Saturday, June 4, 2016

Josephine and Marie-Louise: What Did They Think of Each Other?

 From Shannon Selin:
While Josephine was willing to cultivate cordial relations with Marie Louise, the latter was not about to reciprocate. Marie Louise (b. December 12, 1791) was only 18 when she married Napoleon (he was then 40), and she was jealous of her predecessor. Though Napoleon hoped he could introduce his two wives, it was not to be.
‘I wished one day to take [Marie Louise] to Malmaison,’ said the Emperor, ‘but she burst into tears when I made the proposal. She said she did not object to my visiting Josephine, only she did not wish to know it. But whenever she suspected my intention of going to Malmaison, there was no stratagem which she did not employ for the sake of annoying me. She never left me; and as these visits seemed to vex her exceedingly, I did violence to my own feelings and scarcely ever went to Malmaison. Still, however, when I did happen to go, I was sure to encounter a flood of tears and a multitude of contrivances of every kind.’ (3)
Marie Louise’s anxiety made it hard for Napoleon to accede to Josephine’s wish to see his son. The meeting took place in secret, at the Château de Bagatelle, a small royal palace in the Bois de Boulogne near Paris. Madame de Montesquiou, the King of Rome’s governess, brought the young prince.
This was unknown to Empress Marie Louise, who was animated by a feeling of jealousy based on fear of the influence that a woman he had greatly loved could have on the mind of her husband. The excellent princess [Josephine] could not restrain her tears at the sight of a child who reminded her of painful memories and the deprivation of a happiness Heaven had refused her; she kissed him with emotion; she seemed to revel in the illusion produced by the thought that she lavished her caresses on her own child; she never ceased to admire his strength and his grace, and could not detach herself from him. The times during which she held him on her lap seemed to her very short. (4)
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