Bonaparte's career exploded while serving in the Army immediately after attending military school in Châlons, France. His first task was serving as commander in chief next to Napoleon in Egypt. Although not his true passion, Napoleon was quite impressed by Louis’ fresh ideas which earned him a generous commission by the French Military. Subsequently, Napoleon promoted Louis to Lieutenant in the 4th Artillery Regiment. From there, he was made Aide de Camp on Napoleon's staff in addition to being made a Captain during Napoleon’s Italian campaign. Although by the age of 25, Louis had risen to the rank of General. This was not due from experience and accomplishments, but from his brother's influence. Truthfully, Louis’ passion for military based projects began to fade at such a rapid pace, by 1804 he completely gave up participating in any and all military campaigns. By 1802, Bonaparte was set up by Napoleon and his wife, Josephine, to marry Hortense de Beauharnais, Josephine's daughter by her first marriage. The forced union was overwhelming for all parties involved, due in part to Louis’ violent jealousy of his wife not to mention the growing resentment toward his brother. Nevertheless, Hortense and Louis married on January 4, 1802 producing three sons shortly thereafter.
It was on July 5, 1806, Napoleon established Louis Bonaparte as King of Holland with the purpose that he would serve as the Dutch Governor. Napoleon’s goal in establishing Louis as King was that Louis would locate Dutch merchants secretly trading with Great Britain and enforce French navigation laws. Louis defiantly and incompliantly chose to defend Holland's national interests instead. Going back through history his record is mixed, as there were many occasions he displayed great strength as well irrational behavior. Ultimately, it was Louis' refusal to have Holland join the Continental System which led Napoleon to dispatch French troops against the Dutch capital. This decision forced Louis to flee his kingdom all while watching Napoleon annex Holland to France on July 9, 1810.
Following his departure of Holland, Louis was given refuge from Austrian Emperor; Francis I. Between 1811 and 1813 he retreated in Graz, Austria. During this time he turned to writing and poetry to keep his mind clear and agile. Shortly after Napoleon's defeat in the Russian campaign, Louis attempted to write to him on several occasions asking to be restored to his former position, however was denied. Eventually Louis settled in Rome to continue his literary pursuits. Settled into his new life, after the death of Napoleon in 1821, and of his oldest brother, Joseph in 1844, Louis took little action to advance the claim of his new rightful position as Emperor of the French. During the revolution of the 1830’s his two sons fought for Italian unity. Sadly, his middle child, Napoléon Louis was killed in battle in northern Italy in 1831. From that point forward, his eldest son, Charles Louis-Napoléon assumed the leadership of the Bonaparte cause. Unfortunately, he was imprisoned after attempts to overthrow the reigning Orleans king. These setbacks didn’t stop Charles; he would later become Emperor Napoleon III of France in 1852. Disappointingly, Louis didn't live to get to see his son’s great accomplishment. He passed away on on July 25, 1846. After his passing, he was brought back to Livorno and laid to rest at Saint-Leu-la-Forêt.