Browse Primary Sources
The Royal and Imperial Family of Napoleon

The Royal and Imperial Family of Napoleon

The remainder of the text on this image reads: Emperor of the French, King of Italy, and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine. The military flags make clear the connection between military conquest and imperial glory.

... Read More »
Retreat from Russia

Retreat from Russia

There was not much to celebrate in the Russian campaign, especially once the retreat from Moscow began.

... Read More »
Triumph of the Year 1813

Triumph of the Year 1813

Napoleon’s efforts to dominate central Europe kindled a huge reaction, as national feelings soared among the many ethnic groups inhabiting the area. While these feelings would eventually lead to great internal conflicts, at first they were focused on francophobia and hostility to Napoleon.

... Read More »
Napoleon Is Unable to Digest Leipzig

Napoleon Is Unable to Digest Leipzig

After the defeat in Russia, with renewed allied forces arrayed against him, Napoleon prepared once again to defend France. Yet in 1813 at Leipzig, the Emperor was defeated. This allowed the allies to press a successful campaign, leading to the surrender in 1814. Napoleon would return the next year, only to be defeated at Waterloo and exiled far from Europe.

... Read More »
I Am Called Cerberus but Am Also a Chameleon: Napoleon Being Sucked into Hell

I Am Called Cerberus but Am Also a Chameleon: Napoleon Being Sucked into Hell

Where once cartoonists focused on classical images of death to signal the doom of monarchs and aristocrats, they now used these same symbols to drag Napoleon into the netherworld.

... Read More »
The Emperor and the Imperial Guard on the Island of Elba

The Emperor and the Imperial Guard on the Island of Elba

Napoleon spent ten months on this island in the Mediterranean. He was able to follow events in France without much difficulty. This initial exile was part of a relatively lenient settlement granted by the allies in 1814 after Napoleon’s initial defeat. France’s opponents did not want to humble the nation so much that it would seek revenge.

... Read More »
Congress of Vienna

Congress of Vienna

The treaty in the spring of 1814 had accepted Napoleon’s surrender, but a general meeting of European countries convened to settle broader issues of a postrevolutionary era. While the allies were working on a number of concerns—and as a byproduct, raising French anxieties—Napoleon returned to capitalize on this negative reaction.

... Read More »
Return from the Island of Elba

Return from the Island of Elba

Troops sent by Louis XVIII to stop Napoleon’s advance toward Paris either deserted or joined Napoleon.

... Read More »
The Day after Waterloo painting

The Day after Waterloo

Thousands died or were wounded in the fighting that began 15 June and ended at a series of farmhouses at Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

... Read More »
The Death of Napoleon on St. Helena

The Death of Napoleon on St. Helena

Even in death Napoleon was controversial. Many questions surrounded his death: Was he poisoned? His hair had high levels of arsenic in it. Did he have stomach cancer? He certainly had stomach ulcers and suffered from severe intestinal pain and frequent vomiting.

... Read More »

Pages