In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte became the military and political leader of France after staging a coup d’état. Five years later the French Senate proclaimed him emperor. In the first decade of the 19th century Napoleon and the French Empire were engaged in conflict and war with every major European power. Ultimately, a series of victories gave the French a dominant position in continental Europe, but as history would later repeat itself, in 1812 the French began their invasion of Russia. The decision to invade Russia marked the turning point in the fortune of Napoleon. In 1814, the Sixth Coalition invaded France and Napoleon was captured and exiled to the island of Elba. He would escape, but ultimately died in confinement on the island of Saint Helena. Historians regard Napoleon as a military genius and a man who made strong contributions to the operational art of war.
On the battlefield Napoleon carried a pistol and a sword. He owned a large collection of arms and artillery. His weapons were one of a kind and included the best materials. In the summer of 2007, a gold-encrusted sword that once belonged to Napoleon was auctioned off in France for more than $6.4 million dollars. The sword was used by Napoleon in battle. In the early 1800s, Napoleon presented the weapon to his brother as a wedding gift. The sword was passed down from generation to generation, never leaving the Bonaparte family. In 1978, the sword was declared a national treasure in France and the winner of the auction was not identified.