Born on the island of Corsica, Napoleon rapidly rose through the ranks of the military during the French Revolution (1789-1799). After seizing political power in France in a 1799 coup d'état, he crowned himself emperor in 1804.
On May 5, 1789, Louis XVI put together the Estates General. Almost immediately , it became apparent that this very old fashioned arrangement- the group had last been assembled on 1614- it would nor go well with it's present members. Even though Louis XVI gave the Third Estate extent numerical representation, the Parliament of Paris stepped in and invoked an old rule mandating that each estate receive one vote, regardless of size. As a result, though the Third Estate was greatly larger than the clergy and nobility, each estate had the same representation—one vote.
On June 20, 1789, the members of the French Estates-General for Third Estate, who had begun to call themselves the National Assembly, took the Tennis Court Oath, promising "not to separate and to resemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established." It was a pivotal event in the early days of the French Revolution.
On July 14, 1789, a state prison on the East side of Paris, known as the Bastille, was attacked by an angry and aggressive mob. The prison had become a symbol of the monarchy's dictatorial rule, and the event became one of the defining moments in the Revolution that followed.
Between June 1793 and the end of July 1794, there were 16,594 official death sentences in France, of which 2,639 were in Paris. Several historians consider the "reign of terror" to have begun in 1793, placing the starting date at either 5 September, June or March (birth of the Revolutionary Tribunal), while some consider it to have begun in September 1792 (September Massacres), or even July 1789 (when the first beheading's took place), but there is a general consensus that it ended with the fall of Robespierre in July 1794.
On 18 May 1804, Napoleon was granted the title Emperor of the French by the French Sénat and was crowned on 2 December 1804, ending the period of the French Consulate and of the French First Republic. The French Empire won early military victories in the War of the Third Coalition against Austria, Prussia, Russia, Portugal, and allied nations, notably at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 and, during the War of the Fourth Coalition, at the Battle of Friedland in 1807
The Congress of Vienna was a meeting of ambassadors of European states presided by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, and held in Vienna from November 1814 to June 1815, though the delegates had arrived and were already negotiating by late September 1814. The objective of the Congress was to provide a extended peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution, both of which threatened to upset the status quo in Europe. France lost all its recent conquests while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west, Swedish Pomerania and 60% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new Kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.