Napoleon is the French leader famed for his military successes and for not quite conquering Europe. Starting as a second lieutenant in the French artillery, he rose quickly through the ranks until he became First Consul of France. (Later he crowned himself Emperor.) He led his armies to victory after victory, and by 1807 he ruled territory that stretched from Portugal to Italy and north to the river Elbe. But his attempts to conquer the rest of Europe failed; a defeat in Moscow in 1812 nearly destroyed his empire, and his 1815 loss to the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo finished the job. He was sent into exile on the island of St. Helena, where he died in 1821.