young woman by the name of Josephine Rose-Marie Tascher arrived in France from
the tropical island of Martinique in the midst of the greatest political and
social up heaving. With her innate grace and charm she secured herself a
position of prominence that enabled her to capture the affection of Napoleon
Bonaparte an up and coming French artillery officer from Island of Creole (www.geocities.com/Paris/Parc.html).

This was the beginning of one of histories most passionate and extraordinary
love affairs. Napoleon instantly fell in love with Josephine and they married on
March 8, 1776. The marriage of Josephine and the great Napoleon was one of
turbulence, yet Josephine had a great impact on his decisions and his rise to
power and fame. Josephine was a respectable and likable person with a high
social status which aided to Napoleon and his advancements. Emotionally,
Napoleon was affected greatly by Josephine both directly and indirectly.

Josephine’s influence on Napoleon’s emotions was profound in the way that it
affected his decisions and actions. Also, Josephine was a smart and intelligent
woman whose opinions were of great value to Napoleon and he often took them into
consideration when making extremely important decisions. Socially, Josephine had
a great impact on Napoleon’s advancements and his success in many areas of life.

Early on in the marriage Napoleon discovered how useful Josephine could be to
forwarding his position in society and in the military. He often made her his
advocate, taking her along when he went to ask an important favour of someone
(Erickson 132). She would often speak on his behalf because her remarkable
social skills, amiable personality (Cartland 104), and because of her high
social status that she obtained from her first husband1. Remarkably, it was
Josephine who in the winter of 1795 asked that Napoleon be given command of the
Italian army (Erickson 132). Sure enough shortly after her request he obtained
command (Erickson 132). It was also Josephine’s aristocratic connections, her
position as a leader of Directory Society, and her distinguished name that
helped to advance Napoleon’s social status (Erickson 134). Napoleon once
confided to his secretary that, “She (Josephine) had beneath my side during
my early years when my future was far from assured, she had lent me her
aristocratic status to assist my many ambitions,” (Erickson 277). For this
helped the people of France to see “him less as conspicuous foreigner
lacking in a distinguished breeding” (Erickson 134) and more of someone
that they could relate to 2. Josephine often helped her husband in his social
duties as Emperor by entertaining military men and ambassadors (Erickson 242).

She always remembered people’s names and had a gift for making people feel
special and welcomed (Erickson 242). Napoleon himself once said “I win
battles but Josephine wins hearts.” (Laing 148). Her natural social skills
were a great asset to his rise and popularity. At first it was Josephine’s
social status that helped Napoleon but later on it was her good spirited nature
and her likable personality that helped to create a better image of Napoleon
therefore helping him in his advancements. Josephine had a major influence on
Napoleon emotionally, directly and indirectly by making him feel secure,
providing him with emotional support, and giving him confidence which ultimately
had a bearing on his decisions and actions. Sadly before Napoleon had met
Josephine he was on the verge of suicide he was lonely and depressed (Laing
128). Fortunately “Josephine had transformed life for him, given him
meaning to ambition, and crowned his success with pleasure,” (Laing 128).

Mlle Avrillon, one of Josephine maids, even saw his dependence on her and her
swift response to his needs, “whenever he suffered the slightest
indisposition, when any problem aroused to worry him, she was, so to speak, at
his feet, and at such times he could not get along without her,” (Erickson
132) This demonstrates how much her emotional support helped Napoleon and how he
relied on it to continue his aspirations (Erickson 132). Napoleon was convinced
that his good fortune in battle, politics, and all the important areas of life
was linked to his finding and falling in love with Josephine. She was his charm
and “his talisman”2 (Erickson 253). From the time they met he had
nothing but opportunities and success (Erickson 253). “He was convinced
that I brought him luck, and nothing would induce him to start on a campaign
without previously kissing me,” Josephine once admitted of Napoleon (Laing
101). Therefore, even without her being present on the battle field, or even in
the same country, it was Josephine’s inspirational spirit, that encouraged
Napoleon throughout all of his major victories against Egypt, Prussia, Russia.

Josephine’s role in Napoleon’s victory was clearly understood by the sharpest of
her observers, Claire de Rmusat one of Josephine’s closest friends once said
“What a situation for a woman to find herself in – as one of the motivating
influences for the triumphal march of a whole army,” (Laing 101). Onetime
when Napoleon was on campaign he was holding a glass portrait of Josephine, all
of a sudden he grew pale and the glass shattered in his hands, he said,
“Either my wife is very ill or she is unfaithful.” (Erickson 140). For
that day Napoleon would not leave his tent and sat starring at the wall while he
should have been out helping his soldiers prepare for a battle that was to take
place the next day (Erickson 140). Just the thought of something bad happening
to Josephine turned Napoleon into a temporary basket case. Likewise, when
Napoleon was being pressured into divorcing to Josephine and it appeared in
newspapers all around Europe he became very upset because he truly loved her3
(Erickson 191). He turned into an emotional wreak which affected his battles. On
account of this he was suffering defeat after defeat (Erickson 191). After this
he was convinced that if he divorced Josephine it would equal bad luck for him
which it did (Cartland 132). He wrote a letter to her saying, “I believe it
would bring misfortune on both of us if, of my own accord, I tried to separate
my life from yours.” (Cartland 132 ) Napoleon was tremendously tied to
Josephine emotionally, by affection, need, and superstition. Josephine’s
opinions and ideas strongly influenced Napoleon and helped his advancements in
power and success. She was very much her husband’s political confidence. When
Napoleon was plotting to overthrow the directory of France (Laing 102). She was
present at every conference along with the other co-conspirators. She did not
only listen but she gave her opinion, her feelings and questioned the motives of
the others to make sure they were genuine (Laing 102). Also, whenever there was
a clash of personalities or a fight she was always the one to restore the calm (Laing
102-103). The citizens of Milan knew of the impact Josephine had on her husband.

