Ancient history

Bonaparte, Jerome

King of Westphalia (Ajaccio, November 15, 1784 - Massy, ​​Essonne, June 24, 1860).

Jérôme Bonaparte, whose real name is Girolamo di Buonaparte, was born on November 9, 1784 in Ajaccio (Corsica) and died on June 24, 1860 at the Château de Villegénis (Seine-et-Oise) (nowadays Massy), son of Charles-Marie Buonaparte and Maria-Létizia Ramolino, is Napoleon's younger brother. He is Prince Jerome.

He was only nine years old when in 1793, his family took refuge in France, following his political banishment from Corsica.

On leaving the college of Juilly, where he studied, he entered the navy in January 1800, where, the following year, he obtained the rank of lieutenant. His brother-in-law, General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc, took him to Santo Domingo. He took part in the Santo Domingo expedition and was sent back shortly afterwards by Leclerc, with important dispatches for the First Consul.

His mission fulfilled, Jérôme, who was in command of the frigate l'Epervier, left immediately for Martinique, and, at the end of 1802, following the resumption of hostilities between France and England, he was ordered to establish a cruise in front of the bay of Saint-Pierre and the island of Tobago.

A few months later, forced by enemy forces to cease his surveillance, he retired to New York, where he married in 1803, although a minor and without the consent of his family, Elizabeth Patterson, daughter of a merchant from Baltimore. This marriage, like that of Lucien, displeased Napoleon who, despite the pain and resistance of Jérôme, tenderly attached to his wife, from whom he had a son, had it broken up on the grounds of minority.

In 1805 he returned to France and several times ran the risk of being kidnapped by the English during the crossing.

The Emperor immediately instructed him to go to Algiers to buy back 250 Genoese that the Dey of Algiers was holding in slavery.

Following this mission, which he fulfilled successfully, he was elevated to the rank of captain. From the command of a vessel of 74, the Veteran, with a good second to help him, the future Admiral Halgan, he passed to the command of a squadron of eight vessels of the line which he led, in 1806, to Martinique . In August, a strong gust of wind dispersed the buildings, Mr. Jérôme took the opportunity to leave the squadron without warning his superior, Admiral Willaumez and returned to France. Pursued by the English to the Glénans, saved by his pilot Jean Marie Furic, he manages to take refuge in Concarneau where the Veteran will stay for three years.

That same year, he was named rear-admiral, French prince, with an annuity of one million, decorated with the Grand-Aigle de la Légion d'Honneur and regained his place in the order of family heredity.

In 1807, he left the sea service to take command of an army corps of Bavarians and Wurtemburgers, at the head of which he took Silesia from the King of Prussia, a success which earned him the rank of general of division. , three months after the Peace of Tilsitt.

In August 1807, Jérôme married Princess Catherine of Württemberg, daughter of Frederick I of Württemberg, and six days later he was created King of Westphalia. The various powers recognized this new monarch, who at the same time received from Emperor Alexander I of Russia the decoration of the Order of Saint Andrew of Russia.

King Jerome was then twenty-five years old and all the ardor of youth. Proud of his brother's position and his own, he often lacks moderation and prudence in the choice of his friends. Expensive and frivolous, he multiplies mistresses. The queen, known as "The Turkey of Whestpahlie", closes her eyes because she adores her husband, whom she nicknames Fifi... Her ministers Beugnot and Reinhart, appointed by Napoleon to run the business, cannot reason with him. Soon "the king will find his treasury exhausted, his subjects overwhelmed, his ministers desolate, credit annihilated, resources devoured in advance"... Napoleon expressed himself on his account at Île Sainte-Hélène with some severity, rightly...

The one called "Koenig Loustig" established his residence in Cassel, introduced French institutions into his kingdom and abolished many abuses. He was beginning to add to this understanding of public affairs, when political events returned the prince to a private life. As a member of the Confederation of the Rhine, Jerome wants his army. It is General Eblé, the future hero of the Bérézina who carries out the enterprise where we find the Norman General Allix, who has become a Westphalian divisional.

The King of Westphalia made the Russian campaign of 1812 at the head of a German division which distinguished itself in the battles of Ostrowno and Mohilev. Unfortunately, following an unfortunate conflict with Marshal Louis Nicolas Davout, he allowed himself to be surprised at Smolensk, thus letting the Russian General Bagration escape. A disastrous fault that caused him to be demoted under the orders of Marshal Davout. Annoyed, Jérôme leaves the army without warning, which will cause delays in the movements and returns to Cassel. Napoleon furious, says that the king is sick...

