Marie-Louise, Duchess of Parma 1791-1847

Empress Marie-Louise (1791-1847)

Marie-Louise was the oldest child of Austrian ruler Francis I. When Napoleon chose her as his second wife in 1810, there was a lull in the continental battles between France and Austria and her allies.  The year after the wedding, Napoleon’s only legitimate son was born, Napoleon II, immediately given the title of King of Rome.

Marie-Louise was awarded the Duchy of Parma and other territories in the settlement after Napoleon's first abdication in 1814. She fled home to Vienna with her son, never to see her husband again. The attendant on her flight, Count Adam Albert von Neipperg, later became her second husband and father of her three more children. After Neipperg’s death, her third husband was another chamberlain, Count Charles Rene de Bombelles.  Both of these men had been placed in her entourage by Metternich, perhaps to keep her occupied and away from meddling in Austrian politics?  Marie-Louise ruled as the Duchess of Parma until her death.

Napoleon II, as infant, studio of Sir Thomas Lawrence

Francois Charles Joseph Napoleon II, King of Rome, Duc de Reichstadt by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University

Napoleon II (1811-1832) was known in Austria as Franz, Duke of Reichstadt. He received military training and served as a cadet in the Austrian Army at a young age. However, both his grandfather, the Emperor Francis I, and Minister Metternich opposed any serious position for the heir of Bonaparte.

Franz, Duc de Reichstadt, 1811-1832

In 1831, the Duc de Reichstadt received a commission as head of a battalion, but he died soon thereafter of tuberculosis.  He was twenty-one years of age.

Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte 1750-1836, sculpture by Canova

Napoleon’s mother Letizia lived in Rome with her younger brother from 1815 to her death. Napoleon's father, Carlo Maria Buonaparte, had died of stomach cancer in 1785.

Josephine de Beauharnais Bonaparte 1763-1814

The divorced first wife of Napoleon, Josephine, died in 1814 at Malmaison after walking in her famous gardens with Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Supposedly she caught a chill.

Since Napoleon II died without issue, the  Emperor of France had no direct descendants. However, the Empress Josephine is an ancestress of several current royal families, including Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Greece, 

Eugène Rose de Beauharnais (1781–1824)

Eugène de Beauharnais was the son of Josephine and her first husband Alexandre de Beauharnais, who was guillotined in the Terror. Napoleon adopted Eugène, and appointed him to command the Italian Army, which he commanded in the Russian campaign. He led the remainder of the army out of Russia in 1813, then fought in several more battles that year. When Napoleon abdicated the first time, Eugene moved to Munich with his wife, the daughter of King Maximilian of Bavaria. He died as Duke of Leuchtenberg and Prince of Eichstatt in 1824.

Queen Josephine of Sweden (1807-1876)

Eugene’s daughter, Princess Josephine of Leuchtenberg, married Oscar Bernadotte in 1823, who became Oscar I, King of Sweden, upon the death of his father King Charles XIV, a former Napoleonic general  known as Count Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte until he was chosen as the Swedish Crown Prince in 1810.

King Oscar of Sweden (1799-1859)

Hortense Beauharnais, Queen of Holland (1783-1837)

Hortense (1783-1837), Josephine and Alexandre’s daughter, was also adopted by Napoleon.  She married Napoleon’s younger brother Louis (1778-1846), King of Holland in the years 1806-10. Their son became Napoleon III (1808-1873) Emperor of the French in the years 1852-1870. He died in exile in England in 1873.

In 1814, Hortense was created Duchess of Saint-Leu but after supporting her stepfather in the Hundred Days, she had to leave France.  She lived in Switzerland from 1817 to 1837.  Louis also lived in exile but separately from Hortense; their marriage, forced upon them, had never been a happy one.  

Napoleon III (1808-1873)

Napoleon III, Emperor of the Second French Empire, was the nephew of Napoleon I. He was born to Hortense and Louis as Louis-Napoleon.  He became president of the 2nd French Republic in 1848, then Emperor four years later. He was captured by the Prussians in 1870 and exiled to England for the rest of his life. 

Napoleon I ruled most of his siblings' lives in regard to marriage as well as profession. His eldest brother Joseph (1768-1844) was first installed as King of Naples (1806-1808), then Napoleon demanded Joseph take over the embattled throne of Spain, from which he was driven out (1808-1813).

Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain, 1808 by Francois Gerard

Joseph lived in the U.S. from 1817 to 1832, in New Jersey, near Bordentown. He returned to Europe and died in Florence Italy in 1844.

Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840) was the third brother, one who avoided a royal name until after Napoleon's first restoration. Early on, he was a dedicated republican but nevertheless assisted Napoleon in gaining power.

Lucien Bonaparte by Fabre

In his later life, he was an active archaeologist. He married twice and had a total of thirteen children.

Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland

The fourth brother Louis Bonaparte (1778-1846) became the King of Holland 1806-1810(see above).

Jerome Bonaparte by Gerard

The youngest (fifth) brother to survive infancy, Jerome (1784-1860), was King of Westphalia (1807-1813). In 1803, he married Elizabeth "Betsey" Patterson (1785-1879) in Baltimore, Maryland.  

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte 1804, triple portrait by Gilbert Stuart

Napoleon was outraged and ordered Jerome back to France to begin annulment and/or divorce proceedings.  Betsy, now pregnant, came with him and they attempted to land in France but were turned away. Jerome went to Italy to reason with his brother Joseph. Meanwhile Betsey went to England where her son, Jerome Bonaparte II was born. Betsey and Jerome never saw one another again.

Jerome considered the marriage annulled and actually married again, but Betsey continued working for a divorce from him which she was granted in Baltimore in 1815.  Betsey's sister-in-law Marianne Caton Patterson, in a strange turn of events, later went to Europe with her Caton sisters and enjoyed an active social life. Though Marianne was admired by the Duke of Wellington, she chose to marry his elder brother, Richard, 1st Marquess Wellesley, in 1825, as his second wife. Though it was not known as a happy marriage, it endured until his death in 1842. Marianne (or Mary Ann as it is sometimes spelled) became a Lady of the Bechamber to Queen Adelaide in 1830.

Betsey lived to age 92, and died in Baltimore in 1879. Jerome Bonaparte II (1805-1870) married and had two sons, one of whom, Charles Joseph Bonaparte (1851-1921), served as U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of the Navy.

The eldest of Napoleon's three sisters was known as Elisa (1777-1820). At various times in her life she was the Princess of Lucca nd Grand Duchess of Tuscany. She was married to a Corsican noble Felice Pasquale Baciocchi (1762-1841), who took the surname Levoy. They had four children, two of whom lived to adulthood. She preceded Napoleon in death. 

Elisa Bonaparte, Grand Duchess of Tuscany

Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese, with their mother, supported her brother on Elba in his exile, also lived in Rome after 1815. She and her first husband, one of Napoleon’s generals, had one child, a son who died at age six.  

Pauline Bonaparte 

With her second husband, Prince Borghese, she had no children.  Pauline died at age 45 of tuberculosis.  For more on her life, see the wonderful report on her found on  Elizabeth Kerri Mahon’s blog, here

Caroline Bonaparte (1782-1839) was the youngest of the sisters of Napoleon who survived infancy. 

Caroline Murat and daughter, 1807,  by Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun

Caroline was married to Joachim Murat, a French general. Among other titles, she became the Queen of Naples in 1808 when her husband succeeded his brother-in-law Joseph on the throne. When Murat declared for Napoleon during the hundred days in 1815, he was deposed and executed. Calling herself Countess of Lipona. she lived in Austria and married again in 1830.

Of her four children with Murat, the eldest, Achille Charles Louis Napoleon Murat (1801-1847) lived in the United States, Florida in particular, where he died without issue.

Current head of the House of Bonaparte is Charles, Prince Bonaparte, b. 1950, who lives in France. He is a descendant of Jerome Bonaparte.

June, 2015 

Descendants of the three commanders shake hands at the Waterloo battlefield. L-R, 9th Duke of Wellington, Prince Charles Bonaparte, and Prince Blucher von Wahlstatt, observing the bicentenary of the great battle and remembering the thousands who died.

And finally there is Jean-Christope Bonaparte, Napoleon's great-great-great-great-nephew through his brother Jerome and who apparently got his looks from the Canova statue of Napoleon. His father is seen in the photo above. A number of the crowned heads of Europe consider Jean-Christophe to be Head of the former Imperial House of France and heir to Napoleon's legacy.