Napoleon had a rich life of female accompaniment. Josephine was his love, but unable to have children, he divorced her in the cause of creating a dynasty. At the time of his divorce he remained deeply in love with Josephine and insisted she retained the title of Empress. Of his second wife, Louise, an Austrian princess, he said ‘I have married a womb!’ The second marriage was cold and somewhat unloving, but Napoleon remained under the delusion that she would follow him to Elba. In later years it transpired that she had had lovers and even had illegitimate children prior to her marriage to Napoleon.
Their son, Napoleon II, after 1818 known as Franz, Duke of Reichstadt, said in later life ‘If Josephine had been my mother, my father would not have been buried at Saint Helena, and I should not be at Vienna. My mother is kind but weak; she was not the wife my father deserved’.
As well as the two wives, there were several lively sisters including the beautiful Pauline; and in addition there was a string of mistresses. Last, but not least, there was Madame Mère, Napoleon’s powerful mother who long outlived her famous son.
Gertrude Aretz née Kuntze-Dolton (1889-1938) was a German historian and publisher. She was married first to the distinguished Napoleonic historian Friedrich Max Kircheisen and later to the publisher Paul Aretz.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Illustrations: 32 b/w illustrations