Updated: Nov 25, 2022
Napoleon Bonaparte is a figure larger than life.
To the British he became a bogey man - mothers warned their children that if they didn't go to sleep 'Old Boney would get them'. Yet when Napoleon reached the shores of England, en route for St Helena. the Authorities were so worried at his popularity, with people arriving to see this legend of a man, that they forbade Napoleon to land, fearing mass support for him.
To the French during his lifetime he was their great hero who had restored France to her rightful place in Europe and who had taken the concept of la gloire to new heights. Yet today his legacy is much criticised in France on account of the number of deaths involved in his many campaigns, over his restoration of slavery in the Caribbean, and his patriarchal laws. The commemoration of his death last year (he died in 1821) was a rather muted, and certainly disputed, event in his homeland.
Yet Napoleon remains a gigantic historical figure not only for his enduring and profound effect on France but on a wider Europe too.