This Day in History: December 2

In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor of France at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Bonaparte became the first Frenchman in 1,000 years to hold the title of Emperor. Rather than having the Pope place the crown on his head, as was traditional, Bonaparte took the crown from Pope Pius VII and placed it on his own head, essentially crowning himself.

By 1812, Napoleon had conquered huge swathes of Europe; territory under French control included modern day Austira, Belgium,

The Napoleonic Empire at the height of its power. The dark purple area is territory under French control. The light purple represents satellite states.
The Napoleonic Empire at the height of its power. The dark purple area is territory under French control. The light purple represents satellite states.

Germany, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands Spain and Switzerland. However, after 1812, Napoleon experienced a series of military defeats at the hand of Great Britain and her Allies. He lost Spain to the Duke of Wellington in 1814.

Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba off the coast of Italy. However, he escaped in 1815, returned to France and raised an army. He was finally defeated for good by the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815.

Napoleon was again exiled, this time to the island of St. Helena off the coast of Africa. He remained there until he died of stomach cancer in 1821. In 1840, his body was moved to Paris where he was reburied under the dome of the Place des Invalides.