Thursday, April 9, 2009
Le Jeudi de Josephine: Hortense
The beautiful Hortense was born in Paris on April 10, 1783. She was the daughter, and second child of (Josephine) Rose Tascher de la Pagerie (Bonaparte) and Alexandre Vicomte de Beauharnais. Josephine and Alexandre separated just a little while after her birth. The separation caused her to be away from her brother, Eugene, most of the time.
Let’s just say that her childhood was not a very happy one. Hortense and Eugene had to live through the terror of having their parents imprisoned during the French Revolution. Her father met his tragic end by ways of the guillotine, while Josephine was spared and later released. When she made it back to her children, who had lived their lives in misery by scourging the streets for most of the time, she had changed; she was poor and widowed and had to get her life back together for the sake of her children.
Josephine met Napoleon two years later. When he asked her in marriage, Hortense was not amused. She did not like Bonaparte and was jealous of his time with her mother. She eventually warmed up to him and became a loving and caring daughter. Hortense attended Madame Campan’s at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. She was educated in languages, acting, and dancing. She was extremely talented especially at playing the piano and the harp.
When she became of age to be married, Louis Bonaparte, Maopoleon’s younger brother was presented to her. It took her some time to make up her mind; and when she did finally accept, it seemed to have been more to please her mother and Napoleon rather than herself. The marriage was not a happy one, with Louis being fanatically jealous; this suffocated Hortense nand rendered her extremely miserable in her marriage.
When Napoleon and Josephine became Emperor and Empress, Hortense and Louis were crowned Queen and King of Holland. The marriage produced three boys; the first son, who was the hiooeful Napoleon heir to the crown, suddenly died from an illness when he was about five years-old. This was a shock for Hortense. She became ill with depression and was literally unable to speak or react for months.
She was sent to a spa in the French Pyrenees to try to recover from this devastating pain. King Louis met her for a reconciliation- which brought forth the birth of their third son. From his intense jealousy, Louis never believed the baby to be his own. The couple finally split up during the time of Napoleon’s exile to Elba. And, it was during this period that she fell in love with Charles de Flahaut.
When Npaoleon escaped from exile to reclaim his throne, Josephine had already passed away, but Hortense was dutifully by her step-father’s side. At the time of his eventual fall and exile to St. Helena, Hortense left France for she had been on the side of the usurper; having noone left for her to rely on , she escaped with both her sons…and also, pregnant by Charles de Flahaut.
While exiled in Switzerland, Hortense began to write her memoirs. She once again took up the arts and composed music, published her romances and drew and painted. Many illustrious artists, such as Alexandre Dumas, Franz Liszt and Lord Byron visited the exiled Queen. In 1837, la ‘Reine d’Hollande’ died from cancer at 54 years-old. Her youngest legitimate son became Napoleon III and chose a piece composed by his mother, to be the national hymn: Partir pour la Syrie.
For more wonderful pictures of Hortense please see: My Napoleon Obsession.
For a more in-depth read, please see: http://www.theroyalarticles.com
Here is a video of Hortense's "Partir pour la Syrie"
Posted by Lucy at 6:00 PM