Friday, January 15, 2010


Leslie Carroll, the author of several popular historical books, describes the spectacular country retreat of Josephine and Napoleon. To quote:
No one knows how Malmaison (“bad house”) got its name. The château’s life began as a fief of the Abby of Saint-Denis, and from 1360 to 1763 it remained in the same family. On April 21 1799 the property was purchased by Josephine Bonaparte, the wife of the rising Corsican-born general, Napoleon....

After Josephine was crowned empress of France on December 2, 1804, she rededicated herself to making Malmaison even more her own idyll. A conservatory and garden were added, because Josephine was passionate about flowers, especially roses. And she indulged her passion for collecting art and antiquities.

Although he claimed to have been doing it for France, a purportedly brokenhearted Napoleon divorced Josephine on January 10, 1810 because she had failed to give him an heir. When the ceremony was over and all the documents had been duly executed, Napoleon kissed Josephine and accompanied her to her apartments. Later that day, she visited his rooms, her hair “disordered and her face contorted,” according to Napoleon’s valet Louis Constant. The imperial couple began to weep. “Be brave,” the emperor counseled his now ex-wife, “I will always be your friend.”

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