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Joseph Bonaparte was the older brother of Napoleon I, who made him king of Spain. He served as Spain's king from 1808 to 1813.
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He even attended bullfights. Yet the Spanish people refused to accept Joseph as their leader. In August of 1808, after being king for only three months, he was driven out of the capital.
Joseph Bonaparte pleaded with his brother to allow him to return to Naples, where he felt he could be more effective,
but Napoleon ignored him and sent the French army to reinstate Joseph in power. But his control was nearly nonexistent. Joseph faced indigenous resistance through a guerrilla war. In 1810, Venezuela declared its independence, the first Spanish possession to do so. Over the next two years, Joseph would abdicate the throne on four separate occasions.
In 1815, with his brother incarcerated, Joseph traveled to the United States, where he remained for 17 years. He lived in New York and Philadelphia for a time, eventually settling in New Jersey, where he bought an estate and entertained many of the intellectuals and politicians of his day. In his declining years, Joseph returned to Europe, living first in Genoa and then finally in Florence, where he died on July 28, 1844.
Though Joseph was the brother of one of the most pivotal characters in modern history, his own impact was less than stellar, due in part to living in the shadow and control of his younger sibling. However, the correspondence between himself and Napoleon has given historians great insight into Napoleon's thinking at almost every point in his career.
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