Soon after the mob's storming of the Tuileries, the revolutionaries overthrew the monarchy and guillotined Louis XVI, proclaiming a French Republic on September 25, 1792.


Historians often emphasize Napoleon's Corsican background, perhaps to explain his egomaniacal attempt to take over the world; Corsica had fallen to a series of conquering nations for years. However, the young Napoleon was shipped off to France for schooling quite early, and his upbringing, philosophy, and mentality were ultimately much more French than they were Corsican. Every bit a rationalist, Napoleon was a true child of the French Enlightenment.

Like so many significant historical figures, Napoleon was largely self-taught. Napoleon's future ambitions were certainly apparent in his choice of reading: he read history and geography, obsessing over the stories of kings and generals like Alexander the Great and Hannibal. Indeed, he would later take these men as his examples, using their tactics as models for his own: Alexander the Great of Macedonia built a huge empire, as Napoleon would eventually do, and Hannibal (of Carthage) was famous for crossing the Alps with a huge army (another surprise tactic Napoleon would recreate during his own campaigns). Furthermore, even at this early stage in his career, Napoleon read everything he could about England. He was fascinated by England's strategies and spent considerable time studying England's resources. From his reading at this time, it seems reasonable to suppose that Napoleon may already have been dreaming of his future exploits in some form.

Although Napoleon spent hours with his books, Napoleon did not fail to garner important lessons from the events happening around him. Part of the reason for the fall of the Ancien Regime was that it had spent considerable resources supporting the American colonists' revolution against the British. By the 1780s, the royal coffers were drained and the monarchy had few resources. Napoleon would note this, and would stay out of entanglements in the New World that might have diverted resources from his efforts in Europe. (For that reason, he would sell the Louisiana Territory to the U.S.)

What was Napoleon doing during the events of 1789? Actually, he was at home in Corsica with his family, on leave from the Army. News of revolution had not yet reached Corsica. However, while in Corsica, Napoleon wrote a letter on behalf of the entire island to the French Royalty complaining about French neglect of Corsica. After this letter, Corsica was considered pro-Revolution.

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