In our first article in this series we were introduced to this ‘man of destiny’ as he began the career marked out for him by the Most High. We followed his meteoric rise from a poor Corsican officer to Commander of the army of Italy. His genius and audacity as General of the French forces were put to effective use by his Divine master to pour out the Vials of His wrath upon the unsuspecting armies of Catholic Europe. The world stood amazed as this unprepossessing soldier continued to take Europe by storm and carve out a name for himself that still awes and inspires.

The Austrian power was the pillar and support of the spiritual and temporal power of the Pope in Italy. Napoleon had accomplished two of the orders of the Directory [the French Revolutionary government]. The last was to humiliate the Pope and diminish his spiritual and temporal power.

The Bridge to Fame

This next object was to be secured by the conquest of Lombardy. Piedmont being in the hArticles 6.4ands of  Napoleon, the Austrian general concentrated his army behind the Po with the object of preventing the  invader from crossing that great river and making his way to the capital of Lombardy. Napoleon  deceived his enemy and made his crossing at a  totally different point to that expected. Thereupon  the Austrian general was forced to fall back behind the Adda, another large river that descends from the  Tyroles. It was at the bridge of Lodi that Napoleon fought one of the battles that made his name  immortal. After the terrible crossing of the bridge of Lodi, Napoleon said, “I no longer considered  myself a mere general, but a man called upon to  decide the fate of peoples. It occurred to me I could  become a truly important actor on our political  scene”. Having effected a crossing with the loss of  only two hundred, Napoleon pursued the

Austrians who took up their position behind the line of yet another river, the Mincio, a tributary of the Po. Like Alexander before him his unconventional battle style annoyed and confounded his enemies. He broke all the rules of conventional warfare of the day. Where armies marched toward each other in orderly ranks to the sound of drum and trumpet, faced each other and mowed the opposite line down with military precision, Napoleon used flanking actions and rapid marches to out-manoeuvre his enemies. One dark night Napoleon met an enemy straggler, a veteran Austrian captain. Without revealing his identity, he asked the old soldier how things were going. “Nothing can be worse”, said the old man, not knowing he was addressing the general in chief. “Here is a young man who knows absolutely nothing of the rules of war; today he is in our rear, tomorrow on our flank, next day in our front. Such violations of the principles of the art of war are intolerable!”

The French occupied Milan and Napoleon imposed a requisition of twenty million lives, which was turned into the French military chest along with the church plate. (I quote a historian verbatim here because it is so good.) “The archduke who governed Lombardy had made many a long prayer and procession; but the saints appeared to take no compassion on him and now he withdrew from the capital.”

Punishment and Plunder of Papal Possessions

At the beginning of June 1796 he learned that another large Austro-Hungarian army had left the Rhine and was marching south to drive him out of Italy. Napoleon calculated they could not arrive before 15 July. Rather than anxiously trying to strengthen his position and numbers, Napoleon figured that gave him six weeks to swoop on the papal States and Tuscany, frighten them into neutrality and collect what gold he could for France’s empty coffers. Napoleon had marched fast in the spring, but that summer he marched even faster. Recrossing the Po, he entered the northern Papal dominions, scattered the Papal army of eighteen thousand men, entered Florence and seized Leghorn, an important English shipping enclave. Here he seized ships and gold. While there he armed 500 Corsican refugees, gave them ships and organized an expedition by which Corsica would be recaptured for the French! On 13 July he was back in Milan having marched 300 miles in under six weeks, cowed all central Italy and seized forty million francs mainly in gold. He never lost momentum and never passed an opportunity. If only our approach to preaching could be like this!

Napoleon was in time to meet the huge Austrian army of 50,000 under Wurmser advancing down the valley of the river Adige. Napoleon defeated this army in four battles before a fresh army under Alvinzi swept into Italy. Napoleon with his tired troops defeated it at Arcola. At Arcola bridge, Napoleon’s horse, maddened by a wound, bolted towards the Austrians and threw him into a swamp where he lay at the mercy of the enemy. He was plucked from under their noses without harm.

Mantua—Making an Advantage of Every Disadvantage

Meanwhile the Austrians had fallen back upon the impregnable fortress of Mantua and occupied it with a large garrison. The French again were in a perilous position. Marching down upon their exhausted band of about twenty thousand was a fresh army of forty-five thousand Austrians to attack them in front, while twenty five thousand waited on the ramparts to assail them in the rear. Here Napoleon demonstrated the principle that made him so successful—turn every disadvantage to an advantage. The fortress was situated by the vast lake of Lago di Guarda. The Austrians made the fatal error of dividing their army, going either side of the lake, intending to trap the French army in the middle of their forces. An impassable body of water over which it was impossible for them to communicate now divided the Austrian army. Napoleon wasted not a moment. As soon as he received the intelligence he buried some of his cannon and leaving a small detachment to hold the fort, by another of his amazing marches brought his army round the lake to come upon the Austrians at Rivoli shortly before one in the morning. So swiftly had he moved that the Austrians were still awaiting the arrival of their artillery and Napoleon now not only had the advantage of surprise but of firepower, and was able after a fierce battle to defeat the Austrians. Without even waiting to receive the surrender of the defeated general, Napoleon then rapidly turned to meet the forces coming to meet him from the opposite side of the lake and rout them. The experienced general who held Mantua was forced to surrender the fort and all its munitions. Napoleon allowed him to depart with honour, ignoring the remonstrations of his political minders. Throughout this campaign, including the terrible battle of the bridge of Arcola and the battle of Rivoli, Napoleon was constantly seen at the head of his forces leading and inspiring, and everywhere the rivers and lakes of papal Europe were reddened with blood.

