COLLECTION ABECASIS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY COLLECTION ABECASIS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Napoleon awarding a medal 1845 illustration of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) awarding a medal to a soldier on a battlefield. In 1799 Napoleon engineered a coup after returning from Egypt and became First Consul of the French Republic. He extended his political control over France until the Senate declared him Emperor of the French in 1804. His military skills enabled France to conquer much of Europe and institute reforms aimed at improving quality of life and protecting civil liberties. He also had a keen interest in science, which he promoted under his rule. He was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and was banished to the island St Helena, where he died in exile.
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