Letizia Ramolino

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Letizia Ramolino
Mother of His Imperial Majesty The Emperor
Robert Lefevre 001.jpg
Letizia Ramolino by Robert Lefèvre, 1813
Born 24 August 1750
Ajaccio, Corsica, Republic of Genoa
Died 2 February 1836(1836-02-02) (aged 85)
Rome, Papal States
BurialImperial Chapel, Ajaccio, France
Carlo Buonaparte
(m. 1764;d. 1785)
Issue Joseph, King of Spain
Napoleon I, Emperor of the French
Lucien, 1st Prince of Canino and Musignano
Elisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
Louis I, King of Holland
Pauline, Princess and Duchess of Guastalla
Caroline, Queen of Naples
Jérôme, King of Westphalia
Full name
Maria Letizia Buonaparte née Ramolino
House Bonaparte
Father Giovanni Geronimo Ramolino
Mother Angela Maria Pietrasanta
Religion Roman Catholicism

Nob. Maria Letizia Buonaparte née Ramolino [1] (Marie-Lætitia Ramolino, Madame Mère de l'Empereur) (24 August 1750 – 2 February 1836) was an Italian noblewoman, mother of Napoleon I of France.

Nobile (aristocracy) Italian title of nobility

Nobile, traditionally abbreviated to Nob., is an Italian hereditary title borne by a noble who ranks below a baron, similar to the rank of a baronet. Unlike higher Italian titles which are typically referred to in lieu of an individual's name, nobile is used immediately before the given and surnames, usually in the abbreviated form Nob.. Sometimes is also abbreviated to "N.H." or "N.D." for women.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.



She was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, Republic of Genoa, the daughter of Nobile Giovanni Geronimo Ramolino (13 April 1723 – 1755), Captain of Corsican Regiments of Chivalry and Infantry in the Army of the Republic of Genoa, and his wife Nobile Angela Maria Pietrasanta (circa 1725–1790). The distant cousins of the Ramolinos were a low rank of nobility in the Republic of Genoa.

Ajaccio Prefecture and commune in Corsica, France

Ajaccio is a French commune, prefecture of the department of Corse-du-Sud, and head office of the Collectivité territoriale de Corse. It is also the largest settlement on the island. Ajaccio is located on the west coast of the island of Corsica, 210 nautical miles (390 km) southeast of Marseille.

Corsica Island in the Mediterranean, also a region and a department of France

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.

Republic of Genoa former state on the Apennine Peninsula between 1005–1797

The Republic of Genoa was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, incorporating Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean.

Like most such girls in the 18th century, Letizia was educated at home. After the death of her father, her mother remarried the Swiss-born naval officer Franz Fesch, a captain in the service of the Republic of Genoa stationed on Corsica, and gave birth to two children, among them her half-brother Joseph Fesch.

Faesch family name

Faesch, also spelled Fesch, is a prominent Swiss, French, Belgian, Corsican and Italian noble family, originally a patrician family of Basel. Known since the early 15th century, the family received a confirmation of nobility from the Holy Roman Emperor in 1563. It was continuously represented in the governing bodies of the city-republic of Basel for centuries, and three members served as Burgomasters, i.e. heads of state, namely Remigius Faesch (1541–1610), Johann Rudolf Faesch (1572–1659) and Johann Rudolf Faesch (1680–1762). The family was at times the richest family of Basel, and its rise was partially the result of clever marriage policies.

Joseph Fesch French cardinal, diplomat, and Prince of France

Joseph Fesch, Prince of France was a French cardinal and diplomat, Prince of France and a member of the Imperial House of the First French Empire, Peer of France, Roman Prince, and the uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was also one of the most famous art collectors of his period, remembered for having established the Musée Fesch in Ajaccio, which remains one of the most important Napoleonic collections of art.


On 2/7 June 1764, when she was thirteen, Letizia married the trainee attorney Carlo Buonaparte, himself only seventeen, at Ajaccio. First pregnant a few months later, she went on to give birth to thirteen children, eight of whom survived infancy, [2] and most of whom were created monarchs by Napoleon.

