A British/Canadian PerspectiveThe Napoleonic Wars which stormed through Europe from 1792 to 1815 were waged in the name of megalomania. Napoleon was bent on establishing his very own empire.
Napoleon I (Napoleone Buonaparte) was born in Corsica, one year after its reunion with France. He rose quickly through the military ranks due to his natural talents for leadership and strategy. With age, his ambitions grew more lofty and by his late twenties Napoleon had compelled all of France's continental opponents to peace.
Napoleon returned to France and launched a successful coup d'etat to overthrow the Republic. He then declared himself Consul for life. Europe was at peace in 1802, but it was only a brief interlude since Napoleon was eager to expand his burgeoning empire. He began by selling Louisiana to the U.S. to raise funds for future military campaigns, especially campaigns against France's oldest rival, Britain.
In the early 1800's, Emperor Napoleon proclaimed himself King of Italy, defeated Prussia, acquired the Kingdom of Westphalia, and made the Russian Czar Alexander I his ally. Despite these successes, Buonaparte was still unable to defeat Britain by conventional means. In 1806, Napoleon initiated economic warfare against that "nation of shopkeepers." Britain quickly retaliated with its own trade embargoes, and before long, American vessels and other neutral trading ships were embroiled in the European war. Both Britain and France began searching and seizing U.S. ships.
In 1812, Napoleon attacked Russia to punish it for abandoning their crucial economic alliance. This campaign ended with Napoleon's humiliating retreat from Moscow. Napoleon abdicated in 1814 and was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba. In March of 1815, Napoleon escaped and returned to power. But this revival was to be short-lived; Britain and its allies finally defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo a few months later.