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Monday, July 14, 2014

Napoleon and Josephine

Le quatorze juillet, the storming of the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789, was a rallying point and a symbolic act of defiance, pivotal to the start of the French Revolution. Born in 1763 and married at the age of 16, Marie Josephine Rose Tascher de La Pagerie survived the Reign of Terror, imprisonment, and the execution of her husband, Alexander.

Now a widow, Josephine became the mistress of many powerful men including General Napoleon Bonaparte. Six years her junior, Napoleon's ardor for Josephine has been made famous by a collection of his love letters to her.

The couple was married on March 9, 1796. Two days after the wedding Napoleon left to lead the French army in Italy. Unfortunately Josephine wasted no time in beginning an affair with a handsome, young lieutenant.

Her affair led to Napoleon's own affair and the marriage began its decline, ending in divorce in 1810. Despite a tumultuous relationship in turbulent times, Josephine and Napoleon remained on good terms until their deaths.

He is reported to have once said that the only thing that came between them were Josephine's debts.

Her name was among Napoleon's final words when he died in exile on St. Helena in 1821.