de Beauharnais, Hortense (Duchess of St. Leu)

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1783-1837

French noblewoman and Queen of Holland

de Beauharnais was the daughter of Joséphine de Tascher de la Pagerie and Alexandre, Viscount de Beauharnais. Alexandre was guillotined during the Terror in 1794 and her mother married the future Emperor Napoléon in 1806, after some years of living in poverty. Hortense and her brother, Eugène, were adopted by their new step-father.

Already, in 1802, she had been unhappily married to Napoléon's brother, Prince Louis, and they were made King and Queen of Holland in 1806, although he abdicated in 1810, by which time they had separated. In 1814, after Napoléon's fall from power, she was made Duchess of Saint Leu by Louis XVIII.

She and Prince Louis had three children, including the future Napoléon III, and she also had a son by her lover, the Comte de Flahault, who became the Duke of Morny and a minister in the government of the Second Empire.

References

Castries, René de la Croix, duc de. La Reine Hortense. (Paris: Tallandier, 1984)

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