European Royalty: The Bonaparte Children


Figure 1.--

Napoleon's parents had 13 children and eight survived to adulthood. Their father died in 1785. Napoleon as the eldest son thus became head of his large and demanding family. He assumed this responsibility with some dedication and soon as First Consul and then ruler and eventually emperor he was in a position to provide not only favors, but titles including royal titles to his family. He appointed his four brothers to important positions, making them kings, dukes, and counts. His sisters he married of to established Europeam royalty. History has not been particularly kind to Napoleon's brothers. Lucian is generally see as intelligent and an able administrator. Louis ruled competently in Holland, although irritating his brother. Basically the family seems to have been rather a hinderance and distraction rather than a help to the Emperor. Had the Emperor succeeded, the Bonaparte family would have been the rulers and govered the destiny of Europe.

The Children

Napoleon's parents had 13 children and eight survived to adulthood. History has not been particularly kind to Napoleon's brothers. Lucian is generally see as intelligent and an able administrator. Louis ruled competently in Holland, although irritating his brother.

Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte (1768-1844)

Joseph was Napoleon's older brother by a year. When their father died, he tried to support the younger members of the family and took them to Marseilles (1793). He was elected to the Council of the Five Hundred (1797). He was made Ambassador to Rome. His brother haveing become First Consul (1800) assigned Joseph to negotiate a treaty with the United States. He arranged the Treaty of Lunéville (1801) and Amiens (1802). He was involved in negotiating the Cincordat with the papacy. After Napoleon's coronation, Joseph was given command of the Army of Naples. The Emperor was unsure what to do with Naples. He at deposed Ferdinand, then restored him as King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies. The Kingdom was finally given to his brother Joseph (March 30, 1806). Joseph was a progressive ruler. He abolished feudalism, built roads, supressed banditry, and codified laws. He also suppressed the convents. His rule put him in conflict on several occassions with the Emperor. While progressive, Joseph was not decisive. Joseph dreamed of being a great king in his own right. Napoleon had to keep reminding his that he was only a king because he made him king. Napoleon decided to make Joseph king of Spain (1808). Murat who had married Napoleon's sister Caroline replaced Josepha as King of Naples. Joseph was unable to deal with the situation in Spain. From the first he was considered an invader and his interestvin prigressive reforms were to no avail. Insurgents backed by the British gradually wore down the French. With the Frebnch defeat at Vitoria (1813), Joseph returned to his estate in France. After Waterloo he sailed from Rochefort to America. He offered his shio to Napoleon, but the Emperor decided to surrender to the British. He loved many years in Bordentown, New Jersey as the Count of Survillers, occupying himself with agriculture. Joseph had married Julia Marie Clary. She was the daughter of a wealthy Marsilles merchant and sister-in-law to King Bernadotte of Sweden. Jaoseoh was permitted to return to his wife who had remainedcin Italy (1841). They had two daughters. Zénaïde Charlotte Julie married her cousin Princes Charles of Canino, the son of Lucian Bonaparte. Charlott Napoleon married another cousin, Louis Napoleon the second son of Louis Napoleon.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769- )

A fascinating footnote of modern history is that perhaps the greastest French leader of all time, Napoleon Bonaparte, as a boy did not speak French and grew up hateing France. He was sent by his father, who has decided to coolaborate with the French invaders, to study in a French military school. Napoleon never really forgave his father for collaborating with the French. It was in these schools, however, where he was dismissed as a foreign nobody that Napoleon virtually slowly became French--although he was unaware of it at the time.

Marie Pauline (1771- )


Bonaparte, Child (1773- )


Lucian Napoleon Bonaparte (1775-1840)

