1796: Napoleon’s Wife Josephine was not Born in Europe

1796: Napoleon’s Wife Josephine was not Born in Europe
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 9. March 1796
  • She was born on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, on the Caribbean island of Martinique, in a family that owned a sugarcane plantation there.

Napoleon’s first wife Josephine Beauharnais was not born in Europe, but in the Caribbean, specifically on the island of Martinique, in a wealthy family that owned a sugarcane plantation.

When she was 16 years old, Josephine was married a wealthy nobleman, Vicomte Alexandre de Beauharnais, who was the son of the governor of Martinique. It was an arranged marriage and Josephine moved to join her husband in France.

During the French Revolution Josephine’s first husband was named general-in-chief of the Army of the Rhine. They had two children – a son named Eugene (whom Napoleon later appointed for the Viceroy of Italy) and a daughter named Hortense (who married Napoleon’s brother).

With the arrival of revolutionary terror, Josephine’s first husband was executed on the guillotine, because he allegedly defended the country poorly.

The young widow met Napoleon in 1795, when she was 32 years old, and he was only 26. They became lovers, and the following year Napoleon proposed to her and they were married on this day in 1796 in a civil ceremony.

Napoleon’s love was passionate, as can be seen from his letters to Josephine, many of which have been preserved to this day.

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