The moment the Austrians broke and fled,  Napoleon would seize a pen and write to his beloved  Josephine, or he would pause in the midst of a fierce  conflict to write words of comfort to a Articles 6.5complete  stranger, the mother of one of his fallen soldiers.  During this time Napoleon worked eighteen to twenty  hour days snatching short sleeps when he could.

It was finally decided that the Italian regions  should be granted status of republic. Napoleon  decided on the name Cisalpine Republic and even  wrote the constitution for it between battles.

Napoleon turned his attention once again to the Pope. He set out on 1 February and soon had overrun the Papal towns meeting slight resistance. Many of the Pope’s soldiers surrendered without firing a shot. Having occupied the Papal States, Napoleon could impose the terms he chose. The Directors wanted him to depose Pius VI. Napoleon realised it was safer to retain “the old fox” as he called him, thus securing his rear and not antagonising his catholic allies. This he did in the treaty of Tolentino. At Loretto there was an image of the virgin which the church represented as of celestial origin, and which to the great edification of the populace, seemed miraculously to shed tears in view of the perils of the Papacy. Napoleon exposed the deception, which employed glass beads, and imprisoned the priests for deluding the people with trickery and bringing religion into contempt. He was dismayed to find the Jews of Ancona suffering under the most intolerable oppression and immediately ended the injustices. He obliged the Italian convents to accommodate the French priests exiled by the Revolution. “In that singular vein of latent humour which pervaded his nature, he enjoined that the French priests should make payment for this hospitality in prayers and masses at the regular market price”! (Abbott’s Biography).

Napoleon then swept into Austria. It was still winter and the alps were deep in snow, but he could not wait. “At every mountain gorge, at every rapid river the Austrians stood and were slain. Blood flowed in torrents.” His conquest led him to within a hundred miles of the gates of Vienna. The court of Vienna was taken completely by surprise and Francis II was forced to sign the treaty of Leoben and make peace with France. On his return Napoleon paused to lay the rod on treacherous Venice who had broken a promise of neutrality. The government surrendered unconditionally.

The accomplishments of this unknown 27-yearold  general caused a sensation in Paris. Napoleon  began the campaign with thirty thousand men.  His army set out with few resourcArticles 6.6es, no money,  not even shoes in many cases. During the course  of these battles he received twenty-five thousand  recruits. After thirteen months, with an army never  more than forty-four thousand men, Napoleon  had defeated five armies of two hundred thousand  highly disciplined troops under veteran generals,  taken one hundred thousand prisoners and killed or  wounded thirty-five thousand men. He had captured  1,100 cannon and 170 standards. He had conquered  the Italian dominions of Austria and received the  submission of kings and dukes. The Directory had  sent him out with nothing, no money, not even food.  Napoleon found food and supplies for his men and  horses, ammunition for his guns and within months  he had sent back millions of francs in gold for the  French treasury!

In the Shadow of the Pyramids: The Egyptian  Campaign.

On his return to Paris Napoleon was made  commander of the expedition against England.  He made extensive preparations for a campaign  to cross the Channel. While all eyes were fixed on  that quarter, Napoleon sailed for Egypt, capturing  Malta on the way, which was fortifiArticles 6.7ed with walls  10 feet thick and 1000 guns. He reformed the island  in six days, including granting equal rights and a  synagogue to the Jews. The French and British  fleets literally passed like ships in the night. His  invasion of Egypt, like Alexander’s, had a very  practical purpose. This was to weaken the Turks’  interests in Palestine and threaten British dominions  in India, thereby also creating a serious diversion  for the ubiquitous British Navy. Marshalling his  troops in the shadow of the pyramids, his customary  address before the battle was imbued with a sense  of history and destiny: “Soldiers of France, from  the height of these pyramids 40 centuries of history  look down on you.” Napoleon overcame the  Mamelukes, the ruling caste in Egypt, who called  him lion of the desert. He liked riding his horse  through the open space of the desert and approved  of the Arab emphasis on character over possessions.  He read the Koran and like TE Lawrence later,  experimented with wearing a turban, ankle length  robe and crescent Articles 6.8dagger. Napoleon went with a  complete retinue of scientists, scholars and artists  and his adventure was rewarded. He brought back  many valuable artefacts. The discovery of the  Rossetta stone led to decipherment of hieroglyphics,  although the stone itself now rests in the British  museum not the Louvre. He thought he would liked  to have been a scientist. He said, “Newton solved the problem of the movement of  planetary bodies. I hoped to discover  how movement itself is transmitted  through infinitesimal bodies.” (But  that was left to Einstein.) He went  for a picnic one day to the Nile delta  and made a study of the area for a  canal to the Red Sea. His party was  caught by the incoming tide and one  general lost his leg—being of wood  it floated away.

