maandag 5 december 2016

L’hôtel d’Eugène de Beauharnais à Paris se raconte

Dans le très beau salon des quatre saisons de l’hôtel de Beauharnais à Paris, des cygnes dorés s’invitent sur les pilastres qui courent autour de la pièce. Sur la corniche qu’ils supportent, ce sont des aigles, tout aussi resplendissant d’or, qui déploient leurs ailes. Lorsqu’il fut créé, au tout début du XIXe siècle, ce décor n’était en rien anodin.

L’aigle évoque Napoléon Bonaparte, le cygne son beau-fils Eugène de Beauharnais. Ce dernier est devenu propriétaire de cette belle demeure, édifiée en 1713 par l’architecte Boffrand, le 20 mai 1803 à l’âge de 22 ans. Et, bénéficiant des conseils avisés en matière de déco de sa mère Joséphine de Beauharnais et de sa sœur Hortense, et surtout de la générosité de l’empereur Napoléon Ier, qui à cette époque voyait en lui un successeur pour le trône, Eugène a fait subir aux lieux, en seulement quelques années, une totale et fort coûteuse métamorphose intérieure. parismatch/Royal-Blog/royaute-francaise/L-hotel-d-Eugene-de-Beauharnais-a-Paris-se-raconte-1111091

woensdag 11 mei 2016

Napoleonic 'treasure' unearthed in Tasmanian bookshop

Left: Co-owners of the Cracked and Spineless bookshop, Richard Sprent (left) and Mike Gray, with the journal.
A handwritten journal found buried in an Australian bookshop is believed to be a prominent soldier's diary from the Napoleonic wars, writes Paul Carter.
Royal Engineer John Squire was an officer who fought for the British army in the Napoleonic era, but his interests extended far beyond the battlefield. Sophisticated and possessing a talent for writing, he served in theatres of war around the world and was prominent enough to be mentioned in diplomatic dispatches.

Lt Col Squire was a worldly man, with an interest in history and antiquities. So it's fitting that his writings are now causing great excitement on the other side of the planet, in the colony he'd have known as Van Diemen's Land. At the back of a second-hand book store, at the back of a Hobart arcade, at the back of the world in Tasmania, it appears that one of Squire's journals has been discovered.

The new owners of the Cracked and Spineless bookshop discovered the journal in a pile of old books tucked away in a cupboard. It details the English-Portuguese army's second siege of the Spanish city of Badajoz, which took place in May and June 1811, during the Napoleonic Wars.
The bookshop's co-owner, Mike Gray, said the journal was discovered a couple of weeks ago.
"The previous owner collected hundreds of thousands of books," Mr Gray said. "Some of them were in a cupboard so I sent in someone interested in old books to see if they could find anything.
"They brought out the journal and I thought 'yeah, maybe about $20, but I'll check it'. Mr Gray said the journal could have been in the shop for 20 years, but no-one knew how it arrived. A working theory is that it arrived with the colonists who established Van Diemen's Land.

The journal's cover, reading 'journal 1611'A treasure'

Squire died of fever in 1812, soon after the third and successful British siege of Badajoz, which comprised part of the Peninsular War during the Napoleonic era. Some of his letters survive at the British Library. His journals and essays ranged in content from the technical aspects of war to his involvement with antiquities.

These works and his supporting role in some of history's great moments have made Squire a moderately well-known figure among scholars who study the era. Gavin Daly, an expert in the Peninsular War at the University of Tasmania, said he believed the journal was a genuine "treasure". A handwriting match could be made with Squire's letters kept at the British Library, he said. Dr Daly said Squire was mentioned twice in dispatches by the Duke of Wellington. "Squire pops up in Egypt in 1801 when the French surrendered Alexandria. He was in South America in 1807. He was in Sweden in 1808. He was in the Netherlands at various stages and ended up in the peninsula," Dr Daly said.

Officer and gentleman

"He's not just an interesting figure as an engineer but he's also important because he had broad interests in history, geography and antiquities. "He was present when the Rosetta Stone was given to the British. He writes a paper on Roman antiquities in Egypt, and he accompanies William Richard Hamilton east and is involved in bringing some of the Elgin Marbles to Britain. "When he died in the peninsula in 1812 of fever, not long after the third and final siege of Badajoz, there was a considerable lamenting of his life. "He'd been rapidly promoted … but there was also this sense that he was the archetypal gentleman officer, who mixed in broad intellectual circles. He had a broad curiosity about the world."   Dr Daly said the journal was focused on many of the technical aspects of the siege."There's not a lot in the journal about broader reflections about the nature of the war or the nature of the campaign," Dr Daly said. "What comes through though is someone who is very much focused on being as good an officer as he can - he says his foremost obligation being an officer is to do his duty. "This is a very professional soldier."

