On This Day in Napoleonic History – 12 March 1814

Napoleon is jealous of his brother Joseph

12Napoleon was told that his older brother Joseph, who was entrusted by Napoleon with the defense of Paris, was trying to seduce Napoleon’s wife Marie Louise, who acted as a regent in his absence. ‘King Joseph told some wearisome things to me,’ Marie Louise wrote to her husband. To which Napoleon replied, ‘Do not be too familiar with the King. Keep him at a distance. Do not allow him to enter your private apartments. Mistrust the King. All this depresses me rather. I need to be comforted by the members of my family but as a rule I get nothing but vexation from that quarter. On your part, however, it would be unexpected and unbearable.’ To Joseph he wrote: ‘If you want to have my throne, you can have it. But I ask you one favour: to leave me the heart and the love of the Empress.’

Was Napoleon being paranoid in his foreboding of not only a political but also personal catastrophe? He probably didn’t have reasons to worry on that particular occasion, even though Joseph stopped visiting his mistresses at the time and Marie Louise would betray him within a year with the dashing Count Adam Albert von Neipperg, whom Francis I would send to accompany her and prevent her from joining Napoleon on Elba.

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