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Hortense de Beauharnais: Wikis


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Hortense de Beauharnais
Queen Consort of Holland
Comtesse de Saint-Leu
Duchesse de Saint-Leu
Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland
Queen Consort of Holland
Tenure 5 June 1806 - 1 July 1810
Spouse Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland
Napoléon Louis Charles Bonaparte
Napoleon Louis Bonaparte
Napoleon III of France
Charles Auguste Louis Joseph, duc de Morny (illegitimate)
House House of Bonaparte (by marriage)
House of Beauharnais (by birth)
Father Alexandre, Vicomte de Beauharnais
Mother Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie
Born 10 April 1783
Paris, France
Died 5 October 1837 (aged 54)
Chateau of Arenenberg, Thurgau, Switzerland
Burial St Pierre-St Paul Church, Rueil-Malmaison, France

Hortense Eugénie Cécile Bonaparte (née de Beauharnais) (10 April 1783 – 5 October 1837), Queen Consort of Holland, was a stepdaughter of Napoleon, wife of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland and the mother of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.


Early life

Hortense was born in Paris, France on 10 April 1783, the daughter of Alexandre, Vicomte de Beauharnais and of his wife Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie. Her parents separated shortly after her birth. In 1794, her father was executed during the Reign of Terror and her mother was imprisoned in the Carmes prison. She was later released on 6 August, due to the intervention of her best friend Thérèse Tallien. Two years later her mother married Napoleon Bonaparte. Hortense was educated at the school of Madame Jeanne Campan at St-Germain-en-Laye together with Napoleon's youngest sister Caroline Bonaparte Murat. She was tall, slender with blonde hair, large blue eyes, a heart-shaped face and fine features. She had an elder brother, Eugène de Beauharnais. Hortense was an accomplished amateur musical composer and supplied the army of her stepfather Napoleon with rousing marches[1].


In 1802, at Napoleon's request, Hortense married his brother Louis Bonaparte. The couple had three sons:

  • Napoléon Louis Charles Bonaparte (10 October 1802 - 5 May 1807)
  • Napoleon Louis Bonaparte (11 October 1804 - 17 March 1831)
  • Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, later Napoleon III, Emperor of the French (20 April 1808- 9 January 1873)

In 1806 Napoleon appointed his brother Louis, King of Holland. Hortense accompanied her husband to The Hague, in spite of the fact that their marriage was an unhappy one. In 1810, after his Dutch kingdom was taken away from him, Louis remained in Holland for nearly three years, and he turned to writing and poetry. Louis wrote to Napoleon after the latter's defeat in Russia to request that the Dutch throne be restored to him. However, Napoleon refused. Louis finally returned to France in 1813, where he remained for the rest of his life.

Illegitimate son

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.[2] 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,

Only her brother Eugène, Adélaïde Filleul de Souza, 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 Adélaïde. 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 Mère, mother of the Emperor.

Later years


At the Bourbon Restoration in 1814, Hortense received the protection of Alexander I, Tsar of Russia; at his instigation she was created duchess of Saint-Leu by King Louis XVIII. During the Hundred Days, however, Hortense supported her stepfather and brother-in-law Napoleon. This led to her banishment from France after his final defeat. She traveled in Germany and Italy before purchasing the Château of Arenenberg in the Swiss canton of Thurgau in 1817. She lived there until her death on 5 October 1837, at the age of fifty-four. She is buried next to her mother Joséphine in the Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul church in Rueil-Malmaison.

A portrait of Hortense hangs at Ash Lawn-Highland, the Virginia plantation home of James Monroe, 5th President of the United States. It was one of three portraits given by Hortense to Monroe's daughter Eliza, who went to school with Hortense in France. (The other two portraits are of Hortense's brother Eugène de Beauharnais and of Madame Campan, the headmistress of the school attended by Hortense and Eliza). Eliza's daughter, Hortensia Monroe Hay was named in honour of Hortense.

See also

  • Epton, Nina. Josephine: The Empress and her Children, Norton, London, 1976, ISBN 0393075001


  1. ^ Partant pour la Syrie
  2. ^ Mossiker, Frances, Napoleon and Josephine: The Biography of a Marriage, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1964, p. 347, ISBN 1199380784 ISBN 978-1199380784

External links



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