About the Show

The first programme in this four-part series charts Napoleon's extraordinary rise from Corsican obscurity, chronicling the military victories in Italy that made him a hero to the French and convinced him he was destined for greatness. Also revealed is young Napoleon's love for a woman of extravagant tastes and habits who initially rejected his passionate affection: the legendary Josephine de Beauharnais. The programme features sites important to Napoleon's early life, including Corsica, where this son of a provincial aristocrat was raised as one of eight children; Brienne in northern France where he spent five years at boarding school; and the Italian Alps, where he fought the Austrians with a skill that no one expected, and where his quest for power began. Numerous paintings as well as dramatic re-creations of Napoleon's historic battles combine to bring the story of his life to the screen.