DAUGHTER OF AN EMPRESS QUEEN OF HOLLAND MOTHER OF AN EMPEROR
donderdag 12 februari 2015
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