Hortense Beauharnais

(Hortense Bonaparte)


Hortense de Beauharnais, later Hortense Bonaparte, played a large role in the reigning French family of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The step-daughter of Napoleon by his first wife, she married his brother Louis and became the mother of Napoleon III, the last emperor of the French.

Born in Paris, the younger sister of Eugene de Beauharnais lost her father to the instigators of the French Revolution and their deadly guillotine. Her mother married Napoleon two years later, and Hortense was educated alongside Napoleonís youngest sister. She became an accomplished amateur musical composer, and she provided lively anthems during her stepfatherís marches. At Napoleonís request, Hortense married Louis Bonaparte and became queen of Holland, a move that dissatisfied her because it removed her from the Parisian court and forced her nearer her husband, whom she disliked. She did come to enjoy the kingdom, however, and she traveled throughout the countryside, greeting her subjects. Still, she felt like a prisoner while shut away in her palace with her unloving husband, and after her sonís death in 1807 she requested leave to visit France. She continued to live in Paris until Napoleonís second marriage forced her out of the city and back to the Netherlands. She was allowed to leave again after her health began to fail, and this time she did not return. The Netherlands were annexed in 1810, but Hortenseís husband Louis remained in the country for three more years, until he finally admitted defeat and returned to France.

Hortense was banished from France following Napoleonís final defeat, and she traveled to Germany and Italy before settling in a chateau in Switzerland. There she lived until her death at the age of fifty-four. She was buried next to her mother Josephine.

Key events during the life of Hortense de Beauharnais:

Father was executed during the Reign of Terror
Mother married Napoleon Bonaparte
Married Louis Bonaparte
Moved to Holland after her husband was appointed king
Death of her eldest son
Gave birth to the future Napoleon III
Left the Netherlands and moved back to France
Forced out of France following Napoleon's final defeat
Died in Switzerland

Book Links
Hortense  by  John S. C. Abbott

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Hortense and Duroc  in  Hortense  by  John S. C. Abbott

Image Links

Hortense Bonarparte
 in Hortense

The Love Letter
 in Hortense

The Little Prince Charles Napoleon
 in Hortense

The DivorceAannounced
 in Hortense

Hortense and her Children
 in Hortense

Hortense at Arenberg
 in Hortense

Interview in the Coliseum
 in Hortense

Short Biography
Eugene de Beauharnais Stepson of Napoleon, who accompanied him on all his early campaigns. Later Prince of Italy.
General Janssens Dutch General who surrendered Cape Town to the British after the Battle of Blaauwberg.
Napoleon Victorious general who rose to power during the French Revolution. Crowned himself Emperor and restored France to greatness.
Josephine Beauharnais Aristocratic wife of Napoloeon Bonaparte.
Louis Bonaparte Brother of Napoleon. Appointed King of Holland during Napoleonic Wars.