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A Love Story Etched in Roses: Napoleon & Josephine at Château de Malmaison

Recently, the historical and biographical film “Napoleon” directed by Ridley Scott was released. The film was shot extensively at the Château de Mermaison in the suburbs of Paris, France, also known as the Chateau de Rose.

In 1799, Napoleon bought Melmaison Castle as a gift to his lover Josephine. Josephine was particularly fond of this castle, and she hired a large number of plant experts to create a magnificent rose manor. Now, it is a famous scenic spot in France, and the love story behind it is still talked about by people.

meet true love

Josephine was born on June 23, 1763 in Martinique, French West Indies. Her full name was Marie-Rose Joseph Tachy de la Pageli. Her middle name Rose means “rose”, so she has been particularly fond of roses since she was a child. At the age of 16, Josephine married Viscount Alexandre de Beauharnais in place of her late sister.

Beauharnais was born into a noble family and became a lieutenant general who became famous at a young age. He has always been a famous playboy. A few years before their marriage, Beauharnais restrained himself and lived a harmonious life with Josephine. Josephine gave birth to son Eugene and daughter Hortense. However, as time passed, Beauharnais grew tired of the marriage. In 1783, he filed for divorce from Josephine. The reason turned out to be that Josephine was unfaithful and the daughter was not his biological child.

Although Josephine came from a “country” plantation, she was a woman of understanding. Beauharnais was so angry that she found a famous divorce lawyer and won the case. But even if Josephine won the lawsuit, the marriage quickly fell apart. In 1794, during the French Revolution, Beauharnais was sentenced to death for treason. Josephine was also detained and placed with death row prisoners, awaiting execution.

Even though she was on death row, Josephine did not give up. She actively contacted Lambert Talion, the leader of the Thermidorian Party whom she had met at a salon dance, hoping that he could save her. Lambert himself had thoughts about the beautiful Josephine, and his energy exploded under her pleading. He continued to mediate around, finally rescued Josephine, and became Josephine’s guest.

How could Josephine, who had experienced life and death, be willing to live a mediocre life? She needed to find a future for herself and her children. After the French Revolution, Josephine was active in various salons of high society. With her beautiful appearance and extraordinary emotional intelligence, she became friends with many celebrities. Countless upstarts fell under her skirt, but Josephine remained unmoved.

In 1795, Napoleon was promoted to brigadier general and commander of the Paris garrison by virtue of his campaign to suppress the royalists, and he began to emerge in the military and political circles. At this time, he was ambitious and hoped to get the support of more political forces. For this reason, Napoleon began to frequently appear at salon gatherings in France, hoping to make more friends with important figures in the military and political circles. Napoleon was at the height of his popularity and was the center of attention at any gathering. Over time, Josephine also noticed him.

Josephine keenly felt that although Napoleon’s current official position was not high, he had a bright future. She wanted to have a relationship with Napoleon. In the same year, France promulgated a new constitution, which allowed the Paris government to return the previously confiscated weapons and property of the nobles, including Beauharnais’s sword and property. Josephine seized this opportunity and instructed her son Eugene to beg Napoleon, hoping to get Beauharnais’s belongings back. Napoleon did not embarrass the 12-year-old child and readily returned the things to their mother and son.

Josephine dressed up and took her children to thank Napoleon. When the gorgeous Josephine appeared in front of Napoleon, Napoleon fell. He fell in love with Josephine at first sight and pursued her. Napoleon wrote a tender love letter to Josephine every three days to express his love for her, and the two soon fell in love. Although the endless stream of suitors around Josephine often made Napoleon jealous, he also used Josephine’s connections to accelerate his integration into the French upper class and gain the support of many political figures.

In March 1796, Napoleon and Josephine got married. Napoleon specially engraved the word “destiny” on their wedding rings, which meant that he and Josephine would grow old together for the rest of their lives. Two days after the wedding, Napoleon led the French army into Italy. He kept writing to his beloved wife to ease his thoughts: “Every moment, the distance between me and you is getting farther and farther. My dear, every moment, I am thinking of you.” You express love. You are the eternal object of my thoughts.” “You have even taken away my soul; you are the hope in my life.”

