Famous Family History Napoleon Bonaparte Children Part 1
About the family of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, biography and history of his children.
ROOTS AND FRUITS: A FOREST OF FAMILY TREES
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821), French emperor
His Fruits: Napoleon's fruits were less numerous than his parents' had been, and less happy. When he married the beautiful Creole widow Josephine de Beauharnais, he adopted her two children, Eugene and Hortense. He was extremely fond of them both. When he was creating satellite kingdoms for his brothers and sisters, he made Eugene Duke of Leuchtenberg, a role he performed well, and elevated Hortense to Queen of Holland after marrying her to his brother Louis. Napoleon had been passionately in love with Josephine, at least at the beginning, but passion does not insure procreation, and since he had proof of his wife's fertility there under his roof, he assumed the incapacity to be his own. He was therefore delighted to receive word that his sister Caroline's young lady-in-waiting, with whom he had carried on an intimate, if short-lived relationship during the late winter and early spring of 1806, had the following December produced a son. He was called Leon, and Napoleon chose as his surname Macon after his friend Gen. Pierre Macon, who had died at Leipzig two months before and was therefore not available to deny parentage.
Napoleon acknowledged Leon as his son, even though he was not all that sure of the monogamous habits of the boy's mother. Leon led an unhappy childhood, separated from his mother and shifted from one nurse to another and then from one boarding school to the next. A settlement was fixed on him and he was liberally supplied with cash during his childhood, but much of that ended with his father's exile. Comte Leon, as he was then known, was extravagant, and by the time he was 30 he was in and out of debtors' prison and the courts, pressing claims for funds. In court his physical resemblance to his father always drew great crowds. He eventually married Francoise "Fanny" Junot, with whom he already had three sons and would soon have a daughter. He continued to live well beyond the pension supplied him by Emperor Louis Napoleon, whom he followed into exile in England. There the family lived on the sale of various family relics to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum before returning to France, where at the age of 74 he, too, died of stomach cancer.
Napoleon's second son was the result of his love affair with a Polish countess, Marie Walewska, the beautiful young wife of an aged nobleman, who was persuaded to become the emperor's mistress after promises to restore the Polish state. The promises were never kept, but she came to love him anyway, and he was very fond of her, calling her his "Polish wife." He was delighted at news of her pregnancy. It offered even more convincing proof of his own fertility and provided the prime instigation for his divorce from Josephine.
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