The Shadow Emperor Alan Strauss Schom Kindle, PDF
The Shadow Emperor Alan Strauss Schom
PRINCE LOUIS NAPOLÉON
Fine carriages bearing famous gilded imperial coats of arms and elegant phaetons drawn by sleek, well-groomed horses were not an uncommon sight between the Rue de Mont Blanc and here before the stately mansion at 8 Rue Laffitte (then Cerutti). By four o’clock on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 20, 1808, traffic was brought to a standstill, however, and even the troops in dress uniform lining the street could do nothing about it, amazon kindle a queue forming as these equipages passed through the large double iron gates and into the spacious cobbled courtyard, where these very unusual guests in elegant court costume descended.3
Even in terms of imperial court receptions, the new arrivals were impressive, brought here on this special occasion to witness the signing of the acte de naissance, the certificate attesting to the birth of Holland’s queen Hortense’s latest son earlier this day.
Nevertheless, the reason was simple enough, for Emperor Napoléon was not present, and no child of the imperial family could be named without his approval and blessing. Epub If the emperor could be excused, the absence of King Louis, the child’s father, could not, nor did his ambassador today provide a reason for his remaining in Holland. But of course the rift, the official separation of Louis and Hortense
was hardly a secret in court circles
On the second of June, Napoléon finally announced the baby’s name: Charles-Louis Napoléon, better known as Prince Louis Napoléon, the future ruler of France as Napoléon III.4
* * *
Since the fall of Napoléon’s Empire in 1815, existence for ex-queen Hortense, now known officially as the Duchess de Saint-Leu, had been far more complicated and painful, indeed a veritable nightmare. For as charming and delightful as the five Allied rulers found the lovely daughter of Joséphine, nevertheless she was an important “political” figure as the wife of Napoléon’s brother Louis, whose two surviving sons—Princes Napoléon Louis Bonaparte and Louis Napoléon Bonaparte—stood in line to the imperial succession. The new Bourbon king, Louis XVIII, banned Hortense, and all members of the Bonaparte clan, from French soil. Traveling to Aix-les-Bains (Savoy), she and her sons had fled to Switzerland and then across the German frontier to Constance in southern Bavaria, only to be ordered out of that country. In 1816, Hortense’s cousin, Stéphanie de Beauharnais, Kindle now the Grand Duchess of Baden, offered her and her sons a haven at Carlsberg, only for Hortense to find herself and her family obliged to move once more when a relentless Louis XVIII put great pressure on the Grand Duke of Baden as well. Uprooted again for at least the fifth time with young sons in tow, a by now desperate Hortense appealed to her brother, Eugène de Beauharnais, as the son-in-law of King Maximilian I of Bavaria, for help.
In 1817 the Swiss Federated Government—through the council of the northern Canton of Thurgau—also issued permission for Hortense to settle in Switzerland. After two years of perpetual peregrinations and anxiety, she could now purchase her own house, in fact two of them (including the nearby Swiss estate of Arenenberg). Their eldest son, pdf Napoléon Louis Bonaparte, would remain with his father in Italy, while his younger brother, Prince Louis Napoléon, the future emperor, would be brought up by Hortense.
The past couple of years of continuous personal upheaval and uncertainty had taken a permanent toll on both Hortense and her son Louis Napoléon. Always at the back of her mind was the anxiety that soldiers would once again appear on her doorstep with signed orders from the British Foreign Office and the other four members of the Allied coalition to expel her and her young family from yet another country. That young Prince Louis Napoléon became as cautious and wary as his mother of people and of the proffered friendship of newcomers was hardly surprising. Who in the final analysis could they really trust and rely upon? That anxiety remained with the prince the rest of his life.
From the day of his marriage to Joséphine, Napoléon himself had had to contend with the open jealousy and hostility of his mother, Letizia, uncle Fesch, brothers Joseph, Louis, Lucien, and, sporadically, Jérôme, not to mention his sisters. This enmity was only intensified following the imperial coronation in December 1804.
Now, more than a dozen years later, with Napoléon thousands of miles away on St. Helena and the family dispersed to the four winds, this Corsican animosity toward Hortense and her sons remained undiminished. During the empire they had squabbled regarding the Napoleonic succession.
Napoléon I had left his imprint on France
He had created a whole new post-revolutionary society and world in his own image and with it a whole new national mystique. Millions of Frenchmen had served in his armies and his state government. There had been nothing like him and his bewildering legacy in two thousand years of European history.After the fall of Napoléon in 1815 and the dispersal of the Bonaparte clan, the question remained: How were the following generations going to deal with this ill-defined and unresolved heritage? How real and lasting was it? Would it reemerge, and if so how, in what guise? And if this imperial ghost of the past should rematerialize, who would be its heir, and what legacy would he offer? As Napoléon had rightly predicted on distant St. Helena, “It will be difficult to make me completely disappear from the public memory.”
A Bonaparte heir was indeed to emerge, but it is of course quite impossible to replicate, to resurrect the past, as a France of the future under a new Napoleonic empire was to prove yet again.
* * *
For the first time in his life the nine-year-old Prince Louis Napoléon had a permanent roof over his head in 1817, his first home, in Augsburg, where he soon attended regular classes at the gymnasium, or high school, with other members of the aristocracy and haute bourgeoisie, and he was cautiously happy. Gradually, the anxiety of the volcanic events of the past three years following the fall of Napoléon I now eased with his new daily route. His classes were in German, of course, and he quickly became fluent in that language, gradually coming to the point where he spoke French at home with a German accent, which remained with him the rest of his life.
Most of the next ten years he spent at Augsburg, with occasional sojourns across Lake Constance to their estate at Arenenberg, where Hortense was supervising the reconstruction and extensions to the main house and laying out a new garden to resemble that of the Malmaison of her youth.5 They would also spend several weeks each winter and summer in Milan, Florence, and especially in Rome, where Louis Napoléon made a few new friends, including Francesco Arese, and became fluent in Italian, a language, like the country, he loved.
Although never more than an average student, he always looked forward to the resumption of his studies in Augsburg each autumn. He was an unusually curious student and enjoyed classical history, Amazon geography and languages, mathematics, physics, and, later, chemistry. Although he had no ear for music and did not like classical concerts, he excelled in dancing and drawing. In addition, he took riding and fencing lessons, becoming adept in both. If he attended frequent hunts at the estates of the local aristocracy and of his uncle Eugène de Beauharnais, it was more for the social gatherings and the ladies in particular.
The center of the boy’s daily existence, however, was with Hortense, especially after the removal of his brother, Napoléon Louis (1804−1831), to Florence to live with his father. The two surviving brothers remained very close, and despite the tedious necessity of having to pass all their correspondence through the police, they wrote regularly and were able to visit each other for a few weeks each year.
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