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:

Napoleon Bonaparte


image: slidesharecdn.com

1. Napoleon wasn’t French!

Napoleon Bonaparte

It’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 1806

Early in 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 translate 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!



Napoleon, 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 that Josephine’s dog thought she was under attack and came to her rescue. Poor Napoleon!
Source: factspedia.org, image: wikimedia.org

5. Played chess with 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 its interiors.
Source: list25.com, image: wikimedia.org

6. Napoleon cheated at cards



Napoleon 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 and as he hated being lost, 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 Food

We 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. 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 Right

Napoleon changed the world standard of driving. Before Napoleon, the horse riders would hold their left hand 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 Study

Napoleon 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 love story!

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…

How 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

13.but he took a nap during major battles!

Napoleon at the battlefield

Napoleon 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!


Napoleon firmly 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 also his influence and power.
Source: factspedia.org, image: ancientegypt.co.uk

16. Napoleon sold Louisiana to the 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. The Hitler connection!

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?

night writing

Confused? Night writing was actually another one of Napoleon’s military tactics so that soldiers on the battlefield could easily read documents in the 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, image: historytoday.com

20. And the famous quote…

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. Nobody knows his death cause!

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