Portrayed by Mark Schneider

No military figure in history has been quite as polarizing as Napoleon Bonaparte. Was he a monster, driven by an endless, ruinous quest for military glory? Or a social and political visionary brought down by petty, reactionary kings of Europe?

The French Revolution had taken a dark turn when a 23-year-old Corsican second lieutenant arrived in Paris and saw Louis XVI dethroned. By 30 he was head of the most powerful country in Europe. At his death at 52 in exile, Europe had been changed forever.

One of the first truly modern politicians, he fashioned himself as a hero who successfully dragged France back from the edge of the abyss. Master of media manipulation, this idealized image of Napoleon has endured to this day.

Napoleon’s complex and violent legacy seeded totalitarian regimes in the 20th century and sounds an alert to us in the 21st.


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    Mark Schneider was born and raised in the small town of Setauket, New York on Long Island, to a French mother and an American father. He holds a BA in History from Christopher Newport University. He served in the US Army as a Cavalry Scout performing Armored Reconnaissance in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Germany.

    He has performed at Colonial Williamsburg since 1997 and currently works for the Education Division as a member of the Nation Builder Department. While at Colonial Williamsburg, Mark has performed “first person” character roles ranging from Mark Antony, Mann Page III, James Madison, Benedict Arnold, Banastre Tarleton, General Rochambeau and Napoleon Bonaparte.

    Mark also portrays Napoleon Bonaparte internationally and has appeared since 2005 in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy and Russia, as well as in films and documentaries.  As Napoleon, Mark has had the honor to portray him at many 200th anniversary events such as, Austerlitz, Jena, Berlin and Borodino. Most recently, Mark has appeared in the Netflix documentary “Being Napoleon,” as well as being the “Napoleon” for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibit, NAPOLEON: POWER AND SPLENDOR. Last year Mark also made a cameo appearance in the French film, “L’Empereur de Paris,” as Napoleon himself. This film is due out in December 2018. Mark currently resides in Williamsburg Virginia.

    “A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets” . . . Napoleon

    “I am the signet which marks the page where the revolution has been stopped;
    but when I die it will turn the page and resume its course” . . .  Napoleon

    Napoleon Bonaparte was born on the small island of Corsica in 1769. The island was purchased by France only a year prior, so it was by good fortune that Napoleon would officially be born a Frenchman. As a result of this, Napoleon was able to study in French schools and eventually attend a French military academy where he would learn his trade of being a soldier. It would be the Revolution in France in 1789 that would change everything for young Napoleon.

    Due to this massive upheaval of the French population who were in want of change and Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, Napoleon was able to rise through the ranks due to his own merit and brilliance on the battlefield. It was due to these revolutionary ideas that Napoleon was able to rise to power in France and spread the great ideas of revolution across the borders of Europe and create a the Europe that we know today.

    • 1769 – (Aug 15) born in Corsica
    • 1779-1784 – Attends French military schools at Autun, Brienne and Ecole Militaire
    • 1789 – (Jul 14) French Revolution begins (age 20)
    • 1793-94 – Siege of Toulon and is made a General (age 24)
    • 1796-97 – Commander of the Army of Italy and first Italian campaign
    • 1798-99 – Egyptian Campaign
    • 1799 – (Nov 9) Coup d’Etat. becomes First Consul (age 30)
    • 1804 – (Dec 2) becomes Emperor of the French (age 35)
    • 1805-1815 – European Wars against England, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Spain, Portugal and Sweden.
    • 1814 – (May 4) exiled to Elba
    • 1815 – (Mar 1) escapes Elba and begins “Hundred Days” Campaign
    • 1815 – (Jun 18) defeated at the Battle of Waterloo
    • 1815 – (Oct 16) exiled to Saint Helena
    • 1821 – (May 5) Dies on island of Saint Helena (age 52)
    • From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.
    • The word impossible is not French.
    • What then is, generally speaking, the truth of history? A fable agreed upon.
    • History is the version of past events its people have decided to agree upon.
    • Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
    • A leader is a dealer in hope.
    • It is the cause, not the death that makes the martyr.
    • 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.
    • A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.
    • I am the signet which marks the page where the revolution has been stopped; but when I die it will turn the page and resume its course.
    • Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts (2014)
      I consider this to be the best recent biography on Napoleon. Andrew Roberts’s mammoth biography of Bonaparte endeavors to examine his life in full, balancing the different aspects of his character and history that have made him such a compelling figure in the nearly 200 years since his death. The Guardian’s review referred to it as “a view – essentially positive – from inside the imperial entourage,” and praised its pacing and its continued relevance to the present political moment.
    • The Age of Napoleon by Alistair Horne (2004)
      One of my favorite authors! Alistair makes a great concise account of Napoleon’s life without a long read.
    • Napoleon by Vincent Cronin (1971)
      A fantastic unbiased account of Napoleon’s life.
    • Napoleon by Emil Ludwig (1954)
      The first biography I read on Napoleon and I absolutely loved it!
    • The Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler (1966.)
      The best accounts of Napoleon’s campaigns in the English language.