Sunday, February 17, 2013

Josephine de Beauharnais


also known as

Josephine Bonaparte


First wife of Napoleon, Josephine de Beauharnais was a popular Empress and faithful spouse to Napoleon. Throughout their marriage, Josephine was one of Napoleon's closest advisors and he divorced her for political rather than personal reasons. Josephine was a glamorous and well-connected socialite, and was regarded as a good mother who remained strong and graceful, despite her many hardships.
Josephine was chosen to replace her recently deceased sister as wife of Alexandre de Beauharnais in order to save her family from poverty. While the marriage was not a happy one, she did bear him two children, Hortense andEugene de Beauharnais. During the Reign of Terror in France, Alexandre was killed by the guillotine while Josephine was shut away in prison for retaining counter-revolutionary acquaintances. Five days after her husband’s death, Reign of Terror initiator Maximilian Robespierre was executed and she was released.
Now a widow, Josephine began having intimate relationships with several political leaders, among them Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon proposed one year after their first encounter, and they were wed shortly thereafter. He continued to keep several mistresses, though, which tarnished the lovers’ relationship. She nearly separated from him before their coronation when she caught him with another woman, but the two were reconciled and Josephine became Empress of France. Napoleon divorced her so that he could marry into a royal family and produce an heir for his growing empire, but the two remained on good terms until her death of pneumonia during Napoleon's imprisonment in Elba.

Key events during the life of Josephine de Beauharnais

1779Married Alexandre de Beauharnais
1794Arrested by the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror
1794Released following the end of the Reign of Terror
1796Married Napoleon Bonaparte
1804Crowned Empress of France
1810Napoleon divorced her because she did not bear any children
1814Died of pneumonia

Book Links
Josephine  by  John S. C. Abbott


Story LinksBook Links
Parentage and Birth in Hortense  by  Abbott
Marriage of Josephine and Bonaparte in Hortense  by  Abbott

Image Links
Josephine taking leave of her children in HortenseReconciliation between Napoleon and Josephine in HortenseThe DivorceAannounced in Hortense
Napoleon crowning his wife, Josephine in Soldiers and Sailors

ContemporaryShort Biography
Napoleon BonaparteOne of the greatest military geniuses of all time. Overran Europe. Crowned himself Emperor.
Maria AntoinetteExtravagant Queen of France. Beheaded during French Revolution.
Maximilian RobespierreKey figure of the French Revolution. Leader of the Reign of Terror.
Georges DantonKey figure of the French Revolution who was eventually lost his head.
Eugene de BeauharnaisStepson of Napoleon, who accompanied him on all his early campaigns. Later Prince of Italy.
Hortense de BeauharnaisStep-daughter, and sister-in-law of Napolean Bonaparte, and mother of Napoleon III of France.

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