Hippolyte Charles

Last updated

Hippolyte Charles (July 6, 1773 March 8, 1837) was best known for being Josephine Bonaparte's lover soon after her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte.



Born in Romans-sur-Isère in 1773, Hippolyte Charles joined the French army as a volunteer. In 1796, while Napoleon Bonaparte was busy winning his first victories in Italy, Hippolyte Charles, a lieutenant in a Hussar regiment and deputy to General Leclerc, Bonaparte's brother-in-law, first met Josephine in Paris. They began an affair almost immediately, although she was nine years his senior. Hippolyte Charles was a southerner who made up for his short stature with a very handsome face with a dark complexion and long black whiskers and moustache. According to the Duchess of Abrantes, "Charles spoke only puns and was the buffoon," but she added that, "he was what is called a strange boy, he made people laugh, it was impossible to find a funnier man." [1] Unlike Napoleon, Charles was extremely relaxed and was not restricted by a constant schedule. Napoleon was always serving the state or following a strict regimen. With Hippolyte Charles, Josephine could relax, joke around with, and even discuss matters like fashion, a subject in which Charles was a very perspicacious authority. Charles was attracted to Josephine for her confidence, power, and sexual experience. She was known to have had many lovers and was reputedly well practiced in the arts of lovemaking. [2]

Romans-sur-Isère Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Romans-sur-Isère is a commune in the Drôme department in southeastern France.

On June 24, 1796, Josephine decided to rejoin Napoleon, accompanied by her lover Hippolyte, her brother-in-law Joseph Bonaparte and Colonel Junot. On 13 July, she found Napoleon at the gates of Milan, a city which she found tedious. However, she continued her affair with Hippolyte soon afterwards on the way back to Paris. It is rumoured that the two lovers were involved in some illicit business dealings as well. The recently promoted captain, enriched through these dubious business transactions, was able to leave the army.

Joseph Bonaparte elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte

Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, born Giuseppe di Buonaparte was a French diplomat and nobleman, the older brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily, and later King of Spain. After the fall of Napoleon, Joseph styled himself Comte de Survilliers.

On March 17, 1798, the two lovers were denounced to Napoleon, sending him into a great rage. However, Josephine was able to soothe him and convince him that the rumours were untrue. In July 1798, when Bonaparte was in Egypt, the infidelities of his wife were once again reported to him. He wrote to his brother Joseph to prepare for divorce. Bonaparte's letter was intercepted by Admiral Nelson, and the loss of the French fleet prevented any correspondence. Learning of Napoleon's landing at Fréjus, Josephine rushed to him to try to change his mind about the divorce. However, Napoleon had taken a seamstress serving in his army named Pauline as his mistress and sunk into a deep depression. When Napoleon was younger, he had been involved with a young girl named Desiree de Clary, a woman whose family refused Napoleon her hand based on his lower status. Nicknaming her Eugenie, Napoleon continued his love affair with her via a remote correspondence. While in this depression, Napoleon wrote a story entitled ‘Clisson and Eugenie’, which detailed the tragic affair between an army officer and his lover, who gradually drifts away from him in the end while he is off on service. Napoleon, always afraid of abandonment, as evidenced in his brief literary segue, used Pauline as a bartering chip for the hand of Joséphine. Although Napoleon sought a divorce, he would forgive Joséphine after she promised to end her affair. She became the first lady of the country and would take up residence at the palais du Luxembourg in Paris.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson Royal Navy Admiral

Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy. He was noted for his inspirational leadership, grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics, which together resulted in a number of decisive British naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was wounded several times in combat, losing the sight in one eye in Corsica at the age of 36, as well as most of one arm in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife when 40 years of age. He was shot and killed at the age of 47 during his final victory at the Battle of Trafalgar near the Spanish port city of Cádiz in 1805.

Fréjus Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Fréjus is a commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France.

In November 1804, Hippolyte Charles bought the estate of Cassan from Francois-Denis Courtillier. The source of the funds for this purchase is rumoured to have originated from his dubious business deals with Josephine. In 1808, during the Peninsular War and under the protection of his old Hussar regiment, Hippolyte Charles travelled to Spain. The journey added considerably to his wealth, as he was able to acquire from a Spanish officer and French soldiers looted treasures, much of them previously looted from South America and the Inca Empire. He befriended the Spanish officer, originally from Buenos Aires, after recognising his peculiar secret society handshake.

Peninsular War War by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the French Empire (1807–1814)

The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

Hussar light cavalry originally from Hungary

A hussar was a member of a class of light cavalry, originating in Central Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. The title and distinctive dress of these horsemen were subsequently widely adopted by light cavalry regiments in European armies in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Hippolyte Charles sold the Cassan estate in 1828 to Jacques-Honoré Recappé, a former notary public and general counsel of the Seine and Oise region. He decided to retire to his native land, where he bought an even more expensive castle in Génissieux in the Drôme. Hippolyte Charles died there in 1837.

Génissieux Commune in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Génissieux is a commune in the Drôme department in southeastern France.

In the novel Les Paysans, the author, Honoré de Balzac, bases his character the General Comte de Montcornet on Hippolyte Charles. [3] The same character also appears in the book La Muse du département by the same author where Montcornet serves in the Peninsular war.

Related Research Articles

Louis Bonaparte King of Holland, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, member of the House of Buonaparte

Louis Napoléon Bonaparte was a younger brother of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. He was a monarch in his own right from 1806 to 1810, ruling over the Kingdom of Holland. In that capacity he was known as Louis I.

