Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769 in Ajaccio on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the son of Carlo and Letizia Bonaparte. The Buonaparte's were a wealthy family from the Corsican nobility, although when compared to the great aristocracies of France Napoleon's kin were poor and pretentious. A combination of Carlo's social climbing, Letizia's adultery with the Comte de Marbeuf - Corsica's French military governor - and Napoleon's own ability enabled him to enter the military academy at Brienne in 1779. He moved to the Parisian École Royale Militaire in 1784 and graduated a year later as a second lieutenant in the artillery. Spurred on by his father's death in February 1785, the future emperor had completed in one year a course that often took three. Napoleon was short enough that early in his military career he was nicknamed "The Little Corporal." According to Napoleon.org, at his death he was 1.68 meters tall, or about 5'6"... Napoleon died of an unidentified ailment, possibly stomach cancer; because traces of arsenic were later found in his remains, some have suggested he may have been fatally poisoned... The famous portrait of Napoleon with his hand stuck in his vest was painted by Jacques-Louis David.