What did Napoleon do as emperor?

200 years agoNapoleon abdicates as Emperor of the French

In the early summer of 1811, at the apparent height of his power, Napoleon was certain:

"Another three years and I'll be master of the universe."

In fact, only three years later his glory was over, his dream of the great world empire was over. On April 6, 1814, the Emperor of the French had to put his signature on the deed of abdication:

"In light of the fact that the Allies have announced that Emperor Napoleon is the only obstacle to the restoration of peace, the Emperor of France, true to his oath, declares that he and his heirs renounce the thrones of France and Italy."

As meteoric as his rise to ruler over France and Europe, so suddenly the crash. The fall of the Grande Armée in Russia in 1812 marked the beginning of the end. As a usurper who had put himself to power in 1799, Napoleon was dependent on success. If he did not, his system, based on coercion and fear, was directly threatened. He expressed this bluntly in a conversation with the Austrian Foreign Minister Prince Metternich on June 26, 1813:

"Your rulers, born on the throne, can allow themselves to be beaten twenty times, and yet always return to their residences; I cannot do that, I, the son of happiness. My rule does not last the day on which I left off, to be strong and therefore feared. "

After Napoleon's defeat in the "Battle of the Nations" in Leipzig in October 1813, the time had come: the halo of his invincibility was finally gone. The French had to withdraw behind the Rhine. The states of the Confederation of the Rhine, allied with them, switched sides. The emperor desperately tried to raise another army. But France was tired of war; there were massive refusals. So he could muster only 70,000 mostly poorly trained soldiers against the 260,000 Allied men who marched into France at the turn of the year 1813/14. Nevertheless: In the spring campaign of 1814, when he stood with his back to the wall, Napoleon once again demonstrated his outstanding military skill. He defeated the Prussian army under Prince Blücher three times in a row.

"Happiness has returned to mine, and I am once again free to formulate my conditions",

he wrote to his brother Joseph on February 18. But that was an illusion. Napoleon finally had to bow to the superior force of the enemy. On the evening of March 29, the vanguard of the Allied troops saw the towers of Paris.

"The toil of the campaign, the wounds, the fallen friends and brothers - everything was blown away",

many years later a Russian officer remembered. On March 31, the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. entered the French capital at the head of their armies. Two days later the Senate, an assembly of French notables, declared the emperor deposed. Napoleon, who in the meantime had set up his quarters in Fontainebleau near Paris with the remnants of his troops, initially still hoped to be able to save the throne for his son. But after General Marmont's corps defected into the enemy camp on the night of April 4th and 5th, the tsar raised the price: he now demanded an unconditional abdication. Since in the early morning hours of April 6th, Napoleon's highest officers also spoke out against continuing the fight, he had no choice but to submit to his fate. In the Treaty of Fontainebleau, the dethroned ruler was given the island of Elba; he was also allowed to keep the title of emperor. On April 20, Napoleon said goodbye to his old guard.

"Adieu mes enfants! I wish you all to hug my heart, at least I want to hug your flag."

It shouldn't keep the restless on Elba for long. At the end of February 1815 he returned to France to overthrow the now restored Bourbon rule. But his defeat at Waterloo ended the Interlude of the Hundred Days. At the
On June 22, 1815, Napoleon had to abdicate again - this time for good.