Joseph Bonaparte

(King of Naples, King of Spain)


Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph Bonaparte was the older brother of Napoleon and one of his closest confidants. Although Joseph nobly upheld the ideals of his brother and did him what service was possible, he was far more idealist, mild mannered, and lacking in vigor. Joseph did his brother great service in the early years of his administration and was an important advisor, but as Napoleon embarked on more military campaigns, and aggressively expanded the size of his realm, the difference in temperment between the brothers became more notable. Napoleon placed his brother first on the throne of Naples and later named him king of Spain. Both positions Joseph accepted reluctantly, and ministered ineffectively. Joseph remains important to historians primarily because the correspondence between himself and Napoleon give great insights into Napoleon's frame of mind at almost every point in his career.

After the death of Napoleon, Joseph remained active among expatriot intellectuals. He remained in exile in the United States until late in life and his home in New Jersey was a center of activity for 'Bonapartist' patriots.

Key events during the life of Joseph Bonaparte:

Older brother of Napoleon, born to a middle class family on Corsica.
Returned to Corsica from study in France, after the death of his father.
Received a law degree after study at the University of Pisa.
Beginning of the French Revolution.
Married the daughter of a wealthy French merchant.
Served in the council of the 500 during the French Revolution.
Appointed ambassador to Parma/Rome by the French directory.
Became involved in diplomatic negotiations resulting in the elevation of his brother Napoleon.
  Minister of Napoleon; governed France while Napoleon campaigned in Germany.
Presented with the crown of Sicily and Naples by Napoleon.
Reluctantly assumes the crown of Spain, in the midst of the Peninsular War.
Retired from Spain in disgrace.
Exiled from France. Took up residence in the United States.

Book Links
Joseph Bonaparte  by  John S. C. Abbott

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Exile and Return of the Spanish Court in  The Romance of Spanish History  by  John S.C. Abbott
King Joseph  in  A Child's History of Spain  by  John Bonner
Joseph Bonaparte—King of Spain  in  South America  by  Hezekiah Butterworth
Spain Under the Bourbons  in  Story of the Greatest Nations: Spain  by  Charles F. Horne

Image Links

Joseph Bonaparte
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Joseph and Napoleon; Tour in Corsica.
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Joseph giving his cloak to his brother Louis
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Cornwallis and Joseph
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Joseph at Malmaison
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Joseph on his Neopolitan Tour
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Joseph receiving the addresses of the Spanish Senate
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Joseph entering Malaga
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Sack of Ciudad Rodrigo
 in Joseph Bonaparte

Short Biography
Napoleon Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
Josephine de Beauharnais Aristocratic wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Ferdinand VII Bourbon king, restored to the throne of France after the Napoleonic Wars, refused to work with liberal constitution.
Julie Clary Daughter of a wealthy French merchant and wife of Joseph Bonaparte.