Image copyright Paul Carter
Image caption The journal is mostly focused on the technical aspects of the siege, rather than the broader context surrounding it

maandag 21 maart 2016

The King of Rome, Napoleon II

Read all about the birth of the King of Rome:  shannonselin/birth-king-of-rome/

Napoleon, a prey to silent agitation, watched this painful scene, encouraging all present by his brave attitude. At last, after many efforts, and in the midst of so much anguish, the so-impatiently-desired child came to light. It was a son, pale, motionless, and to all appearances lifeless. In spite of all the measures taken in such cases, the child remained seven minutes without giving any signs of life. The Emperor standing in front of him was following in silence and with an air of profound attention, every movement of the accoucheur, when at last he saw the child’s breast rise, the mouth open and a breath exhaled. He feared lest it might be the first and last, but a cry escaping from the child’s lungs tells him that his son has taken possession of life. All anxiety then ceases. In the effusion of his joy Napoleon bent over the child, seized it in his arms, with a spontaneous movement, carried it to the door of the drawing-room in which all the grandees of his Empire were assembled and presenting it to them said: ‘Here is the King of Rome.’ He then returned and placed the child back in M. Dubois’s hands saying: ‘I give you back your child.’ …

Read about the life of Napolein II shannonselin/napoleon-ii

Painting: Napoleon II, styled King of Rome, later Duke of Reichstadt, by Thomas Lawrence, 1818-1819

donderdag 17 maart 2016

The Countess, Napoleon and St. Helena: In Exile With The Emperor 1815 to 1821

When Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to the remote island of St. Helena after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 he took with him twenty-four people, including his doctor, servants and four of his Generals.

One of the Generals, Count Henri-Gatien Bertrand, was Napoleon’s Grand Marshal of the Palace. Count Bertrand was accompanied by his wife Countess Françoise Elisabeth (Fanny) Bertrand and their three children. Tall, elegant and aristocratic the Countess was a feisty and beautiful young woman who had shone in French Society. She hated the island of St. Helena ‘The Devil shit this place as he flew from one continent to the other’ she said on her arrival. But loyal to her husband she stayed by his side until Napoleon’s death on 5th May 1821 and was at the ex-Emperor’s bedside when he died. Read more Countess-Napoleon-St-Helena

The Bertrand’s Cottage on St Helena, built 1816

zaterdag 12 maart 2016

What did Napoleon’s wives think of each other?

In September 1810, Napoleon advised Josephine that the new Empress was pregnant. It was suggested to Josephine that she leave Paris during Marie Louise’s confinement. Josephine was thus at Navarre on March 20, 1811, when the ringing of bells and booming of cannons announced the birth of Napoleon’s and Marie Louise’s son, the King of Rome. She wrote to Napoleon:
Amid the numerous felicitations you receive from every corner of Europe…can the feeble voice of a woman reach your ear, and will you deign to listen to her who so often consoled your sorrows and sweetened your pains, now that she speaks to you only of that happiness in which all your wishes are fulfilled! … I can conceive every emotion you must experience, as you divine all that I feel at this moment; and though separated, we are united by that sympathy which survives all events.
I should have desired to learn of the birth of the King of Rome from yourself, and not from the sound of the cannon of Evreux, or the courier of the prefect. I know, however, that in preference to all, your first attentions are due to the public authorities of the State, to the foreign ministers, to your family, and especially to the fortunate Princess who has realized your dearest hopes. She cannot be more tenderly devoted to you than I; but she has been enabled to contribute more toward your happiness by securing that of France. She has then a right to your first feelings, to all your cares; and I, who was but your companion in times of difficulty – I cannot ask more than a place in your affection far removed from that occupied by the Empress Maria Louisa. Not till you shall have ceased to watch by her bed, not till you are weary of embracing your son, will you take the pen to converse with your best friend – I will wait. (1)

Read all: shannonselin/what-did-napoleons-wives-think-of-each-other/ 

maandag 22 februari 2016

Adam Albert von Neipperg, Lover of Napoleon’s wife

Adam Albert von Neipperg was an Austrian nobleman, soldier and diplomat who seduced Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise, while Napoleon was in exile on Elba. Charged with this task by Marie Louise’s father, Emperor Francis I of Austria, Neipperg discouraged Marie Louise from joining her husband and eventually erased any feelings of loyalty Marie Louise had towards Napoleon. Count von Neipperg had three children with Marie Louise. He then quietly married her after Napoleon’s death. Together they proved to be relatively popular governors of the Duchy of Parma.

