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Napoleon Bonaparte’s Marriage Annulled

January 10, 2022

Napoleon Bonaparte was married twice. His first wife was Josephine de Beauharnais, while his second wife was Marie-Louise of Austria. However, Napoleon didn’t get remarried because Josephine had died. Instead, the two had a divorce on January 10 of 1810, which cleared the way for Napoleon’s second marriage to a Habsburg-Lorraine princess.

Generally speaking, it is agreed that Napoleon loved Josephine. After all, she was an older widow who had been the mistress of multiple individuals before becoming Napoleon’s mistress. On top of that, Josephine had already had two children – a son named Eugene and a daughter named Hortense. As such, Napoleon’s family was less than enthused by the marriage, particularly since his mother and his sisters felt unsophisticated in comparison.

The two had plenty of issues between themselves over the course of their relationship as well. For example, Josephine is known to have taken a lover just a short while after their marriage, which prompted Napoleon to start taking lovers of his own. One such lover caused a serious breach in their relationship just a short while before their coronation as Emperor and Empress, though that was repaired by the intervention of Josephine’s daughter Hortense.

Unfortunately, their relationship couldn’t survive its childlessness. The tipping point came when Napoleon’s nephew and Josephine’s grandson Napoleon Charles Bonaparte died of croup in 1807, which was important because said child had been declared Napoleon’s heir. As such, the Emperor started looking for a younger replacement. On January 10 of 1810, he and Josephine divorced; on March 11 of 1810, he married Marie-Louise of Austria by proxy. 

Even so, Napoleon and his ex-wife seemed to have remained on good terms, as shown by his very unusual insistence that she retain the title of Empress.


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