He was then made brigadier general, at age twenty-four.
Czar Alexander had quit the Continental System, demanded that France abandon Poland, and was prepared to invade.
Napoleon moved first, and in 1812 led his army into Russia.
In 1805, abandoning plans to invade England, Napoleon moved his Grande Armee to central Europe to meet oncoming Russian and Austrian armies.
His greatest victory was the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805—although it was diminished somewhat by Nelson’s earlier destruction of the French fleet off the coast of Spain at Trafalgar.
Perhaps his most important legacy, Napoleon’s code organized the thousands of Royalist and Revolutionary decrees, abolishing feudal privileges and establishing equality before the law.
The code also established freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.
Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais in 1796 and immediately left to lead the French army in Italy, which was fighting the Austrians.
He was soon victorious and formed the Cisalpine Republic out of part of northern Italy.
When an invasion of England proved impossible, in 1798 Napoleon was sent to invade British-controlled Egypt.
He was generally successful in his land battles, but Britain’s Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson destroyed his fleet in the Battle of the Nile.