22.07.

1832: What Happened to the only Legitimate Son of Napoleon Bonaparte?

1832: What Happened to the only Legitimate Son of Napoleon Bonaparte?
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 22 July 1832
  • Napoleon II was the son and successor of Emperor Napoleon. His mother was Austrian Archduchess Maria Luisa. It is interesting that when Napoleon abdicated, he officially acknowledged his son as successor of his throne, so Napoleon II nominally became Emperor of the French (Empereur des Français).

On this day the only legitimate descendant of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, his son Napoleon II, born by the Austrian Archduchess Maria Luisa, died.

Napoleon II was born in 1811, and his father was awarded the title of “King of Rome”(Roi de Rome). However, Napoleon soon suffered defeat and was forced to abdicate when the boy was only three years old.

It is interesting that when Napoleon abdicated, he officially acknowledged his son as the successor to his throne, so Napoleon II nominally became Emperor of the French (Empereur des Français). However, this was of no great significance, because such a small boy had no real power.

After the defeat of Napoleon, Maria Luisa took her son to Vienna (her father was the Emperor of Austria). The boy grew up in Austria, and he was called Franz (it was a German form of his second name François), probably to remove the memory of his father.

He was deprived of titles of King of Rome and Emperor of the French, but his grandfather (the Emperor of Austria) awarded him the title of Duke of Reichstadt in return. This title referred to the town Reichstadt in Bohemia, which is now called Zákupy, and is located in the Czech north, near the border between Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland.

At the time his father died in captivity on St. Helena, Napoleon II was only 10 years old. It is interesting that he never visited the town of Reichstadt.

Napoleon II died on this day at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, at the age of only 21 years. The cause of death at such an early age was apparently tuberculosis.

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