Read all:

7 things you (probably) didn’t know about the Napoleonic Wars

1) The young Napoleon showed little promise
2) The royal navy attacked a city
3) All sides understood the ‘propaganda war
4) The best way to defeat Spain was to invade Argentina
5) Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition to end
6) The showdown at Waterloo was delayed due to rain
7) Waterloo was not the final battle against France
Read all: historyextra

donderdag 18 februari 2016

Napoleon's Catholic marriage certificate to be sold at auction

The certificate from Napoleon Bonaparte's secret religious wedding to Josephine in 1804, eight years after their civil marriage, will go under the hammer in March, the French auction house Osenat said Monday.
The document is signed and sealed by Cardinal Joseph Fesch, who presided over the clandestine wedding that took place at the behest of Pope Pius VII as a condition for his presence at Napoleon's coronation.
It is part of a collection being sold by Christopher Forbes, a US billionaire and francophile, that mainly comprises artefacts from the reign of Napoleon's nephew and heir, Napoleon III.
Read all: telegraph

Note boasts rare signatures of naNapoleon, Josephine

Full signatures from a pair of notorious lovebirds — Napoleon and Josephine — lend an otherwise routine 19th-century French marriage contract a rare prestige among other love notes on display at a high-end jewelry and antique showcase in Florida.

Just weeks after the French Senate declared him emperor, Napoleon and Josephine de Beauharnais were witnesses to the wedding of General Pierre-Augustin Hulin, who took part in the storming of the Bastille, sparking the French Revolution.

The document also is one of the first Napoleon signed with his full name, just as a monarch might today, instead of simply writing "Bonaparte" as he had before, Lowenherz said.
Read all: mysanantonio.

vrijdag 9 oktober 2015

Napoleon & entourage approaching StHelena.

Early October #1815 Admiral Cockburn & , with & entourage, is approaching .

Le sacre de Napoléon de Jacques-Louis David

Le public admirant Le sacre de Napoléon de Jacques-Louis David au Louvre, 1810.

dinsdag 1 september 2015


château de Malmaison@museemalmaison
Le château de Malmaison

maandag 31 augustus 2015

Palazzo Bonaparte

Piazza Venezia marks the physical center of Rome as well as being a square buzzing with activity and history. On the north end, where Piazza Venezia meets Via del Corso, is the building where Napoleon I’s mother Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte lived: Palazzo Bonaparte. The building was built in 1660 by Giovanni Antonio De Rossi for Marquis Giuseppe Benedetto.  After Napoleon was forced in to exile, Letizia was granted asylum in Rome by Pope Pius VII in 1815. It is said she loved to sit on the covered balcony, hidden from view, and watch the city unfold below her. Once she lost her sight her lady in waiting described the comings and goings to her. Letizia lived at Palazzo Bonaparte until her death in 1836. The building became the property of Italian insurance company Assitalia in 1972, but the name Bonaparte remains on the rooftop

François Gérard : "Marie-Laetitia Bonaparte" (vers 1804)  

St. Helena.

Even today, in spite of its isolation, St. Helena welcomes a small but regular stream of French visitors who come to see the sites linked to their country's former emperor. These include Longwood House, as well as The Briars, Bonaparte's first residence in the island, and The Valley of the Tomb, where he was buried before his remains were later repatriated. The number of Napoleon devotees making the pilgrimage to St. Helena can only be expected to increase once the island becomes more easily accessible from Europe. The Napoleonic Estates also have a peculiarity that adds to St. Helena's uniqueness: they're under direct French administration and enjoy extraterritorial status, making them French enclaves within British territory. The French flag flies over them and the French Republic maintains a consul on the island that takes care of their preservation.

edition saint-helena-napoleon

zondag 30 augustus 2015

Arenenberg, beautiful pictures.

Really beautiful pictures on this website: timetravelturtle
Travel writer, Michael Turtle
The museum has taken many forms in the years since it began but most recently it has been restored to resemble how it would have looked when Hortense lived here with her son, Louis-Napoleon, who would go on to become Emperor Napoleon III in 1852.

