Napoleon I, known as Napoleon Bonaparte before he became emperor, was probably the most brilliant military figure in history. Following his rise to commander of the French Revolutionary Armies, he seized political power as First Consul in 1799 and proclaimed himself Emperor in 1804.
By repeated victories over various European coalitions, he extended French rule over much of Europe. He was finally defeated in 1814-15.
The Napoleonic legend was embellished by his followers in the succeeding decades of turbulent French politics. Allowing for the exaggerations of the legend, there remains no question that Napoleon I was a military genius. Although his ambition to dominate Europe cost France hundreds of thousands of lives, he left to that country many of the institutions that form its modern basis. His tomb in the Invalides in Paris is a national shrine.