On this day in 1804, the French Senate proclaimed Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) emperor. Of course, the tyrannical 5'2" dynamo had already declared himself hereditary Emperor of France, and disbanded the Consulate.
"The sword and the spirit are the two mightiest forces in the world," he once said. "Yet the spirit is mightiest of the two."
Born in Ajaccio, Corsica, Napoléon was one of the world's greatest leaders who conquered most of Europe in a seies of brilliant military victories. He lived his life with optimism, courage, and self-confidence and inspired his soldiers with unwavering passion.
"Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools," said the man who seized power of France in 1799 and held firm until his retreat from Russia in 1812 and final defeat at Waterloo in 1815.
His influence is evident in his homeland today. His civil code, still the law in much of Europe, reorganized the courts and guaranteed citizen freedom.
He said, "A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights."
Paris glows with reminders of him--the most obvious being the Arc de Triomphe, the centerpiece of the Champs Elysées. Napoleon conceived the Arc so his victorious troops could march through it, cheered by the population of Paris.
The Arc was finished in 1836, 21 years after General Wellington defeated Napoléon at the Belgian battlefield of Waterloo. In 1840, the ceremonial procession bearing Napoléon's remains passed under the Arc then ended at the Dome of the Invalides.
More NAPOLEON Quotations
Love one another.