Napoleon Bonaparte Quotes

Home / Leader / Napoleon Bonaparte Quotes

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, by Jacques-Louis David, 1812
Emperor of the French
1st reign 18 May 1804 – 6 April 1814
Coronation 2 December 1804
Predecessor Position established
Napoleon was previously First Consul of the French Republic (1799–1804)
Successor Position abolished
Louis XVIII (Bourbon Restoration)
2nd reign 20 March 1815 – 22 June 1815
Predecessor Position re-established
Successor Position abolished
Louis XVIII (Bourbon Restoration)
King of Italy
Reign 17 March 1805 – 11 April 1814
Coronation 26 May 1805
Predecessor Charles V (King in 1556)
Napoleon was previously President of the Italian Republic (1802–1805)
Successor Victor Emmanuel II (King in 1861)
Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine
Reign 6 August 1806 – 4 November 1813
Predecessor Francis II (Held equivalent post as Holy Roman Emperor)
Successor Francis I (Came on to hold equivalent post as President of the German Confederation)
Born (1769-08-15)15 August 1769
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Died 5 May 1821(1821-05-05) (aged 51)
Longwood, Saint Helena
Burial Les Invalides, Paris, France
Spouse Joséphine de Beauharnais
Marie Louise of Austria
Napoleon II
Full name
Napoleon Bonaparte

What is history but a fable agreed upon?
One must change one's tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one's superiority.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.
I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion. The whole secret of government lies in knowing when to be the one or the other.
Napoleon Bonaparte
France has more need of me than I have need of France.
A leader is a dealer in hope.
Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.
Victory belongs to the most persevering.
England is a nation of shopkeepers.
One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent.
Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.
The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one's designs to one's means.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.
All religions have been made by men.
If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.
Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.
Napoleon Bonaparte
A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.
The infectiousness of crime is like that of the plague.
Medicines are only fit for old people.
The herd seek out the great, not for their sake but for their influence; and the great welcome them out of vanity or need.
Napoleon Bonaparte
A celebrated people lose dignity upon a closer view.
I made all my generals out of mud.
The battle of Austerlitz is the grandest of all I have fought.
We must laugh at man to avoid crying for him.
Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress.
Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self interest.
I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.
History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.
Napoleon Bonaparte
In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
The human race is governed by its imagination.
Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.
Napoleon Bonaparte
The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Music is the voice that tells us that the human race is greater than it knows.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.
Napoleon Bonaparte
It requires more courage to suffer than to die.
Let the path be open to talent.
Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.
Water, air, and cleanness are the chief articles in my pharmacy.
Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
Napoleon Bonaparte
If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.
Napoleon Bonaparte
There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Ambition never is in a greater hurry than I; it merely keeps pace with circumstances and with my general way of thinking.
Napoleon Bonaparte
There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Women are nothing but machines for producing children.
There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed.
I have only one counsel for you - be master.
A man cannot become an atheist merely by wishing it.
Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy.
The first virtue in a soldier is endurance of fatigue; courage is only the second virtue.
Napoleon Bonaparte
He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.
When soldiers have been baptized in the fire of a battle-field, they have all one rank in my eyes.
Napoleon Bonaparte

A leader is a dealer in hope.
Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight.
He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.
The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one's self to destiny.
Napoleon Bonaparte
A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.
With audacity one can undertake anything, but not do everything.
The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.
Napoleon Bonaparte
There are only two forces that unite men - fear and interest.
Ability is nothing without opportunity.
A Constitution should be short and obscure.
Imagination rules the world.
The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.
A revolution can be neither made nor stopped. The only thing that can be done is for one of several of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories.
Napoleon Bonaparte
You must not fear death, my lads; defy him, and you drive him into the enemy's ranks.
Napoleon Bonaparte
The best way to keep one's word is not to give it.
Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly consult.
It is the cause, not the death, that makes the martyr.
When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.
Napoleon Bonaparte
The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.
Napoleon Bonaparte
A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.
Respect the burden.
From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us.
Throw off your worries when you throw off your clothes at night.
A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.
In order to govern, the question is not to follow out a more or less valid theory but to build with whatever materials are at hand. The inevitable must be accepted and turned to advantage.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
A true man hates no one.
The best cure for the body is a quiet mind.
In politics... never retreat, never retract... never admit a mistake.
If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.
Napoleon Bonaparte
There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
Napoleon Bonaparte
The French complain of everything, and always.
The army is the true nobility of our country.
War is the business of barbarians.
It is my wish that my ashes may repose on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of the French people, whom I have loved so well.
Napoleon Bonaparte
The surest way to remain poor is to be an honest man.
An army marches on its stomach.
Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.
I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies.
Napoleon Bonaparte
To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.
Napoleon Bonaparte
History is a set of lies agreed upon.
You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.
Napoleon Bonaparte
The extent of your consciousness is limited only by your ability to love and to embrace with your love the space around you, and all it contains.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Men take only their needs into consideration - never their abilities.
Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.
The act of policing is, in order to punish less often, to punish more severely.
Napoleon Bonaparte
I am the successor, not of Louis XVI, but of Charlemagne.