Alexander The Great

Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great (Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας, Aléxandros ho Mégas [a.lék.san.dros ho mé.gaːs]),iii[›] was a King (Basileus) of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon[1][2][3]and a member of the Argead dynasty. Born in Pella in 356 BC, Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II, to the throne at the age of twenty. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, until by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to Egypt and into northwest India.[4]He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history’s most successful military commanders.[5]

During his youth, Alexander was tutored by the philosopher Aristotle until the age of 16. When he succeeded his father to the throne in 336 BC, after Philip was assassinated, Alexander inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. He had been awarded thegeneralship of Greece and used this authority to launch his father’s Panhellenic project to lead the Greeks in the conquest ofPersia.[6][7] In 334 BC, he invaded the Achaemenid Empire, ruled Asia Minor, and began a series of campaigns that lasted ten years. Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela. He subsequently overthrew the Persian King Darius III and conquered the entirety of the First Persian Empire.i[›] At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River.

Seeking to reach the “ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea”, he invaded India in 326 BC, but was eventually forced to turn back at the demand of his troops. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, the city he planned to establish as his capital, without executing a series of planned campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia. In the years following his death, a series of civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in several states ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander’s surviving generals and heirs.

Alexander’s legacy includes the cultural diffusion his conquests engendered, such as Greco-Buddhism. He founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most notably Alexandria in Egypt. Alexander’s settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread ofGreek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century and the presence of Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s. Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles, and he features prominently in the history and myth of Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics.[8]ii[›] He is often ranked among the world’s most influential people of all time, along with his teacherAristotle.[9][10]

Frederick The Great

Frederick II (German: Friedrich; 24 January 1712 – 17 August 1786) was the third Hohenzollern king, reigning over the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 until 1786.[1] Frederick’s achievements during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the Arts and the Enlightenment in Prussia, and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years’ War. He became known as Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Große) and was nicknamed Der Alte Fritz (“Old Fritz“) by the Prussian people.

In his youth, Frederick was more interested in music and philosophy than the art of war. He defied his authoritarian father, Frederick William I, and sought to run away with his best friend Hans Hermann von Katte. They were caught at the border and King Frederick William I nearly executed his son for desertion. After being pardoned, he was forced to watch the official beheading of Hans. Upon ascending to the Prussian throne, he attacked Austria and claimed Silesia during the Silesian Wars, winning military acclaim for himself and Prussia. Near the end of his life, Frederick physically connected most of his realm by conquering Polish territories in theFirst Partition of Poland. He was an influential military theorist whose analysis emerged from his extensive personal battlefield experience and covered issues of strategy, tactics, mobility and logistics.

Frederick was a proponent of enlightened absolutism. He modernized the Prussian bureaucracy and civil service and pursued religious policies throughout his realm that ranged from tolerance to segregation.[2] He reformed the judicial system and made it possible for men not of noble stock to become judges and senior bureaucrats. Some critics, however, point out his oppressive measures against conquered Polish subjects.[3][4] Frederick supported arts and philosophers he favored, but at the same time enacted several laws censoring the press. Frederick is buried at his favorite residence, Sanssouci in Potsdam. Because he died childless, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II, son of his brother, Augustus William.

Nearly all 19th century German historians made Frederick into a romantic model of a glorified warrior, praising his leadership, administrative efficiency, devotion to duty and success in building up Prussia to a leading role in Europe. Historian Leopold von Ranke was unstinting in his praise of Frederick’s “Heroic life, inspired by great ideas, filled with feats of arms…immortalized by the raising of the Prussian state to the rank of a power.” Johann Gustav Droysen was even more extolling.[5] Frederick remained an admired historical figure through the German Empire‘s crushing defeat in First World War, and the Nazis glorified him as a great German leader pre-figuring Hitler, but his reputation became far less favorable in 1945 in both East and West Germany after the fall of the Nazi regime, largely due to his status as a favorite icon of the Nazis.[6]

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte
Emperor of the French
Reign 18 May 1804 – 11 April 1814
Coronation 2 December 1804
Predecessor Position created
Napoleon was previously First Consul of the French Republic (1799–1804)
Successor Louis XVIII (Bourbon Restoration)
Reign 20 March 1815 – 22 June 1815
Predecessor Louis XVIII
Successor Louis XVIII
King of Italy
Reign 17 March 1805 – 11 April 1814
Coronation 26 May 1805
Predecessor Charles V (King in 1556)
Napoleon was previously President of the Italian Republic (1802–1805)
Successor Victor Emmanuel II (King in 1861)
Viceroy Eugène de Beauharnais
Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine
Reign 6 August 1806 –
4 November 1813
Predecessor Francis II (Held equivalent post as Holy Roman Emperor)
Successor Francis I (Came on to hold equivalent post as President of the German Confederation)
Fürstprimas Karl von Dalberg
Eugène de Beauharnais
Spouse Joséphine de Beauharnais
Marie Louise of Austria
Issue Napoleon II
Full name
Napoleon Bonaparte
House House of Bonaparte
Father Carlo Buonaparte
Mother Letizia Ramolino
Born 15 August 1769
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Died 5 May 1821 (aged 51)
Longwood, Saint Helena
Burial Les Invalides, Paris, France
Religion Roman Catholicism