Jérôme Bonaparte Napoleon Is brother

Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte was the youngest brother of Napoleon I and reigned as Jerome I, King of Westphalia, between 1807 and 1813. From 1816 onward, he bore the title of Prince of Montfort. After 1848, when his nephew, Louis Napoleon, became President of the French Second Republic, he served in several official roles, including Marshal of France from 1850 onward, and President of the Senate in 1852.

Lucien Bonaparte French statesman

Lucien Bonaparte, Prince Français, 1st Prince of Canino and Musignano, the third surviving son of Carlo Bonaparte and his wife Letizia Ramolino, was a French statesman, who served as the final President of the Council of Five Hundred at the end of the French Revolution.

Hortense de Beauharnais Queen Consort of Holland

Hortense Eugénie Cécile Bonaparte, Queen consort of Holland, was the stepdaughter of Emperor Napoléon I, being the daughter of his first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais. She later became the wife of the former's brother, Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, and the mother of Napoléon III, Emperor of the French. She had also an illegitimate son, The 1st Duc de Morny, by her lover, the Comte de Flahaut.

Empress Joséphine Empress of the French

Joséphine was the first wife of Napoleon, and the first Empress of the French after he proclaimed himself Emperor.

Eugène de Beauharnais French general and adoptive son of Napoleon I

Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg was the first child and only son of Alexandre de Beauharnais and Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, first wife of Napoleon I.

Château de Malmaison

Château de Malmaison is a French château near the western bank of the Seine about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) west of the centre of Paris in Rueil-Malmaison.

Désirée Clary Queen of Sweden and Norway

Bernardine Eugénie Désirée Clary, in Swedish officially Eugenia Bernhardina Desideria, was Queen of Sweden and Norway as the wife of King Charles XIV John, a former French general and founder of the House of Bernadotte. She was the mother of Oscar I, and one-time fiancée of Napoleon Bonaparte. She officially changed her name there to Desideria, which she did not use herself.

Duc de Dalberg

The title of Duc de Dalberg was created by the French Emperor Napoleon I on 14 April 1810 for Emmerich von Dalberg, the nephew of Karl Theodor von Dalberg, Prince-Primate of the Confederation of the Rhine and Grand Duke of Frankfurt. He died on 27 April 1833. His daughter and heiress married firstly Sir Richard Acton, 7th Baronet and secondly Granville George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville, but as the Duke had no sons, the title became extinct.

Alexandre de Beauharnais French general; president of the National Constituent Assembly in 1791

Alexandre François Marie, Viscount of Beauharnais was a French political figure and general during the French Revolution. He was the first husband of Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, who later married Napoleon Bonaparte and became Empress of the First Empire.

Stéphanie de Beauharnais consort of Karl, Grand Duke of Baden, and adoptive daughter of Napoleon I

Stéphanie, Grand Duchess of Baden was the Grand Duchess consort of Baden by marriage to Karl, Grand Duke of Baden.

Jean-Pierre, Count of Montalivet French politician

Jean-Pierre Bachasson, Seigneur et 1er Comte de Montalivet was a French statesman and Peer of France. He was the father of Camille Bachasson, 3rd Count of Montalivet, Minister of the Interior under Louis-Philippe.

Napoléon Charles Bonaparte, 5th Prince of Canino Prince of France

Napoléon Charles Bonaparte, 5th Prince of Canino and Musignano, was born in Rome as the son of Charles Lucien Bonaparte and his wife, Zénaïde Bonaparte.

Eugénie Laetitia Bonaparte was the youngest daughter of Napoléon Charles Bonaparte, 5th Prince of Canino and princess Maria Cristina Ruspoli.

Josephine Balsamo is a fictional character who is the best known antagonist of Arsène Lupin, the notorious gentleman burglar created by Maurice Leblanc.

Line of succession to the French throne (Bonapartist)

The line of succession to the throne of the French Empire was vested in the descendants and relations of Napoleon Bonaparte until the abolition of the French Empire in 1870.

Eléonore Denuelle de La Plaigne mistress of Emperor Napoleon I

Eléonore Denuelle was a mistress of Emperor Napoleon I of France and the mother of his son Charles, Count Léon. Her son was proof that Napoleon was capable of producing an heir and that his wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, was infertile; as a result, he divorced Joséphine and married Marie Louise of Austria.

Beauharnais dynasty

Beauharnais is a French noble family. It is now headed by the Duke of Leuchtenberg, descendant in male line of Eugène de Beauharnais.

Prosper Louis, 7th Duke of Arenberg Duke of Arenberg

Prosper Louis, 7th Duke of Arenberg was the Duke of Arenberg, a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. He was also the 13th Duke of Aarschot, 2nd Duke of Meppen and 2nd prince of Recklinghausen.

Marie-Marseille-Adéle "Marcelle" Tascher de la Pagerie née Clary (1792-1866) was a French countess. She served as överhovmästarinna for her paternal aunt, the Swedish Queen Désirée Clary.


  1. de Saint-Amand, Imbert (1890). Court of Empress Josephine. Kessinger Publishing.
  2. Stuart, Andrea (2005). The Rose of Martinique: A Life of Napoleon's Josephine. Grove Press. p. 480. ISBN   0-8021-4202-8.
  3. Hommes Célèbres - Ville de L'Isle-Adam Archived 2011-04-06 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading