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Introduction

Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe.

He was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814 and again in 1815. He implemented a wide array of liberal reforms across Europe, including the abolition of feudalism and the spread of religious toleration. His legal code in France, the Napoleonic Code, influenced numerous civil laws that became an integral part of modern civil law. Napoleon is remembered for his role in leading France  to a series of of so called Napoleonic Wars, including disastrous campaign in Russia in 1812 in which he lost almost all the army.

Before campaign of 8012 he won the majority of his battles and seized control of most of continental Europe in a quest for personal power and to spread the ideals of the French Revolution. Widely regarded as one of the greatest commanders in history, his campaigns are studied at military academies worldwide. He remains one of the most studied political and military leaders in all of history of mankind.
 

Memorable quotes

  1. "You can do anything with bayonets except sit on them"
  2.  “On s’engage et puis ... on voit.” -- “First engage in a serious battle and then see what happens.
  3. God is on the side with the best artillery
  4. Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress.
  5. Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.
  6. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  7. A leader is a dealer in hope.
  8. A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.
  9. The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.
  10. A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.
  11. One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent.
  12. A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.
  13. A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.
  14. A true man hates no one.
  15. Ability is nothing without opportunity.
  16. All religions have been made by men.
  17. An army marches on its stomach.
  18. Courage is like love; it must have hope to nourish it.
  19. Every soldier carries a marshall's baton in his pack.
  20. Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.
  21. From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us.
  22. He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.
  23. History is a set of lies agreed upon.
  24. History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.
  25. Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
  26. Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
  27. In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
  28. In politics... never retreat, never retract... never admit a mistake.
  29. It is the cause and not the death that makes the martyr.
  30. Men take only their needs into consideration - never their abilities.
  31. Music is the voice that tells us that the human race is greater than it knows.
  32. Remember, gentlemen, what a Roman emperor said: The corpse of an enemy always smells sweet.
  33. If you wage war, do it energetically and with severity. This is the only way to make it shorter and consequently less inhuman.
  34. In war, the moral element and public opinion are half the battle.
  35. Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.
  36. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
  37. The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one's designs to one's means.
  38. Victory belongs to the most persevering.
  39. An accountant is a man who watches the battle from the safety of the hills and then comes down to bayonet the wounded
  40. «Je me manque deux batteries pour balayer toute cette canaille la».

