#6 – The Army of Italy (part two)

When we last left Napoleon, he had taken the helm of the Army of Italy and was proving his brilliance in matters of strategy and tactics. In this episode we discuss:

  • The Battle of Lodi
  • The Kellerman incident
  • The Bridge over Arcola
  • The Papal States
  • The Battle of Rivoli
  • The Treaty of Campo Formio
  • Napoleon’s role in the future Unification of Italy
  • Josephine’s behaviour while he on campaign

In our next episode, we will follow Napoleon as he enters Egypt!

#5 – The Army of Italy (part one)

Napoleon is made Commander-In-Chief of the Army of France in Italy by Paul Barras in March 1796 (one week before he married Josephine). A couple of days later, he leaves to join his new command.

In this episode, we talk about:

Building a winning army

  • His key team Berthier, Murat
  • The generals he inherited, Massena, Augereau, how he got them onside
  • The army he inheried the condition they were in, their track record to date
  • How he inspired the troops
  • Who he was fighting and why
  • The first victory Montenotte
  • The lesson of Dego
  • The victory at Mondovi and the Armistice of Cherasco, his first peace treaty
  • And that was all in the first month!


  •  guess this is a good time to start talking about the major recurrent themes in Napoleon’s strategy.
  • Fast movements, the advantage of surprise
  • Flexible strategy, changing tact mid-stream if needed versus slow, rigid opponents
  • Attack the center, split the opposing force, then attack the wings

Napoleon in Victory
You can tell a lot about the man from how he acted towards his opponents after a victory
In the next show, we’ll continue the Italian Campaign of 1796 as Napoleon wins the Battle of Lodi and starts to fully comprehend that he has a special destiny!


#4 – Enter Josephine


We left Napoleon in late 1795, having broken the back of the Paris insurgency with a “whiff of grapeshot”. For his efforts he was made Commander of the Army of the Interior, the largest armed force in France, with the rank of general de division. He changed his name from Buonaparte to Bonaparte. He is 26 years old. Josephine. It is around this time that Napoleon first meets Marie Joesphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie whom he decided to call Josephine. She was 32, 6 years older than N, and had two children from her previous marriage. In this show we talk a little about:

  • her background
  • Alexander’s execution
  • how she came to meet Napoleon
  • her relationship with Paul Barras
  • her marriage to Napoelon in 1796 – within six months of meeting!
  • Her children

In the next show, we’ll start to cover the Italian Campaign of 1796 as Napoleon continues his rise to power and eternal fame!

And don’t forget, if you are new to Napoleonic study, then you really must buy a copy of David’s recent book:

#3 – Thermidor and A Whiff of Grapeshot!

Napoleon #003 (mp3 – 18Mb – 50mins)


In Episode #3 of Napoleon 101, we pick up where we left last time – Napoleon has just won the Battle of Toulon and is made a Brigadier General. He is 24.

This brings us to 1794 and the events of the month of Thermidor (July in the revolutionary calendar).

  • Napoleon’s relationship with Augustin Robespierre, and his older brother Maximillian, sees him thrown into prison.
  • He is released but still has his name struck off the list of artillery officers and transferred to infantry.
  • He takes two months sick leave and goes to Paris. Eventually he ends up working in the Topography Department of the Army.
  • Then we move to 1795 – Vendemaire. Paris is under attack and Napoleon meets Paul Barras.
  • Napoleon saves the day with a “whiff of grapeshot”.
  • As we finish this episode, Napoleon is made commander of the Army of the Interior, the largest army in France. He is only 26 years old.

In Episode #4, Napoleon will meet Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie (aka Josephine) and will take up the command of The Army of Italy!

If you are a Napoleon neophite, then you really must buy a copy of David’s recent book:

#2 – Early life and military career

Napoleon #002 (mp3 – 16Mb – 46mins)


In Episode #2 of Napoleon 101, we start the story of Napoleon’s life with his birth in the town of Ajaccio on the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean. We then cover:

  • The political environment of Corsica
  • His father Carlo’s relationship with the Corsican revolutionary Paoli
  • Napoleon’s life at military boarding school from age 9
  • The French Revolution occurs in 1789 and Napoleon’s reaction to it
  • In 1791 he returns to Corsica to play a role in its revolution
  • In 1793 he splits with Paoli and has to escape Corsica with his entire family
  • He then experiences more civil war at the battle of Avignon
  • Writes the short story Le Souper de Beaucaire
  • Finally, at age 24, he is the architect of the victory at Toulon!
  • For his part he is promoted to Brigadier General

In the next episode, we will start with the events of Thermidor and the infamous “whiff of grapeshot”!

If you are enjoying the series but want to learn more about Napoleon, don’t forget to check out David’s many books, including “Napoleon For Dummies”, which you can find here.

#1 – An Introduction

Napoleon 101 #001 (mp3 – 24Mb – 68 mins)

An Introduction to The Napoleon 101 Podcast from Cameron Reilly on Vimeo.

Welcome to the first episode of Napoleon 101! David and I are very excited about creating this show and the rest of the series.

For this first episode, we thought we’d start by giving you a bit of a taste-tester. Before we get deep into the nitty-gritty of his life and career, we’ll take you on a quick journey of what makes Napoleon such an interesting topic for us. For example, we cover:

  • How and when did we first get interested in Napoleon?
  • What is it about Napoleon that fascinates us?
  • The first things everyone wants to know:
    • Was he really short?
    • Why did he stick his hand inside his jacket?
    • Did he really say “Not tonight, Josephine”?
    • Was he poisoned or not?
  • Top 5 things everyone should know about Napoleon
    • He was Corsican
    • He rarely, if ever, broke a peace treaty
    • He was a workaholic who hardly slept
    • He was a genius with a great eye for detail
    • The Code Napoleon
  • Our favourite Napoleonic event/story/anecdote/myth
    • The return from Elba
    • The Battle of Austerlitz

If you are new to Napoleon, then we hope this show will give you a taste to learn more. If you are already an experienced hand, then we hope you will enjoy hearing a couple of Napoleon geeks tell the story that you are already familiar with.

If you like the show, please subscribe on either iTunes or Stitcher.

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