Lucian was educated at the College of Autun, a military school at Brienne and the seminary at Aix. He achieved some success in politics and was elected to the Council of Five Hundred. He formed a party that supported his brother. Lucian was a republican, but came to feel that the Directory was too weak and that a military consulship was needed to maintain order. He was not, however, in favor of a hereditary monarchy. He was elected President of the Council and helped secure the dictatorship for his brother (1799). Napoleon appointed him Minister of the Interior and he promoted the arts, education, and science. As Ambassador to Spain he reportedly became influential with King Charles IV and his important adviser Godoy and helped to undermine British influence. Lucian helped negoatiante a peace traty between Portugal and Spaon (1801). Rumors suggest he received 5 million francs. He married twice and had 11 children. Although he was at first a close adviser to his brother, the two quareled as Napoleon moved toward a monarchy. Lucian's second marriage against his brother's wished brought the quarrel to a head. Napoleon exiled him. Lucian went to Canino in Tuscany near the French border where he spent his time on art and science. The pope made Lucian Prince of Canino. After criticising his brother, Lucian was "advised" to leave Tuscany. He left for America but was intercepted by the Royal Navy and held prisoner in England. After the Resoration Lucian lived near Rome. He traveled and wrote poetry. He died at Viterbo.

Eliza (1777-1820)

Maria Anna Eliza was Napoleon's eldest sister. Before Napoleon's rise to power she married Capatin Bacciocchi who was later made Prince of Lucca and Piombino. Her brother gave her the principality of Massa and Carrara to administer (1806). Napoleon made her Grand Duchess of Tuscany (1809). She was extrenmely aribitary and became very unpopular. When the Allies reaches Tuscany she fled from Florence (1814).

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (1778-1846)

Louis on Joséphine's advise was married to her daughter Hortense. Presumably Joséphine thought this would ensure her daughter's future as well as strengther her own position within the family. Both Louis and Hotense objected, but relented when the Emperor backed his wife on the matter. It was not a happy marriage. Napoleon made Louis King of Holland (1806). Louis actually was somewhat successful as a ruler and achieved some popularity. Important refornms were implemented. Napoleon never appreciated Louis' abilities as a king, in part because he did not forcefull enough enforce French policies, especially the Continental System. Napoleon also objected to the domestic bickering between the royal couple. The couple did have three sons, one of who was thde future Emperor Napoleon III.

Pauline (1780- )

Pauline became Duchess of Guastalla and the Princess Borghese (1803). She was noted to be vane and was often rude to those arround her. Napoleon was known to have reprimanded her on this matter.

Caroline (1782-1839)

Caroline was the youngest of Napoleon's sisters. Caroline was bright and sought to improve her mind in an era that girls were not incouraged to read serious literature or engage in academic pursuits. Napoleon married her to one of his closest military commanders--General Joachim Murat (1800). Unlike the narriages of her sistersm this proved to be a warm ans successful marriage, notable for the couple's fidelity. She was ambitious and gelped secure the position of governor of Paris, marshal of France for her huband (1804). The couple was given the Duchy of Berg (1806). Carokline became the Grand Duchess of Cleves and Berg. When her brother Joseoh was made King of Spain, Murat and Carlone were given Naples (1808), becoming king and queen. Murat was often away particiapting in her husband's campaigns. Unlike Eliza, Caroline prived both able and popular. Her relations with her brother, however, deteriorated as she got involved in the myrky politics at the end of Napoleon's rule. This resulted in Murat's fall and execution (1815). Caroline sought refuge in Trieste, adopting the title comtesse de Lipona. Afyer Napoleon's fall from power, she moved to first Austria, but eventually returned to Italy. She died in Florence (1839). None other than Talleyrand paid her the compliment, "She has Cromwell's head on the shoulders of a pretty woman!" The couple had four children.

Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte (1784-1860)

