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HISTORY

How tall was Napoleon, where was he from, how long was he Emperor and why was he called the Corsican ogre?

Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the great emperors in history who managed to conquer a good part of Europe under the command of the French Empire.

Update:
Napoleon Bonaparte is one of the great emperors in history who managed to conquer a good part of Europe under the command of the French Empire.
EFE

Many historians agree that the French Empire experienced one of its most brilliant periods under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. The ‘Little Corsican’ is remembered as one of the most ruthless and accomplished military strategists in history, instilling terror among his enemies in Europe in the early 19th century.

Napoleon’s fame has endured over time, giving rise to myths surrounding his identity, such as his nationality and stature. Many of these myths have been exaggerated by those who clashed with him during his years of governance. Let’s aim to clarify a few things.

Where was Napoleon Bonaparte from?

Napoleon was French, more specifically from Ajaccio, a municipality on the island of Corsica. The future French emperor was born on 15 August 1769, just a few months after the aforementioned island was annexed to French territory, following its purchase from the Republic of Genoa.

How long was Napoleon emperor?

Napoleon took control of France as First Consul in 1799, following the coup d’état on 9 November. Although a government was established on paper to be shared with others, it effectively concealed an autocratic regime. Five years later, in 1804, after facing various attempts of opposition to his rule and assassination plots against him, he took a further step and became the Emperor of France. He held this title for a decade until 1814.

How tall was Napoleon Bonaparte?

One of the enduring myths about the French Emperor is that of his short stature; however, this is not entirely accurate. The autopsy conducted after his death confirmed that his official height was 1.68 metres (5 feet, 6 inches), which, although relatively short by contemporary standards, was not considered diminutive in his time. In fact, Napoleon stood above the average height of his era, which was 1.60 metres (5 feet, 3 inches), making him relatively tall compared to his contemporaries.

Napoleón
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Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon in Ridley Scott's movie.

Why was Napoleon called 'Little Corsican'?

The origin of this nickname lies in the aforementioned myth surrounding the emperor’s height. It was Napoleon’s rivals in Europe who, over the years, mockingly applied this nickname to him, despite the fact that, as mentioned earlier, his height exceeded the era’s average.

Ironically, it was Napoleon himself who perhaps inadvertently contributed to the propagation of this nickname. The emperor established a Royal Guard to escort and accompany him in official events, with a height requirement of 1.73 metres (5 ft, 8 in) for the hunters’ unit and 1.78 metres (5 ft, 10 in) for the grenadiers’ unit. Additionally, the uniform included a bearskin hat, which added almost half a metre to his height.

Napoleon’s intention to create a powerful and imposing army backfired, as the comparison made him appear much smaller, ultimately leading to his historical moniker, the ‘Little Corsican,’ in another of the many myths that do not seem to align with reality. The name ‘Corsican Ogre’ was used by his enemies for the wars and battles he waged on many across the European continent.

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