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Joséphine de Beauharnais facts for kids

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  • Viscountess de Beauharnais
  • Duchess of Navarre
Joséphine in 1804
Empress consort of the French
Tenure 18 May 1804 – 10 January 1810
Coronation 2 December 1804
Queen consort of Italy
Tenure 26 May 1805 – 10 January 1810
Born (1763-06-23)23 June 1763
Les Trois-Îlets, Martinique
Died 29 May 1814(1814-05-29) (aged 50)
Rueil-Malmaison, France
Burial St Pierre-St Paul Church, Rueil-Malmaison, France
Alexandre de Beauharnais
(m. 1779; died 1794)

Napoleon I
(m. 1796; div. 1810)
  • Eugène, Duke of Leuchtenberg
  • Hortense, Queen of Holland
Full name
Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie
House Beauharnais
Father Joseph-Gaspard Tascher de La Pagerie
Mother Rose Claire des Vergers de Sannois
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature Joséphine's signature

Joséphine de Beauharnais (born Marie-Josèphe-Rose Tascher de la Pagerie; 23 June 1763 – 29 May 1814) was the first wife of Napoleon I, and thus the first Empress of the French as Joséphine.

Her marriage to Napoleon I was her second; her first husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais, was guillotined during the Reign of Terror, and she was imprisoned in the Carmes prison until five days after his execution. Her two children by Beauharnais became significant to royal lineage.

Through her daughter, Hortense, she was the maternal grandmother of Napoleon III. Through her son, Eugène, she was the great-grandmother of later Swedish and Danish kings and queens. The reigning houses of Belgium, Norway and Luxembourg also descend from her.

Joséphine was the recipient of numerous love letters written by Napoleon, many of which still exist. Her Château de Malmaison was noted for its magnificent rose garden, which she supervised closely, owing to her passionate interest in roses, collected from all over the world.

She did not have any children with Napoleon, as a result, he divorced her in 1810. Then he married Marie Louise of Austria.

Later life and death

Josephine de Beauharnais, Keizerin der Fransen
Josephine de Beauharnais

After the divorce, Joséphine lived at the Château de Malmaison, near Paris. She remained on good terms with Napoleon.

Joséphine died in Rueil-Malmaison on 29 May 1814, soon after walking with Tsar Alexander in the gardens of Malmaison. She was buried in the nearby church of Saint Pierre-Saint Paul in Rueil. Her daughter Hortense is interred near her.

Napoleon learned of her death via a French journal, and stayed locked in his room for two days, refusing to see anyone. He claimed to a friend, that "I truly loved my Joséphine." Despite his eventual divorce, and remarriage, the Emperor's last words on his death bed at St. Helena were: "France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Joséphine. "("France, l'armée, tête d'armée, Joséphine").

In 1859 Napoleon III commissioned a statue of Josephine for La Savane Park in downtown Fort-de-France, Martinique. In 1991 it was decapitated and shortly afterwards spattered with red paint. These acts were said to be for Josephine's alleged role in convincing Napoleon to re institute slavery in the French colonies. The head has never been found.

  • Napoléon is a historical DVD TV miniseries of Napoleon's life, in which Josephine features prominently, portrayed by Isabella Rossellini.
  • In 2015 and 2017, an episode of Horrible Histories called "Naughty Napoleon" and "Ridiculous Romantics" featured Natalie Walter and Gemma Whelan, portraying Joséphine de Beauharnais.

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