In 1315, Louis X, king of France, published a decree proclaiming that “France signifies freedom” and that any slave setting foot on the French ground should be freed. And France maintained that law, even after it began allowing slavery in its New World colonies in the 1600s. Any enslaved person who as brought to France became free. Born into slavery in Saint Domingue, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas became free when his father brought him to France in 1776.
Slavery in the French colonies was another story. The French crown regulated the slave trade and institution in the colonies, starting with Louis XIV’s Code Noir in 1685. The royal government had over 100 years of profiting from plantation-based slavery and particularly sugar production before the French Revolution killed the royal family and attempted to end slavery in the colonies. The first elected Assembly of the First Republic abolished slavery in France (since the royal law was no longer recognized) and more importantly in France’s colonies.
However, Napoleon restored slavery and the slave trade in 1802. This was mainly because of lobbying by planters in the West Indies, and to benefit from taxing the planter’s slavery-produced profits. In 1848, under the Second Republic, slavery was totally abolished in the French colonies. And this time it stuck.
Close quarters fighting between French and Austrian soldiers during Battle of Aspern-Essling 1809. One of rare Napoleon personal defeats and first time he was personally defeated in over a decade.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Aspern-Essling Battle was first Napoleon personal defeat in more then a decade but Napoleon rallied his troops and 2 months later defeated Archduke Charles Austrian army in gigantic and bloody Battle of Wagram (largest battle in European history until that point) and ended war victoriously.
Monsieur Ducel – A veteran of Napoleon’s Mamelukes of the Guard, dressed in his old uniform on the anniversary of Napoleon’s death. Paris 1858.
Monsieur Dreuse – A veteran of Napoleon’s Army in his old uniform on the anniversary of Napoleon’s death. Paris, 1858.
Sgt. Taria – A veteran of Napoleon’s legendary Imperial Guard in his old uniform. Paris, anniversary of Napoleon’s death, probably 1858.
In eighteen years of military service, Napoleon Bonaparte had eighteen horses shot out from under him!
On March 10, 1799, the Ottoman city of Jaffa (in what is today Israel) fell to Napoleon and his French troops. The general ordered his men to slaughter several thousand men in the city’s garrison that had been taken prisoner, mainly Albanians.
Napoleon viewed this as justice for the Ottomans killing French messengers sent to Jaffa. Today it would be a war crime.
A ludicrous story is told of a great naval function which took place during the reign of the last Napoleon and the Empress Eugénie. Several American vessels were present, and they were drawn up in line to salute the Empress’s yacht as it passed. The French sailors, of course, manned the yards of their ships, and shouted ‘Vive l’Impératrice!’ The American Admiral knew that it was impossible to teach these words to his men in the time left to him, so he ordered his crew to shout ‘Beef, lemons, and cheese!’ The imperial yacht came on, and as it passed the fleet there was a mighty roar of ‘Beef, lemons, and cheese.’ And the Empress said she had never received such an ovation before.
Napoleon during the battle of Eylau, Russia. Painting by Antoine-Jean Gros, 1808.