Napoleon Bonaparte was a Corsican-born military tactician and politician who shaped and founded the First French Empire. He rose to power in 1799 after a coup d'état (the "Coup of 18 Brumaire") and ruled France for five years before the French Senate declared him Emperor. Despite popular stereotypes, Napoleon was not particularly short. The widely-cited "short Napoleon" caricature is derived from anti-French propaganda published in Britain that intentionally conflated the size of the French inch (2.71 cm) and the British inch (2.54 cm). Nevertheless, a "Napoleon Complex" refers to a short person compensating for their stature in other ways.
 Rise of an emperor
Napoleon was born in French-controlled Corsica to Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Letizia Ramolino; he was a turbulent child. In January 1779 he was enrolled by his father at a religious school in mainland France where he learned French; then he went to a military academy at Brienne-le-Château and finally to the elite École Militaire in Paris where he became an artillery officer.
He gained his reputation as a tactician during the French Revolution, after being promoted to general, he led the famous Italian campaign, defeating a coalition of Austria, Russia, Piedmont-Sardinia, and some Italian states.
Subsequently, Napoleon was sent by the Senate to invade Egypt where he defeated the Mamelukes in the "Battle of the Pyramids". After a successful campaign he came back to France, overthrew the ruling French Directory and made himself the first French Consul. In 1804, he removed all pretense of democracy and declared himself Emperor and then King of Italy. His civil code from the same year however, the Code Napoléon, was a comprehensive rewriting of Justinian's Roman Law in accordance with the principles of the French revolution. Later it formed the basis of the private law of the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain, and was quite influential throughout the rest of Europe.
 Public opinion
Like many conquerors and generals, Napoleon is both loved and hated: as an enlightened despot he tends to be loved for his enlightenedness and hated for his despotism.
Many scholars argue that the Napoleonic Wars brought France to ruin, but others claim that Napoleon did not actively seek those wars. The blithering stupidity of attacking Russia suggests otherwise; but that's what you get for starting a land war in Asia.