Napoleon's love life  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Napoleon married Joséphine de Beauharnais in 1796, when he was twenty-six; she was a thirty-two-year-old widow whose first husband had been executed during the Revolution. Until she met Bonaparte, she had been known as 'Rose', a name which he disliked. He called her 'Joséphine' instead, and she went by this name henceforth. Bonaparte often sent her love letters while on his campaigns. He formally adopted her son Eugène and cousin Stéphanie, and arranged dynastic marriages for them. Joséphine had her daughter Hortense marry Napoleon's brother, Louis.

Joséphine had lovers, including a Hussar lieutenant, Hippolyte Charles, during Napoleon's Italian campaign. Napoleon learnt the full extent of her affair with Charles while in Egypt, and a letter he wrote to his brother Joseph regarding the subject was intercepted by the British. The letter appeared in the London and Paris presses, much to Napoleon's embarrassment. Napoleon had his own affairs too: during the Egyptian campaign he took Pauline Bellisle Foures, the wife of a junior officer, as his mistress. She became known as Cleopatra after the Ancient Egyptian ruler.

One night, during an illicit liaison with the actress Marguerite George, Napoleon had a major fit. This and other more minor attacks have led historians to debate whether he had epilepsy and, if so, to what extent.

While Napoleon's mistresses had children by him, Joséphine did not produce an heir, possibly because of either the stresses of her imprisonment during the Terror or an abortion she may have had in her twenties. Napoleon ultimately chose divorce so he could remarry in search of an heir. In March 1810, he married by proxy Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, and a great niece of Marie Antoinette; thus he had married into a German royal and imperial family. They remained married until his death, though she did not join him in exile on Elba and thereafter never saw her husband again. The couple had one child, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles (1811–1832), known from birth as the King of Rome. He became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks. He was awarded the title of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1818 and died of tuberculosis aged 21, with no children.

Napoleon acknowledged two illegitimate children:

He may have had further unacknowledged illegitimate offspring as well:

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Napoleon's love life" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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