- historical event:
- Napoleon arranged his sister’s marriage to revolutionary General Leclerc when she was only 16. She gave birth to her first child before she turned 18.
Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon’s younger sister, was born on this day in 1780. She was around 11 years younger than him, so that she was only 12 when he became a general in the French army. When she was 16, Napoleon arranged for her to be married to his colleague, revolutionary General Leclerc. She gave birth to her first child before she turned 18.
When Napoleon took power in France as First Consul, he appointed General Leclerc to the position of Governor-General of Haiti (at that time a French colony called Saint-Domingue). The General and his young wife, only 21 at the time, boarded a ship and, together with a fleet of 74 ships, went to Haiti and took command of the local colonial authorities.
Thus the couple ruled Haiti in a similar manner to how Napoleon and Josephine ruled in Paris. However, General Leclerc died of Yellow Fever, which was then relatively common in the tropics. Soon after his death, Pauline crossed the Atlantic and returned to France. She was widowed at only 22 years of age.
Napoleon therefore found her a new husband, Camillo Borghese, the Prince of Rome, most likely to strengthen his bonds with Italy. Pauline and Prince Camillo married less than a year after the death of her previous husband, when she was still supposed to be in mourning.
After Napoleon took on the title of Emperor, he declared Pauline the sovereign Princess of Guastalla, a tiny Italian statelet on the River Po. Pauline soon sold the statelet for six million francs, keeping only her title.
After the fall of Napoleon, Pauline treated him better than any of his other brothers and sisters. She was the only one among them who visited him on the island of Elba. Later, she moved to Rome and lived under the pope’s protection, as did some other members of her family (e.g. Napoleon’s mother Letizia). Pauline Bonaparte-Borghese died from tuberculosis, aged 44.