Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma

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Marie Louise
Portrait by François Gérard
Duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla
Reign11 April 1814 17 December 1847
Empress consort of the French,
Queen consort of Italy
Tenure1 April 1810 6 April 1814
Born(1791-12-12)12 December 1791
Hofburg, Vienna, Austria
Died17 December 1847(1847-12-17) (aged 56)
Parma, Duchy of Parma
Full name
German: Maria Ludovica Leopoldina Franziska Therese Josepha Lucia
French: Marie-Louise-Léopoldine-Françoise-Thérèse-Joséphine-Lucie
Italian: Maria Luigia Leopoldina Francesca Teresa Giuseppa Lucia
House Habsburg-Lorraine
Father Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily
Religion Roman Catholicism

Marie Louise (Maria Ludovica Leopoldina Franziska Therese Josepha Lucia; Italian: Maria Luigia Leopoldina Francesca Teresa Giuseppa Lucia; 12 December 1791 – 17 December 1847) was an Austrian archduchess who reigned as Duchess of Parma from 1814 until her death. She was Napoleon's second wife and, as such, Empress of the French from 1810 to 1814.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. In spite of not existing any Italian community in their respective national territories and of not being spoken at any level, Italian is included de jure, but not de facto, between the recognized minority languages of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both standardized Italian and other regional languages.

Duke of Parma Wikimedia list article

The Duke of Parma was the ruler of the Duchy of Parma, a small historical state which existed between 1545 and 1802, and again from 1814 to 1859.

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.


As the eldest child of the Habsburg Emperor Francis II of Austria and his second wife, Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily, Marie Louise grew up during a period of continuous conflict between Austria and revolutionary France. A series of military defeats at the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte had inflicted a heavy human toll on Austria and led Francis to dissolve the Holy Roman Empire. The end of the War of the Fifth Coalition resulted in the marriage of Napoleon and Marie Louise in 1810, which ushered in a brief period of peace and friendship between Austria and the French Empire. Marie Louise agreed to the marriage despite being raised to despise France. She was adored by Napoleon, who had been eager to marry a member of one of Europe's leading royal houses to cement his relatively young Empire. With Napoleon, she bore a son, styled the King of Rome at birth, later Duke of Reichstadt, who briefly succeeded him as Napoleon II.

Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily Czech queen

Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily was the last Holy Roman Empress and the first Empress of Austria by marriage to Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. She was the eldest daughter of Ferdinand IV & III of Naples and Sicily (1751–1825) and Marie Caroline of Austria (1752–1814).

Austrian Empire monarchy in Central Europe between 1804 and 1867

The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire

The dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire occurred de facto on 6 August 1806, when Emperor Francis II abdicated his title and released all imperial states and officials from their oaths and obligations to the empire. Although the abdication was considered legal, the dissolution of the imperial bonds was not and several states refused to recognise the end of the empire at the time.

Napoleon's fortunes changed dramatically in 1812 after his failed invasion of Russia. The European powers, including Austria, resumed hostilities towards France in the War of the Sixth Coalition, which ended with the abdication of Napoleon and his exile to Elba. The 1814 Treaty of Fontainebleau handed over the Duchies of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla to Empress Marie Louise. She ruled the duchies until her death.

French invasion of Russia Napoleon Bonapartes attempted conquest of the Russian Empire

The French invasion of Russia, known in Russia as the Patriotic War of 1812 and in France as the Russian Campaign, began on 24 June 1812 when Napoleon's Grande Armée crossed the Neman River in an attempt to engage and defeat the Russian army. Napoleon hoped to compel Emperor of All Russia Alexander I to cease trading with British merchants through proxies in an effort to pressure the United Kingdom to sue for peace. The official political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia. Napoleon named the campaign the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and provide a political pretext for his actions.

War of the Sixth Coalition Part of the Napoleonic Wars

In the War of the Sixth Coalition, sometimes known in Germany as the War of Liberation, a coalition of Austria, Prussia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and a number of German States defeated France and drove Napoleon into exile on Elba. After the disastrous French invasion of Russia of 1812, the continental powers joined Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal and the rebels in Spain who were already at war with France.

Elba Mediterranean island near Italy

Elba is a Mediterranean island in Tuscany, Italy, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the coastal town of Piombino, and the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago. It is also part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park, and the third largest island in Italy, after Sicily and Sardinia. It is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea about 50 kilometres (30 mi) east of the French island of Corsica.

