Thursday, September 3, 2009

Josephine's Son: Eugène de Beauharnais

Today marks the birth date of Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, Josephine’s first and only son by Alexandre de Beauharnais (her first husband).


Source: http://www.napoleonexhibit.com


Eugene had a wonderful and close relationship with Josephine, who in turn was especially attached to her firstborn. Eugene was never the brilliant scholar or the very literate type as his father, Alexandre would have liked him to be. In other words, the two did not have much in common- Eugene was somewhat of a slight disappointment for his father. The young boy, who preferred riding his horses to reading books, had a spirit that soared for adventure. But, he was also blessed with a gentle and caring nature, which would explain why Josephine adored him so; He never disappointed or hurt his mother, whom he loved more than anyone in the world. He was also very protective and loving towards his sister Hortense. He became her pillar of strength and confidant, especially during the years of her dreadful marriage.


Eugene was thirteen when he lost his father by ways of the guillotine. Not long after this crucial time, Josephine was also incarcerated, leaving Eugene and Hortense often cared for by the people in Josephine’s immediate circle- and other times, just fending for themselves in the streets. This certainly added a dimension of sorts to his teenage years, spurring him rapidly into manhood and into the role of protector of his younger sister.


It is of no surprise that when Josephine and Bonaparte became an item, that Eugene immediately felt drawn to Napoleon’s magnetic persona. The emperor engulfed all the qualities of leadership, adventure that Eugene also had a passion for. And, the fact that this great man also loved his mother dearly, showing much more fervor in her regards, than his own standoffish father ever did, endeared him even more so. The affection was mutual, and Napoleon taking a special interest in this willing and promising young man, showed him his love and appreciation by adopting him in 1806; he was 25.

Eugene always fulfilled his duties as a loving son, devout combatant, dedicated leader and most loyal disciple of Napoleon Bonaparte the Emperor. He even accompanied his father to Egypt, where he experienced and witnessed excessive forms of battle…in fact, when he returned from these battles, he was particularly silent and distant, alarming Josephine and causing her great pain to see this sudden and extreme change in her son. Yet, it still remained that what was important to Eugene was that he had not failed Bonaparte-he had made his father proud. His dedication went beyond the call of duty and his loyalty made it such that within the course of actions, he never deterred to remain faithful until the end.


Eugene was also a loving husband to his wife Princess Augusta Amalia Ludovika Georgia of Bavaria, whom he married in 1807. She was the eldest daughter of Maximilian I of Bavaria. Eugene was a devoted husband and most loving father to their seven children. Josephine reveled in their loving relationship. She was extremely proud of her son and the wonderful, man, husband, father that he had become despite the exceptional and tumultuous challenges he was dealt with in his youth.


In terms of royal titles, in 1804, Eugene was bestowed the title of French Prince of the Imperial Royal Family. Then in 1806, his royal father-in-law made him Duke of Leuchtenberg. And in 1807, when Bonaparte united Venice to his Kingdom of Italy, Eugene was made Prince of Venice. Consequently, all of Eugene’s children were royals who themselves married into royalty; thus, rendering them heirs in direct lineage to Josephine, their grandmother.


Here is a painting by VIGER Hector (1819-1879)of Josephine, Eugene and Hortense visiting the detained Alexandre in Luxenbourg (the guillotine would follow...)
Source: http://www.napoleon.org/fr




*****To see the compassion and love expressed in words by Eugene himself, please read the letter he addressed to Napoleon, his dad, after Josephine’s death. It is the most touching letter ever. You can read it in summary form here- or- in the last pages of Sandra Gulland’s: The Last Great Dance on Earth (Or in the last part of the Josephine B. Trilogy)

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14 comments:

Matterhorn said...

Very touching post- thank you.

lizzy J said...

Lucy did you read my mind or what! I was going to tell you "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation" He is in it.

I love the first picture, how old do you think he was there? I read the letter post already and it is touching.

Melissa Marsh said...

What a beautiful post. I always did love to read about Josephine's children - they seemed to be wonderful human beings. Is there a historical novel about Eugene yet? I do remember reading one about Hortense long, long ago.

Marg said...

I didn't know he was in Secret History. I didn't notice him because I read Secret History before I met him in the Sandra Gulland books.

Fascinating post.

dolleygurl said...

Thanks for the info, I really don't know anything about ANY of the above mentioned people (except the common knowledge about napoleon.) How is the Secret History of the Pink Carnation? I have thought of reading it.

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

I really like this post, Lucy. Eugene and Hortense have always interested me, ever since I read the Josephine B trilogy. I love the painting, too...and how fabulous is Josephine's outfit!! Gorgeous.

I've never read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, but Heather if you are looking for a book to introduce you to the characters in Lucy's post, you should try the Josephine B trilogy. They're my favorite historical fiction books ever! And I know Ms. Lucy would agree that Sandra Gulland is really talented. I like her Josephine trilogy a lot better than Mistress of the Sun.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

Hi, Ms Lucy! Just passing by to tell you you've been nominated for an award. Have a look at my blog.Hope you'll like it!

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

I've been thinking of you today as I've been curled up with 'Josephine' by Carolly Erikson. I began to get into this post and then said, 'Oh,no!" Ha ha. I had to stop reading because I don't want to know what happens to dear Eugene! I'm really enjoying this book.
I don't think that any of the cottages at the Hameau are opened to the public. I believe they are empty. I do hope you will get to go one day. You will be like me I'm sure...barely able to speak.
Have a nice long weekend.
Catherine

sallymandy said...

Hello Ms Lucy: thank you once again for enlightening me about a fascinating historical figure I wasn't aware of previously. It's heartening to know that even the historical royals sometimes found love in their marriages (Eugene and his famiy). The bond between him and his mother and even Bonaparte was lovely.

Wow, I was thinking of being a fourteen year old boy and losing a parent to the guillotine. Of course it happened to many children, but I've never thought of it.

best....xo

Marie Burton said...

What a wonderful tribute to him, Lucy, Job well done.
His portrait makes him look like a soft-hearted fella, doesn't it?
Thanks for letting us in on the lesser-known tidbits of Josephine's family.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Besides having an immense fund of good sense, Prince Eugene was, among other things, a reasonably competent general; and unusually, willing to listen to advice when he was out of his depth.

He would have made a far better commander than the King of Naples of the remains of the Grande Armee in late 1812-early 1813 (when Napoleon left to go back to Paris and raise the army of 1813). He got the job when Murat left for Naples, but by then all chance of stopping the Russians along the Vistula had gone.

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MyLittleSaloon said...

Eugene was so amazing sweet, he must have been such a good son!

Evans said...

Besides having an immense fund of good sense, Prince Eugene was, among other things, a reasonably competent general; and unusually, willing to listen to advice when he was out of his depth. He would have made a far better commander than the King of Naples of the remains of the Grande Armee in late 1812-early 1813 (when Napoleon left to go back to Paris and raise the army of 1813). He got the job when Murat left for Naples, but by then all chance of stopping the Russians along the Vistula had gone.