Who Was Napoleon One day early in , a heavy snowstorm covered the grounds of the military school for boys in Brienne, France There was so much snow that the students couldnt get their usual exercise after class But fourteen year old Napoleon Bonaparte had an idea snowball fight This being a military school, however, Napoleon wasnt thinking about any ordinary snowball fight Instead, he wanted the boys to put to use what they had been learning in the classroom They built forts and dug trenches On Napoleons orders, a snowball war began It lasted two full weeks during the times that the boys werent in class Some days, Napoleon commanded one side Some days, he commanded the other The snowball war wasnt entirely harmless After a while, small rocks got mixed in with the hard ice Those snowballs hurt So the school put an end to it Napoleons first war was over The teachers werent happy about their students getting hurt But they were happy to see Napoleon take charge Ever since he arrived at the school four years earlier, he had been moody and quiet He didnt have a lot of friends But he seemed happy to lead the schools snowball battles Little did his teachers know that Napoleon would go on to become one of the most famous military commanders in the history of the world He would lead hundreds of thousands of men into battle And with a combination of courage and strategy, he won most of the battles he fought Napoleon went on to build a vast empire for France At the height of his career, he ruled overthan seventy million people To the French people, Napoleon was a good guy To his enemies, he was not Late in Napoleons life, those same enemies defeated him and sent him to live on a tiny island There, he had plenty of time to talk about his memories What a novel my life has been Napoleon exclaimed one day to the assistant who was writing it all down Napoleons life had it all friends and enemies, politics and war, a love story, and so muchAnd Napoleon himselfthe main characterwas famous, clever, and brave But a novel is a made up story Napoleon lived it all for real ChapterIsland Beginnings Napoleon Bonapartes life began in Corsica, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea Corsica is about fifty miles west of what is now Italy and one hundred miles southeast of France For almost five hundred years, Corsica had belonged to Genoa, a city that is now part of Italy But the Corsican people wanted to be free They often fought with soldiers from Genoa When the government of Genoa grew tired of the fighting, they sold the island to the French inThat upset the Corsicans evenThey didnt believe they should be bought and sold And so they started fighting the French But at that time France was one of the most powerful nations in the world It easily conquered the island When Napoleon was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, on August he automatically became a French citizen But the influence of hundreds of years of Italian rule on Corsica didnt go away overnight Napoleon, like most of the people on Corsica, spoke Italian Napoleons father was named Carlo and his mother was named Letizia Even though they helped Corsica fight the French before Napoleons birth, his parents knew there was no use keeping up the fight after the battle was lost They grew to respect the new French government Napoleons father even changed his first name from Carlo to Charles because it sounded less Italian He changed the familys last name from Buonaparte to Bonaparte because it soundedFrench Life was not easy on the island Most of the people in Ajaccio were craftsmen or fishermen Charles was a lawyer, and Napoleons family hadmoney than many in the town, but no one there was very rich The Bonapartes lived in a nice house and had a couple of servants They grew much of their food on their land Their four story home even had a mill downstairs that was used to grind flour for making bread They had a vineyard to make wine and an olive grove to make olive oil But the family had money to spend only on the basics clothing for their children and any food that couldnt be grown on their land And there were many children to clothe and mouths to feed Napoleon had four brothers and three sisters Napoleon was the second oldest child His older brother Joseph had been born inHis other brothers were Lucien, Louis, and Jerome Napoleons sisters were Elisa, Pauline, and Caroline Napoleon was the most willful of the large group He had a terrible temper, and he didnt always tell the truth His family called him a troublemaker Napoleon never was in serious trouble, though Once in a while, he was punished for fighting, but even that didnt seem to be a big deal After all, the grown ups on Corsica had been fighting battles all their lives Napoleon fit right in Napoleon practiced fighting with a wooden sword He and his friends in Ajaccio would pretend to be soldiers They set up battles that lasted all day long Napoleon was always in charge of his side When it was too dark to play outside any, they picked up the next day where they had left off Some of the play battles lasted for days at a time Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months Napoleon loved playing war When Napoleon was about five years old, he began going to school Every day, his mother sent him off with some white bread for lunch And every day on the way to school, he traded his bread to a French soldier for one of his daily rations The white bread was soft and fresh The soldiers brown bread was hard and old But, Napoleon explained to his mother, If I am going to be a soldier, I must get used to eating soldiers bread In school, Napoleon was good at geography, and he was very good at math Mostly, though, he loved reading about history He wanted to know all he could about famous battles and military heroes, such as Alexander the Great He dreamed of one day becoming a conquering hero just like AlexanderLearnabout Napoleon Bonaparte, the decorated French military leader who conquered much of Europe in the early nineteenth centuryBorn in the Mediterranean island of Corsica, Napoleon Bonaparte felt like an outsider once his family moved to France But he found his life s calling after graduating from military school Napoleon went on to become a brilliant military strategist and the emperor of France In addition to greatly expanding the French empire, Napoleon also created many laws, which are still encoded in legal systems around the world