The woman behind the current style of the Napoleon Museum is curator Christina Egli

More pictures on the website. Look and enjoy!

Arenenberg You Tube

maandag 13 juli 2015

Dans la chambre de la reine Hortense de Beauharnais a Arenenberg

Napoleon and Josephine decided that Hortense should marry Napoleon’s brother Louis

Napoleon and Josephine decided that Hortense should marry Napoleon’s brother Louis, even though the two didn’t particularly like each other. As discussed in my post about Louis, the marriage, which took place on January 4, 1802, was miserable. Reflecting on it during his exile on St. Helena, Napoleon said:
There were faults on both sides. On the one hand, Louis was too teasing in his temper, and, on the other, Hortense was too volatile. … Hortense, the virtuous, the generous, the devoted Hortense, was not entirely faultless in her conduct towards her husband. This I must acknowledge in spite of all the affection I bore her, and the sincere attachment which I am sure she entertained for me. Though Louis’s whimsical humours were in all probability sufficiently teasing, yet he loved Hortense; and in such a case a woman should learn to subdue her own temper, and endeavour to return her husband’s attachment. Had she acted in the way most conducive to her interest, she might have avoided her late lawsuit, secured happiness to herself and followed her husband to Holland. Louis would not then have fled from Amsterdam, and I should not have been compelled to unite his kingdom to mine—a measure which contributed to ruin my credit in Europe. Many other events might also have taken a different turn. shannonselin

vrijdag 6 maart 2015

Wood violets were said to be a favorite of Josephine de Beauharnais.

Wood violets were said to be a favorite of Napoleon's first wife, Josephine de Beauharnais, and after her death in the early 1800s, Napoleon was found to be wearing a locket with wood violets he had taken from Josephine's grave. Read  more: victoriaadvocate

dinsdag 24 februari 2015

Hermitage Amsterdam en Hortus Botanicus brengen gezamenlijk een hommage aan Joséphine de Beauharnais.

De keizerin staat dit voorjaar centraal in de Amsterdamse Plantage. In dit samenwerkingsproject gaat de bezoeker mee naar het beroemde tuinpaleis van de keizerin, Château de Malmaison, net buiten Parijs.

Joséphine toverde het om tot een lusthof met een prachtige kunstcollectie en paradijselijke tuinen vol bijzondere bloemen, planten en vogels als zeldzame zwarte zwanen en struisvogels. Het was Napoleons favoriete hideaway en werd vrijwel direct na zijn nederlaag en verbanning een favoriete bestemming van de hoogste Europese adel, zoals de koning van Pruisen en niet in de laatste plaats tsaar Alexander van Rusland. Joséphine hield er haar hof en overleed er te midden van haar geliefde kunst, flora en fauna.

Hoewel de hommage een samenwerkingsverband is, besteden Hermitage Amsterdam en Hortus Botanicus ieder op een eigen manier aandacht aan Joséphine. In de Hermitage Amsterdam toont ‘Alexander, Napoleon & Joséphine. Een verhaal van vriendschap, oorlog en kunst uit de Hermitage’ hoe de Europese geschiedenis Napoleon en tsaar Alexander I verbond. Joséphine speelt in deze tentoonstelling een fascinerende rol, eerst als keizerin aan de zijde van Napoleon en later als goede vriendin van Alexander I. Zij legde een enorme kunstcollectie aan van onschatbare waarde, met onder andere Hollandse en Italiaanse meesters. Vele highlights ervan zijn te zien in de Hermitage Amsterdam.

De Hortus Botanicus vertelt met de tentoonstelling ‘Joséphine. Een keizerrijk in een tuin’ over haar andere grote passie: het verzamelen en kweken van bloemen en planten. Joséphines Château de Malmaison was 200 jaar geleden het thuis van haar kunstcollectie, maar ook van haar bijzondere planten- en bloementuinen. Deze prachtige wereld komt weer tot leven in de Hermitage en de Hortus. Een korte looproute van 300 meter verbindt beide tentoonstellingen.
Beide tentoonstellingen gaan open op 28 maart 2015 en bieden een combinatieticket voor 17,50 euro.
BRON: Persbericht Hermitage Amsterdam

Schilderij: François Flameng, Feestelijke receptie in het Château de Malmaison in 1802, ca. 1894. Olieverf op doek, 106 x 139 cm.© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

zondag 15 februari 2015

“Toi et moi.”

