Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Palace of the King of Rome

From Shannon Selin:
In addition to bridges and other practical improvements to Paris’s infrastructure, Napoleon Bonaparte built a number of monuments intended to be a lasting testament to the glory of the imperial regime. The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was finished in 1808; the Vendôme column was completed in 1810; the foundations of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile were started in 1806. When Napoleon was in exile on St. Helena, he said:
It was the constant subject of my thoughts to render Paris the real capital of Europe. I sometimes wished it, for instance, to become a city with a population of two, three, or four millions, in short, something fabulous, colossal, unexampled until our days, and with public establishments suitable to its population…. Had Heaven but granted me twenty years, and a little more leisure, ancient Paris would have been sought for in vain; not a trace of it would have been left and I should have changed the face of France. (1)
Napoleon’s marriage in 1810 to Marie Louise, a Habsburg princess, strengthened his desire to rival the grandeur of other European courts. When Marie Louise became pregnant, Napoleon commissioned the architects Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine to design a palace for his unborn child. Percier and Fontaine had worked on Malmaison, the Louvre, the Tuileries Palace, Fontainebleau, the Château de Saint-Cloud, and many other projects for Napoleon. According to Percier and Fontaine:
Napoleon examined, in the presence of several great figures of his court, our plans relative to the new palace. Each one gave his advice and all, except Marshal Duroc, had repeated in almost the same terms what the master had said. ‘And you, Madame,’ said the Emperor, turning towards Empress Marie Louise, his new wife, ‘what do you think?’ ‘I do not know anything,’ the Empress responded modestly, excusing herself. ‘Do not be afraid,’ replied the Emperor. ‘Speak, they know even less than you and I have not committed to do or to believe anything they say. Your opinion is necessary to me; it concerns the palace where our son will live.’ The Empress examined the plans and made some judicious observations, which everyone hastened to applaud. The Empress was pregnant, and four months later she gave birth to the King of Rome. (2)
In January 1811, 20 million francs were allocated for the palace’s construction. When Napoleon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte, also known as the King of Rome, Napoleon II or the Duke of Reichstadt, was born on March 20, 1811, work had already begun. (Read more.)


julygirl said...

Had Heaven granted him 20 more years it would have been 20 more years of war!

elena maria vidal said...

So true...