Napoleon Bonaparte (Corsican/Italian: Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was born in Ajaccio,1Population was ~71,000 in 2019. on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
Quote About “Competition”
We found this paraphrased quote to be relevant at the moment:2We changed the pronoun from ‘he’ to ‘she.’
Napoleon’s Early Days
Napoleon “was the second of eight surviving children born to Carlo Buonaparte (1746-1785), a lawyer, and Letizia Romalino Buonaparte (1750-1836). Although his parents were members of the minor Corsican nobility, the family was not wealthy. The year before Napoleon’s birth, France acquired Corsica from the city-state of Genoa, Italy. Napoleon later adopted a French spelling of his last name,” according to History.com.
WondriumDaily describes a young Napoleon thusly: He had been born in Corsica, “the second son in a gentry family, and following the traditional aristocratic pattern, the second son winds up with a career in the military.”
Map of Corsica
Here’s an interactive map from OpenStreetMap highlighting the island of Corsica (blue pin). It is just north of the island of Sardinia.
View Larger Map
To quench your curiosity, Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, behind Sicily, Sardinia, and Cyprus. Check out MapPorn to view all the islands ranked by size and displayed in scale. WorldAtlas also shows the The [Top 10] Biggest Mediterranean Islands. We have an affinity for Sardinia, incidentally.
Cultivating One’s Garden
And, as the Washington Post’s article titled “Napoleon Bonaparte, gardener?” suggests:
When Napoleon’s armies fought and lost the make-or-break Battle of Waterloo, he was all of 45. Imprisoned afterward on St. Helena, the deposed emperor eventually died of stomach cancer — or, possibly, arsenic poisoning if you’re conspiracy-minded — at a still-young 51.
What did Napoleon do during his six-year confinement on that tiny South Atlantic island? He grew flowers (the roses died), planted trees, constructed an aviary and harvested peas and beans. An engraving shows him wearing a straw peasant’s hat and leaning on a spade.
A “Gardening” Book
The article goes on and references a book by Ruth Scurr published in June 2021, “Napoleon: A Life Told in Gardens and Shadows.“
In fact, contends Ruth Scurr in ‘Napoleon: A Life Told in Gardens and Shadows,’ this world-shaking military genius had always turned to the natural world — and to two- or three-hour long baths — for succor from the ills of the spirit or the burdens of power.
In her book, Scurr tracks Napoleon’s rise and fall with hardly a glance at his battles, political maneuverings and mistresses (there were at least 21). Instead, we learn about the vegetable patch young Bonaparte kept while at school, his later attention to green spaces when undertaking urban renewal in Egypt, Italy and France, his enjoyment of reflective walks in the woods and his penchant for neoclassical landscape design.
If you want to read even more about gardening or the philosophy of it,3 OpenCulture’s blog post references a School of Life video narrated by Alain de Botton, author of one of our favorite Intro to Philosophy books, “The Consolations of Philosophy,” then reference our intrepid leader’s LinkedIn post about how he cultivates his garden:4“…let us cultivate our garden.” ~Candide by Voltaire.
Also, you might want to read the blog post, “Napoleon Bonaparte in the Garden.”
Now you. Any book references or quotes regarding Napoleon that you find inspiring?
As always, with respect to M&A and strategic finance, if you want to compete like a champion and win like Napoleon (sans the Battle of Waterloo, of course), then call or send us a note to get acquainted.