21 Interesting Facts About Napoleon Bonaparte

We all know that Napoleon was one of the greatest military commanders in history. We have also read about his military genius, rise to power, reforms, military campaigns and fall from glory during our school. Sure the textbook stuff was interesting but today we unveil some other lesser known facts about the power hungry conqueror. Here are some interesting facts about Napoleon Bonaparte which you may not be aware of.

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte

1. Napoleon wasn’t French

Napoleon BonaparteIt’s true! Napoleon’s family was more Italian than French. He was born on the Island of Corsica, which wasn’t 100% French as the island just had a year of being in French power and they had a different accent. At age 9, Napoleon, nicknamed Nabulio, attended school in France, where he learned to speak French fluently but never lost his Corsican accent. He was reportedly mocked for it by his classmates.
Source: history.com, image: flickr

2. The Little Corporal was tall enough

Napoleon in 1806Early during his military career Napoleon was nicknamed “The Little Corporal” for his allegedly short stature. However he had an average height during those times, about 1.70 m. The confusion regarding his height was due to the fact that the height recorded at the time of his death was 5 ft 2 in French units which translates to 5 foot 6 in present times. Another reason was he liked to keep extremely tall soldiers around him which made him appear shorter.
Source: list25.com, image: wikimedia.org

3. Bravery isn’t the absence of fear

catNapoleon, the greatest military commanders in history is known to have “Ailurophobia”, meaning he was afraid of cats. He was also terrified of open doors. Anybody entering his room had to squeeze through a barely adequate opening and then shut the door immediately. It was said that Napoleon could create an effective “Queen of Hearts” impression – off with your head! if someone let the door open.
Source: list25.com

4. First night tragedy


It was a rather funny incident when Napoleon was bitten by his wife’s dog at their first night. The couple became so passionate about the process, that Josephine’s dog thought she was under attack and came to her rescue. Poor Napoleon!
Source: factspedia.org, image: wikimedia.org

5. Beaten by a machine

The Turk
The secret interior of the Turk

Napoleon was not one to be upstaged but was famously beaten in chess by the Turk, a fake chess playing machine. What Napoleon wasn’t aware of was that the Turk had a person hiding in it’s interiors.
Source: list25.com, image: wikimedia.org

6. Napoleon cheated at cards

napoleonNapoleon hated to lose and took pains to avoid it. Though his skills of perception and prompt judgment helped him master everything which came in his way, he was, surprisingly not a pro at any game, however simple. Hating to lose, his only resource was to cheat.
Source: shannonselin.com

7. Napoleon incognito

Napoleon really enjoyed disguising himself as bourgeois and dressing up in poor clothes to walk Paris, asking questions to people. This way, he would know how people felt about him and his policies, and how popular he really was. He must have enjoyed a lot doing that.
Source: list25.com

8. Napoleon’s idea of canned food

canned foodWe all know that Napoleon is considered to have been a military genius but did you know that canned food was also one of his military tactics. Food had to be transported halfway across European continent when Napoleon’s army was engaged in battle during all that conquering stuff. In an effort to counter the issue, French troops started using canned food and became the first to use it on a consistent basis.
Source: list25.com


9. Another one of Napoleon’s idea

keep rightNapoleon changed the world standard of driving. Before Napoleon, the horse riders would hold their left on a road everywhere in continental Europe so that the right hand carrying the sword can be used to attack if need be. Napoleon thought it to be an old tactic and changed sides to surprise his enemies and this spread over all the conquered lands except Great Britain as it was never conquered by Napoleon. This means most countries in the world today are still following Napoleon in at least one way.
Source: apecsec.org

10. Poison around his neck

The Emperor Napoleon in His StudyNapoleon wore a packet of poison around his neck so that he wouldn’t have to deal with being captured, deported, or all that other stuff that comes to a wannabe world conqueror that loses.  When he finally went to use it in 1814 it only succeeded in making him violently ill as it had lost its potency.
Source: list25.com, image: wikimedia.org