The engagement ring the young Napoleon “must have broken his wallet” to buy for his fiancee Josephine.
The golden ring is in an 18th century setting called “toi et moi,” “You and Me,” with opposing tear-shaped jewels — a blue sapphire and a diamond. The carat weight of the two gems is little less than a carat each.
The marriage didn’t last, but “Josephine continued to treasure the ring and gave it to her daughter Hortense, later Queen of Holland, through whom it came down to her son, Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugene. d-unknown/napoleon-and-josephines-engagement-ring

zaterdag 14 februari 2015

French Revolution Digital Archive.

The French Revolution Digital Archive (FRDA) is a multi-year collaboration of the Stanford University Libraries and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) to produce a digital version of the key research sources of the French Revolution and make them available to the international scholarly community. The archive is based around two main resources, the Archives parlementaires and a vast corpus of images first brought together in 1989 and known as the Images de la Revolution française.

"Madame, you must wear silk!”.

This lavender-coloured Manteau de Cour of moire silk is the only example in the Netherlands to date of a court train from the  period during which the Netherlands were under the French rule of the Bonaparte’s. europeanafashion/centraal-museum-utrecht-
There was no more trade, no orders, there had been many deaths among the weavers. Napoleon was particularly enamoured of the city of Lyon: the five times he visited there are inscribed clearly in the history of the city, from his return from Italy to the Hundred Days. At each visit, he made a point of visiting the Lyon silk workshops, and had a very acute vision of what should be done to revive the industry in Lyon. There was a real desire for revival through power. From the very beginning of the nineteenth century his numerous orders of damask - a rather simple but very beautiful fabric – were used to "imperialise the royal palaces", starting with the Palace of  Saint-Cloud. These fabrics herald a new era: we see already the two typical groups of motifs of the First Empire: the floral and the geometric... From the outset Napoleon is aware power of luxury as a political instrument, for fabric as for the other decorative arts. In 1811 and 1813 he made two huge orders: it is said that these two commissions alone represented over a hundred kilometres of fabric.

There are lot of verifiable anecdotes where the Emperor is most insistant for example towards a particular person, especially Josephine: "Madame, you must wear silk!”, which was not Josephine's cup of tea. She preferred lighter fabrics, fine materials that were reminiscent of her islands, as illustrated by the dresses presented in our exhibition. Empire dresses do not look at all like the eighteenth century dresses, all made of taffeta and silk. It is known that Napoleon encouraged his marshals, generals and advisors to wear silk. There is even a 1804 decree defining the clothing of ministers: "The ministers will wear their ordinary costume, which can be buttoned and almost closed in front, made of silk, velvet or cloth with a white scarf, from which the sword is suspended [...]”. In a curious way, Napoleon's tastes meant that male clothes began to resemble those of the Ancien Regime. napoleon

donderdag 12 februari 2015

Hippolyte Charles

Hippolyte Charles met the married Josephine Bonaparte in Paris at one of the soirees frequently given by Josephine’s friend Theresia Tallien. The couple embarked on one of the most intense love affairs of Josephine’s life.
Whereas Napoleon was loving and sincere in his adoration for his new wife, he was solemn, serious and intense in his outlook. Hippolyte Charles was the opposite: a young man in his mid twenties: handsome, outgoing, full of fun and extremely popular with the women in a social world in which he felt completely at ease. He and Josephine became lovers during Napoleon’s frequent absences.
In May 1796 Napoleon scored a decisive victory in the Italian campaign, with the battle of Lodi. He recorded that he felt truly a man of destiny and he wanted his wife by his side. 

When Napoleon was based near Milan in the Palazzo Serbelloni, he wrote frequently to Josephine asking her to join him.  Josephine’s affair with Hippolyte was in full flow and she was perplexed by Napoleon’s steady stream of correspondence to her, almost worshipping her.  She wasn’t particularly interested in leaving her luxurious and party life in Paris: even less fond of the idea of leaving her passionate lover, Hippolyte Charles.
There was much gossip about the relationship and news was spreading to Napoleon’s camp. He at first refused to believe in the rumours, but these were increasingly fuelled by his family and others of influence, who wished to be rid of Josephine.

