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Hortense de Beauharnais

Ortensia di Beauharnais
Ortensia di Beauharnais

Hortense de Beauharnais (Paris, 17 April 1783 – Salenstein, 5 October 1837) was the daughter of Joséphine and her first husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais. When her mother married Napoleon in 1796, Hortense became part of the Bonaparte entourage and was educated alongside Napoleon’s younger sister, Caroline.
In 1802, on the request of her stepfather, who wanted in this way to keep the dynastic succession under complete control, she married his brother Louis. The couple had three children, the youngest of which, Charles–Louis–Napoléon, would become emperor in 1852 under the name Napoleon III.
Hortense and Louis however never got along – in 1811 Hortense even gave birth to a child by her lover, the count of Flahaut Charles Joseph –  and after the fall of Napoleon their roads definitively separated. Exiled from France for her support of her stepfather during the One Hundred Days, Hortense purchased a castle in Arenenberg, in Switzerland, and lived there until her death.