Lawyer legal professional who helps clients and represents them in a court of law

A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney, attorney at law, barrister, barrister-at-law, bar-at-law, civil law notary, counsel, counselor, counsellor, counselor at law, solicitor, chartered legal executive, or public servant preparing, interpreting and applying law, but not as a paralegal or charter executive secretary. Working as a lawyer involves the practical application of abstract legal theories and knowledge to solve specific individualized problems, or to advance the interests of those who hire lawyers to perform legal services.

Carlo Buonaparte Father of Napoleon Bonaparte

Nob. Carlo Maria Buonaparte or Carlo Maria di Buonaparte was an Genoese lawyer and diplomat who is best known as the father of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Deathbed portrait of Maria Letizia Bonaparte. Letizia Ramolino.jpg
Deathbed portrait of Maria Letizia Bonaparte.

Letizia and her husband Carlo befriended the island's governor, Charles Louis de Marbeuf and the intendant, Bertrand de Boucheporn whose wife was the godmother of their son Louis (1778), the future king of Holland. These friendships might have helped to have Napoleon admitted to the Brienne cadet school (1779). [3]

Louis Charles René, comte de Marbeuf, grand-cross of the order of Saint Louis, was a French general.

Claude-François Bertrand Boucheporn was a French magistrate and intendant of the Ancien Régime, born in Metz (Moselle). He was counselor in the parliament of Metz (1761), General Counsel (1768–1771), Maître des Requêtes to the King's Council, intendant of Corsica (1775–1785), intendant of the Généralité of Pau, Bayonne and Auch.

She was described as a harsh mother, and had a very down-to-earth view of most things. When most European mothers bathed children perhaps once a month, she had her children bathed every other day. Letizia spoke Italian and Corsican, and never learned French.

In 1785, when she was 35, her husband died of cancer. In 1793, she left Corsica and resettled with her children in Marseilles in France, where her son Napoleon had a successful military career and eventually took power.

Described as frugal and with simple tastes, she did not approve of her son's marriage to the extravagant Josephine de Beauharnais in 1796.

Reign of Napoleon

In 1804, her son Napoleon declared himself Emperor. Despite being depicted in the famous painting of the coronation of Napoleon by David, she did not attend her son's coronation. By decree, she was decreed "Madam, the Mother of His Imperial Majesty The Emperor" (Madame Mère de l'Empereur), Imperial Highness, on 18 May 1804 or 23 March 1805. Napoleon paid her 25,000 francs a month. [4]

She did not attend the Imperial court and normally lived at the Chateau de Pont-sur-Seine, residing at the Hotel de Brienne on the rare occasions when she did visit Paris.

In 1814, she shared Napoleon's exile in Elba, where he treated her fondly. [5]

Later life

After 1815 she moved to Rome, in Palazzo D'Aste-Bonaparte in piazza Venezia, where she lived out her days with her younger brother Joseph Fesch. During her years in Rome, she rarely saw any other family members than her brother, who rarely left her. [6] For a time the painter Anna Barbara Bansi served as her companion. [7]

She died of old age in 1836, aged 85, three weeks before the 51st anniversary of her husband's death. By then she was nearly blind and had outlived her most famous son Napoleon by 15 years.



Coat of arms Maria Letizia Buonaparte.svg
Coat of arms of Maria Letizia Buonaparte

See also

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  1. Bourrienne's biography of Napoleon misspells the surname as Ramolini
  2. Maria Letizia Ramolino 1750-1836 in: geneagraphie.com [retrieved 10 November 2014].
  3. Frédéric Masson - Napoleon dans se jeunesse - Société d'Éditions Littéraires et Artistiques - Paris, 1907 - page 42
  4. Philip Dwyer, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power (2013) p 135
  5. Dwyer, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power (2013) pp 510-11
  6. Michel Lévy, Dictionnaire de la conversation et de la lecture, Vol. 3, p. 409, 1852
  7. Mapping the 'I': Research on Self-Narratives in Germany and Switzerland. BRILL. 14 November 2014. pp. 61–. ISBN   978-90-04-28397-8.