundred Days. By the start of June the armed forces available to him had reached 200,000, and he decided to go on the offensive to attempt to drive a wedge between the oncoming British and Prussian armies. The French Army of the North crossed the frontier into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, in modern-day Belgium.

Napoleon's forces fought the allies, led by Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815. Wellington's army withstood repeated attacks by the French and drove them from the field while the Prussians arrived in force and broke through Napoleon's right flank. Napoleon was defeated because he had to fight two armies with one, attacking an army in an excellent defensive position through wet and muddy terrain. His health that day may have affected his presence and vigour on the field, added to the fact that his subordinates may have let him down. Despite this, Napoleon came very close to clinching victory. Outnumbered, the French army left the battlefield in disorder, which allowed Coalition forces to enter France and restore Louis XVIII to the French throne.

Off the port of Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, after consideration of an escape to the United States, Napoleon formally demanded political asylum from the British Captain Frederick Maitland on HMS Bellerophon on 15 July 1815.

Napoleon was imprisoned and then exiled to the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean, 1,870 km from the west coast of Africa. In his first two months there, he lived in a pavilion on the Briars estate, which belonged to a William Balcombe. Napoleon became friendly with his family, especially his younger daughter Lucia Elizabeth who later wrote Recollections of the Emperor Napoleon. This friendship ended in 1818 when British authorities became suspicious that Balcombe had acted as an intermediary between Napoleon and Paris and dismissed him from the island.

Napoleon moved to Longwood House in December 1815; it had fallen into disrepair, and the location was damp, windswept and unhealthy. The Times published articles insinuating the British government was trying to hasten his death, and he often complained of the living conditions in letters to the governor and his custodian, Hudson Lowe. With a small cadre of followers, Napoleon dictated his memoirs and criticised his captors—particularly Lowe. Lowe's treatment of Napoleon is regarded as poor by historians such as Frank McLynn. Lowe exacerbated a difficult situation through measures including a reduction in Napoleon's expenditure, a rule that no gifts could be delivered to him if they mentioned his imperial status, and a document his supporters had to sign that guaranteed they would stay with the prisoner indefinitely.

In 1818, The Times reported a false rumour of Napoleon's escape and said the news had been greeted by spontaneous illuminations in London. There was sympathy for him in the British Parliament: Lord Holland gave a speech which demanded the prisoner be treated with no unnecessary harshness. Napoleon kept himself informed of the events through The Times and hoped for release in the event that Holland became prime minister. He also enjoyed the support of Lord Cochrane, who was involved in Chile's and Brazil's struggle for independence and wanted to rescue Napoleon and help him set up a new empire in South America, a scheme frustrated by Napoleon's death in 1821. There were other plots to rescue Napoleon from captivity including one from Texas, where exiled soldiers from the Grande Armée wanted a resurrection of the Napoleonic Empire in America. There was even a plan to rescue him with a primitive submarine! For Lord Byron, Napoleon was the epitome of the Romantic hero, the persecuted, lonely and flawed genius. The news that Napoleon had taken up gardening at Longwood also appealed to more domestic British sensibilities.

In February 1821, his health began to fail rapidly, and on 3 May two British physicians who had recently arrived attended him and could only recommend palliatives. He died two days later, after confession, Extreme Unction and Viaticum in the presence of Father Ange Vignali. His last words were, "France, armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine."("France, army, head of the army, Joséphine.") Napoleon's original death mask was created around 6 May, though it is not clear which doctor created it. In his will, he had asked to be buried on the banks of the Seine, but the British governor said he should be buried on St. Helena, in the Valley of the Willows. Hudson Lowe insisted the inscription should read 'Napoleon Bonaparte'; Montholon and Bertrand wanted the Imperial title 'Napoleon' as royalty were signed by their first names only. As a result the tomb was left nameless.

In 1840, Louis Philippe I obtained permission from the British to return Napoleon's remains to France. The remains were transported aboard the frigate Belle-Poule, which had been painted black for the occasion, and on 29 November she arrived in Cherbourg. The remains were transferred to the steamship Normandie, which transported them to Le Havre, up the Seine to Rouen and on to Paris. On 15 December, a state funeral was held. The hearse proceeded from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées, across the Place de la Concorde to the Esplanade des Invalides and then to the cupola in St Jérôme's Chapel, where it stayed until the tomb designed by Louis Visconti was completed. In 1861, Napoleon's remains were entombed in a porphyry sarcophagus in the crypt under the dome at Les Invalides.

Napoleon's physician, François Carlo Antommarchi, led the autopsy which found the cause of death to be stomach cancer, though he did not sign the official report. Napoleon's father had died of stomach cancer though this was seemingly unknown at the time of the autopsy. Antommarchi found evidence of a stomach ulcer, and it was the most convenient explanation for the British who wanted to avoid criticism over their care of the emperor.