While the General is Away…

Meanwhile in Europe the enemies of France threatened to reverse all the gains Napoleon had made. The French fleet in the bay of Aboukir was cleverly destroyed by the daring English admiral Nelson. Unable to receive reinforcements or withdraw his army, Napoleon risked capture by the British cruisers and slipped back to France alone. In his absence in Egypt, Josephine his wife had conducted an amorous liaison with a pretentious young officer, Hypolite Charles. The affair provided amusement for the British tabloid-reading public when one of Nelson’s ships captured Napoleon’s indignant letters to Josephine threatening divorce. On hearing of Napoleon’s return to France, Josephine hastened to meet him and there was a painful reconciliation. Arrived in Paris, he employed his favourite maxim in respect of the failed campaign: “nulla vestigia retrorsum”—never recant, apologise, or recede; and the French proverb “he that excuses, accuses himself”.

First Consul—Head and Sword of the Republic

The Directory, bankrupt financially and morally had lost its ability to control affairs. So, soon after his return to Paris on 19 November 1799 the Directory was overthrown and Napoleon was made first consul, by which he became head and sword of the republic. He was not yet thirty. He quickly established a dictatorship, the efficiency of which was a welcome contrast to all the muddles of recent years. On 19 February 1800 Napoleon installed himself at the Tuileries.

Napoleon now renewed his assault on the Austrians in Italy. Aiming to launch a surprise attack on the rear he crossed the Alps at St Bernard with sixty thousand men. The route was deemed to be barely possible but nothing stood in the way of the man of destiny. Each soldier carried his twenty to thirty kilos; a hundred men dragged each gun. Having crossed the Alps by 16 May 1800 Napoleon entered Milan. The terrific battles of Montebello and Marengo were fought. In the latter battle 30,000 French confronted 40,000 Austrians: the prize— possession of Italy. After several hours battle, the day seemed entirely against the French, but when victory seemed within the grasp of the eighty year old Austrian commander Melas, his strength entirely failed, forcing him to leave the field and the French were victorious. In the battles of Montebello and Marengo, Napoleon regained almost all the loss sustained in the disastrous year 1799. He returned to Paris a hero, acclaimed as the “Sun of France”. The treaty of Luneville, concluded February 1801, sealed the French gains and marked the end of the third vial. Meanwhile the English domination of the sea continued, completely neutralising French naval power and effectively restricting their military expeditions to continental Europe, which was the Divine plan.

The General as Statesman and Lawmaker

Napoleon had emerged from Bonaparte. The adventurer of the revolution was succeeded by an exceptional Head of State. As first consul Napoleon began his social and legal reforms. The object of his new code was to combine the rights of man with the best of the old laws. He said, “I intend to keep the revolution’s useful innovations, but not to abandon the good institutions it mistakenly destroyed.” An example is his view of marriage in which he invoked the principles of Genesis. “The angel”, he said, “spoke to Adam and Eve of obedience.” The council accepted his view and article 213 duly declares: “The wife owes obedience to her husband.” He defended freedom of conscience. He opposed certain schools teaching the ideologie that ethical principles are wholly relative and must vary from age to age. This sabotaged morality and respect for law, he said, and closed those schools. “Nearly all exact knowledge must come from the Gospels”, he said.

Napoleon liked to rise early and often worked very late if inspired. He was a big picture man and the ultimate micro-manager. He established the Bank of France, Paris’ first fire brigade, oversaw the planting of thousands of trees and blasted hundreds of kilometres of roads over the Alps to Italy. All this by thirty years of age! What will Christ do when he returns?

On 24 December 1800 came the First Consul’s Christmas present from Georges Cadoudal, a royalist fanatic nicknamed Goliath. The first performance in France of Haydn’s Creation was playing at the Paris opera. A cart carrying a barrel packed with explosives and stones was placed in the street Napoleon’s coach was to pass. The sixsecond fuse was lit as the coach approached. His coach dashed through the gap seconds before the explosion. Josephine, in a second coach, had delayed to adjust a scarf and escaped with barely a scratch. It was innocent bystanders who were killed. This provoked a paranoiac investigation by Napoleon that culminated in the extrajudicial execution of the equally innocent Duc d’Enghien.

By August 1802 he was made Consul for life and allowed to choose his successor.

Meanwhile the carnage on the sea continued when the British broke the treaty of Amiens and declared war in May 1803.