15 facts about Napoleon You May Not Have Heard Before!

Napoleon rose to power with an aim, and he surely achieved it by becoming the Emperor of the French Empire. Famous for his ruthlessness and strategic skills, Napoleon ended up killing scores of human beings in a bid to gain more power and territories. Very few people know that despite his tyrant mindset, Napoleon had a very particular sense of humor and a set of other unusual traits that one might find strange if not amusing. Following are some of the unknown facts about Napoleon that you may not be aware of.

  1. Napoleon had a nickname that he reportedly was not particularly very fond of. Napoleon’s family and close friends always addressed him as ‘Nabulio’, though it had some similarity with his real name, Napoleon preferred not to be called by that name.
  1. At one time the most feared General and a ruthless tyrant, Napoleon had a very peculiar fear called ‘Ailurophobia’. Although it sounds as scary as Napoleon himself, however this phobia is the fear of cats.
  1. Despite being the most strategic Army General with a quiet upright personality, Napoleon fell ‘short’ when it came to his height. He was ridiculed among his rivals due to his unusually small stature – 1.7 meters.
  1. To overcome his complex regarding height, Napoleon always surrounded himself with unusually tall and muscular soldiers.

Napoleon enters Alexandria on 3 July 1798 by Guillaume-François Colson, 1800 [Via]

  1. Like all the other tyrants, Napoleon was particularly interested in making peculiar changes in the lands he ruled. One such change was the shift of the driving side from left to right. However, in the UK there was no change since Napoleon was never able to conquer UK.
  1. Napoleon and his sympathizers always took pride in his unusual strategic skills, however he was once beaten by the ‘Turk’. Turk was a fake chess playing machine which actually had a person hidden inside, obviously the ‘great’ Napoleon did not know that.
  1. Napoleon would roam the streets of Paris dressed as a poor homeless person, asking people question about himself. This way he was able to gauge his popularity among the common folk.
  1. Call it love or superstition; Napoleon always carried a pocket size portrait of his wife, Josephine to all his battles. He believed that his wife’s portrait would bring him good luck and victory.

British etching from 1814 in celebration of Napoleon’s first exile to Elba at the close of the War of the Sixth Coalition [Via]

  1. Before Napoleon, Armies relied on a variety of different ways to carry food on them. Most of those methods miserably failed especially in long wars. Napoleon was the first General who introduced the idea of canned food among armies; this way armies could stay fed and fight for longer periods of time.
  1. Napoleon reportedly had a very acute, Wolf-like sense of smell. He absolutely hated the smell of paints.
  1. One ‘ritual’ that people around Napoleon had to learn was that anyone who would come to see Napoleon had to make sure they shut the door behind them. Napoleon was absolutely terrified of open doors and could not concentrate if one was open.
  1. He would eat his meals real quick, like a medicine, and he needed absolute silence while having his meals, the India Today reports.

Napoleon’s withdrawal from Russia, a painting by Adolph Northen [Via]

  1. Napoleon was fully committed to his job and duties, a workaholic; Napoleon would only sleep three to four hours and worked tirelessly throughout the day without any ‘power naps’ of any sorts.
  1. Napoleon spoke about his mother in a very respectful manner, however his mother was ultra strict when it came to disciplining her children. She would sometime order Napoleon to bed without his supper, to teach him discipline and sacrifice.
  1. No one paid any heed to Napoleon’s last wish, he wanted to be cremated and washed off at the River Sein’s banks. However, he was buried at Les Invalides with all the other French leaders.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE