Instinctive as Napoleone Buonaparte in Ajaccio, Corsica, the subsequent son of an impoverished trial lawyer, Napoleon's father passed on when he was only fifteen years of age and swiftly took on the task of supporting his mother and numerous siblings. Educated at Autun and Brienne, Napoleon was renowned in areas such as mathematics and science exacting. Having entered the École Militaire in 1784 he was, a year later, commissioned into the artillery. In between discharging his professional duties and visiting his impoverished family in Corsica, he undertook an intensive study of military history and theory. Indeed, on moving to Auxonne, France's premier artillery school at the time, Bonaparte became acquainted with, among other military thinkers, the commandant, Baron du Teil, a celebrated gunner who, distinguishing his prospective, partaken a keen, affectionate concentration in his preparation.
Napoleon was one of the greatest military commanders in history. He has also been portrayed as a power hungry conqueror. In regard to that accusation, Napoleon denied those accusations. He argued that he was building a federation of free peoples in a Europe united under a liberal government. With that remaining as his ultimate goal, he intended to achieve it by taking power in his own hands. However, in the states he produced, Napoleon Bonaparte established constitutions, introduced law codes, put an end to feudalism, fashioned well-organized regimes and cultivated edification, science, literature and the arts.
Emperor Napoleon proved to be an excellent civil administrator. One of his greatest achievements was his supervision of the revision and collection of French law into codes. The new law codes which were seven in number incorporated some of the freedoms gained by the people of France during the French Revolution including religious toleration and the eradication of serfdom. The most famous of the codes, the Code Napoleon or Code Civil, still forms the basis of French civil law. Napoleon also centralized France's government by appointing prefects to administer regions called departments, into which France was divided.
While Napoleon believed in government for the people, he rejected government by the people. His France was a police state with a vast network of secret police and spies. The police shut down play containing any hint of disagreement or criticism of the government. The press was controlled by the state. It was impossible to express an opinion without Napoleon's approval.
Napoleon, although his main achievements centered on areas such as administration, had other remarkable, although minor, achievements in France. He improved the appearance of French cities such as Paris by building bridges and canals and by planting trees at the sides of roads to protect them from the sun. This aided the beauty of Paris as it is today.