In 1955, the diaries of Napoleon's valet, Louis Marchand, appeared in print. His description of Napoleon in the months before his death led Sten Forshufvud to put forward other causes for his death, including deliberate arsenic poisoning, in a 1961 paper in Nature. Arsenic was used as a poison during the era because it was undetectable when administered over a long period. Forshufvud, in a 1978 book with Ben Weider, noted the emperor's body was found to be remarkably well-preserved when moved in 1840. Arsenic is a strong preservative, and therefore this supported the poisoning hypothesis. Forshufvud and Weider observed that Napoleon had attempted to quench abnormal thirst by drinking high levels of orgeat syrup that contained cyanide compounds in the almonds used for flavouring. They maintained that the potassium tartrate used in his treatment prevented his stomach from expellation of these compounds and that the thirst was a symptom of poisoning. Their hypothesis was that the calomel given to Napoleon became an overdose, which killed him and left behind extensive tissue damage. A 2007 article stated the type of arsenic found in Napoleon's hair shafts was mineral type, the most toxic, and according to toxicologist Patrick Kintz, this supported the conclusion his death was murder.

The wallpaper used in Longwood contained a high level of arsenic compound used for colouring by British manufacturers. The adhesive, which in the cooler British environment was innocuous, may have grown mould in the more humid climate and emitted the poisonous gas arsine. This theory has been ruled out as it does not explain the arsenic absorption patterns found in other analyses.

There have been modern studies which have supported the original autopsy finding. Researchers, in a 2008 study, analysed samples of Napoleon's hair from throughout his life, and from his family and other contemporaries. All samples had high levels of arsenic, approximately 100 times higher than the current average. According to these researchers, Napoleon's body was already heavily contaminated with arsenic as a boy, and the high arsenic concentration in his hair was not caused by intentional poisoning; people were constantly exposed to arsenic from glues and dyes throughout their lives. 2007 and 2008 studies dismissed evidence of arsenic poisoning, and confirmed evidence of peptic ulcer and gastric cancer as the cause of death.

Napoleon married Joséphine de Beauharnais in 1796, when he was twenty-six; she was a thirty-two-year-old widow whose first husband had been executed during the Revolution. Until she met Bonaparte, she had been known as 'Rose', a name which he disliked. He called her 'Joséphine' instead, and she went by this name henceforth. Bonaparte often sent her love letters while on his campaigns. He formally adopted her son Eugène and cousin Stéphanie and arranged dynastic marriages for them. Joséphine had her daughter Hortense marry Napoleon's brother Louis.

Joséphine had lovers, including a Hussar lieutenant, Hippolyte Charles, during Napoleon's Italian campaign. Napoleon learnt the full extent of her affair with Charles while in Egypt, and a letter he wrote to his brother Joseph regarding the subject was intercepted by the British. The letter appeared in the London and Paris presses, much to Napoleon's embarrassment. Napoleon had his own affairs too: during the Egyptian campaign he took Pauline Bellisle Foures, the wife of a junior officer, as his mistress. She became known as Cleopatra after the Ancient Egyptian ruler.

While Napoleon's mistresses had children by him, Joséphine did not produce an heir, possibly because of either the stresses of her imprisonment during the Reign of Terror or an abortion she may have had in her twenties. Napoleon ultimately chose divorce so he could remarry in search of an heir. In March 1810, he married Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, and a great niece of Marie Antoinette by proxy; thus he had married into a German royal and imperial family. They remained married until his death, though she did not join him in exile on Elba and thereafter never saw her husband again. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles (1811–1832), known from birth as the King of Rome. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks. He was awarded the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis aged 21, with no children.

Napoleon acknowledged two illegitimate children: Charles Léon (1806–1881) by Eléonore Denuelle de La Plaigne, and Count Alexandre Joseph Colonna-Walewski (1810–1868) by Countess Marie Walewska. He may have had further unacknowledged illegitimate offspring as well, such as Karl Eugin von Mühlfeld by Victoria Kraus; Hélène Napoleone Bonaparte (1816–1910) by Albine de Montholon; and Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire, whose mother remains unknown.

Napoleon's baptism was held in Ajaccio on 21 July 1771, he was piously raised and received a Christian education, however his teachers failed to give faith to the young boy. As an adult, Napoleon was described as a "deist with involuntary respect and fondness for Catholicism." He never believed in a living God, Napoleon's deity was an absent and distant God, but he pragmatically considered organised religions as key elements of social order, and especially Catholicism, whose "splendorous ceremonies and sublime moral" better act over the imagination of the people than other religions. Napoleon had a civil marriage with Joséphine de Beauharnais, without religious ceremony, on 9 March 1796. During the campaign in Egypt, Napoleon showed much tolerance towards religion for a revolutionary general, holding discussions with muslim scholars and ordering religious celebrations, but General Dupuy, who accompanied Napoleon, revealed the political reasons for such behaviour: "We are fooling Egyptians with our pretended interest for their religion; neither Bonaparte nor we believe in this religion more than we did in Pius the Defunct's one". Napoleon crowned himself Emperor Napoleon I on 2 December 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris with the benediction of Pope Pius VII. The 1 April 1810, Napoleon religiously maried the Austrian princess Marie Louise. In a private discussion with general Gourgaud during his exile on Saint Helena, Napoleon expressed materialistic views on the origin of man,[note 14] and doubted the divinity of Jesus, stating that it is absurd to believe that Socrates, Plato, Muhammad and the Anglicans should be damned for not being Roman Catholics. However Napoleon was anointed by a priest before his death.

