Philobiblon: A brave woman stands up to Napoleon

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A brave woman stands up to Napoleon

My Lady of Quality is today reporting on a woman, one of Lucien Bonaparte's daughters, Charlotte, who is said to have stood up to Napoleon. Miss Williams Wynn says:

Napoleon sent for one of Lucien's daughters, offering to marry her to the Prince of Spain (Ferdinand), or to the Prince of Wirtemberg (Paul). ... When the poor victim arrived at St. Cloud, where the Emperor was, she was immediately presented to him; and as she knelt to pay her obeisance, he said, ' Levez-vi princesse.' [Arise princess]
She had the courage to reply, 'Non, sire, je ne suis pas princesse; je ne suis que Charlotte Buonaparte: permittez-moi, sire, de retourner mon pere.'' [No, I'm not a princess, I'm Charlotte Bonaparte. Allow me, sire, to go back to my father.]
This permission was granted, and intended Queen of Spain (afterwards Princess Gabriella) was, when this story was related, living with her parents at Ludlow.

Charlotte (1795-1865) went on to have an adventurous life, living for three years in New Jersey. (This link includes one of her quite respectable sketches of there, and there are other works here.)

She later lived, it seems, in Belgium, before marrying an Italian and eventually, as Miss Williams Wynn says, ending up a princess anyway. Her second marriage was also in Italy and she was buried there.

You might have noticed that I've adjusted posting of the diary to about three times a week. Trying to do it daily was more than I could keep up with, and anyway I think this gives people more time to find - and hopefully respond to - the posts.)



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