Louis Napoleon

Article

July 5, 2022

Lodewijk Napoleon Bonaparte (originally: Luigi Napoleone Buonaparte) (Ajaccio, September 2, 1778 – Livorno, July 25, 1846), nicknamed the Lamme King, Louis the Good and Rabbit of 'Olland, was a younger brother of Emperor Napoleon I and the father of the later French Emperor Napoleon III. In 1806 he became King of Holland by order of his brother Napoleon. For a long time, historians did not regard him as an independent monarch, but merely as a crowned governor in the service of the real ruler Napoleon I. His wife Hortense also described his function in this way. Contemporary historiography is more nuanced in thinking about Louis Napoleon's reign. He nevertheless tried to steer his own course and, against his brother's instructions, stood up for the interests of the kingdom of Holland. That led to increasing conflicts with his brother. As a result, he himself abdicated in 1810, as a sign of protest, and crowned his son, then six years old, as King of Holland. Zeeland and North Brabant had already been annexed to France by Napoleon. After Louis's abdication, the entire kingdom of Holland was annexed by France. The King of Holland, initially seen by his subjects as a mere boss of Napoleon, quickly became popular among the people for his involvement in disasters and the help he himself actively offered.

Youth and military career

Lodewijk (Italian: Luigi; French: Louis) was born in 1778 as the son of Carlo Maria Buonaparte and Maria Laetitia Ramolino. He had three older brothers, Joseph, Napoleon and Lucien, an older sister, Elisa, two younger sisters, Pauline and Carolina, and a younger brother, Jérôme. After his father's death in 1785, he was raised by his older brother Napoleon. He came to mainland France in 1791, where he learned French; his native language was Italian. Under his brother he fought in the Italian Campaign. In Italy he contracted a sexually transmitted disease that would affect his health for the rest of his life. He also took part in the expedition to Egypt and was promoted to colonel. At Napoleon's coronation in 1804, he became Brigadier General, Marshal of France and Prince Imperial.

Marriage to Hortense

In 1802 Napoleon arranged a marriage between his brother Lodewijk and his stepdaughter Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of his wife Joséphine de Beauharnais. Both spouses experienced the marriage as very unhappy. Hortense did not last long with her husband in Holland and left for France, after which the couple lived separately. Nevertheless, they had three sons: Napoleon Karel Bonaparte (10 October 1802 – 4 May 1807) Napoleon Lodewijk II Bonaparte (11 October 1804 – 17 March 1831), Grand Duke of Berg, early July 1810 King of Holland for twelve days Karel Lodewijk Napoleon III Bonaparte (20 April 1808 – 9 January 1873), Emperor of the French There were and still are doubts about the fatherhood of Louis Napoleon, especially with regard to Napoleon III. Louis Napoleon, despite his sickly jealousy, recognized the three children as his own, Napoleon III spoke of his own origin: "I have calculated it". The king's wife was not loyal to him and cheated on him with, among others, Charles de Flahaut (another bastard of Talleyrand herself). From their liaison the future Charles Auguste Duke of Morny was born in 1811. A rhyme was made up that circulated in the first years of the 19th century:

An imposed frost

Napoleon decided in 1806 to end the Batavian Republic, because he wanted a strong authority in the strategically located Netherlands. He therefore placed his younger brother Lodewijk Napoleon on the throne. By appointing Louis Napoleon as monarch, the French emperor was able to exert a lot of influence there. Due to the death of Stadtholder Willem V on April 9, 1806, no one was in Napoleon's seat anymore