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There he played an active part in political and military matters, initially supporting the Corsican rebel Pasquale Paoli, a former patron of Carlo Buonaparte.
Military promotion also followed, but Napoleon became opposed to Paoli and when civil war erupted in 1793 the Buonapartes fled to France, where they adopted the French version of their name: Bonaparte.
Initiatives like the Concordat with the Church and the Code helped secure his status. Napoleon Bonaparte's fame, ambitions, and character were based on conquest, making it almost inevitable that his reorganized would fight further wars.
However, other European countries also sought conflict, for not only did they distrust and fear Bonaparte, they also retained their hostility towards revolutionary France.
Bonaparte exhibited an undeniable skill as both legislator and statesmen - a study of these achievements could rival those of his campaigns for size and depth - but many have argued that this talent was deeply flawed and even fervent supporters admit that Napoleon made mistakes.
The Consul's popularity remained high - helped by his mastery of propaganda, but also genuine national support - and he was elected Consulate for life by the French people in 1802 and Emperor of France in 1804, a title which Bonaparte worked hard to maintain and glorify.
He did so within a year, although the key triumph - the Battle of Marengo, fought in June 1800 - was won by the French General Desaix.
Shortly after he took part in the Brumaire coup of November 1799, finishing as a member of the Consulate, France's new ruling triumvirate.
The transfer of power might not have been smooth - owing much to luck and apathy - but Napoleon's great political skill was clear; by February 1800 he was established as the First Consul, a practical dictatorship with a constitution wrapped firmly around him.
Historians have frequently used the Corsican affair as a microcosm of Napoleon's career.
Fluctuating Success The French Revolution had decimated the republic's officer class and favored individuals could achieve swift promotion, but Napoleon's fortunes rose and fell as one set of patrons came and went.