The real name of Josephine was Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie. Josephine Bonaparte came from Martinique in the West Indies and had an independent mind. Her first husband was Alexandre de Beauharnais, and they had two children a son and a daughter. They were separated, and she had to live on her own so, during the French revolution in 1789, Josephine went back to her island of Martinique, to help her family financially. She moved back to France in 1791 because her husband had a promising military career. 1793 and 1794, known as the years of terror, Josephine’s first husband Alexander Beauharnais was one of the best officers in the French Revolution. He was considered to have betrayed the ideals of the French Revolution, so he was sent jail. At that time the wife needs to follow the husband in prison, so Marie Josephe Rose went to jail with her husband.
Then Alexander Beauharnais was beheaded, and she was left a young widow and was finally released from prison. She 31 years old was a now on her own to raise her two children. Marie Josephe Rose was mingling with important political leaders during the French revolution. During this time, Napoleon was ascending through the ranks and was a general at the age of 25. In the fall of 1795 was when Napoleon meets and fell in love with Marie Josephe Rose. Napoleon Bonaparte was six years younger than Marie Josephe Rose but since they both came from an island they had a common bond. She was not as interested in Napoleon but saw it would benefit her since he was rising in the political system.
They married six months later. Each thought they each had wealth and neither of them had any money. Napoleon decided he wanted to call her Josephine since no man before him had called her by this name, now she becomes Josephine Bonaparte.
The mother of Napoleon was not happy with the marriage. The next day after the wedding, Napoleon had to lead his military company in Italy. Their relationship had a lot of drama since she would spend a lot of money always buying things. At the end of 1798 if you are a part of the upper-class society it is nice to have a country house. Now Josephine wanted a country house in this area of Rueil-Malmaison, France since her daughter went to boarding school close by. Josephine found this house but there was a lot of work to fix, and it was too expensive, so Napoleon refused to buy the house for her. After Napoleon went back to his military company, Josephine manages to purchase the house on her own by getting a mortgage from a banker. When Napoleon returned, he learned of this debt and decided he would pay for the home.
Chateau Malmaison was the private residence of Napoleon and Josephine. In 1802, there were three political leaders in France, one being Napoleon Bonaparte. He managed to fire the other two and appointed himself counsel to the French people. In 1804, he decided to name himself Emperor of France and Josephine became Empress. Since Napoleon was a leader, he wanted to have children and realized Josephine was not able to bear him children, so in 1809 Napoleon decided to divorce Josephine. Even though she was devastated, she was very clever and received three palaces including La Malmaison with all the contents. Many of the treasures inside the chateau are from other parts of Europe that were stolen during the war. Josephine maintained the chateau as her principal residence and lived out her life here until she died in May 1814. The home stayed in the family for most of the years, and in the early 20th century the chateau was made into a national museum.
In the chateau, the ground floor were the rooms for the social life of Josephine and Napoleon. The first floor is the private rooms, bedrooms and many souvenirs and artwork. In this area, there is a statue of an eagle with is a dedication to Napoleon’s connection with America. The grounds of the chateau were maintained by Josephine since she had a keen interest in the plants and natural science. Once she passed away the lands went into disrepair unit the property was turned into the museum it is today.
Of the many palaces to see in France, Chateaux La Malmaison is worth the visit while in France.
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