Other interesting quotes

  1. If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
  2. I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies.
  3. He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.
  4. In war, as in politics, no evil - even if it is permissible under the rules - is excusable unless it is absolutely necessary. Everything beyond that is a crime.
  5. Ambition never is in a greater hurry that I; it merely keeps pace with circumstances and with my general way of thinking.
  6. Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.
  7. I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion. The whole secret of government lies in knowing when to be the one or the other.
  8. Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly consult.
  9. A revolution can be neither made nor stopped. The only thing that can be done is for one of several of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories.
  10. Men are Moved by two levers only: fear and self interest.
  11. Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.
  12. Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight.
  13. Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
  14. Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.
  15. The human race is governed by its imagination.
  16. The herd seek out the great, not for their sake but for their influence; and the great welcome them out of vanity or need.
  17. A celebrated people lose dignity upon a closer view.
  18. The infectiousness of crime is like that of the plague.
  19. A Constitution should be short and obscure.
  20. A man cannot become an atheist merely by wishing it.
  21. The art of war is to gain time when your strength is inferior.
  22. An army which cannot be regularly recruited is a doomed army.
  23. A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.
  24. Generals who save troops for the next day are always beaten.
  25. A man like me troubles himself little about a million men.
  26. Great battles are won with artillery.
  27. I have destroyed the enemy merely by marches.
  28. In war you see your own troubles; those of the enemy you cannot see. You must show confidence.
  29. My generals are a parcel of post inspectors.
  30. My enemies make appointments at my tomb.
  31. The worse the troops the greater the need of artillery.
  32. The spectacle of a field of battle after the combat, is sufficient to inspire Princes with the love of peace, and the horror of war.
  33. Much shedding of blood, many great actions, and triumphs, toil and perseverance are the end of all things human.
  34. Revolutions are good times for soldiers of talent and courage.
  35. It is easier to brave and threaten, than to conquer an enemy.
  36. Reprisals are but a sad resource.
  37. We should always go before our enemies with confidence, otherwise our apparent uneasiness inspires them with greater boldness.
  38. I made all my generals out of mud.
  39. If I always appear prepared, it is because before entering an undertaking, I have meditated long and have foreseen what might occur. It is not genius where reveals to me suddenly and secretly what I should do in circumstances unexpected by others; it is thought and preparation.
  40. If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.
  41. If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.
  42. If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.
  43. Imagination rules the world.
  44. Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.
  45. In order to govern, the question is not to follow out a more or less valid theory but to build with whatever materials are at hand. The inevitable must be accepted and turned to advantage.
  46. It requires more courage to suffer than to die.
  47. Let France have good mothers, and she will have good sons.
  48. Let the path be open to talent.
  49. Medicines are only fit for old people.
  50. Music of all the arts has the most influence on the passions and the legislator should give it the greatest encouragement.
  51. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
  52. One must change one's tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one's superiority.
  53. Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.
  54. Respect the burden.
  55. Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them.
  56. Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy.
  57. Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.
  58. Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
  59. Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.
  60. The act of policing is, in order to punish less often, to punish more severely.
  61. The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.
  62. The best cure for the body is a quiet mind.
  63. The best way to keep one's word is not to give it.
  64. The extent of your consciousness is limited only by your ability to love and to embrace with your love the space around you, and all it contains.
  65. The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.
  66. The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.
  67. The surest way to remain poor is to be an honest man.
  68. The surest way to remain poor is to be honest.
  69. The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one's self to destiny.
  70. The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.
  71. The word impossible is not in my dictionary.
  72. There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.
  73. There are only two forces that unite men - fear and interest.
  74. There are two levers for moving men - interest and fear.
  75. There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed.
  76. There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.
  77. There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
  78. Throw off your worries when you throw off your clothes at night.
  79. To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.
  80. Victory belongs to the most persevering.
  81. War is the business of barbarians.
  82. Water, air, and cleanness are the chief articles in my pharmacy.
  83. We must laugh at man to avoid crying for him.
  84. What is history but a fable agreed upon?
  85. When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.
  86. With audacity one can undertake anything, but not do everything.
  87. Women are nothing but machines for producing children.
  88. You must not fear death, my lads; defy him, and you drive him into the enemy's ranks.
  89. You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.
  90. Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederic. ... This is the only way to become a great general and master the secrets of the art of war.
  91. How many things apparently impossible have nevertheless been performed by resolute men who had no alternative but death.