Eventually, under great pressure exerted by Napoleon, she travelled to Italy: accompanied by Hippolyte. He moved into the Palazzo whenever Napoleon moved out. Still hearing rumours, Napoleon had Hippolyte transferred into the regiment close to him, where he could keep an eye on him. When evidence of the affair was becoming overwhelming Napoleon had Hippolyte arrested and almost had him shot.  It was Hippolyte’s close friendship with the influential Generals Duroc and Junot, who persuaded Napoleon to spare him and he was transferred back to Paris.
Hippolyte and Josephine were to continue seeing each other, but when she learned that he had taken an Italian lover she was deeply upset.  At the same time she learned of the premature death of her former lover Lazare Hoche. It was the affair between Hippolyte and Josephine that eventually reversed the relationship in the marriage between Napoleon and Josephine. Whereas he forgave her and she never took another lover and became totally devoted to Napoleon: he began to take other lovers that continued throughout the remaining years of their marriage. onlylovethemusical./charactershippolyte

woensdag 11 februari 2015

Josephine and the Bodin Company

Sandra Gulland asked me an interesting question. See reactions.

The letters Josephine supposed to have written  to Hippolyte Charles do they really exist?
Josephine, along with Charles and possibly Barras, had become deeply involved in the financial affairs of the Bodin Company. This was one of the many concerns mushrooming in this period that held, or sought, contracts for government supplies. Charles had surrendered his army commission to work more closely with the company, if not actually to be a partner in it. Josephine, too, was much more than an innocent bystander. For what could only be selfish financial reasons this wife of a victorious general sought to make secret profit out of the economic necessities of a country at war.

Under the heavy pressure of a steadily enlarging war, the government had been faced with a baffling supply problem. It had very little cash. Hence it had to make contracts with suppliers who operated on a very large scale and were willing to accept financial payments on a deferred, long-term basis. The Compagnie Flachat and the Compagnie Dijon were outstanding examples of companies which played a major part in such operations. Simultaneously, bankers such as Ouvrard and public figures such as Barras and Talleyrand were able to make huge fortunes through loans, currency speculation, and similar devices.

Other lesser groups, among which the Compagnie Bodin was one, tried to move into these lush financial pastures. This company followed the common practice of shortchanging the government, both in the quantities and the quality of the supplies it furnished. It was not averse to altering figures in its invoices after they had been officially approved, and it had a reputation for providing the government with poor horses and cattle it had taken by requisition from French farmers and peasants, often without troubling to pay for them.

Information about this unsavoury Bodin Company reached Joseph Bonaparte, inveterate enemy of Josephine. He then hastened to inform Napoleon. Following this, the brothers confronted Josephine in what must have been an extremely painful interview. Among the papers of Hippolyte Charles have survived a few letters from Josephine that were unknown to her earlier biographers and that put her in as unfavourable a light as any known documents in her entire life.

She wrote to Charles in great agitation to say that on the day before Joseph had had a long conversation with Napoleon, after which the two had put her through a most savage interrogation. Did she, they asked, know this Citizen Bodin? Had she been responsible for getting him supply contracts with the Army of Italy? Did Captain Charles lodge with Bodin at No. 100, Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and did Josephine go there daily? The answers Josephine told Hippolyte she had given to Napoleon suggest that the ruthless interrogation had brought her close to hysteria:

I replied that I knew nothing about what he was saying to me; if he wished a divorce he had only to speak; he had no need to use such means; and I was the most unfortunate of women and the most unhappy. Yes, my Hippolyte, they have my complete hatred; you alone have my tenderness and my love; they must see now, as a result of the terrible state I have been in for several days, how much I abhor them; they can see my disappointment — my despair at not being able to see you as often as I wish. Hippolyte, I shall kill myself — yes, I wish to end a life that henceforth would be only a burden if it could not be devoted to you. Alas! What have I done to these monsters? But they are acting in vain, I will never be a victim of their atrocious conduct!
Following this outburst came specific instructions:
Tell Bodin, I beg you, to say that he doesn't know me; that it has not been through me that he got the contracts for the Army of Italy; let him tell the door-keeper at No. 100 that when people ask him if Bodin lives there he is to say that he doesn't know him. Tell Bodin not to use the letters which I have given him for Italy until some time after his arrival when he needs them . . . Ah, they torment me in vain! They will never separate me from my Hippolyte; my last look will be for him! I will do everything to see you today. If I cannot, I will spend the evening at Bodin's and tomorrow I will send Blondin [a servant] to let you know the time when I could see you in the garden of Mousseaux. Adieu, my Hippolyte, a thousand kisses, as burning as is my heart, and as amorous . . .