Marie Louise married morganatically twice after Napoleon's death in 1821. Her second husband was Count Adam Albert von Neipperg (married 1821), an equerry she met in 1814. She and Neipperg had three children. After Neipperg's death, she married Count Charles-René de Bombelles, her chamberlain, in 1834. Marie Louise died in Parma in 1847.

Morganatic marriage, sometimes called a left-handed marriage, is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which in the context of royalty prevents the passage of the husband's titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage.

Adam Albert von Neipperg austrian marshall and nobleman

Adam Albert, Count von Neipperg was an Austrian general and statesman. He was the son of a diplomat famous for inventing a letter-copying machine, and the grandson of Count Wilhelm Reinhard von Neipperg.

An equerry is an officer of honour. Historically, it was a senior attendant with responsibilities for the horses of a person of rank. In contemporary use, it is a personal attendant, usually upon a sovereign, a member of a royal family, or a national representative. The role is equivalent to an aide-de-camp, but the term is now prevalent only in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Early life

Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria (who was given the Latin baptismal name of Maria Ludovica Leopoldina Francisca Theresa Josepha Lucia) was born at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna on 12 December 1791 to Archduke Francis of Austria and his second wife, Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily. [1] She was named after her grandmother, Marie Louise, Holy Roman Empress. Her father became Holy Roman Emperor a year later as Francis II. Marie Louise was a great-granddaughter of Empress Maria Theresa through both her parents, as they were first cousins. She was also a maternal granddaughter of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, [1] Marie Antoinette's favourite sister.

Vienna Capital city and state in Austria

Vienna is the federal capital and largest city of Austria, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor also known as Francis I, Emperor of Austria

Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation after the decisive defeat at the hands of the First French Empire led by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1804, he had founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I, the first Emperor of Austria, ruling from 1804 to 1835, so later he was named the one and only Doppelkaiser in history. For the two years between 1804 and 1806, Francis used the title and style by the Grace of God elected Roman Emperor, ever Augustus, hereditary Emperor of Austria and he was called the Emperor of both the Holy Roman Empire and Austria. He was also Apostolic King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia as Francis I. He also served as the first president of the German Confederation following its establishment in 1815.

Maria Luisa of Spain Czech queen

Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain was Holy Roman Empress, German Queen, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, Grand Duchess of Tuscany as the spouse of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor.

Marie Louise's formative years were during a period of conflict between France and her family. She was brought up to detest France and French ideas. [2] Marie Louise was influenced by her grandmother Maria Carolina, who despised the French Revolution which ultimately caused the death of her sister, Marie Antoinette. [2] Maria Carolina's Kingdom of Naples had also come into direct conflict with French forces led by Napoleon Bonaparte. [2] The War of the Third Coalition brought Austria to the brink of ruin, which increased Marie Louise's resentment towards Napoleon. [3] The Imperial family was forced to flee Vienna in 1805. Marie Louise took refuge in Hungary and later Galicia [3] before returning to Vienna in 1806. [4] Her father relinquished the title of Holy Roman Emperor but remained Emperor of Austria.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Kingdom of Naples former state in Italy

The Kingdom of Naples comprised that part of the Italian Peninsula south of the Papal States between 1282 and 1816. It was created as a result of the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282–1302), when the island of Sicily revolted and was conquered by the Crown of Aragon, becoming a separate Kingdom of Sicily. Naples continued to be officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily, the name of the formerly unified kingdom. For much of its existence, the realm was contested between French and Spanish dynasties. In 1816, it was reunified with the island kingdom of Sicily once again to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

War of the Third Coalition war

The War of the Third Coalition was a European conflict spanning the years 1803 to 1806. During the war, France and its client states under Napoleon I defeated an alliance, the Third Coalition, made up of the Holy Roman Empire, Russia, Britain and others.

