Blog category: Bonaparte Family

  • Anecdotes of Napoleon’s son, the King of Rome

    Anecdotes of Napoleon’s son, the King of Rome

    February 24, 2017

    Napoleon’s only legitimate son, Napoleon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, also known as the King of Rome, was born on March 20, 1811. By all accounts he was a cute, strong-willed and kind-hearted little boy. He was also greatly spoiled. Here are some anecdotes of the King of Rome as a young child. The first comes from Captain Jean-Roch Coignet, a grenadier of Napoleon’s guard.

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  • The death of Napoleon’s son, the Duke of Reichstadt

    The death of Napoleon’s son, the Duke of Reichstadt

    July 22, 2016

    Napoleon’s only legitimate child, Napoleon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, also known as the King of Rome, Napoleon II or the Duke of Reichstadt, died of tuberculosis at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna on July 22, 1832. He was only 21 years old. Although Franz had been a healthy child, when he was 16 years old those around him noted that his chest did not seem to be developing at the same rate as the rest of his body. His doctor, a celebrated Viennese physician named Staudenheim, diagnosed a “scrofulous tendency.”

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  • Achille Murat, the Prince of Tallahassee

    Achille Murat, the Prince of Tallahassee

    June 24, 2016

    Napoleon’s nephew Achille Murat was one of the more eccentric Bonapartes. After growing up as the Crown Prince of Naples, he became a colourful Florida pioneer known as the “Prince of Tallahassee.” Achille was independent-minded, restless and adventuresome, always seeking an elusive fortune. Though he claimed to be a democrat, he remained at heart an aristocrat, pining for his family’s lost throne and inherited wealth.

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  • The perilous birth of the King of Rome

    The perilous birth of the King of Rome

    March 18, 2016

    Napoleon’s only legitimate child, Napoleon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, also known as the King of Rome, Napoleon II or the Duke of Reichstadt, was born at the Tuileries Palace in Paris on March 20, 1811. His birth was a touch-and-go affair. The attending doctor, Antoine Dubois, feared that either Napoleon’s wife Marie Louise, or the baby, might die. Here’s how Napoleon described the King of Rome’s birth when he was in exile on St. Helena.

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  • What did Napoleon’s wives think of each other?

    What did Napoleon’s wives think of each other?

    January 29, 2016

    Napoleon Bonaparte had two wives: Josephine and Marie Louise. What did they think of each other? Josephine was born in Martinique on June 23, 1763 as Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie. Her first husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais, was guillotined during the Reign of Terror. Josephine married Napoleon on March 9, 1796, when she was 32 and he was 26. Though Josephine already had two children (Eugène and Hortense) from her first marriage, she was unable to produce an heir for Napoleon, a matter that troubled him once he became Emperor of France. On December 16, 1809, Napoleon had the marriage dissolved, much to Josephine’s regret.

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  • A tomb for Napoleon’s son in Canada

    A tomb for Napoleon’s son in Canada

    January 15, 2016

    Did you know that a tomb originally intended for Napoleon’s son is sitting in a Canadian cemetery? Napoleon’s son, otherwise known as Napoleon II, the King of Rome or Duke of Reichstadt, died of tuberculosis in Vienna on July 22, 1832, at the age of 21. Since his mother, Marie Louise, was the Duchess of Parma, a burial monument for the young man was constructed in Italy. When the Duke of Reichstadt was interred in the Habsburg family crypt at the Capuchin Church in Vienna, the Italian monument was left unused.

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  • Napoleon’s Children, Part 2

    Napoleon’s Children, Part 2

    March 20, 2015

    In addition to his legitimate son (Napoleon II, who appears in Napoleon in America), Napoleon had at least two stepchildren and two illegitimate children: the wastrel Charles Léon Denuelle and the accomplished Alexandre Colonna Walewski.

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  • Napoleon’s Children, Part 1

    Napoleon’s Children, Part 1

    March 13, 2015

    In addition to his legitimate son (Napoleon II, who appears in Napoleon in America), Napoleon had two stepchildren and at least two illegitimate children. Who were they and what happened to them? In the first of a two-part post about Napoleon’s children, I focus on his stepchildren: Eugène and Hortense de Beauharnais.

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  • Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon’s American nephew

    Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon’s American nephew

    February 20, 2015

    Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte was the son of Napoleon’s youngest brother Jérôme and Baltimore socialite Elizabeth (Betsy) Patterson, the subject of last week’s post. As Napoleon had broken up his parents’ marriage before Jerome was even born, Napoleon never acknowledged the boy as a Bonaparte. Despite Betsy’s best efforts to raise her son as a European of rank and fortune, Jerome was not convinced that Europe was the place for him. He preferred life in the United States. Though Jerome ultimately married well, he lacked ambition and was content to be an American gentleman farmer.