11. A written down love

Clisson et Eugenie
Clisson et Eugenie by Napoleon Bonapart

Usually portrayed as a power hungry conqueror, this strong and ambitious man had a romantic side too. Desiree Clary had her fairy tale love life penned down for generations to admire by Napoleon Bonaparte which was an autobiography of his relation with her. The romantic novel written in 1795 “Clisson et Eugenie” was published in 1920.
Source: express.co.uk, image: amazon.com

12. He hardly slept a wink…


Napoléon_BonaparteHow much sleep does a person need? Napoleon claimed, “Six for a man, seven for a woman, and eight for a fool!” Napoleon usually slept for 3-4 hrs only. He had a superhuman ability to sleep and wake up at his own will. He could even skip nights’ worth of sleep with ease.
Source: listland.com, image: wikimedia.org

13.but he took a nap during major battles

Napoleon at the battlefieldNapoleon used to nap just before major battles as soundly as a baby in swaddling. It is said that before his triumph at the battle of Austerlitz he slept deeply and barely awakened. Also during the Wagram battle, at the very decisive moment, he took a brief nap of twenty minutes and continued to give orders after waking up as if nothing had happened.
Source: factspedia.org, image: 

14. Napoleon was superstitious

Josephine Napoleon strongly believed in omens, demons and the concept of luck. He always carried a picture of his wife for good luck. He disliked Fridays and the number 13. He also considered 2nd December –his coronation day in 1804 and the day of his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 – one of his lucky days.
Source: shannonselin.com, image: wikimedia.org

15. Curse of the statue of Seth

statue of seth
Statue of Seth

Napoleon brought a giant statue of Seth on his way back from the Egyptian campaign, which was said, had immense power. As a matter of fact during the war of 1812, when the statue was being transported across the Seine it drowned due to an accident. After this incident, there came a critical point in Napoleon’s life when he started losing major battles and his influence and power.
Source: factspedia.org, image: ancientegypt.co.uk

16. Napoleon sold Louisiana to US

The United States must thank Napoleon for Louisiana. Napoleon urgently needed money and believed that protecting it from the British North America would be unwise and therefore, sold it for less than three cents per acre or $7.40 per km².
Source: factspedia.org

17. What does Napoleon and Hitler have in common?

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler

The similarities between Napoleon and Hitler’s timelines can make any conspiracy theorist shiver with excitement. All the important events like their birth, rise to power, the conquest of the Austrian capital, and, finally, defeat in wars have occurred with a difference of 129 years. Shocking right!
Source: factspedia.org, image: wikimedia.org

18. Victim of the British Tabloids

Napoleon became one of the very first victims of British tabloid when the letter he wrote to his brother about the affair of his wife Josephine somehow found its way into the hands of some British tabloids. Napoleon was deeply humiliated in front of entire Europe.
Source: historylists.org

19. Night Writing or Braille?

brailleConfused? Night writing was actually another one of Napoleon’s military tactics so that soldiers on battlefield could easily read documents in dark and communicate without making a sound. He requested a code system but it was too complex for the soldiers to learn. The system proved its worth when a 12 year old blind boy, Louis Braille learned night writing and inspired by it developed the Braille system for visually impaired. So again we can pass on some credit to Napoleon for this excellent idea.
Source: top10hq.com

20. Misquoted

Portrait of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” – one of the most widely used expressions in the English language is credited to Napoleon. However his words were “A good sketch is better than a long speech.” Though it sounds similar but is different enough for Napoleon’s “authorship” of the phrase to be challenged.
Source: historlists.org, image: wikimedia.org

21. Mystery behind the cause of his death

Napoleon death at St Helena
Napoleon death at St Helena

There has been a debate behind the cause of Napoleon’s death and many legends were fabricated with respect to the circumstances of his death. Some speculate it to be a murder by poisoning, considering the high levels of arsenic found in his liver, while others attribute it to stomach cancer, a hereditary condition in his family.
Source: mentalfloss.com, image: wikimedia.org