On This Day in Napoleonic History – 11 June 1796

17Napoleon suspects Josephine of having an affair

Although no rumour about Josephine’s affair had as yet reached Napoleon in Italy, from his wife’s long silences and her coldness when she did write he began to suspect that all was not well. He wrote to Paul Barras, ‘I’m in despair that my wife does not come to me. She has some lover who keeps her in Paris. I curse all women but I embrace my good friends with all my heart.’

He bombarded Josephine with letters incessantly, ranting that he was almost resigned to the fact that she no longer loved him if indeed she ever had. By June 15th he was telling her: ‘I could not tolerate a lover, much less allow you to take one.’

His suspicions were not without ground. Josephine was in the midst of a passionate and very public affair with Hippolyte Charles, a lieutenant in a Hussar regiment.