In addition to writing letters to express his longing and love, Napoleon also invited Josephine to accompany him on the front lines many times. But Josephine paid no attention to it. Her thoughts were focused on the young and dashing hussar lieutenant Hyppolite Charles. Three months after her wedding, Josephine went to Italy to date Napoleon. In order not to be separated from her lover, she took Hippolyte directly to Milan.

torture each other

In November 1796, when Napoleon arrived at Josephine’s apartment in Milan and found it empty, he became suspicious. Immediately, Napoleon ordered someone to investigate Josephine’s friendship. Soon, he confirmed that his wife was having an affair. He was so angry that his face turned pale and he kept hitting his head with his fists. He even wrote a letter to Josephine to vent his anger: “I no longer love you, on the contrary, I hate you. You are a mean, cruel slut. You don’t write to me at all, you don’t love you s husband……”

Josephine quickly admitted her mistake to Napoleon: “You went off to lead the army just after we got married. I was worried about your situation at home, and no one told me. He happened to appear and soothed my fear. I was just obsessed for a moment, forgive me. ! What I love most is you!” Under Josephine’s fierce attack, Napoleon chose to forgive her. Napoleon was afraid of a recurrence of the past, so he spent a huge sum of money to buy Melmaison Castle as a gift to Josephine.

The couple spent many weekends here thereafter. In the castle, Napoleon dealt with political affairs in the study, while Josephine gardened in the garden or played the harp in the concert hall. At night, the two invited members of the European royal family to enjoy the opera in the castle’s theater.

Perhaps because she was the daughter of a plantation owner, Josephine loved plants and gardening. Melmaison Castle became the place where she realized her ideas. When she had nothing to do, she spent a lot of money to collect beautiful plants from all over the world, and invited botanist Peng Plande to be her personal plant consultant.

Josephine was particularly fond of collecting and growing roses. To this end, she kept in touch with Europe’s most important rose growers and breeders, and built a rose garden in the castle, where she planted all the well-known rose varieties of the time. Every day she would go to the rose garden and pick some beautiful roses and put them in the bedroom and living room.

Napoleon loved houses and flowers, and when he discovered a strange variety of roses, he would have someone buy them for Josephine. Over time, Melmaison Castle became the “Rose Castle”. Napoleon once recalled: “Except on the battlefield of victory, I have never been so happy as when I was in the Rose Garden.” Napoleon’s happiest moment in the Rose Castle was saying good night to Josephine before going to bed and waking up. Good morning. He once wrote to Josephine in the military camp: “How happy it is to be able to dress and dress you in the Rose Castle!”

Although the two of them got along with each other tenderly and affectionately, they could not stop Josephine’s passionate steps. She was still disconnected from her lover Hippolyte. When Napoleon was fighting in Egypt, he once again learned that Josephine and Hippolyte were together. He was extremely angry and even thought of divorce. In October 1799, Napoleon finally returned to Paris and immediately restricted access to Josephine’s residence. He wanted to cut off all contact between Josephine and Hippolyte.

Napoleon said to Josephine: “Even if you want to be with him, you have to wait until we divorce!” Josephine saw that Napoleon wanted a divorce and was unwilling to sit still and wait for death, so she took a pair of children to Napoleon to plead for mercy. After many years of marriage, Napoleon and Josephine had no children. What he loved most was his stepson and stepdaughter. Stepson Eugène and stepdaughter Hortense held Napoleon and cried loudly, telling them about their love and longing for their stepfather. They turned over and over and cried that they did not want to be separated from Napoleon. Josephine also wiped away tears and said: “I promise you to end the relationship with Hippolyte, and I will never contact him again.”

Looking at the crying children and the painful wife, Napoleon softened again. He just asked: “You must cut off all contact with Hippolyte. If it happens again, I will never compromise.” Seeing Napoleon’s softened attitude, Josephine He immediately nodded in agreement and proposed to go to the Rose Castle for vacation with Napoleon. The two once again spent a happy time at the Rose Castle.

