Josephine, A Life of the Empress
Love Letters fron Napoleon
was a roller coaster ride for the beautiful Josephine. Born in the
West Indies on Martinique as Marie-Rose de Tascher de la Pagerie,
she was raised on a slave plantation.
family was never wealthy but married into nobility and had two children
by Vicomte Alexandre Beauharnais, Eugene
and Hortense. The marriage was not a happy one, mainly due to his
womanising and unhappiness about her colonial gaucheness, although
after separating the pair were reasonable friends.
A quick learner, Josephine adopted many sophisticated ways and eventually
became one of the leading lights in Paris society. Her life was
shattered by the French Revolution, which
saw her imprisoned. She survived the Terror, although her husband
socialite without equal, Josephine was mistress to several leading
political figures and left a young General Napoleon
Bonaparte completely smitten on their first meeting.
nicknamed Rose "Josephine" and her sexual experience fired
the general's passions.
married in 1796 and while Bonaparte was a fine stepfather to her
children, Josephine had regular dalliances with other men, in particular
Hippolyte Charles - a dashing young officer who may have been her
only true love.
affairs almost led to divorce, however, a furious Bonaparte was
persuaded to ignore her indiscretions on the grounds a stable marriage
was necessary for his political ambitions.
also aided Bonaparte's bid for power with a deft social and political
touch that smoothed opposition and allowed him to become First Consul.
that the couple's marriage became a loving partnership, although
never again was she able to take Napoleon's love for granted and
so remained loyal to him.
series of lovers - regarded as a payback for her earlier lack of
loyalty - hurt her deeply but her need for financial security overrode
any other concerns.
- and despite Bonaparte's love for her - the emperor's need for
children of his own to secure succession to the crown saw him divorce
her in 1809.
though it was, divorce allowed Josephine to devote time to gardens
and her love of botany and her last years at Malmaison were productive.
died in 1814, a woman much loved by the people.
never got over having to divorce her and his last words were: "France,
the army, Josephine."