In a subsequent letter to Captain Charles, Josephine told him that she had just written to the minister of war arranging to submit some papers. Papers about what? Could her action have concerned army contracts, or had it something to do with Hippolyte's retirement from military service? She added further that she had written to Barras asking him 'to return the letters which he had promised'. We can only conjecture what these were. The letter to Captain Charles ends as follows:
I am going, my dear Hippolyte, to the country. I shall be back between half past five and six, looking for you at Bodin's. Yes, my Hippolyte, life is a continual torture. You alone can make me happy. Tell me that you love me, and only me. I shall be the happiest of women. Send me, by means of Blondin, 50,000 livres from the notes in your possession. Callot is demanding them. Farewell, I send you a thousand tender kisses. Tout à toi.  
p166 When a wife writes such letters to a lover, the reasonable inference is that relations with her husband have reached the breaking point. Actually, no such decisive development was to occur. When Bonaparte returned from his inspection tour, his mind was much more on grand strategy than on the problems of his private life. He had little time for Josephine, and whatever anger he did show seems to have arisen as much from her evident connexion with the Bodin Company as from what he knew of her relations with Captain Charles. Josephine suspected that it was her new brother-in‑law, Joseph Bonaparte, who was trying to make trouble. Three months later she told Barras that Joseph's attitude to her was 'abominable', and that she knew he had vowed not to rest until he had separated Josephine from her new husband. 'He is a vile, abominable person,' she wrote heatedly, 'some day you will know what he is like.'

If there had been serious prospect of a rupture, it is hardly likely that Bonaparte would then have bought the house they had been renting for the past two years. On 26 March 1798 he purchased the establishment on the newly named rue de la Victoire — Pompeian frescoes, mirrors, cupids, pink roses, white swans, and all — for 52,400 francs. The price was substantial, yet far less than the 300,000 francs that Josephine had incurred for its refurnishing and redecoration. The fantastic purchase was doubtless the only way for the soldier to safeguard his interest in the huge sums he had already been obliged to pay. Read more: penelope

The house of Madame de Beauharnais had an air of luxury while the most essential things were lacking. Chicken, game, rare fruits, filled the kitchen, while they came to our humble abode to borrow the kitchen utensils, plates and glasses which they lacked."

There is no doubt, however, that during these twelve months Josephine was in great financial difficulties. She had on her hands the lease both of her Paris apartment and the house at Croissy. Her father had left his affairs in great confusion, and the difficulty of getting money from Martinique was further increased by the war with England. In February 1794 the English had taken possession of the island, and the Tascher estate was in the hands of the enemy. In France the property of her husband had been confiscated by the Government.

The expenses of Josephine's household at this time were quite heavy. She had three domestics: the nurse, Marie Lanoy; the maid, Agathe Rible; and the valet (officieux), Gontier. She not only paid them, no wages, however, but even borrowed their little savings. Her principal resource was a M. Emmery, a banker at Dunkerque, who for many years had had business relations with the Taschers.

From these few details it is possible to judge how precarious was the life of Josephine during the greater part of this year. But with the small remittances she received from Martinique, with money which she borrowed on every side, with bills which she contracted everywhere, she somehow managed to exist; and her life was far from being devoid of luxury. She was not a woman to walk, and must have a carriage, which she hired by the month.

In August 1795, when her affairs were still in the same precarious condition, Josephine leased from Julie Carreau, the wife of the actor Talma, from whom she was separated, a little hotel entre cour et jardin at Number 6, Rue Chantereine.

"We had Madame de Beauharnais for a neighbour," writes Pasquier. " Her house adjoined our
own. She only came there occasionally, once a week, to meet Barras with the many persons who followed in his suite. ... As is not rare with Creoles, the house of Madame de Beauharnais had an air of luxury while the most essential things were lacking. Chicken, game, rare fruits, filled the kitchen, while they came to our humble abode to borrow the kitchen utensils, plates and glasses which they lacked."

The marriage contract was one of the most remarkable ever drawn up in France: no details of the bride's property were given; all that she possessed was to belong to the communautb which existed between her and the late M. de Beauharnais. For his part, Bonaparte did not hesitate to admit his lack of fortune. He stated that he had nothing except his wardrobe and his war equipment, upon which he placed a merely nominal value.  napoleonandjosephine


Related Posts with Thumbnails




Totaal aantal pageviews