Brienne-le-Château Military School

Napoleon in 1779 as a nouveau at the military school at Brienne

May 15, 1779

A combination of Carlo’s social climbing, Letizia’s suspected adultery with the Comte de Marbeuf – Corsica’s French military governor – and Napoleon’s own ability enabled him to enter the military academy at Brienne in 1779.  This afforded him greater opportunities to study than were available to a typical Corsican of the time. As Corsica’s representative to France, Napoleon’s father was rewarded graciously by the Crown, who financed a scholarship for the young Napoleon to the military college of Brienne in France.

On 15 May 1779, at age nine, Napoleon was admitted to a French military school at Brienne-le-Château, a small town near Troyes. He had to learn French before entering the school, but he spoke with a rough Corsican accent throughout his life and never learned to spell properly.

According to Jacques Jourquin, Napoleon “thinks of himself as a Corsican. He is surrounded by students who are the children of French aristocrats. And they have nothing in common with this little foreigner. And since he is quite proud, he becomes a loner.”

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