Pauline Bonaparte

Pauline Bonaparte


Before Napoleon's rise to power

She was born as Paoletta Bonaparte in Ajaccio, Corsica. She was the sixth surviving child and second surviving daughter of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino.

She was a younger sister of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon I of France, Lucien Bonaparte, Elisa Bonaparte and Louis Bonaparte. She was also an older sister of Caroline Bonaparte and Jérôme Bonaparte.

Her childhood was spent in her native Ajaccio. At the age of thirteen she was involved in the Buonapartes' night-time escape from their home, travelling with her mother and siblings to the French mainland, making a mark on Napoleon's rise to power.

After Napoleon's rise to power

Pauline's numerous love affairs had become an embarrassment. When he caught the two of them having sex, Napoleon had Pauline married to Charles Leclerc, one of his generals. She accompanied Leclerc to Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) in 1802 to remove the general Toussaint Louverture from power.

Pauline continued to have affairs in Saint-Domingue, often with low-ranking soldiers and officers, and later attend her husband during his fatal sickness with yellow fever, which killed him in November 1802.

Napoleon later had Pauline married to a Bonapartist member of the rich Borghese family, Camillo Borghese. After the wedding, Napoleon bought a large part of the Borghese art collection at a discount for the Louvre. During her marriage, Pauline posed for a partially nude sculpture as Venus Victrix by Antonio Canova which now resides at the Galleria Borghese. The marriage was initially passionate but foundered on her affairs and eccentricities such as using ladies-in-waiting for footstools and African slaves to carry her to her bath. Camillo led a separate life, though she did gain the governorship of Piedmont for him from her brother.

After Napoleon's fall

In 1806, Napoleon made his sister sovereign Princess and Duchess of Guastalla. However, she soon sold the Duchy to Parma for six million francs, and keeping only the title of Princess of Guastalla. Pauline fell into temporary disfavor with her brother because of her hostility to Empress Marie Louise, but when Napoleon's fortune failed, Pauline showed herself more loyal than any of his other sisters and brothers.

Upon Napoleon's fall, Pauline liquidated all of her assets into cash, and moved to Elba, using that money to better Napoleon's condition. Pauline was the only Bonaparte sibling to visit her brother during his exile at Elba.

After Waterloo Pauline moved to Rome, where she enjoyed the protection of Pope Pius VII (who once was her brother's prisoner), as did her mother Letizia (then at a palace on the Piazza Venezia) and other members of the Bonaparte family. Pauline lived in a villa near the Porta Pia, that was called Villa Paulina after her and decorated in the Egyptomania style she favoured. Camillo moved to Florence to distance himself from her and had a ten year relationship with a mistress, but even so Pauline persuaded the pope to persuade Camillo to return to her, only three months before her death from cancer. [cite book |last=Majanlahti |first=Anthony |title=The Families Who Made Rome |year=2005 |publisher=Chatto & Windus |location=London |isbn=0701176873 , page 180-1]


External links

* [ Mini-Biography on Pauline Bonaparte]
* [ entry]

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