On This Day in Napoleonic History – 4 January 1802

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Napoleon’s brother Louis is married to Josephine’s daughter Hortense

Just like many other marriages Napoleon had arranged, this one soon proved a disaster. Louis was in love with someone else at the time and couldn’t stand to be in the same room as Hortense. Nor did he try to conceal his animosity. The feeling was mutual – Hortense barely tolerated her husband and would have an illegitimate son by her lover, Colonel Charles Joseph, Comte de Flahaut in 1811.

Josephine is as much to blame for the match as Napoleon. She was eager to tie her family closer to that of her husband at any cost, even if it was the cost of her only daughter’s happiness. With heartbreaking sadness Hortense later described her school days as the happiest time of her life. The couple had three children. One of them, Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, was to become Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.

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