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Napoleon and Joséphine: Their Tumultuous Love Story

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Relationship between Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine de Beauharnais Although it has been praised as a romance over the years, it has never been a perfect portrayal of selfless devotion. Although it is true that the French leader’s countless letters to Josephine are full of passionate declarations of love, their relationship soured through repeated infidelity, and eventually ended in divorce.

Napoleon’s strategic genius

Josephine, real name Marie Joseph Rose Tascher de la Pagerie (Napoleon gave her the name Josephine based on her middle name), was born in the French Caribbean colony of Martinique. I grew up on a plantation. When she was a teenager, her family married her into a minor French nobleman. Alexandre de Beauharnais, a female friend whose multiple affairs resulted in the couple’s court-ordered separation. Although Alexander achieved political success as president of the National Constituent Assembly, he was unable to escape the state-sanctioned violence of the French Revolution’s reign of terror, and was guillotined in 1794. Josephine, who was also imprisoned, narrowly escaped being guillotined for her life. Until the timely downfall of Robespierre.

Josephine was 32 years old when she was released from Calmes Prison. Widow and mother of two She had no access to her family’s funds and her teeth were rotten. She needed to secure her own future, and as the French historian Frédéric Masson writes in her book, she set herself up in an apartment on the Rue Chantraine, We quickly arranged financing for her from various sources. napoleon and women“She was hoping for some miracle to save her from her condition.”

Her concerted campaign to navigate the new post-revolutionary French society was clearly successful. After a series of her relationships with a number of senior political figures, she became the lover of Napoleon’s powerful leader Paul Barras.called Directoire. However, by 1795 Barras had grown tired of her mistress and happily introduced the ambitious young soldier to her at a ball he was hosting. Little did Barras know that four years later his soldiers would seize power in a bloodless coup against the Directoire, and five years after that he would crown himself emperor.

Napoleon’s bloodless coup

Napoleon wrote a passionate letter to Josephine.

Josephine did not immediately accept Napoleon as her husband, calling him “Kitten in Boots,” and is said to have smelled of a lower-class “family of beggars,” says author Adam Zamoyski. writing. Napoleon: A Life. But he gave her gifts and charmed her children with her playfulness. The two married just a few months after first meeting in March 1796. Napoleon scandalized his family by marrying a widow with children, but he was hooked. He had to leave his new wife two days after their wedding to lead the French army into Italy. he wrote a letter to her With a constant, outpouring of confession of love: “My dear, I am getting further away from you every moment, and the energy that exists far away from you is decreasing every second. You are always the object of my thoughts.”

Remarkably, Josephine appears to have written far fewer letters to her husband. And what actually exists is of a much more tepid tone. “I am not satisfied with your last letter. It is as cold as friendship,” Napoleon replied to one of them. By that point, Josephine had apparently already befriended the brave young Hippolyte Charles, a lieutenant in the light cavalry and aide-de-camp to General Charles Leclerc, Bonaparte’s brother-in-law. By June, Josephine had rejoined Napoleon in Italy, accompanied by her 23-year-old lover.

When Napoleon visited her Milan apartment in November 1796 and found it empty, he became suspicious. One letter reveals his agitated emotions. “I don’t love you anymore. I don’t love you anymore.” On the contrary, I hate you. You are a mean, mean, beastly slut. You don’t write to me at all. You do not love her husband…I hope that soon I will hold you in my arms. I will envelop you with a million passionate kisses that burn like the equator. ”

Napoleon and Josephine both had affairs.

In March 1798, Napoleon learned of the affair and was furious, but Josephine defused the situation. She nevertheless continued their affair, which Napoleon heard about again during his expedition to Egypt in July of that year. He wrote a letter to his brother about the divorce, but the letter was intercepted and published in a London newspaper, much to the delight of the British. Meanwhile, she wrote to her lover: You are the only one who can bring me back to happiness. Tell me you love me and only me! However, by this time Napoleon himself had taken a girlfriend, Pauline Four, the wife of an army officer.

have conquered egypt, Napoleon returned to France in October 1799 and, after helping lead the overthrow of Directoire, was given unrestricted powers to lead the government as First Consul. A month later, Josephine persuaded her husband to call off her divorce after promising to end her relationship with Charles. However, their relationship has not improved since then, and he has begun to flatter his mistresses.

Despite the other woman, Josephine seems to have remained in control of her mind. “My mistress takes no part in my feelings…My mistress is power,” he wrote in 1804, the same year the couple were crowned Emperor and Empress of France. However, just before the coronation, Josephine discovered Napoleon in the bedroom of his lady-in-waiting, Elisabeth de Vaudet, and the quarrel began again. Napoleon once again threatened to divorce Josephine because she had no heir.

divorced, devoted

The lack of an heir continued to plague their marriage, and when Napoleon’s mistress Eleonore Donuel gave birth to a child in 1806, it was clear that the problem was with the 43-year-old Josephine. When Napoleon’s nephew and proclaimed heir, Napoleon Charles Bonaparte, died in 1807 at just his four years of age, Napoleon began compiling a list of eligible princesses from across Europe. His marriage to Josephine was annulled, but at the divorce ceremony on December 15, 1809, the couple read a declaration of devotion to each other, confirming their mutual love. Napoleon declared: “Far from finding any reason for dissatisfaction, on the contrary, I can only praise my beloved wife’s dedication and her kindness.”

Napoleon got married Marie Louise of Austria It was performed by proxy on March 11, 1810, and a ceremony was held in the church a few weeks later. Almost exactly a year later, she gave birth to her long-awaited successor, Napoleon II.

Josephine lived in the Château de Malmaison near Paris and maintained a good relationship with her ex-husband. He would learn of her death from pneumonia in May 1814 during her first exile on the island of Elba. When he died in St. Helena, his final destination in exile, his last words were reportedly: “France, army, chief of the army, Josephine.” Despite repeated infidelities, bitter arguments, and a public divorce, Napoleon and Josephine’s love seems to have endured.

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