Meanwhile, Napoleon wanted to stage a coup to gain control of the country. Josephine used her influence in high society to hold various salons in Rose Castle. Napoleon was strong, Josephine was good at dancing, and their salon became a coveted gathering place for many European dignitaries, politicians, and military officers. Moreover, Josephine liked to send roses from the castle to guests. The Parisian social circle at that time was proud to get the roses newly cultivated by Josephine. Through salon gatherings, Napoleon obtained the political resources he needed.

On November 9, 1799, Napoleon, who had won the support of everyone, launched the Coup of Brumaire and succeeded. It ended the alternation of various terrorist situations since the Great Revolution and became the consul of the First French Republic. Napoleon subsequently carried out a number of major reforms in military administration, education, justice, administration, legislation, and economy. In the third week after the coup, Napoleon solemnly issued a proclamation to the people. He proudly declared: “Citizens, the Revolution has returned to the original intention from which it began. The Revolution is over.”

life and death

After this, the relationship between Napoleon and Josephine eased a lot. They often live together in the Rose Castle, but their lives are also unstable and they face assassinations from time to time.

Once Josephine and Napoleon took two carriages from the Rose Castle to the Opera House to give a speech, and were assassinated on the way. Gunpowder exploded between the two carriages. Napoleon’s carriage did not notice it and drove directly forward, but Josephine’s horse stopped because of fright. In order to ensure safety, the accompanying bodyguards hoped that Josephine would cancel the plan, but Josephine said: “Napoleon has already gone, how could I let him go alone!” She insisted on accompanying Napoleon through all activities. Napoleon was very moved after learning what happened, and their relationship became increasingly stable.

In 1804, after a vote, the French Republic was renamed the French Empire, and Napoleon became the emperor of France. He said to Josephine: “Our wedding was simple, and now I will use the coronation ceremony to make up for you!” He asked France’s top jewelers and high-end tailors to prepare non-stop for several months, using the best jewelry and fabrics to help him get married. Serphine prepares the dress and accessories. Every detail shows Napoleon’s love for Josephine.

At the coronation ceremony on November 6, Napoleon took the crown from the Pope and put it on his and Josephine’s heads personally, which meant “the throne he had fought for” and he became “Emperor of the French” from then on. His move also wanted to declare to the world that his rights were supreme and not under the control of the church at all. He also forwarded the coronation gift given to him by the Pope to Josephine, who kept it in the Castle of the Rose.

After the coronation, Napoleon stayed at the Rose Castle. In order to facilitate his discussions with the ministers, Josephine had to build a new conference room in the Rose Castle. Although she knew that Napoleon was obsessed with her, Josephine was still very anxious because she had never been able to give birth to a child for Napoleon. The issue of heirs became a major concern for Josephine, especially after Napoleon’s lover “Mrs. Poland” gave birth to a child for him.

In order to get pregnant, Josephine often went to a small city in the Vosges Mountains of France for treatment. Each course of treatment required 42 days. Josephine tried every means, but still could not conceive a child.

In June 1806, Napoleon named his brother King of the Netherlands, and Josephine’s daughter Hortense became Queen of the Netherlands. Napoleon was very fond of their eldest son, Charles, and wanted to adopt him into his own name. However, Charles died when he was five years old, and Josephine lost the opportunity to consolidate his position forever.

At that time, Napoleon and Josephine’s marriage had seriously hindered Napoleon’s political and dynastic ambitions. For what he saw as France’s best interests, the marriage had to end.

On November 30, 1809, Napoleon held a grand family gathering. At the party, he said to Josephine: “You know that I once loved you. The only moments of happiness I got in this world were all with you.” Granted. However, my destiny is higher than my will, and my most precious love must give way to the interests of France. The requirements of the country, the consolidation of the dynasty, require that I have a child.”