Napoleon has become a worldwide cultural icon who symbolises military genius and political power. Since his death, many towns, streets, ships, and even cartoon characters have been named after him. He has been portrayed in hundreds of films and discussed in hundreds of thousands of books and articles.

During the Napoleonic Wars he was taken seriously by the British press as a dangerous tyrant, poised to invade. A nursery rhyme warned children that Bonaparte ravenously ate naughty people; the 'bogeyman'. The British Tory press sometimes depicted Napoleon as much smaller than average height, and this image persists. Confusion about his height also results from the difference between the French pouce and British inch—2.71 and 2.54 cm respectively; he was about 1.7 metres (5 ft 7 in) tall, average height for the period.

In The Plumb-pudding in danger (1805), James Gillray caricatured a diminutive Napoleon
In 1908 psychologist Alfred Adler cited Napoleon to describe an inferiority complex in which short people adopt an over-aggressive behaviour to compensate for lack of height; this inspired the term Napoleon complex. The stock character of Napoleon is a comically short "petty tyrant" and this has become a cliché in popular culture. He is often portrayed wearing a large bicorne hat with a hand-in-waistcoat gesture—a reference to the 1812 painting by Jacques-Louis David.

In the field of military organisation, Napoleon borrowed from previous theorists such as Jacques Antoine Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert, and from the reforms of preceding French governments, and then developed much of what was already in place. He continued the policy, which emerged from the Revolution, of promotion based primarily on merit. Corps replaced divisions as the largest army units, mobile artillery was integrated into reserve batteries, the staff system became more fluid and cavalry returned as an important formation in French military doctrine. These methods are now referred to as essential features of Napoleonic warfare. Though he consolidated the practice of modern conscription introduced by the Directory, one of the restored monarchy's first acts was to end it.

Weapons and other kinds of military technology remained largely static through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras, but 18th century operational mobility underwent significant change. Napoleon's biggest influence was in the conduct of warfare. Napoleon was regarded by the influential military theorist Carl von Clausewitz as a genius in the operational art of war, and historians rank him as a great military commander. Wellington, when asked who was the greatest general of the day, answered: "In this age, in past ages, in any age, Napoleon."

Napoleon suffered various military setbacks however: Aspern-Essling in 1809, Russia in 1812 and at Leipzig in 1813. He also had to abandon his forces in Egypt — the result of strategic defeat rather than any reverse in pitched battle. With the exception of two small scale battles in Italy, Napoleon was not defeated in a field battle without being heavily outnumbered.

Under Napoleon, a new emphasis towards the destruction, not just outmanoeuvring, of enemy armies emerged. Invasions of enemy territory occurred over broader fronts which made wars costlier and more decisive. The political impact of war increased significantly; defeat for a European power meant more than the loss of isolated enclaves. Near-Carthaginian peaces intertwined whole national efforts, intensifying the Revolutionary phenomenon of total war.

In French political history, Bonapartism has two meanings. The term can refer to people who restored the French Empire under the House of Bonaparte including Napoleon's Corsican family and his nephew Louis. Napoleon left a Bonapartist dynasty which ruled France again; Louis became Napoleon III, Emperor of the Second French Empire and was the first President of France. In a wider sense, Bonapartism refers to a broad centrist or center-right political movement that advocates the idea of a strong and centralised state, based on populism.

Napoleon ended lawlessness and disorder in post-Revolutionary France. He was, however, considered a tyrant and usurper by his opponents.

His critics charge that he was not significantly troubled when faced with the prospect of war and death for thousands, turned his search for undisputed rule into a series of conflicts throughout Europe and ignored treaties and conventions alike. His role in the Haitian Revolution and decision to reinstate slavery in France's oversea colonies are controversial and have an impact on his reputation. Napoleon institutionalised plunder of conquered territories: French museums contain art stolen by Napoleon's forces from across Europe. Artefacts were brought to the Musée du Louvre for a grand central museum; his example would later serve as inspiration for more notorious imitators. He was compared to Adolf Hitler most famously by the historian Pieter Geyl in 1947. David G. Chandler, historian of Napoleonic warfare, wrote that, "Nothing could be more degrading to the former and more flattering to the latter."

Critics argue Napoleon's true legacy must reflect the loss of status for France and needless deaths brought by his rule: historian Victor Davis Hanson writes, "After all, the military record is unquestioned—17 years of wars, perhaps six million Europeans dead, France bankrupt, her overseas colonies lost." McLynn notes that, "He can be viewed as the man who set back European economic life for a generation by the dislocating impact of his wars. However, Vincent Cronin replies that such criticism relies on the flawed premise that Napoleon was responsible for the wars which bear his name, when in fact France was the victim of a series of coalitions which aimed to destroy the ideals of the Revolution.

International Napoleonic Congresses are held regularly and include participation by members of the French and American military, French politicians and scholars from different countries.

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