The Fall of Napoleon

The Fall of Napoleon

Update: 2021-03-15


Sophie (age 7) & Ellie (age 5) tell of the fall of Napoleon - Spain, divorce, Russian disaster to Waterloo and St Helena.----more----

In the third of our Napoleonic series our episode starts with Napoleon at the height of his power. Europe lies before him. Only Britain remains still opposing him. Napoleon decides to launch economic war on Britain. He bans European countries from importing British goods. But people in Europe want the goods. So they keep trying to trade with Britain. Everytime they do, Napoleon invades them.

But he bites off more than he can chew when he invades Spain and Portugal. Britain’s brilliant general, who later becomes the Duke of Wellington, protects Portugal. The Spanish people rise up in rebellion.

The Spanish are not the only country to resent French rule. In an effort to stop attacks on his soldiers Napoleon makes people walk on the other side of the road so it is harder for them to attack his soldiers. So is born the fact that Europe (which Napoleon conquered) drives on the right; but Britain (which he did not) drives on the left.

Napoleon is desperate for a son. So he divorces Josephine even though he loves here. He marries an Austrian princess hoping for a son an a friendship with Austria. He gets the son, but Austria still does not like him.

Then Napoleon makes a terrible mistake. He invades Russia with a mighty army. But the Russians refuse to fight him. They retreat deep into Russia chased by Napoleon. A huge battle is fought before the gates of Moscow. Napoleon wins the battle but many of his soldiers are killed. However, Napoleon captures Moscow. He marches into the city in triumph, expecting victory. But the Russians have other ideas. Not only do they not surrender, they burn Moscow to the ground. Napoleon is forced to retreat. But the winter comes. The Russian cold and ice destroy his army.

All of Europe turns on him. He raises another army but it is not as good as the one he lost in Russia. He is forced out of Germany and into France. He is still the best General in Europe but the numbers are too great. Paris falls and his generals abandon him. He is forced to give up the throne of France. The Tsar and Austrian Emperor take pity of him and give Napoleon the small island of Elba to rule.

But the new French King is unpopular. Napoleon escapes and becomes Emperor of the French again. Europe again turns to fight him. This time Napoleon is defeated at the battle of Waterloo. He is exiled to St Helena. There is no escape.

But before he dies he tells people his side of the story. He creates a legend which makes people forget the wars and invasions and remember instead the good things he did and the battles he won.


This is the final part of a three part series. The other two episodes are:

Emperor Napoleon

Emperor Napoleon (

The Young Napoleon

The Young Napoleon Bonaparte (

We also previously did an episode all about the Battle of Waterloo

Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo (


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The Fall of Napoleon

The Fall of Napoleon

Sophie (7) & Ellie (4) tell history for kids