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  • Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, Napoleon’s American sister-in-law

    Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, Napoleon’s American sister-in-law

    February 13, 2015

    Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte wrote in 1815 that “nature never intended me for obscurity.” A belle of Baltimore, Elizabeth became an international celebrity when she married Napoleon’s youngest brother Jérôme. When Napoleon convinced Jérôme to abandon her, Betsy (as she was known) became America’s most famous single mother. A hustler with a high opinion of herself, Betsy had a brilliant social career and a very long life, though her letters do not leave the impression of a kind or a happy person. As an early biographer wrote, “This Baltimore girl, married at eighteen and deserted at twenty, seems to have possessed the savoir vivre of Chesterfield, the cold cynicism of Rochefoucauld, and the practical economy of Franklin.”

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  • Charlotte Bonaparte, Napoleon’s artistic niece

    Charlotte Bonaparte, Napoleon’s artistic niece

    January 16, 2015

    Though not considered beautiful, Charlotte Bonaparte – the daughter of Napoleon’s brother Joseph – was intelligent and cultivated, with a romantic temperament. Known for her talent as an artist, Charlotte lived with her father in the United States for three years, where she drew and painted a number of landscapes. In Europe, she studied with Jacques-Louis David and with Louis-Léopold Robert, who killed himself when his passion for her was not requited. Constrained by Napoleon’s will to marry her cousin, Charlotte made the best of the situation, though her short marriage ended in sorrow. She herself died in sad circumstances at a relatively young age.

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  • Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s scandalous brother

    Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon’s scandalous brother

    December 19, 2014

    Lucien Bonaparte was Napoleon’s most articulate brother, and the only one unwilling to subordinate himself to Napoleon. Politically ambitious, he played an indispensable role in Napoleon’s rise to power. However, he refused to give up his wife when Napoleon demanded, thus – unlike his siblings – he never sat on a throne. Lucien spent most of the imperial years in exile with his large family, nursing his literary vanity.

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  • Joseph Bonaparte: From King of Spain to New Jersey

    Joseph Bonaparte: From King of Spain to New Jersey

    July 4, 2014

    Amiable and obliging, Joseph Bonaparte was in many respects the opposite of his younger brother Napoleon. Joseph was fond of literature, gardening and entertaining, and Joseph perfectly happy to spend his days pottering about his estate. Napoleon, however, had grander plans for his brother, most notably the Spanish throne. After Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, Joseph fled to the United States, where he is credited with bringing European culture to the locals.

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  • Napoleon’s art-collecting uncle, Cardinal Fesch

    Napoleon’s art-collecting uncle, Cardinal Fesch

    March 28, 2014

    One of France’s finest collections of old masters can be found in Ajaccio, Corsica, in the Palais Fesch. The museum is named after its benefactor, Napoleon’s uncle Joseph Fesch, a good-natured luxury-lover who used his takings from Napoleon’s stint in power to amass a huge amount of paintings. A Catholic cardinal, Fesch got caught in the struggle between Napoleon and the Pope, and tried to soften Napoleon’s policy towards the church.

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  • Napoleon’s mother, Letizia Bonaparte

    Napoleon’s mother, Letizia Bonaparte

    March 21, 2014

    Pragmatic, stoical and domineering, Napoleon’s mother, Letizia Bonaparte, saw the world from the perspective of a Corsican clan. She was devoted to her children and expected them to be devoted to her, and to each other, in return. Years of hardship left her tough and thrifty, with a keen business sense and a habit of hoarding money. She once told Napoleon, “It’s not poverty I’m afraid of, it’s the shame.”

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  • How Pauline Bonaparte lived for pleasure

    How Pauline Bonaparte lived for pleasure

    March 14, 2014

    A commoner from Corsica who counted the composer Niccolò Paganini, the actor François-Joseph Talma and the writer Alexandre Dumas senior among her lovers, bathed in milk baths to which she was carried by a Negro servant, and married a wealthy Italian prince could be said to have led a rather fortunate life. Pauline Bonaparte’s journey from rags to riches would not have been possible without her brother. Known for her beauty, her impulsiveness and her questionable moral sense, Pauline loved Napoleon and was the least demanding of all his siblings.

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  • Louis Bonaparte, Napoleon’s defiant puppet

    Louis Bonaparte, Napoleon’s defiant puppet

    March 7, 2014

    Napoleon’s younger brother Louis Bonaparte failed to become the great soldier Napoleon had trained him up to be, or even the pliable puppet Napoleon would have settled for. Instead, he became an irritable hypochondriac and literary dilettante who fathered another emperor.

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  • Napoleon II: Napoleon’s son, the King of Rome

    Napoleon II: Napoleon’s son, the King of Rome

    February 21, 2014

    Napoleon had at least two illegitimate children and two stepchildren, but only one legitimate child: Napoleon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, also known as the King of Rome, Napoleon II, the Prince of Parma and the Duke of Reichstadt. He did not hold all those titles at the same time, and you can tell whether someone was a supporter of Napoleon based on how they referred to the boy after 1815. His nickname was l’Aiglon, or the Eaglet.

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We must confess that fate, which sports with man, makes merry work with the affairs of this world.

Napoleon Bonaparte