French Royalty: Napoleon's Boyhood

Figure 1.--

Napoleon Bonepart was born on the island of Corsica on Aug 15, 1769. Fascinatingly the most celebrated French leader of all time as a boy and youth hated the French and and France. Corsica for generations had been ruled by Genoa and historically and linguistically Corsica was more Italian than French. A year before Napoleon's birth, the French had ceased Corscia in 1768 and suppressed local resistance with over powering military force. Napoleon's father was part of the local nobility, but had little money. While bitterly resenting the French invasion, decided that it was futile to resist and accepted French. His son never forgave him for this.


Napoleon's parents were Leticia and Carlo Bonaparte members of a minor but impoversished aristcratic family.


Some Corscicans resisted French rule and fled to the mointains to fight. Carlo instead submitted, sensing that resistance was futile. He began practicing law. He was elected to the island's French Council. Napoleon never forgave his father and in later life never had a kind word for him.


Napoleon in contrast revered his mother. Leticia was an austere woman with a steely determination. She gave birth 13 times an 8 children survived. She was a severe determination. Sge punished her children to teach them sacrifice and determination. He would occassion be sent to bed without dinner to teach him discipline.


It was into melieu that the Italian/Corsican speaking Napoleoni Bonaparte was born in 1769. He was alter to say that he was born as Corsica was dieing.


Whike his family had little money, they were comfortable by local standards. They had both a city and country home.

Boyhood Clothes

HBC has no information at this time on Napoleon's boyhood or clothes.


As a boy, Napoleon made an enemy while still on Corsica-Pozzo di Borgo. He was to eventually become France's ambassador to Russia and an early vissionary of a united Europe. [Mansel]


Carlo realized that while a member of the Corsican aristocracy, he would always be considered a country bmumpkin in France. He wanted more for his children. There were, however, very limited prospects for them in the backward Corsican economy. Carlo if anything was a social climber. Through his position on the Council, he secured a scolarship for his son in a French military school at ??.

Napoleon in 1778 first came to France to attend the school. He was 9 years old and could not even speak French. He was extremely uphappy there. The other boys laughed at his poor French. He was, however, a scolarship boy in a school where most of the boys came from aristocratic families. He was at the school for 5 years. He did not return home for holidays or vacations. One report indicates that at this early age he eventually became a leader among the boys. Another report indicates that he was scorned by the other boys for his poor French and lowly birth. He became a lowner. He was not a good student, with the exception of mathematics. Even after several years he spoke bad, heavily accented French. He continued to despise France and the French.

Napoleon at age 15 was accepted to the Royal Milirary School. It was in many ways a finishong school for soonty aristocratic boys--future officers in the kings's army, rather than an advanced military school as we know it today. At 16 he was commissioned a first leutenit in an artilery unit. It was here that he learned his craft as a soldier.


Mansel, Philip. Paris Between Empires: Monarchy and Revolution, 1814-1852 (St. Martin's, 2003), 559p.


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Created: April 27, 2001
Last updated: April 29, 2003