  92. Two armies are two bodies which meet and try to frighten each other.
  93. I love a brave soldier who has undergone the baptism of fire.
  94. The secret of war lies in the communications.
  95. To have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war.
  96. The moral is to the physical as three to one.
  97. The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one's self to destiny.
  98. Every soldier carries a marshal's baton in his pack.
  99. If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannonshots.
  100. Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.
  101. An army marches on its stomach.
  102. You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.
  103. There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.
  104. In war there is but one favorable moment; the great art is to seize it!
  105. One bad general is worth two good ones.
  106. Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.
  107. There are certain things in war of which the commander alone comprehends the importance. Nothing but his superior firmness and ability can subdue and surmount all difficulties.
  108. He that makes war without many mistakes has not made war very long.
  109. The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier.
  110. In time of revolution, with perseverance and courage, a soldier should think nothing impossible.
  111. An army's effectiveness depends on its size, training, experience, and morale, and morale is worth more than any of the other factors combined.
  112. Between a battle lost and a battle won, the distance is immense and there stand empires.
  113. If you had seen one day of war, you would pray to God that you would never see another.
  114. In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.
  115. Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less concerned about the later than the former. Space we can recover, lost time never.
  116. It would be a joke if the conduct of the victor had to be justified to the vanquished.
  117. There are in Europe many good generals, but they see too many things at once. I see one thing, namely the enemy's main body. I try to crush it, confident that secondary matters will then settle themselves.
  118. There is no man more pusillanimous than I when I am planning a campaign. I purposely exaggerate all the dangers and all the calamities that the circumstances make possible. I am in a thoroughly painful state of agitation. This does not keep me from looking quite serene in front of my entourage; I am like an unmarried girl laboring with child. Once I have made up my mind, everything is forgotten except what leads to success.
  119. It should not be believed that a march of three or four days in the wrong direction can be corrected by a countermarch. As a rule, this is to make two mistakes instead of one.
  120. In war, moral factors acount for three quarters of the whole; relative material strength accounts for only one quarter.
  121. The basic principle that we must follow in directing the armies of the Republic is this: that they must feed themselves on war at the expense of the enemy territory.
  122. Sometimes a single battle decides everything and sometimes, too, the slightest circumstance decides the issue of a battle. There is a moment in every battle at which the least manoeuvre is decisive and gives superiority, as one drop of water causes overflow.
  123. You do not get peace by shouting: Peace. Peace is a meaningless word; what we need is a glorious peace.
  124. What my enemies call a general peace is my destruction. What I call peace is merely the disarmament of my enemies. Am I not more moderate than they?
  125. If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks, glory would become the prey of mediocre minds. I have made all the calculations, fate will do the rest.
  126. He who makes war for National independence must be enabled to count upon the union of all resources, all the wishes, and the concurrence of all the National authorities.
  127. An Emperor confides in national soldiers, not in mercenaries.
  128. The fate of a Nation may sometimes depend upon the position of a fortress.
  129. Men soon get tired of shedding their blood for the advantage of a few individuals, who think they amply reward the soldiers' perils with the treasures they amass.
  130. It is the business of cavalry to follow up the victory, and to prevent the beaten army from rallying.
  131. The keys of a fortress are always well worth the retirement of the garrison when it is resolved to yield only on those conditions. On this principle it is always wiser to grant an honorable capitulation to a garrison which has made a vigorous resistance than to risk an assault.
  132. Charges of cavalry are equally useful at the beginning, the middle and the end of a battle. They should be made always, if possible, on the flanks of the infantry, escpecially when the latter is engaged in front.
  133. An army ought to only have one line of operation. This should be preserved with care, and never abandoned but in the last extremity.
  134. When you determine to risk a battle, reserve to yourself every possible chance of success, more particularly if you have to deal with an adversary of superior talent, for if you are beaten, even in the midst of your magazines and your communications, woe to the vanquished!
  135. When you have resolved to fight a battle, collect your whole force. Dispense with nothing. A single battalion sometimes decides the day.
  136. The transition from the defensive to the offensive is one of the most delicate operations in war.
  137. The first qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only the second; hardship, poverty, and want are the best school for a soldier.
  138. In war, the general alone can judge of certain arrangements. It depends on him alone to conquer difficulties by his own superior talents and resolution.
  139. Never lose sight of this maxim, that you should establish your cantonments at the most distant and best protected point from the enemy, especially where a surprise is possible. By this means you will have time to unite all your forces before he can attack you.
  140. Artillery is more essential to cavalry than to infantry, because cavalry has no fire for its defense, but depends on the sabre.
  141. A general-in-chief should ask himself several times in the day, 'What if the enemy were to appear now in my front, or on my right, or my left?"
  142. Unity of command is essential to the economy of time. Warfare in the field was like a siege: by directing all one's force to a single point a breach might be made, and the equilibrium of opposition destroyed.
  143. I believe one bad general to be worth two good ones.
  144. War is like government, a matter of tact.

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