Peter the Great
Peter the Great ruled Russia from 1682 to his death in 1725. In the earlier part of his reign, Russia was called a “tsardom” (like a kingdom, except the Russian rulers were called “tsars”). After leading Russia in a series of successful wars, however, Russia became a larger empire. Peter led Russia to become a major European power and revolutionized much of the culture and politics of Russia to become more modern, scientific, and Westernized. A lot of the changes he made are still felt in Russia today. He is known for founding and developing the beautiful city of St. Petersburg, which was the capital of Russia until 1917.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French leader who became prominent during the French Revolution (1789) and led successful military campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars that followed. He was the “Emperor of the French” from 1804 to 1814 and part of 1815, being known as Napoleon I. He built a large empire that ruled over much of Europe until it collapsed in 1815.
Napoleon is considered one of the best military commanders ever, and his wars are still studied in military schools around the world. Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812, which resulted in the collapse of his army even though he destroyed Russian cities. He suffered a military defeat at the hands of allied Russian, Prussian, and Austrian forces in 1813, and in 1814 the allied forces from various countries invaded France’s capital, Paris.
Napoleon was captured and exiled to an island in the Mediterranean Sea, but escaped and took control of France again. The allies fought again and defeated him at the famous Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon was exiled again, this time to a remote island in the South Atlantic, where he died six years later at the age of 51.
Napoleon actually brought many modernizing reforms to the countries of Europe he conquered. Many of the most important ideas of our modern Western societies were promoted and made into law by Napoleon.