vrijdag 2 maart 2012

Nortense, Charles de Flahaut, Duc de Morny and exile

Hortense had been treated kindly after Napoleon's first defeat; she was in the good graces of Emperor Alexander I of Russia, and even the new Bourbon King seemed to like her. However, they could not forgive her for sticking by her stepfather upon his return from Elba, and consequently she had to leave France. She escaped with both her sons to Switzerland and eventually ended up near the Bodensee close to Konstanz. There she bought a small castle on a cliff overlooking the lake: Schloss Arenenberg.  
To complicate matters further, by the time of her exile she was pregnant. As she had not seen her husband for some years, this pregnancy would cause a scandal.The father of her illegitimate child was Charles de Flahaut; their child was born in Switzerland and was named Charles after his father. He was taken to France, where he was raised by his father and paternal grandmother. This last son of hers, Charles de Morny, would later be created a duke by his half-brother Napoleon III and would become one of France's most important statesmen during the Second Empire.
Hortense was now free to respond to the romantic overtures of the man whom she had long admired, Colonel Charles Joseph, Comte de Flahaut, a sophisticated, handsome man rumoured to be the illegitimate son of Talleyrand. They soon became lovers. In 1811 at an unspecified inn in Switzerland close to Lake Geneva Hortense secretly gave birth to a son by her lover,
  • Charles Auguste Louis Joseph ( 21 October 1811 - 10 March 1865), later made duc de Morny by his half-brother, Napoleon III.
Only her brother Eugéne, Adélaide Filleul de Sousa, de Flahaut's mother, and her closest companions were aware of her pregnancy and the subsequent birth. She had used poor health to explain her prolonged visit to Switzerland, the journey having been arranged by Adélaide. Hortense cleverly disguised her pregnancy ( she was by then, in her sixth month), during the baptism of Napoleon's son, Napoleon II when she was chosen to be one of the child's godmothers, an honour she shared with Madame Mere, mother of the EmperorCharles-Joseph-de-Flahaut/Hortense-de-Beauharnais
Charles de Morny was born in Switzerland,[1] and his birth was duly registered in a misleading certificate, which made him the legitimate son of Auguste Jean Hyacinthe Demorny, born in Paris on 23 October 1811,[2] and described as a landowner of St. Domingo. M. Demorny was in fact an officer in the Prussian army and a native of St. Domingo, though he owned no land there or elsewhere.

In 1856, he was sent as special envoy to the coronation of Alexander II of Russia and brought home a wife, whom he married at St. Petersburg on 7 January 1857, Princess Sofia Sergeyevna Trubetskaya (Moscow, 25 March 1836 – 8 August 1896), the only daughter of Prince Sergey Vasilyevich Trubetskoy (1814 - 12 May (30 April Old Style), 1859) and his wife Ekaterina Petrovna Mussina-Pushkina (1 February 1816 - c. 1897). His wife's connections greatly strengthened his social position. Sophie was legally daughter of Prince Sergey Vasilyevich Trubetskoy, but may have been the illegitimate daughter of Nicholas I of Russia. I

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