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110 Most Famous Quotes By Napoleon Bonaparte You Need To Know

Looking for the most famous quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte? Read on to discover some of the most influential words he said over time!

One of the most famous French people of all time is Napoleon Bonaparte, also known as Napoleon I!

A celebrated and controversial French leader who claimed himself emperor from 1804 to 1815, his reign was one that will never be forgotten in French history.

But before he rose to this glory, he was just an ordinary boy born in Corsica in 1769, the same year Corsica was ceded to France.

When he turned 9, he moved to mainland France where he studied at a military academy, but that was not just smooth sailing.

He was bullied in school for his thick Corsican accent while speaking French and his inability to write it well since it wasn’t his mother tongue.

Fast forward to 1789, he became an important figure during the French Revolution though, it wasn’t until his military campaign against Austria in 1796 that he became a hero. By this time, it had become evident that he is on a journey to be something even greater.

Painting of Napoleon I
Painting of Napoleon I

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He won many wars in a quest to rule over Europe (and lost some major ones), and created a number of French laws and policies that are even still in use to date! While all this made him beloved, he was also hated by several.

He was exiled to the island of Elba after his abdication in 1814 but escaped and returned to France in February 1815 and took control over the country.

But after his defeat in the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815, he was exiled again to Saint Helena in the Atlantic where he eventually died in 1821 at the age of 51. (You can learn more about him by reading my other post of the fun facts about Napoleon)

Throughout his life, especially at the time when he was heavily involved in the leadership of France and as a military man, he said so many words, and as a person who was both loved and hated at the time, his words still linger on even today.

So if you’re his fan or are interested in learning some of his most famous words, then you’ll love these famous quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte that I’ve put together.

Psst… You can also check out these famous Quotes by Voltaire of these Victor Hugo quotes!

Most Famous Quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte

To help you browse smoothly, I’ll be categorizing this post into; Inspirational quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte, powerful and thought-provoking quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte, famous Napoleon quotes about war, famous Napoleon quotes on leadership, politics, and power, strategic famous quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte, and general Napoleon sayings!

Also, these Napoleon Bonaparte quotes were originally said in French, but they’ve been translated into English over the years.

Napoleon in his coronation robes

Napoleon in his coronation robes – François Gérard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Inspirational Quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte

For some inspiration, check out these famous Napoleon quotes.

1.“Victory belongs to the most persevering.”

2. “Success is the most convincing talker in the world.”

3. “It is only by prudence, wisdom, and dexterity, that great ends are attained and obstacles overcome. Without these qualities nothing succeeds.”

4. “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.”

5. “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.”

6. “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”

7. “I have seen in the most significant of circumstances, that some little thing always decides great events.”

8. “It’s the unconquerable soul of man, and not the nature of the weapon he uses, that ensures victory.”

9. “Throw off your worries when you throw off your clothes at night.”

10. “History is written by the winners.”

11. “The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.”

12. “Until you spread your wings, you’ll have no idea how far you can fly.”

13. “Success is the most convincing talker in the world.”

14. “The world suffers a lot. Not because the violence of bad people. But because of the silence of the good people.”

Napoleon after his abdication

Napoleon after his abdication – Paul Delaroche, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Powerful and Thought-provoking Quotes By Napoleon Bonaparte

These Napoleon quotes below will no doubt make you think about certain subjects on a much deeper level!

15. “Imagination governs the world.”

16. “Ability is of little account without opportunity.”

17. “We are made weak both by idleness and distrust of ourselves. Unfortunate, indeed, is he who suffers from both. If he is a mere individual he becomes nothing; if he is a king he is lost.”

18. “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

19. “One must change one’s tactics every ten years if one wishes to maintain one’s superiority.”

20. “The greater the man, the less is he opinionative, he depends upon events and circumstances.”

21. “There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.”

22. “The best cure for the body is a quiet mind.”

23. “There are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run the sword is always beaten by the mind.”

24. “Men take only their needs into consideration – never their abilities.”

25. “Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.”

26. “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in.”

27. “The reason most people fail instead of succeed is they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment.”

28. “Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.”

29. “As a rule it is circumstances that make men.”

30. “Courage cannot be counterfeited. It is one virtue that escapes hypocrisy.”

31. “Space I can recover. Time, never.”

Painting of Napoleon

Jacques-Louis David, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Famous Napoleon Quotes About War

Below are some of the famous Napoleon quotes on war.

32. “The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies.”

33. “I make my battle plans from the spirit of my sleeping soldiers.”

34. “We are waging war as generous enemies, and we wish only to crush the tyrants who enslave you.”

35. “You don’t reason with intellectuals. You shoot them.”

36. “Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.”

Napoleon on a battlefield

Napoleon on a battlefield – Édouard Detaille, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Famous Napoleon Quotes on Leadership, Politics, and Power

As a French leader, Napoleon said so many words on the subject of leadership! If you’re a leader yourself or you’re leaning towards that, these Napoleon Bonaparte famous quotes on leadership might inspire you!

37. “A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.”

38. “The army is the true nobility of our country.”

39. “France has more need of me than I have need of France.” This is also one of the famous quotes about France.

40. “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”

41. “I saw the crown of France laying on the ground, so I picked it up with my sword.”

42. “Power is my mistress. I have worked too hard at her conquest to allow anyone to take her away from me.”

43. “A form of government that is not the result of a long sequence of shared experiences, efforts, and endeavors can never take root.”

44. “In politics… never retreat, never retract… never admit a mistake.”

