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Marie–Louise of Austria

Maria Luisa d'Austria
Maria Luisa d'Austria

Marie–Louise of Austria (Vienna, 12 December 1791 – Parma, 17 December 1847) was the second wife of Napoléon Bonaparte and the mother of he who would, if only for a short time, be destined to take up his inheritance of the empire under the name Napoleon II.
The firstborn and favourite daughter of the Austrian emperor Francis II, she was given to Napoleon as a bride at only eighteen years of age in order to seal the peace between France and Austrian Empire, defeated by the Grande Armée in 1809. After little more than one year of marriage, the new empress gave birth to the much–desired male heir, who was given the name Napoléon–François–Charles–Joseph Bonaparte in honour of his father, maternal grandfather, grandfather and paternal uncle.
From the very beginning, Marie–Louise was not well–loved by the French, who were still attached to the figure of Joséphine (Napoleon’s first wife, who the emperor divorced due to the impossibility of producing heirs) and because they saw echoed in the young Austrian woman the troublesome memory of Marie Antoinette, another Austrian seated on the French throne and moreover the great–aunt of Marie–Louise. The hostile sentiment was for that matter reciprocated, so much so that at the fall of Napoleon and his first exile to the island of Elba, Marie–Louise went to Austria with her son and resided there until, in 1815, the sharing–out of the spoils of the Empire assigned her the Duchy of Parma, where she reigned until her death, much beloved by the city.
After her separation from Napoleon, Marie–Louise married twice more: two children were born from the first of these unions, that with the general Adam Albert von Neipperg, neither of whom could be recognized by Marie–Louise because born prior to Napoleon’s death, when her relationship with Neipperg could not yet be made official.