He was one of the greatest conquerers this world has ever known. Napoleon Bonaparte took control of France in 1804 and greatly expanded its influence throughout his reign. But, besides his military achievements, what we often hear about him was how short he was. Really short actually as he stood only at 5’2” (157cm). Is this the truth though?
Let’s look at the facts.
Napoleon’s official height was indeed 5 foot 2 inches but at the time, French inches were longer than English inches, so doing the unit conversion, Napoleon’s height should have been reported as 5’7” (170cm) in England’s imperial units. This may sound short by today’s standards but it was considered average or slightly above average in the early 1800s. However, England with its eternal love for all things French, didn’t care and went with the “Napoleon is short” version of the story in newspapers and cartoons. (the article continues after the ad)
Meanwhile, Napoleon was busy introducing the metric system to Europe and the wider world to standardize measurements. Thankfully, because the metric system prevailed in the whole world (cough, except the US, cough) such misunderstanding will never happen again.