Jerome was the youngest of the Bonaparte children. In many ways he was more like a son than a brother. Napoleon made him Duke of Berg. Jerome entered the navy and eventually became a vice-admral. During a port call in America became enamored with Elizabeth Patterson (1785-1879), the daughter of a Baltimore merchant and a wealthy heiress. Disregarding the family compact, he married her. A son, Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Camberwell, Surrey, England. Napoleon was angry with Jerome because the marriage had none of the dynastic ties that the Emperor felt were so important. Jerome returned to France and attempted to repair his relationship with his brother. He joined the Emperor as a divisional commander of the Bavarian forces in the Grande Armee (1806) Eventually Jerome yielded to his brother's advise and divorced his American wife. He was duly rewarded with a new kingdom of Westphalia (1807). This was a German state Napoleon fashioned out of western Germany. He married Catharina of Württemberg. This was the kind of political marruiage that Napoleon thought so important. As Prussia was still a threat, the marriage to the daughter of the Elector Frederick help to ballance the power of Prussia within Germany. They had two children Their son Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822-91) was known as "Prince Napoleon" or "Plon-Plon". His ancestors now lead the Bonaparte family. Their daughter, the Princess Mathilde Bonaparte married Prince Demidoff and became a noted hostess during Napoleon III's Second Empire. Napoleon advised Jerome that the way to win over the German was a just legal code (the Code Napoleon) and the benefits of liberal and constitutional rule. Jerome served as a corps commander in campaign along the Danube(1809). Jerome also joined the Emperor in his invasion of Russia (1812). He was placed in charge of the Grand Armee's right wing. He performed poorly and his brother repkaced him. When the Allies forced the French from Germany, Jerome had to leave Westphalia and returned to France. He joined his brother again in the 100 Days' Campaign after the escape from Elba. Napoleon gave Jerome another command. At Waterloo he was largely responsible for the costly attacks on Hougoumont. The Bourbons exiled Jerome and he wondered Europe. The King of Württemberg granted him the title of Prince of Montfort as he was married to his daughter and father of his grandchildren. With the fall of his brother, Jerome went to Italy where he married Giustina Pecori-Suárez, the widow of an Italian nobleman. Just before Revolution broke out again in France, the Government allowed him to return (1847). Under the Empire established by his naphew Napoleon III, he received many important appointments. The first appointment was governor of Les Invalides, the Paris burial place of his brother, the Emperor Napoleon I. Jerome was president of the Senate and became a marshal of France. Jerome died in 1860 at Villegenis. He is buried in Les Invalides, Paris.

Napoleon's Arrangements

Their father died in 1785. Napoleon as the most successful, but not the eldest son, thus became head of his large and demanding family. He assumed this responsibility with some dedication and soon as First Consul and then ruler and eventually emperor he was in a position to provide not only favors, but titles including royal titles to his family. He appointed his four brothers to important positions, making them kings, dukes, and counts. His sisters he married of to established Europeam royalty. Napoleon was more than willing to lavish these favors on his siblings, but there was a price. Their appointments were made under the strict condition that their rule would conform and support his plans and policies. This included both their state policies and their personal lives. There policies and private lives had to be conducted at all times with an eye to how ythey affected the Emperor's plan for a Bonaparte dominated Europe. While they may be nominally kings, the affairs of state were in fact centralized in the Emperor's hands. [Tarbell] Napoleon watches these carefully and criticized them when he felt necessary. Often his advise was well founded, but not always diplomatic or well received by his siblings. Napoleon's position was frankly expressed in a letter he wrote to to Count Miot de Melito in January 1806: "You are going to rejoin my brother. You will tell him that I have made him King of Naples; that he will continue to be Grand Elector, and that nothing will be changed as regards his relations with France. But impress upon him that the least hesitation, the slightest wavering, will ruin him entirely. I have another person in my mind who will replace him should he refuse. . . . At present all feelings of affection yield to state reasons. I recognize only those who serve me as relations. My fortune is not attached to the name of Bonaparte, but to that of Napoleon. It is with my fingers and with my pen that I make children. To-day I can love only those whom I esteem. Joseph must forget all our ties of childhood. Let him make himself esteemed. Let him acquire glory. Let him have a leg broken in battle. Then I shall esteem him. Let him give up his old ideas. Let him not dread fatigue. Look at me: the campaign I have just terminated, the movement, the excitement, have made me stout. I believe that if all the kings of Europe were to coalesce against me, I should have a ridiculous paunch."

Asessment

Basically the family seems to have been rather a hinderance and distraction rather than a help to the Emperor. A few historians are kinder to the family. [Connelly]

Sources

Connelly, Owen. Napoleon's Satellite Kingdoms: Managing Conquered People (Krieger).

Seward, Desmond. Napoleon's Family (Viking: New York, 1986).

Tarbell, Ida. Life Of Napoleon.






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Created: April 19, 2004
Last updated: 12:40 PM 10/17/2010