To make her more marriageable, her parents had her tutored in many languages. In addition to her native German, she became fluent in English, French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish. [5]

In 1807, when Marie Louise was 15, her mother died after suffering a miscarriage. [4] Less than a year later, Emperor Francis married his first cousin Maria Ludovika Beatrix of Austria-Este, who was four years older than Marie Louise. [4] Nonetheless, Maria Ludovika Beatrix took on a maternal role towards her stepdaughter. [6] She was also bitter towards the French, who had deprived her father of the Duchy of Modena. [7]

Another war broke out between France and Austria in 1809, which resulted in defeat for the Austrians again. The Imperial family had to flee Vienna again before the city surrendered on May 12. [8] Their journey was hampered by bad weather, and they arrived in Buda "wet through, and nearly worn out with fatigue". [8]

Marriage proposal

After escaping an assassination attempt in Vienna while negotiating the Treaty of Schönbrunn on 12 October 1809, Emperor Napoleon decided that he needed an heir to cement his relatively young Empire. [9] He also sought the validation and legitimization of his Empire by marrying a member of one of the leading royal families of Europe. He began proceedings to divorce Joséphine de Beauharnais, who did not bear him a son, and began searching for a new empress. His wish to marry Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia, the youngest daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia, caused alarm in Austria, who were afraid of being sandwiched between two great powers allied with each other. [10] At the persuasion of Prince Metternich, a marriage between Napoleon and Marie Louise was suggested by Emperor Francis to the Count of Narbonne [11] [12] but no official overture was made by the Austrians. [13] Though officials in Paris and Austria were beginning to accept the possibility of the union, Marie Louise was kept uninformed of developments. [14]

Frustrated by the Russians delaying the marriage negotiations, Napoleon rescinded his proposal in late January 1810 and began negotiations to marry Marie Louise with the Austrian ambassador, the Prince of Schwarzenberg. [15] Schwarzenberg signed the marriage contract on 7 February. [16] Marie Louise was informed of the marriage by Metternich. [17] When asked for consent, she replied: "I wish only what my duty commands me to wish." [17]


Georges Rouget, Marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise (1811) Napoleon Marie Louise Marriage1.jpeg
Georges Rouget, Marriage of Napoleon and Marie-Louise (1811)

Marie Louise was married by proxy to Napoleon on March 11, 1810 at the Augustinian Church, Vienna. [18] Napoleon was represented by Archduke Charles, the bride's uncle. [19] According to the French ambassador, the marriage "was celebrated with a magnificence that it would be hard to surpass, by the side of which even the brilliant festivities that have preceded it are not to be mentioned". [20] She became Empress of the French and Queen of Italy.

Marie Louise departed Vienna on March 13, [21] probably expecting never to return. [22] Upon arriving in France she was placed in the custody of Napoleon's sister, who had her put through a symbolic old ritual. Tradition dictated that a royal bride coming to France must keep nothing of her homeland, especially her clothes. Accordingly, Marie Louise was stripped of her gown, corset, stockings and chemise, leaving her completely naked. Napoleon's sister then made the nude teenager take a bath. She was then redressed in French bridal clothes. Marie Antoinette had been put through a similar ritual when she arrived in France in 1770. She met Napoleon for the first time on March 27 in Compiègne, [23] remarking to him: "You are much better-looking than your portrait." [23]

The civil wedding was held at the Saint Joseph's Church on 1 April 1810. [24] The next day, Napoleon and Marie Louise made the journey to Paris in the coronation coach. [25] The Imperial Guard cavalry led the procession, followed by the herald-at-arms and then the carriages. [25] The Marshals of France rode on each side, near the doors of the carriages. [25] The procession arrived at the Tuileries Palace, [26] and the Imperial couple made their way to the Salon Carré chapel (in the Louvre) for the religious wedding ceremony. [26] The ceremony was conducted by the Cardinal Grand Almoner of France. [27] A Bridal March was composed for the occasion by Ferdinando Paer. [28]

By this marriage, Napoleon became the great-nephew-in-law of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

Marriage to Napoleon

Portrait in 1812 by Robert Lefevre Lefevre Maria Luigia.jpg
Portrait in 1812 by Robert Lefèvre

Life as Empress

Marie Louise was an obedient wife and settled in quickly in the French court. [29] She developed a close friendship with her Première dame d'honneur , the Duchess of Montebello, [29] while most of the daily affairs were handled by her Dame d'atour Jeanne Charlotte du Luçay. Napoleon initially remarked that he had "married a womb" to an aide, but their relationship soon grew. He "spared no pains" to please her and claimed at one point to prefer Marie Louise to his first wife Joséphine; [29] [30] while he had loved Joséphine, and though he claimed Joséphine remained his greatest friend even after their amicable divorce, he had not respected her, whereas with Marie Louise, there was "Never a lie, never a debt" presumably a reference to Joséphine's rumoured extramarital affairs and reputation as a spendthrift. [31] Marie Louise wrote to her father: "I assure you, dear papa, that people have done great injustice to the Emperor. The better one knows him, the better one appreciates and loves him." [32] However, the marriage was not without tension; Napoleon sometimes remarked to aides that Marie Louise was too shy and timid, compared to the outgoing and passionate Josephine, with whom he remained in close contact, upsetting Marie Louise.

