On This Day in Napoleonic History – 1 January 1807

Napoleon meets Marie Walewska

The couple met in Blonie, in a posthouse where Napoleon was changing horses on his way to Warsaw.Β  Although their first meeting was brief, Napoleon, who was anything but faithful to Josephine following her own affair with Hyppolite Charles soon after their marriage, arranged to meet the beautiful blonde 20-year old at a ball.

Although Marie was married to an aristocratic landowner, 52 years older than her, she quickly became the mistress whom Napoleon loved the most. Her husband, just like the rest of her family, encouraged her relationship with the Emperor in the hope of gaining influence over him and advancing the cause of Polish independence.

Soon after making Marie’s acquaintance, Napoleon withdrew his invitation for Josephine to join him in Warsaw. ‘It’s too great a stretch of country to cover between Mainz and Warsaw,’ he wrote. ‘I’ve many things to settle here. I think you should return to Paris where you are needed.’ His letters to Marie were very different. ‘Come to me. All your desires will be fulfilled. Your homeland will be dear to me if you take pity on my poor heart.’ Although Marie was initially driven by motives of political nature rather than affection, they developed a true closeness. In 1810 she would give birth to Napoleon’s son. She stayed loyal to the Emperor throughout his life, even visiting him in exile on the island of Elba.

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