(July 21, 1798, Egypt) and the Nile (August 1-3, 1798, Egypt) After his victory over Austria, Napoleon proposed crossing the Mediterranean and invading Egypt. While the stated goal of this expedition was to strike a blow against British trade with the Middle East and Asia, it also catered to Napoleon's fascination with antiquity. A team of scientists followed his military expedition, whose most lasting result was the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, unearthed by soldiers digging to construct a fort in the Nile delta. Napoleon supposedly cried "Soldiers, forty centuries look down upon you" at the 1798 Battle of the Pyramids, where his troops used modern artillery and large square formations to ward off a cavalry charge by the Egyptian Mamluks. French control of Egypt, however, was dependent on communications across the Mediterranean, which were interrupted by the Royal Navy's attack on the French fleet in Aboukir Bay in early August. British victory at the Nile forced Napoleon to abandon his army and return to France. (June 14, 1800, northern Italy) The coup of 18 Brumaire (November 9, 1799) brought down France's existing government (the Directory) and made Napoleon himself "first consul," the effective leader of France. While Napoleon was absent in Egypt, a coalition of Austria, Russia, and Britain had pushed French troops back on all fronts. In 1800 Napoleon marched over the Alps to roll back Austrian gains in Italy. His troops, overextended in an attempt to relieve the Austrian siege of Genoa, were hit by an Austrian surprise attack on June 14, 1800. General Louis Desaix led a column of French reinforcements to Napoleon's aid; the additional troops drove off the Austrian army, but Desaix was shot and killed. (October 21, 1805, off the coast of southwestern Spain) In 1804 Napoleon abolished the consulate and became France's emperor. He faced an array of enemies who made up the "Third Coalition": the humiliated Austrians sought military aid from both Russia and Britain. France and Spain allied in the hope of challenging the Royal Navy and making it possible for Napoleon's armies to launch an invasion of Britain. Trafalgar, fought in the Atlantic off the coast of Spain in the fall of 1805, was the last great naval battle of the Napoleonic era. A combined French and Spanish fleet under admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve was attacked by Royal Navy ships under Lord Horatio Nelson, Britain's greatest admiral. Just before the battle, Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory, flew the signal "England expects that every man will do his duty." Although Nelson was killed by a French sniper in the battle that followed, his ships captured half of the French fleet, including Admiral Villeneuve. French plans to invade Britain were postponed indefinitely. (December 2, 1805, Czech Republic) Napoleon's Grand Army then struck east at Austria and Russia, the land-bound members of the Third Coalition. Napoleon's first move was to force the surrender of 30,000 Austrians under General Mack at Ulm. The French then turned east into the heart of Austria, where they seized Vienna and awaited counterattack by the Russians. At Austerlitz on December 2, 1805, a mostly-Russian coalition army collided with the waiting French. (The Russians, led in person by Tsar Alexander I, were joined by the scattered remains of the Austrian army under Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. Austerlitz is thus known as the "Battle of the Three Emperors.") The allies, planning to advance their left, abandoned the Pratzen Heights, a dominating hill in the center of the battlefield. Napoleon seized the heights, splitting the Russian army and then defeating each half in turn. The resulting Peace of Pressburg (December 26, 1805) ended the War of the Third Coalition and brought about the downfall of the Holy Roman Empire. (June 18, 1815, Belgium) Napoleon's escape from Elba began a period known as the "Hundred Days," in which the emperor briefly returned to the throne of France. The struggle between the restored emperor and the "Seventh Coalition" began when Napoleon's Army of the North marched into the Low Countries, hoping for a showdown with the British, Dutch, and Prussians before the Austrian and Russian armies gathering further east could come to their aid. The French brushed aside Allied advance guards at the two preliminary battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny on June 16. Napoleon's victory over the Prussians at Ligny led him to falsely believe that he had enough time to pursue and defeat the British without further Prussian interference. On June 18 Napoleon's advance on Brussels approached the crossroads of Mont St. Jean, where the Duke of Wellington had set up a defensive position for a combined army of British Peninsular War veterans, Dutch, and pro-British Germans. On the French left, British troops defended the walled farm of Hougoumont from a series of infantry assaults; in the center, Marshal Michel Ney's massed cavalry charge was broken by the square formations of the British infantry; on the right, Gebhard von Blücher's Prussian army arrived to attack the French army in the flank. Napoleon's final gamble was to commit his Imperial Guard to a renewed assault on the Allied center. The guardsmen were cut down by the fire of British light infantry, leading to the general collapse of the French army. Napoleon was exiled once more, this time to the isolated South Atlantic island of St. Helena, where he died in 1821.