The search for a new Empress began in earnest. The premiere
candidate in Napoleons mind was the fifteen-year-old
sister of the Russian Tsar, but that hope was dashed
when his proposal was met with delays and excuses. He
turned his eyes to Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria,
daughter of his old enemy, Emperor Francis I of Austria.
A marriage would align France with one of the oldest
ruling families in Europe, and further legitimize Napoleons
leadership of France. In a bold move Napoleon sent an
emissary to the Austrian Embassy to demand Marie Louises
hand, and further demanding that the contract be signed
immediately, without consultation with the Austrian
court. The Ambassador was forced to accept, and the
emissary reported that Napoleon "was filled with
mad, impetuous joy" upon hearing the news.
Louise, only nineteen years old, was terrified. She
wrote in her diary "[Just] to see the man would
be the worst form of torture." France had not been
kind to her great-aunt Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon
was far older, and an enemy of Austria. Nevertheless
she bowed to the will of her father, and prepared for
were married by proxy in a civil ceremony on March 11,
1810, and Marie Louise began her journey to France.
Napoleon met her at Compeigne, and immediately rushed
her into bed even before the religious ceremony.
Later, Napoleon claimed that his new empress had just
one thing to say: "Do it again."
their inauspicious engagement and rushed marriage, the
couple seemed happy. After their wedding she wrote her
father: "He loves me very much. I respond to his
love sincerely. There is something very fetching and
very eager about him that is impossible to resist."
Emperor is much taken with his wife," Austrian
ambassador Clemens Fürst Von Metternich noted.
"He is so evidently in love with her that all his
habits are subordinated to her wishes."
March 1811 Marie Louise delivered a long-awaited heir,
to whom Napoleon gave the title "King of Rome."
Two years later Napoleon arranged for Josephine to meet
the young prince "who had cost her so many tears."
1814 the Allies invaded France, and Napoleon left for
war on January 25. Defeated in the Spring, Napoleon
abdicated his throne and was forced into exile on the
island of Elba. He would never see his wife or son again.
caught a cold in mid-May 1814, and despite a doctors
care she grew steadily worse. She died on May 29, in
the arms of her son Eugene. Napoleon learned of her
death via a French journal while in exile on Elba, and
stayed locked in his room for two days, refusing to
her life Josephine had surrounded herself with the sight
and scent of violets. Two days after his return from
exile on Elba Napoleon visited Malmaison and collected
violets from Josephines garden. He would wear
them in a locket until his death, a reminder of their