The excitement surrounding the wedding ushered in a period of peace and friendship between France and Austria, who had been largely at war for the last two decades. The people of Vienna, who hated Napoleon only months before, were suddenly in full praise of the French Emperor. [33] Flattering letters were sent between Napoleon and Emperor Francis, Empress Maria Ludovika Beatrix and Archduke Charles during the wedding festivities. [21] [30] [34]

During public occasions, Marie Louise spoke little due to reserve and timidity, which some observers mistook for haughtiness. [35] She was regarded as a virtuous woman and never interfered in politics. [36] [37] Privately, she was polite and gentle. [38]

Birth of first child

Marie Louise with her son, the King of Rome Marie Louise von Osterreich Napoleon Zweite.jpg
Marie Louise with her son, the King of Rome

Marie Louise became pregnant by July 1810 and gave birth to a son on 20 March 1811. [39] [40] The boy, Napoléon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte, was given the title King of Rome, in accordance with the practice where the heir apparent to the Holy Roman Empire was called the King of the Romans. [40] Napoleon was delighted that his wife survived the ordeal and said: "I had rather never have any more children than see her suffer so much again." [40]

Marie Louise was devoted to her son; she had him brought to her every morning and visited him in his apartment in the course of the day. [41]

Resumption of war

Empress Marie Louise of the French in States Robes, by Francois Gerard, c.1812 Empress Marie Louise of the French.jpg
Empress Marie Louise of the French in States Robes, by François Gérard, c.1812

In May 1812, a month before the French invasion of Russia, Marie Louise accompanied Napoleon to Dresden, where she met her father and stepmother. [42] Emperor Francis told Napoleon he could count on Austria for the "triumph of the common cause," a reference to the impending war. [42] A minor rivalry began to develop between Marie Louise and the Empress of Austria, who was jealous at being upstaged in appearance by her stepdaughter. [43] It was also in Dresden where she met Count Adam Albert von Neipperg for the first time. [44] Napoleon left Dresden on May 29 to take charge of his army. [45]

Marie Louise then travelled to Prague, where she spent a few weeks with the Austrian Imperial family, before returning to Saint Cloud on July 18. [46] She kept in touch with Napoleon throughout the war. [47] The invasion of Russia ended disastrously for France. More than half of the Grande Armée was destroyed by the Russian Winter and guerrilla attacks. After the failed Malet coup of October 1812, Napoleon hastened his return to France and reunited with his wife on the night of December 18. [48]

Collapse of the Empire

The weakened French position triggered the Sixth Coalition. Prussia and the United Kingdom joined Russia in declaring war on France, but Austria stayed out due to relations between the Imperial families. [49] On March 30, Marie Louise was appointed Regent as Napoleon set off for battle in Germany. [50] The regency was only de jure, as all decisions were still taken by Napoleon and implemented by his most senior officials, including Lebrun, Joseph Bonaparte, Talleyrand and Savary. [51] Marie Louise tried unsuccessfully to get her father to ally with France. [52] Austria too joined the opposition to France. She maintained a correspondence with Napoleon, informing him of increasing demands for peace in Paris and the provinces. [53] Napoleon was decisively defeated in Leipzig on October 19 and returned to Saint Cloud on November 9. [54]

On 23 January 1814, Marie Louise was appointed Regent for the second time. [55] On January 25, at 03:00 in the morning, Napoleon embraced Marie Louise and his son for the last time. [55] He left to lead a hastily formed army to stave off the Allied invasion from the north. [56]

As the Allies neared Paris, Marie Louise was reluctant to leave. She felt that as the daughter of the sovereign of Austria, one of the allied members, she would be treated with respect by Allied forces, with the possibility of her son succeeding the throne should Napoleon be deposed. [57] She was also afraid that her departure would strengthen the royalist supporters of the Bourbons. [57] Marie Louise was finally persuaded to leave by Henri Clarke, who received the order from Napoleon: "I would prefer to know that they [the Empress and the King of Rome] are both at the bottom of the Seine rather than in the hands of the foreigners." [58] On March 29, the court left Paris. [58] The Allies entered the city the following day.

Marie Louise and the court moved to Blois, which was safe from the Allies. [59] She did not expect her father to dethrone Napoleon and deprive her son of the crown of France. [60] On April 3, the Senate, at the instigation of Talleyrand, announced the deposition of the Emperor. [61] Marie Louise was unaware of this until April 7, and was astonished to discover the turn of events. [62] She wanted to return to Paris, but was dissuaded from doing so by physician Jean-Nicolas Corvisart and the Duchess of Montebello. [62]

Exile of Napoleon

Napoleon abdicated the throne on 11 April 1814 in Fontainebleau. [63] The Treaty of Fontainebleau exiled him to Elba, allowed Marie Louise to retain her imperial rank and style and made her ruler of the duchies of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, with her son as heir. [64] This arrangement was later revised at the Congress of Vienna. [65]

Marie Louise was strongly dissuaded from rejoining her husband by her advisors, who fed her accounts that Napoleon was distraught with grief over the death of Joséphine. [66] On April 16, her father arrived at Blois to meet her. [67] At the advice of Emperor Francis, Marie Louise departed Rambouillet with her son for Vienna on April 23. [68] At Vienna, she stayed at Schönbrunn, where she received frequent visits from her sisters, but rarely from her father and stepmother. [69] She met her grandmother, Maria Carolina, who disapproved of her deserting her husband. [70] [71] Distressed at being seen as a heartless wife and indifferent mother, she wrote on 9 August 1814: "I am in a very unhappy and critical position; I must be very prudent in my conduct. There are moments when that thought so distracts me that I think that the best thing I could do would be to die." [72]

Congress of Vienna and relationship with Neipperg

In the summer of 1814, Emperor Francis sent Count Adam Albert von Neipperg to accompany Marie Louise to the spa town of Aix-les-Bains to prevent her from joining Napoleon on Elba. [73] [74] Neipperg was a confidant of Metternich and an enemy of Napoleon. [73] [75] Marie Louise fell in love with Neipperg. [74] [75] He became her chamberlain and her advocate at the Congress of Vienna. [75] News of the relationship was not received well by the French and the Austrian public. [76]

When Napoleon escaped in March 1815 and reinstated his rule, the Allies once again declared war. Marie Louise was asked by her stepmother to join in the processions to pray for the success of the Austrian armies but rejected the insulting invitation. [75] She passed a message to Napoleon's private secretary, Claude François de Méneval, who was about to return to France: "I hope he will understand the misery of my position ... I shall never assent to a divorce, but I flatter myself that he will not oppose an amicable separation, and that he will not bear any ill feeling towards me ... This separation has become imperative; it will in no way affect the feelings of esteem and gratitude that I preserve." [75] Napoleon was defeated for the last time at the Battle of Waterloo and was exiled to Saint Helena from October 1815. Napoleon made no further attempt to contact her personally.

The Congress of Vienna recognised Marie Louise as ruler of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, but prevented her from bringing her son to Italy. [77] It also made her Duchess of Parma for her life only, as the Allies did not want a descendant of Napoleon to have a hereditary claim over Parma. [65] After her death, the duchy was to revert to the Bourbons.

Duchess of Parma

Portrait in 1839 Marie-Louise of Austria, Duchess of Parma.jpg
Portrait in 1839
Daguerreotype of Marie Louise, 1847 Maria Luigia dagherrotipo.jpg
Daguerreotype of Marie Louise, 1847

Marie Louise departed for Parma on 7 March 1816, accompanied by Neipperg. [78] She entered the duchy on April 18. She wrote to her father: "People welcomed me with such enthusiasm that I had tears in my eyes." [79] She largely left the running of day-to-day affairs to Neipperg, who received instructions from Metternich. [79] In December 1816, Marie Louise removed the incumbent prime minister and installed Neipperg. [73]

She and Neipperg had three children: [74] [75]

Napoleon died on 5 May 1821. On August 8, Marie Louise married Neipperg morganatically. [74] [75] Neipperg died of heart problems on 22 February 1829, [80] devastating Marie Louise. [80] She was banned by Austria from mourning in public. [80]

Her first son, then known as "Franz," was given the title Duke of Reichstadt in 1818. [81] Franz lived at the Austrian court, where he was shown great affection by his grandfather, but was constantly undermined by Austrian ministers and nationalists, who did their best to sideline him to become an irrelevance. There were fears that he might be smuggled over to France to regain the throne, as he could be easily disguised as a girl. Franz grew resentful at his Austrian relatives and his mother for their lack of support, and began identifying as Napoleon II and surrounding himself with French courtiers. [82] The relationship with his mother broke down to such an extent that he once remarked "If Josephine had been my mother, my father would not have been buried at Saint Helena, and I should not be at Vienna. My mother is kind but weak; she was not the wife my father deserved; Josephine was." [83] However, before anything could become of Napoleon II, he died at the age of 21 in Vienna in 1832, after suffering from tuberculosis.

