From acclaimed biographer Flora Fraser, the brilliant life of Napoleon's favorite sister, with color photos, paintings, and illustrations.
Considered by many in Europe to be the most beautiful woman at the turn of the nineteenth century, Pauline Bonaparte Borghese shocked the continent with the boldness of her love affairs, her opulent wardrobe and jewels, her decision to pose nearly nude for Canova's sculpture, and her rumored incestuous relationship with her brother, the Emperor Napoleon—the only man to whom she was loyal. When Napoleon was exiled to Elba, Pauline was the only sibling to follow him there, and after the final defeat at Waterloo she begged to join him at Saint Helena.
In Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire, Flora Fraser casts new light on the Napoleonic era and crafts a dynamic, vivid portrait of a mesmerizing woman.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire|
|Release Date: 02-24-2009|
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|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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Pauline Bonaparte: Venus of Empire
Dinner at Marseille, 1796
The story of Pauline Bonaparte, legendary beauty and seductress, begins, appropriately, with a meeting of three men. At dinner in the port of Marseille in the south of France were her elder brother General Napoleon Bonaparte, her fiancé, Citizen Stanislas Fréron, and her future husband, Adjutant General Victor Emmanuel Leclerc. According to the Gregorian calendar it was March 22, 1796. But that annual register had been suppressed, and, according to the Revolutionary calendar, which the national government had instituted with effect from September 1792, the day was 2 Germinal, Year Four.
We have no record of what Pauline Bonaparte herself was doing on that day in Marseille. Fifteen years old, with her widowed mother, Letizia, and others of her siblings she had been an inhabitant of the south of France since dramatic events had caused them to flee their native Corsica. The island was in the throes of a struggle for independence backed in its early stages by members of the Bonaparte family. Latterly Napoleon and his brothers had supported the French Revolution, an adherence that had brought them into conflict with Corsican patriots. The family had settled first at Toulon and then in Marseille in 1793.
Nor indeed until shortly before this dinner do we have much reliable information about Pauline’s individual life. Her birth on October 20, 1780—she was the sixth of eight children—was recorded by her father, Charles, in his livre de raison, or commonplace book, which survives him. (He died when she was four.) The date of her baptism the next day in the small cathedral of Ajaccio in Corsica—Archdeacon Luciano Bonaparte, her...