The disasters of 1812 and 1813 forced Jerome to leave his kingdom. The princess his wife did not leave him in the days of adversity and accompanied him to Paris; but, in March 1814, the couple had to separate, Jérôme to join the Empress Marie-Louise of Austria in Blois, and the queen to return to her father's estates. It was while leaving Paris, a short distance from this capital, at Fossard, on the road to Fontainebleau, that she was attacked by an armed band commanded by a former Chouan, the Marquis de Maubreuil, who had been part of his house as a squire in Cassel. The princess lost her diamonds, her money and her most precious effects, which were taken from her. Catherine showed, on this occasion, that she was not so "turkey" by remembering that she was the cousin of the Tsar, she alerted Alexander I, then master of Paris. He immediately had the crooks searched for by Baron Vitrolles and found a large part of the loot.

After the Emperor's abdication in 1814, Jérôme returned to the court of Württemberg. He was in Trieste with his wife when news of the March 20 event brought him back to Paris. He had obtained from Joachim Murat a frigate on which he managed to embark secretly. He attended the ceremony of the Champ-de-Mai on June 1]], and on June 2, he sat among the Peers.

Marshal Davout, Minister of War, who cordially hates him, does not give him a command. Jérôme followed Napoleon to Belgium, authorized to march with General Guilleminot, who commanded the 6th Infantry Division of General Reille's 1st Corps. He displayed the greatest bravery at Quatre-Bras, but two days later, at Waterloo, he who had never been able to command a company, exceeded orders in the wood of Hougoumont. It is a disaster where his division will be misused all day and decimated. Without artillery preparation, he twice overthrew the elite of the English troops, who, protected by a fortified castle where they had established themselves, were making a deadly fire. Finally he remained master of the wood after being wounded in the arm. This business in the battle was expensive. It was only planned a fixation point on this wood of Hougomont and Jérôme having misunderstood, engaged the whole body of General Reille, who subsequently missed.

After the Battle of Waterloo, he reached Avesnes where he united the remnants of the army and then regrouped them under Laon. Marshal Grouchy, who had retired well from Namur, joined him and they headed for Soissons...

After the second abdication, Jérôme secretly left the capital on June 27 and managed, not without difficulty, after having wandered for a long time in Switzerland and France, to join his wife who had taken refuge with her father. He obtained the castle of Ellwangen from the latter, but on the condition of not moving away from it and not keeping any French in his service.

In July 1816, the King of Württemberg conferred on his son-in-law the title of Prince de Montfort, by which he was long known. He authorized him, in the following August, to go with his wife and children, a son and a daughter, to the castle of Bimbourg, near Vienna, to see his sister Caroline, widow of King Murat. From that time until his return to France, Jérôme resided alternately in a castle near Vienna and in Trieste.

Jérôme Bonaparte returned to France following the events of February 1848, lived for some time in retirement, in Paris, in an apartment located at rue d'Alger, 3. The ever-increasing popularity of his nephew, Prince Louis Napoleon, forced him with a lot of reserve to give less umbrage to the government of the time. This state ceased on the nomination of Louis to the presidency, by six million votes. Jérôme received on December 23, 1848, his appointment as Governor General of the Invalides and that of Marshal of France on January 1, 1850.

He was successively appointed President of the Senate (1851), and was reinstated, after the restoration of the Empire, in the title and honors of Prince Imperial (1852).

His body was deposited at the Invalides alongside that of Napoleon.

His Memoirs and Correspondence were published in 1863.


* In 1803, on December 24 in Baltimore (United States), he married Elisabeth Paterson (1785-1879), without Napoleon's consent. By imperial decree of March 11, 1805, the marriage was declared null and the child was born from this illegitimate union, because contracted abroad and without family authorization. Son born of this union:Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte (1805-1870)).
* In 1807, on August 22 in Paris (France), he married Princess Catherine of Württemberg (1783-1835) daughter of Frederick I King of Württemberg. They had five children including:

* Jérôme-Napoléon-Charles Bonaparte born August 24, 1814 in Trieste, was a colonel in the army of Württemberg and died in 1847 in Florence.
* Napoléon-Jérôme-Joseph-Charles Bonaparte (1822 -1891) said "Prince Napoleon" who married in 1849 Clotilde de Savoie (1843-1911) daughter of Victor-Emmanuel II King of Italy
* Mathilde-Létizia Bonaparte (1820-1904) known as "Princess Mathilde", married in 1840 Anatole Demidoff, Prince of San Donato (1813-1870); they separated in 1847.

* Jérôme Bonaparte married in 1840 the marquise Justine Percoli (1811-1903) for the first time religiously in Florence, then civilly on January 19, 1853 in Paris, marriage kept secret.

The current eldest of the Bonapartes is Charles Napoléon (1950-...) son of Louis Napoléon (1914-1997) and Alix de Foresta (1926-...).

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