lundi 13 octobre 2014

Napoléon Bonaparte

Photo credit : wikipedia
Napoléon Buonaparte is a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe.

He was born on 15 August 1769 to Carlo Maria di Buonaparte and Maria Letizia Ramolino in his family's ancestral home, Casa Buonaparte. He adopted his name Napoléon Bonaparte in his twenties.

Napoléon I was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1814 and also in 1815. He took power as First Consul after a coup d’état in 1799.
Napoléon I (Photo credit : wikipedia)
Napoléon met Joséphine de Beauharnais in 1795, a widow whose first husband had been executed during the Revolution. He proposed to her in January 1796 and they got married in March same year. He was only 26 and she was 32. Her real name was Rose, but she adopted Joséphine beacause Napoléon preferred to call her that.
Joséphine (Photo credit : wikipedia)
Napoléon's family was not pleased with the marriage, beacause he had married an older widow who already had two children, Hortense and Eugène.

The young groom left his bride two days after his wedding to lead the French army in Italy. While he was away he sent her many love letters but they were not enough to keep her through the cold nights as she began an affair in with a lieutenant called Hippolyte Charles.

When rumors of the affair reached Napoléon, he was infuriated, and his love for her changed entirely. In 1798, while he led a French army to Egypt, he himself became infidel by starting an affair with Pauline Fourès, the wife of a junior officer, who was known as "Napoléon's Cleopatra." He also had sexual affairs with numerous other women after that.

In 1802, Joséphine's daughter, Hortense de Beauharnais, married Napoleon's brother, Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland. The marriage had been forced upon them by Napoléon and Josephine. They were not inlove with each other. It was rumoured that Louis was bisexual and Hortense had several extra-marital affairs with other men. The couple had three sons, Napoleon Charles Bonaparte, Napoleon Louis Bonaparte and Napoleon Louis Bonaparte. The third and last son became the Emperor Napoleon III of France.

In 1804, Napoléon made himself emperor of the French people and became Napoléon I. A coronation ceremony, officiated by Pope Pius VII, was held on December 2 of the same year at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Following a pre-arranged protocol, Napoléon first crowned himself facing the congregation rather than the high altar to mark his independence from the Church. Then he put the crown on Joséphine's head, proclaiming her empress.
Photo credit : wikipedia

A ten by six metre canvas of the the crowning and the coronation was painted by Jacques-Louis David on the demands of Napoleon. The painting called "The Coronation of Napoleon" (in French, it is known as "Le Sacre de Napoléon") was completed in1807, some two years after the coronation. Today, the canvas is hanging at the museum le Louvre in Paris.

Shortly before the coronation, Joséphine caught Napoléon in the bedroom of her lady-in-waiting, Élisabeth de Vaudey at the Château de Saint-Cloud. She was infuriated and humiliated but kept her peace and reconciled with him after Napoléon threatened to divorce her as she had not produced an heir. They eventually settled their differences and stayed married for another 6 years.

In 1807, Joséphine's grandson Napoléon Charles Bonaparte who had been declared Napoléon's heir, died of croup. As Joséphine could no longer have a child, Napoléon asked for a divorce. She agreed to the divorce in the interest of France so the Emperor could remarry in search of an heir.

Josephine retain the title of empress and lived at the Château de Malmaison near Paris, after their divorce on 10 January 1810. On March 11, Napoléon married Marie-Louise of Austria. But he remained on good terms with Josephine as he was still inlove with her.
Marie Louise (Photo source : wikipedia)
In March 1811 Marie Louise delivered a long-awaited heir, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles, known from birth as the "King of Rome". He was the only child of the couple.

Napoléon fought a many wars and won several. But in 1813, he was defeated at the Battle of Leipzig. His enemies invaded France and forced to abdicate and go in exile to the Italian Island of Elba. His second wife Marie Louise did not join him in exile on Elba and thereafter never saw her husband again.

His ex-wife Joséphine died of pneumonia in Rueil-Malmaison on 29 May 1814, four days after catching a cold during a walk with Tsar Alexander in the gardens of Malmaison. Napoleon learned of her death through a French journal while in exile and stayed locked in his room for two days, refusing to see anyone. She was buried in the nearby church of Saint Pierre-Saint Paul in Rueil.

Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles became Napoleon II in 1814 and reigned for only two weeks.
Napoléon II (Photo source : wikipedia)
In 1815 Napoleon I escaped and returned to power, but he was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in June 1815. He spent the last six years of his life in confinement by the British on the Island of Saint Helena. He died on May 5, 1821 at the age of 51.

An autopsy concluded he died of stomach cancer just like his father, Carlo Buonaparte. But there has been debate about the cause of his death, and some scholars have speculated he was a victim of arsenic poisoning.

His last words on his death bed at St. Helena were:, "France, l'armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine." (France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Joséphine). Even on his death bed, he still loved his dear Joséphine.

His only son Napoleon II died of tuberculosis in 1832 at the age of 21, with no children.

In 1851, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, son of Louis and Hortense, organized a coup d'état. He took the throne as Napoleon III on 2 December 1852, on the 48th anniversary of Napoleon I's coronation. He reigned until 1870.

In July 1870, Napoleon III entered the Franco-Prussian War without allies and with inferior military forces. The French army was rapidly defeated and Napoleon III was captured at the Battle of Sedan. The French Third Republic was proclaimed in Paris, and Napoleon III went into exile in England, where he died in 1873.

This a summarised version of the life of Napoléon Bonaparte. To read more about his life, please go to wikipédia.

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