1831 saw the outbreak of the Carbonari-led uprisings in Italy. In Parma, protesters gathered in the streets to denounce the Austrian-appointed prime minister Josef von Werklein. [84] Marie Louise did not know what to do and wanted to leave the city, but was prevented from doing so by the protesters, who saw her as someone who would listen to their demands. [84] She managed to leave Parma between 14 and 15 February, and a provisional government, led by Count Filippo Luigi Linati, was formed. [85] At Piacenza, she wrote to her father, asking him to replace Werklein. [84] Francis sent in Austrian troops, which crushed the rebellion. [86] To avoid further turmoil, Marie Louise granted amnesty to the dissidents on September 29. [87]

Metternich sent Charles-René de Bombelles to Marie Louise's household in 1833. Six months after his arrival, on 17 February 1834, she married him, again morganatically. [88]


Marie Louise fell ill on 9 December 1847. Her condition worsened for the next few days. On December 17, she passed out after vomiting and never woke up again. She died in the evening. [89] The cause of death was determined to be pleurisy. [89]

Her body was transferred back to Vienna and buried at the Imperial Crypt. [90]


Blason de Marie-Louise d'Autriche, Imperatrice des Francais.svg
Marital arms of Empress Marie Louise
Imperial Monogram of Marie-Louise of Austria, Empress of France.svg
Monogram of Marie Louise
Coat of arms of the Duchy of Parma under Maria Luigia of Austria.svg
Arms as Duchess of Parma

Her arms as Duchess of Parma are used as the logo of the perfume company Acqua di Parma. This is in homage to the role she played in helping to develop the perfume and glass industry of Parma. [91]


See also


  1. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 1
  2. 1 2 3 de Saint-Amand, p. 2
  3. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 3
  4. 1 2 3 de Saint-Amand, p. 4
  5. Schom, Alan. Napoleon Bonaparte. p. 548
  6. de Saint-Amand, p. 5
  7. de Saint-Amand, p. 6
  8. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 8
  9. de Saint-Amand, p. 10
  10. de Saint-Amand, p. 12
  11. Bertier de Sauvigny, p. 116
  12. de Saint-Amand, p. 15
  13. de Saint-Amand, p. 18
  14. de Saint-Amand, p. 20
  15. de Saint-Amand, p. 21
  16. de Saint-Amand, p. 22
  17. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 24
  18. de Saint-Amand, p. 40
  19. de Saint-Amand, p. 38
  20. de Saint-Amand, p. 42
  21. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 44
  22. de Saint-Amand, p. 47
  23. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 60
  24. de Saint-Amand, p. 63
  25. 1 2 3 de Saint-Amand, p. 68
  26. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 70
  27. de Saint-Amand, p. 71
  28. Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed, 1954, Vol VI, p. 487, PAER, Ferdinando
  29. 1 2 3 de Saint-Amand, p. 76
  30. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 80
  31. Markham, Felix, Napoleon, p.245
  32. de Saint-Amand, p. 94
  33. de Saint-Amand, p. 39
  34. de Saint-Amand, p. 61
  35. de Saint-Amand, p. 128
  36. de Saint-Amand, p. 130
  37. de Saint-Amand, p. 129
  38. de Saint-Amand, p. 140
  39. de Saint-Amand, p. 95
  40. 1 2 3 de Saint-Amand, p. 98
  41. de Saint-Amand, p. 141
  42. 1 2 de Saint-Amand, p. 145
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Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma
Cadet branch of the House of Lorraine
Born: 12 December 1791 Died: 17 December 1847
Royal titles
Preceded by
Joséphine de Beauharnais
Empress consort of the French
18101814; 1815
Title next held by
Marie Thérèse of France
as Queen of France and Navarre
Queen consort of Italy
Title next held by
Margherita of Savoy
Regnal titles
Title last held by
Duchess of Parma and Piacenza
Succeeded by
Charles II
Duchess of Guastalla
Succeeded by