Following in the footsteps of Napoleon I at Les Invalides …

Do you know this famous figure? Let's discover the painting, objects and equipment in the Museum that tell the legendary story of the First Empire through images…

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821), Divisional General (Ca. 1900) by Jean-Baptiste-Édouard Detaille (Painter)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

Napoleon leaves his homeland of Corsica      

Born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio to a lower-nobility family, Napoleon Bonaparte left Corsica at the age of 9 to attend the Brienne military school. 

Meubles du lieutenant Bonaparte à Auxonne (4th quarter of the 18th century)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

Military training    

The Museum preserves this piece of furniture, which was given to every new officer arriving at the Auxonne barracks. We can imagine the table covered in books because, after his service, Napoleon devoted a lot of time to reading: military art, history, geography, and classics.

Bonaparte et son Ètat-major en Italie, 1796 (1897) by Jean-Baptiste-Edouard Detaille (Artist)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

Diverse experiences ahead of his time

In 1796–1797, appointed as head of 45,000 men in the Italian army, following brilliant victories, Napoleon marched on Vienna and imposed the Treaty of Campo Formio on the Austriansm without referring to the government. A politician lies beneath the general …

Bonaparte en Égypte devant les Pyramides (Ca.1980) by FlammantMusée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

After his early successes in Italy, General Bonaparte was sent to Egypt. It was also a question of removing a slightly overambitious general. The famous Battle of the Pyramids took place on July 21, 1798.

Bonaparte franchissant les Alpes au Grand-Saint-Bernard (1840) by Georges Rouget (Painter) and Based on Jacques-Louis David (Painter)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

On his return from Egypt, Napoléon was named First Consul and left for Italy for a second campaign. He crossed the Alps with his army via the Great Saint Bernard Pass and fought the Austrians in Marengo. His successes afforded him a triumphant return to Paris.

Napoleon I on the Imperial Throne Napoleon I on the Imperial Throne (1806) by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (Painter)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

The coronation    

Napoleon became Emperor of France on May 18, 1804. The coronation was organized several months later on December 2, 1804, in Notre-Dame in Paris. Napoleon wore several outfits for the occasion, including the Grand Habillement. in which the painter Ingres depicts him in 1806.

The Sentinel (Ca.1900) by Jean-Baptiste-Édouard Detaille (Painter)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

More and more power

Napoleon I sought to give France a dominant position in Europe. The war therefore continued to be punctuated by famous victories in Austerlitz, Jena, and even Friedland …

Napoleon at Fontainebleau, March 31, 1814 (1840) by Hippolyte a.k.a. Paul Delaroche (Painter)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

Everything must come to an end    

Napoleon I sought to give France a dominant position in Europe. The war therefore continued to be punctuated by famous victories in Austerlitz, Jena, and even Friedland …

Collection Artaria Fuite de Bonaparte de l'Ile d'Elbe, le 26 février 1815Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

The return    

On February 26, 1815, Napoleon left the island of Elba to try and regain power. 

Collection Artaria Débarquement de Napoléon à la Baye de Juan près d'Antibes, le 28 février 1815Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

He arrived in France at Golfe-Juan on March 1, leading an army of 1,000 men and marching on Paris while rallying other troops. This period is known as the Hundred Days.

View from Mont Saint-Jean of the battle of Waterloo, 18 juin 1815 (1816) by Robert Bowyer (Engraver)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

Everything decided in a few days…    

The French army invaded Belgium and fought the Prussian troops in Ligny on June 16. On June 18, the British army, supported by the Prussian army, took victory at Waterloo. 

L'empereur Napoléon Ier à Sainte-Hélène (1st half of the 19th century)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

On June 22, Napoleon abdicated and was exiled to the island of Saint Helena, 4,350 miles (7,000 km) from France.

Allégorie du retour des Cendres de Napoléon Ier, le 15 décembre 1840 (2nd half of the 19th century) by François Trichot (Painter)Musée de l'Armée - Hôtel des Invalides

The Emperor's tomb    

Napoleon died on the island of Saint Helena on May 5, 1821. In 1840, King Louis-Philippe charged his son, the Prince of Joinville, with bringing back the Emperor's coffin: the "return of the ashes." The Dôme was chosen as his burial site.

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