Josephine fainted on the spot after being notified of the divorce. When she woke up, she cried, made trouble, and hanged herself. Napoleon could not persuade Josephine, so he could only hide and let his stepson Eugène persuade his mother to agree to the divorce.

Eugene said to his mother: “My father was forced to file for divorce. The anti-French alliance is pressing forward step by step. If the emperor has no heir, France’s situation will become very dangerous.” How could Josephine not know that her The situation. She quickly accepted this fact and agreed to divorce.

On December 15, 1809, Napoleon and Josephine held a divorce ceremony at the Tuileries Palace. Napoleon spoke: “She has made my life better in the past 15 years, but she cannot give birth to a legitimate heir and has no way to continue to be the queen of a country. Our Bonaparte family does have a throne to inherit.” Josephine He read out a handwritten statement, which was full of tears: “I admit that now I have no hope of giving birth to an heir for the country and Napoleon.”

Although Napoleon filed for divorce, he still took great care of Josephine. Not only did he help her pay off her original debt of 2 million francs, he also gave her an annual salary of 3 million francs every year and gave her several properties including the Rose Castle. Ownership of the castle and allowed her to hold the title of “Duchess of Navarre”, and the title of queen still remains. Thereafter, Napoleon continued to refer to Josephine as empress, both verbally and in writing. Thus, France had two queens from 1810 to 1814.

After the divorce, Josephine immediately moved to the Rose Castle to live, while Napoleon married the Austrian princess Marie Louise. On March 20, 1811, Marie Louise gave birth to Napoleon’s son, Napoleon II. Louise gave birth to a child, but Napoleon was afraid that Josephine would be sad, so he wrote a letter to tell her: “Eugène is very good, and he won’t let me worry about it.” He said that although he had a biological heir, I Still value your children.

Unlike Napoleon’s worries, Josephine lived a very happy life. The traditional European royal nobles’ hatred of Napoleon was largely transformed into sympathy for Josephine. They believed that Josephine was a victim of Napoleon’s ambition and madness. Driven by sympathy and curiosity, many European dignitaries and celebrities came to the Rose Castle to visit Josephine.

Josephine’s outstanding social talent made her life in the Rose Castle very comfortable. The Russian Tsar Alexander visited her many times at the Rose Castle, and the two often walked in the rose garden together. Josephine gave the Tsar the priceless Gonzaga relief, and Alexander gave her a necklace studded with diamonds. In addition to the Tsar, King Frederick William III of Prussia also took his son to visit Josephine at the Rose Castle. Later, members of the British and German royal families, high-ranking officials and dignitaries came to the Rose Castle to sing, dance and taste fine wine. The salon held by Josephine at the Rose Castle once again became the most lively place in the upper class at that time.

In 1814, Napoleon was forced to abdicate due to his defeat at Leipzig, and the Bourbon dynasty was successfully restored with the support of the anti-French coalition. The unusual tolerance shown by the restored Louis XVIII to Josephine makes people even more admire the latter’s personality charm. The Restoration King’s trustee told Josephine that she could continue to live in the Rose Castle during her lifetime. Unfortunately, Josephine suddenly felt discomfort in her throat on May 25 of that year, and died of diphtheria four days later.

Napoleon received news of her death in the newspapers and cried bitterly: “Josephine is my dearest person.”

On May 5, 1821, Napoleon, who was not yet 52 years old, died of illness on the island of St. Helena. When Napoleon was dying, he was still shouting: “Josephine!”

In 1828, Eugene’s widow sold the Rose Castle to a Swedish banker. After changing hands several times, the castle remained privately owned for a long time. It was not until 1904 that the famous philanthropist Daniel Ifra renovated the castle and donated it to the French government.

Today, the Castle of the Roses is the Napoleonic National Museum and is managed by the National Museums Conference. Here we can see Josephine’s luxurious bedroom, complete with dazzling porcelain and a variety of exotic plants. Walking in the Rose Castle, the image of Josephine slowly comes to life, her breath permeates all corners of the castle, and her history and stories are solidified in the architecture and roses of the castle.

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