Napoleon was born in Corsica to a relatively modest family of noble Tuscan ancestry. Serving in the French army, Napoleon supported the Revolution from the outset in 1789 and tried to spread its ideals to Corsica, but was banished from the island in 1793. Two years later, he saved the French government from collapse by firing on the Parisian mobs with cannons. After the Directory rewarded Napoleon by giving him command of the Army of Italy at age 26, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians and their Italian allies, scoring a series of decisive victories that made him famous all across Europe. He followed the defeat of the Allies in Europe by commanding a military expedition to Egypt in 1798, conquering the Ottoman province after defeating the Mamelukes and launching modern Egyptology through the discoveries made by his army.
After returning from Egypt, Napoleon engineered a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic. Another victory over the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo in 1800 secured his political power. With the Concordat of 1801, Napoleon restored the religious privileges of the Catholic Church while keeping the lands seized by the Revolution. The state continued to nominate the bishops and to control church finances. He extended his political control over France until the Senate declared him Emperor of the French in 1804, launching the French Empire. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805. Napoleon shattered this coalition with decisive victories in the Ulm Campaign and a historic triumph at the Battle of Austerlitz, which led to the elimination of the Holy Roman Empire. In October 1805, however, a Franco-Spanish fleet was destroyed at the Battle of Trafalgar, allowing Britain to impose a naval blockade of the French coasts. In retaliation, Napoleon established the Continental System in 1806 to cut off European trade with Britain. The Fourth Coalition took up arms against him the same year because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. After quickly knocking out Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, Napoleon turned his attention towards the Russians and annihilated them in 1807 at Friedland, which forced the Russians to accept the Treaties of Tilsit.