In 1798 when Josephine went to meet her husband in Milan they presented her with
gifts of luminous pearls, silk, lace, antique vases, and many other expensive
gifts. Josephine soon discovered that the gifts were bribes. Napoleon was
imposing heavy taxes on the conquered population and was taking things such as
valuable art from them (Castelot 138). The people of Milan hoped that Josephine
would be persuaded to use her influence to moderate her husband’s actions (Epton
138). Josephine being the humane and caring person she was talked to her husband
and in response he became more lenient to the people of Milan (Epton 138). She
also, influenced Napoleon into sparing the lives of nine people who were
involved in plotting an assassination on Napoleon (Laing 123). In the end her
good natured heart must have affected him for he did not go ahead and kill them
(Laing 123). Josephine’s good friend Claire Rmusat once said that “She
(Josephine) acted as the original link between the French nobility and the
Consular Government.”(Laing 123). She would listen to their needs and tell
Napoleon what she thought should be done to satisfy them fairly (Laing 124).

When Josephine was Empress, Napoleon made it part of her job to enforce the new
social code and it is said that he did this because many of the reforms she
herself had introduced (Erickson 240). Napoleon had many great ideas and actions
which Josephine often gave her input into and had an effect on the final result.

Josephine Bonaparte had an immense impact on her husband Napoleon, assisting him
to his rise to one of the greatest political powers and military leaders that
Europe has ever seen. Josephine’s social powers and great personality assisted
and affected Napoleon. The emotional ties that bonded them greatly impacted
Napoleon from day to day. It was also her opinions that influenced him, for he
often listened to them and took them to heart. Napoleon remained grateful til
the day he died for her “devotion and self-sacrifice” (Laing 193) and
regretted divorcing her for the rest of his life. After Josephine’s death in
1814 Napoleon described Josephine as “The most alluring, glamorous creature
I have ever known . . . A woman in the full sense of the world – volatile,
spirited and with the kindest of hearts . . . she was the woman I loved above
all.” Would Napoleon have reached the fame and status he is known for
around the world had he not married Josephine? Napoleon’s brother felt that
Josephine was mainly responsible for the for the growth of tyranny in her
husband by the emotions she brought forth to him as he once said, “That the
disappointments . . . took their toll, made their mark, and blighted, one by
one, his capacity for love. Perhaps he would have been a better man had he been
more loved, and above all a better man”3 (Laing 101) Laing 182 After
Napoleon’s second marriage he told Hortense Josephine’s daughter that “She
(his second wife) resents . . . the influence your mother is known to exercise
over me. Endnotes 1Josephine’s first husband was the Vicomte de Beauharnais was
a rich aristocrat who was guillotined during the French Revolution. She had two
children with him Hortense and Eugene. He left her lots of land and money but
one of the most important things that she gained out of the marriage was a
respectable family name which Napoleon also gained from. 2Corsicans were thought
of as lower people and Napoleon’s Corsican decent could have hindered his
advancements because of stereotypes such as they were dirty and poor islanders
with no education or class. Also Corsican society had very different ideals and
values from those of Paris which people sometimes associated Napoleon with even
though he moved to Paris when he was nine years old. It was also easy for people
to realize that Napoleon was an islander because of his accent. He was so
worried about being accepted by the people of Paris that he even changed the
spelling of his from Buonaparte to Bonaparte to give it a French rather than
Italian pronunciation. (Erickson 140) 3 Talisman- anything whose presence
exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions
Webster’s Encyclopaedia Unabridged Dictionar1938 4At the beginning of their
marriage Josephine had many affairs which deeply hurt Napoleon. She also did not
write him often which also hurt Napoleon and at times made him furious and
irrational. These could be some of the reasons that Lucien believe Josephine
partly responsible for the growth of tyranny in Napoleon. 3 Napoleon’s
politically advisers and his family urged Napoleon to divorce Josephine because
she was unable to produce an heir for him. He did not want to because of his
deep love and emotional ties to her. Yet in the end he forced to divorce the
love of his life and marry a young Austrian who he eventually had a child with

European History



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