- NAME: Joséphine de Beauharnais
- OCCUPATION: Empress
- BIRTH DATE: June 23, 1763
- DEATH DATE: May 29, 1814
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Trois-Îlets, Martinique, France
- PLACE OF DEATH: Malmaison, France
- Originally: Marie-Josèphe-Rose Tascher de La Pagerie
- AKA: Vicomtesse (viscountess) de Beauharnais
- AKA: Joséphine Bonaparte
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Joséphine de Beauharnais was a socialite who eventully became General Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife and a French empress.
Napoleon and Josephine (1:16)
Napoleon - Mini Biography (3:35)
Napoleon - Final Exile (2:45)
Napoleon Bonaparte had a tumultuous relationship with his first wife, Josephine. He was madly in love with her and tormented by her affairs while he was away on campaign.
Napoleon would become the most powerful man in the world, but he couldn't control his calculating high society wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769 in France. He revolutionized military organization and training, sponsored Napoleonic Code, reorganized education and established the long-lived Concordat with the papacy. He died in 1821 in St. Helena.
Learn about the final time Napoleon was exiled to the island of St. Helena.
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Word of her activities eventually made their way to Napoleon, who would go into a rage and threaten divorce. Joséphine would successfully deny the accusations, but by the time of their coronation as French emperor and empress on December 2, 1804, the marriage was in shambles. Yet with the encouragement of Joséphine’s daughter, Hortense, the coronation went on as scheduled.
The union remained tempestuous, with each accusing the other of infidelity, and more tension arising with the couple bearing no sons to be heir to the throne. By 1809, Napoleon arranged for the annulment of the marriage, with Joséphine being forced to make way for the emperor’s wedding to a younger Marie-Louise of Austria. Rejected, but extremely well provided for, Joséphine retired to her Malmaison estate. She died in Malmaison, France, on May 29, 1814. She is buried in the nearby church of Saint Pierre-Saint Paul in Rueil. Her beloved and devoted daughter is interred near her.
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Napoleon did not care for Josephine's given name, Rose, so he renamed her Josephine, which she kept for the rest of her life. He proposed in January 1796 and sent her intensely romantic love letters from numerous posts around the world with the French army. Despite rumors of her infidelity and his jealous temperament, Napoleon and Josephine were crowned Emperor and Empress of the French in 1804. The couple divorced in 1810 after her infertility was confirmed, freeing Napoleon to take a wife who could provide an heir. The couple remained on good terms, with Napoleon once saying that the only thing to come between them was her debts.
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