Napoleon was born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, and was given the
name Napoleone Buonaperte. He was the second of eight children of Carlo and
Letizia Buonaperte, both of the Corsican-Italian gentry. Before Napoleone, no
Buonaparte had ever been a professional soldier. His father Carlo, was a lawyer
who had fought for Corsican independence, but after the French occupied the island
in 1768, he served as a prosecutor and a judge and entered the French aristocracy
as a count. Through his father's influence, Napoleone was educated at the expense
of King Louis XVI, at Brienne and the Ecole Militaire, in Paris. Napoleone
graduated in 1785, at the age of 16, and joined the artillery as a second lieutenant.
After the revolution began in France, he became a lieutenant colonel (1791) in the
Corsican National Guard. However, when Corsica declared independence in 1793,
Buonaperte, a Republican, and a French patriot, fled to France with his family.
was assigned, as captain, to an army besieging Toulon, a naval base that was aided
by a British fleet, while in revolt against the republic. It was here that Napoleone
Buonaperte officially changed his name to Napoleon Bonaparte, feeling that it
looked 'more French'. It was here too that Napoleon replaced a wounded artillery
general, and seized ground where his guns could drive the British fleet from the
harbor, and Toulon fell. As a result of his accomplishments, Bonapatre was
promoted to brigadier general at the age of 24. In 1795, he saved the revolutionary
government by dispersing an insurgent mob in Paris. Then in 1796 he married
Josephine de Beauharnais, the mother of two children and the widow of an
aristocrat guillotined in the Revolution. Early in his life Napoleon was showing
signs of militaristic geniuses and knowledge for formidable strategy.