Napoléon Bonaparte (/nəˈpoʊliən, -ˈpoʊljən/;[2] French: [napɔleɔ̃ bɔnapaʁt], born Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and its associated wars. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815. Napoleon dominated European affairs for nearly two decades while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He won the large majority of his 60 major battles and seized control of most of continental Europe before his ultimate defeat in 1815. One of the greatest commanders in history, his campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide and he remains one of the most celebrated and controversial political figures in Western history.[3][4] In civil affairs, Napoleon implemented several liberal reforms across Europe, including the abolition of feudalism, the establishment of legal equality and religious toleration, and the legalization of divorce. His lasting legal achievement, the Napoleonic Code, has been adopted by dozens of nations around the world.[5][6]

Napoleon was born on the island of Corsica to a relatively modest family of noble Italian ancestry. From 1789, Napoleon supported the Revolution and tried to spread its ideals to Corsica, but he was banished from the island in 1793. In 1795, he saved the French government from collapse by firing on the Parisian mobs with cannons, an event known as the 13 Vendémiaire. The Directory then appointed him as General of the Army of Italy at age 26. After marrying Joséphine de Beauharnais in March 1796, he started the Italian military campaign and scored a series of decisive victories that made him famous throughout Europe. In 1798 he launched a military expedition to Egypt, conquering the Ottoman province with a critical victory at the Battle of the Pyramids and facilitating the rise of modern Egyptology.

The Directory collapsed when Napoleon and his supporters engineered a coup in November 1799. He was installed as First Consul of the Consulate and progressively extended his personal control over France. A victory over the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo in 1800 cemented his political power. The Consulate witnessed a number of achievements for Napoleon, such as the Concordat of 1801 with the Catholic Church and the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. In 1804, the Senate declared him the Emperor of the French, setting the stage for the French Empire. Intractable differences with the British meant by 1805 the French were facing a Third Coalition. Napoleon shattered this coalition with decisive victories in the Ulm Campaign and a historic triumph at the Battle of Austerlitz. The Peace of Pressburg culminated in the elimination of the millennial Holy Roman Empire. In October 1805, however, a combined Franco-Spanish fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Trafalgar, allowing Britain to impose a naval blockade of the French coasts. In retaliation, Napoleon established the Continental System in 1806 to cut off European trade with Britain and the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him. The French crushed the Prussians at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt in October 1806, while in June 1807 Napoleon annihilated another Russian army at the Battle of Friedland. This forced the Russians to the peace table, with the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, often regarded as the high watermark of the French Empire.

Napoleon tried to compel Portugal to follow the Continental System by sending an army into Iberia. In 1808, he declared his brother Joseph Bonaparte the King of Spain, which precipitated the outbreak of the Peninsular War, widely noted for its brutal guerrilla warfare. In 1809 the Austrians launched another attack against the French. Napoleon defeated them at the Battle of Wagram, dissolving the Fifth Coalition formed against France. After the Treaty of Schönbrunn in the fall of 1809, he divorced Josephine and married Austrian princess Marie Louise in 1810. By 1811, Napoleon ruled over 70 million people across an empire that had near-total domination in Europe, which had not witnessed this level of political consolidation since the days of the Roman Empire.[7] He maintained his strategic status through a series of alliances and family appointments to royal households. Napoleon launched a new aristocracy in France while allowing for the return of nobles who had been forced into exile by the Revolution.

Escalating tensions over the existence of a Polish State and the Continental System led to renewed enmity with Russia. To enforce his blockade, Napoleon launched an invasion of Russia in 1812 that ended in catastrophic failure for the French. In early 1813, Prussia and Russia joined forces to fight against France, with the Austrians also joining this Sixth Coalition later in the year. In October 1813, a large Allied army defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig. The next year, the Allies launched an invasion of France and captured Paris, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April 1814. He was exiled to the island of Elba. The Bourbons were restored to power and the French lost most territories they had conquered since the Revolution. However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and returned to lead the French government, only to find himself at war against another coalition. This new coalition decisively defeated him at the Battle of Waterloo in June. He attempted to flee to the United States, but the British blocked his escape route. He surrendered to British custody and spent the last six years of his life in confinement on the remote island of Saint Helena. His death in 1821, at the age of 51, was received by shock and grief throughout Europe and the New World. In 1840, roughly one million people lined the streets of Paris to witness his remains returning to France, where they still reside at Les Invalides.[8]