Saturday, May 15, 2010

Napoléon and Marie-Louise

Madame Delors discusses an exhibition dedicated to the Austrian archduchess who was the niece of Marie Antoinette as well as the cousin of Madame Royale.
In 1810 Napoléon was freshly divorced from Joséphine, who had been unable to produce an heir. He was intent on founding a dynasty. This prestigious union with a Habsburg princess was also designed to comfort his legitimacy in the eyes of the French and indeed all of Europe. His new bride was twice, though her father, Emperor Francis II and her mother, Maria Teresa of Naples, grand-niece of Marie-Antoinette.
And in 1770 a fourteen-year Archduchess Marie-Antoinette had been greeted at Compiègne by Louis XV and her fiancé, the Dauphin Louis-Auguste, future Louis XVI. Now, forty years later, Napoléon wanted to proclaim himself the equal of the Bourbons by meeting a bride of the same bloodline in the same palace.
No expense or effort had been spared to impress Marie-Louise and make her stay delightful. The  palace of Compiègne had been extensively redecorated for the occasion, works of art, chosen for their themes of love and fecundity, brought in from the Louvre, and furniture made to order for the arrival of the new Empress.

Napoléon is reported to have said that he was marrying un ventre, “a belly.” Marshall Berthier, dispatched to Vienna to bring the Archduchess to France, wrote his master, anxious to hear about her allurements, that Marie-Louise, “without being a pretty woman,” had “everything needed to make Your Majesty happy."
As for Marie-Louise, she had been terrified and repulsed at the idea of marrying the boogieman of Europe,  and considered herself a sacrifice. But Napoléon was immediately charmed by her, and would know in turn how to charm her. One of the secrets of his grip on power was his personal charisma. (Read More.)
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8 comments:

Matterhorn said...

Unfortunately, I keep getting a strange security threat warning when I try to click the link.

elena maria vidal said...

Really? Someone had better tell Catherine.....

Dymphna said...

When I went to the link my antivirus system went crazy.

elena maria vidal said...

Oh, no.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I can read it! =)

I found the last thought very heartbreaking: "What politics had joined together, politics put asunder." Yes, it's very true, but Napoleon, Marie-Louise, and Josephine were real people with feelings and hopes and dreams; and even if they were able to distance themselves a little from their own personal lives, see the bigger picture, and do what they needed to do for the greater good, it clearly cost them all a great deal.

Leah Marie Brown said...

A fantastic post Elena Maria! I just finished writing an article for a magazine about Odiot, who made the King of Rome's cradle. Truly magnificent piece. I found a photograph of it online and thought you might like to see it, if you haven't already.

http://www.georgianindex.net/Napoleon/king_rome/kr_cradle.html

It is difficult for me to think about Napoleon being married to Marie-Louise for I am always filled with such sadness for Josephine (hence my recent post).

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you for the link, I look forward to reading your article....

Matterhorn said...

I also think Leopold I of Belgium and Louise of Orleans were married at Compiegne...