45. “The great difficulty with politics is, that there are no established principles.”

46. “I love power like a musician loves music.”

47. “I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.”

48. “A Constitution should be short and obscure.”

49. “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.”

50. You become strong by defying defeat and by turning loss and failure into success.”

51. “Public opinion is the thermometer a monarch should constantly consult.”

Napoleon visiting the Palais Royal

Napoleon visiting the Palais Royal – Merry-Joseph Blondel (1781–1853), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Funny Napoleon Bonaparte Quotes

For a good laugh, check out these funny Napoleon Bonaparte quotes.

52. “Always carry champagne! In victory You deserve it & in defeat You need it!”

53. “Those who receive the most images into their memories have the most lively imaginations.”

Napoleon's retreat from Moscow

Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow – Adolph Northen, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Strategic Famous Quotes By Napoleon Bonaparte

If you’re looking for some strategy, these famous quotes from Napoleon might come in handy!

54. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

55. “Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy.”

56. “The greatest danger occurs at the moment of victory.”

57. “I start out by believing the worst.”

58. “Never depend on the multitude, full of instability and whims; always take precautions against it.”

59. “The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.”

60. “When you have an enemy in your power, deprive him of the means of ever injuring you.”

61. “You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.”

62. “There are only two forces that unite men – fear and interest.”

The Coronation of Napoleon is one of the French famous paintings.

Photo credit: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – Napoleon’s Coronation

General Famous Quotes By Napoleon Bonaparte

63. “Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.”

64. “Let France have good mothers, and she will have good sons.”

65. “The future destiny of a child is always the work of the mother.”

66. “One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent.”

67. “The surest way to remain poor is to be an honest man.”

68. “The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”

69. “True character stands the test of emergencies. Do not be mistaken, it is weakness from which the awakening is rude.”

70. “The French complain of everything, and always.”

71. “Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.”

72. “A woman laughing is a woman conquered.”

73. “The poor man and the beggar are two quite different classes: one commands respect, the other arouses anger.”

74. “Friends must always be treated as if one day they might be enemies.”

75. “It is the cause, not the death, that makes the martyr.”

Napoleon in Egypt

Napoleon in Egypt – Jean-Léon Gérôme, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

76. “The hand that gives is among the hand that takes. Money has no fatherland, financiers are without patriotism and without decency, their sole object is gain.”

77. “Courage is like love, it must have hope for nourishment.”

78. “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”

79. “Ordinarily men exercise their memory much more than their judgment.”

80. “I know he’s a good general, but is he lucky?”

81. “I am surrounded by priests who repeat incessantly that their kingdom is not of this world, and yet they lay hands on everything they can get.”

82. “It is astonishing what power words have over men.”

83. “The fool has one great advantage over a man of sense — he is always satisfied with himself.”

84. “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”

85. “Men are Moved by two levers only: fear and self interest.”

86. “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.”

Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram

Napoleon at the Battle of Wagram – Horace Vernet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

87. “Greatness is nothing unless it be lasting.”

88. “You medical people will have more lives to answer for in the other world than even we generals.”

89. “If we could read the past histories of all our enemies we would disregard all hostility for them.”

90. “There is no such thing as accident; it is fate misnamed.”

91. “Men are more easily governed through their vices than through their virtues.”

92. “It requires more courage to suffer than to die.”

93. “Let the path be open to talent.”

94. “He who knows how to flatter also knows how to slander.”

95. “One must learn to forgive and not to hold a hostile, bitter attitude of mind, which offends those about us and prevents us from enjoying ourselves; one must recognize human shortcomings and adjust himself to them rather than to be constantly finding fault with them.”

96. “If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.”

97. “It is a mistake, too, to say that the face is the mirror of the soul. The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only.”

98. “The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.”

99. “There is no place in a fanatic’s head where reason can enter.”

100. “With audacity one can undertake anything, but not do everything.”

101. “All great events hang by a single thread. The clever man takes advantage of everything, neglects nothing that may give him some added opportunity; the less clever man, by neglecting one thing, sometimes misses everything.”

102. “You can ask me for anything you like, except time.”

103. “The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.”

104. “Impossible is the word found only in a fool’s dictionary. Wise people create opportunities for themselves and make everything possible…”

Napoleon's Return from Elba

Napoleon’s Return from Elba – Charles de Steuben, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

105. “Men will risk their lives, even die for ribbons.”

106. “It is my wish that my ashes may repose on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of the French people, whom I have loved so well.”

107. “A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.”

108. “At twenty-two many things are allowed which are no longer permitted past thirty.”

109. “In order to govern, the question is not to follow out a more or less valid theory but to build with whatever materials are at hand. The inevitable must be accepted and turned to advantage.”

110. “What is history but a fable agreed upon?”

Final Thoughts On The Famous Quotes By Napoleon Bonaparte

Besides being a military man, Napoleon was also a very intelligent man — after all no one could have achieved all he did without a wealth of wisdom. And with that wisdom came so many words that we can relate to even today!

Whether you just want to quote him during your speech or add a wise caption to your photos on Social media, I hope these best Napoleon quotes have been helpful!

Which of these famous quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

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Looking for the most famous quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte? You're in the right place!  They're grouped into; Inspirational quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte, powerful quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte, famous Napoleon quotes about war, famous Napoleon quotes on politics, strategic famous quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte, and general Napoleon sayings!

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  1. One of my favs is: Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet. It’s what keeps the poor from killing the rich.

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