Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comEuropeNapoleon Had Greek Roots Controversial Theory Suggests

Napoleon Had Greek Roots Controversial Theory Suggests

Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon may have had Greek roots, at least according to a controversial theory espoused by some historians. Public Domain

Napoleon, the Corsican upstart who seized absolute power as French emperor, may have had Greek roots, at least according to a controversial theory espoused by some historians.

Corsica may seem far away from Greece but the fourth-largest island in the Mediterranean, was once a popular destination for the Greeks of Mani, in southern Peloponnese who fled to escape the Ottoman rule.

Towards the end of the 17th century, unable to live under Ottoman rule, rebellious Maniots fled to Corsica where they founded their own little Mani, thereby preserving their language, faith and traditions while settling in a new homeland.

Corsica has been inhabited by various peoples, including Greeks, Romans, and later Genoese and French settlers.

This rich historical tapestry has contributed to the speculation about potential Greek connections in Napoleon’s lineage, as it raises the possibility of intercultural exchanges and intermarriage between different ethnic groups over the centuries.

The mainstream theory says that Napoleon’s family was of Italian origin. His paternal ancestors, the Buonapartes, descended from a minor Tuscan noble family that emigrated to Corsica in the 16th century and his maternal ancestors, the Ramolinos, descended from a minor Genoese noble family.

Many countries have claimed Napoleon as their own and his origins are still a contentious subject.

Whatever it’s worth, the Greeks of Corsica always believed he belonged to their aristocratic stock and was descended from the Kalomeros family, one of whose members had some centuries earlier gone to Florence and Italianized his name to Buonaparte.

What is the evidence of Napoleon’s Greek roots?

One of the earliest pieces of evidence to suggest that Napoleon had Greek ancestry is a genealogical study published in 1895 by Demetrio Stefanopoli, a Corsican historian.

Stefanopoli claimed that Napoleon was descended from the Stephanopoli family, a Greek family that had settled in Corsica in the 17th century. The Stephanopoli family were said to be descendants of the last Emperor of Trebizond (today’s Trabzon in the Black Sea region of Turkey), a Greek empire that existed from the 13th to the 15th centuries.

Trebizond’s last emperor, David II, was captured and later executed by the Ottomans, but prominent members of the imperial and leading families were rescued by Genoa and resettled in Mani. From there they traveled to Corsica.

Another piece of historical evidence comes from a letter that Napoleon wrote to his mother in 1797. In the letter, Napoleon refers to himself as a “Greek” and says that he is proud of his heritage.

Napoleon himself made several statements that suggest he was aware of his Greek ancestry. In addition to the letter he wrote to his mother, Napoleon also made references to his Greek heritage in his speeches and writings. For example, he once said that he was “a Greek by birth and by blood.”

In 2013, a team of geneticists published a study in the journal “Human Biology” that found that Napoleon’s DNA shared some similarities with DNA from modern Greeks. The study was based on a sample of Napoleon’s hair that had been taken from a museum in Paris.

While some historians and scholars have put forth theories suggesting that Napoleon Bonaparte may have had Greek heritage, the evidence supporting this claim remains inconclusive and the subject of much controversy.

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts