Famous Family History Napoleon Bonaparte Children Part 2

About the family of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, biography and history of his children.


NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821), French emperor

Alexandre Florian Joseph Colonna Walewski was born on May 4, 1810, at Walewice Castle, Poland. He was publicly recognized as Napoleon's son and given a title and handsome settlement. He was also protected by the old nobleman, and he lived a happy childhood in Poland with visits to Paris. Shortly after his fifth birthday he was taken, along with his half brother Leon, to Malmaison to say good-bye to their father for the last time. Comte Alexandre lived mostly in Poland, but when Napoleon III came to power he returned to France and became minister for foreign affairs. He married a beautiful Florentine, Marie-Anne, who claimed descent from Machiavelli. When Napoleon's will drawn at St. Helena was finally executed in 1857, he was the prime beneficiary. He lived, like his half brother Leon, extravagantly. He died in 1868.

Napoleon's only other offspring was the son of plump Marie-Louise of Austria, whom he married in April, 1810, after having repudiated Josephine. The boy's birth was as eagerly anticipated as that of Henry VIII's son, Edward. A layette that included 42 dozen diapers, 26 dozen nightgowns, and 12 dozen nightcaps trimmed with Brussels lace had been prepared; his governess had been selected; and two deputy governesses, three children's nurses, three cradle rockers, two mistresses of the wardrobe, and two maids were held in readiness. The 101-gun salute--it would have been only 21 guns if it had been a girl--began to thunder on Mar. 20, 1811, to the wild excitement of the Parisian populace. Napoleon Francois Charles Joseph, titular king of Rome, was born.

Because this son was his legitimate heir, Napoleon adored this child above all else. But three years after his birth the empire to which he was heir collapsed, and after Napoleon's abdication his mother took him with her back to Austria where his grandfather, Francis I, took sole charge of the boy. His title King of Rome was replaced by that of Duke of Reichstadt. His tutors received instructions that he was to forget his father, but he knew who he was, and he is said to have wept bitterly at news of Napoleon's death. Napoleon, for his part, had written from St. Helena: "I should wish my son never to forget that he was born a French prince, and never to allow himself to become an instrument in the hands of the triumvirs who are oppressing the peoples of Europe." The boy never had much chance. He became a captain in a Tyrolean regiment, then a colonel, but his health was not good. The Bonapartists continued to place their distant hopes in him, but to no avail. "I die prematurely," Napoleon had written on his deathbed, but in truth it was his son who did so, at age 21 of tuberculosis.

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