Stéphanie de Beauharnais

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Stéphanie de Beauharnais
Princesse Française
Grossherzogin Stephanie de Beauharnais.jpg
Grand Duchess consort of Baden
Tenure10 June 1811 – 8 December 1818
Born28 August 1789
Versailles, France
Died29 January 1860(1860-01-29) (aged 70)
Nice, France
Burial Pforzheim
Spouse Charles, Grand Duke of Baden
Issue Luise Amelie Stephanie, Princess of Vasa
Josephine, Princess of Hohenzollern
Prince Alexander
Marie, Duchess of Hamilton
Full name
Stéphanie Louise Adrienne de Beauharnais
House Beauharnais
Father Claude, 2nd Count des Roches-Baritaud
MotherClaudine Françoise Adrienne Gabrielle de Lézay-Marnézia
Religion Roman Catholicism

Stéphanie, Grand Duchess of Baden (Stéphanie Louise Adrienne de Beauharnais; August 28, 1789 – January 29, 1860) was the Grand Duchess consort of Baden by marriage to Karl, Grand Duke of Baden.

Princess consort is an official title or an informal designation that is normally accorded to the wife of a sovereign prince. The title may be used for the wife of a king if the more usual designation of queen consort is not used.



Born in Versailles at the beginning of the French Revolution, Stéphanie was a great-granddaughter to Claude de Beauharnais (1680–1738) and Renée Hardouineau (1696–1744) who were married in La Rochelle during 1713. Their oldest son was François de Beauharnais, Marquess de la Ferte-Beauharnais (1714–1800) who served as a governor of Martinique. Their younger son was Claude de Beauharnais, 1st Count des Roches-Baritaud (1717–1784), Stephanie's paternal grandfather.

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.

Claude de Beauharnais was a French nobleman. He was sieur de Beaumont et de Bellechauve, captain des vaisseaux du roi, and a knight of the Order of Saint Louis. He was the son of François IV de Beauharnais, seigneur de La Boische and his wife Marie Marguerite-Françoise Puyvart de Chastullé.

La Rochelle Prefecture and commune in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

La Rochelle is a city in western France and a seaport on the Bay of Biscay, a part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the capital of the Charente-Maritime department.

Claude was married in 1753 to Marie Anne Françoise Mouchard (1738–1813), known in poetry as Fanny de Beauharnais . Their oldest son was Claude de Beauharnais, 2nd Count des Roches-Baritaud (1756–1819). In 1783 the 2nd Count married Claudine Françoise de Lezay (1767–1791). The marriage resulted in the birth of first her older brother Alberic de Beauharnais (1786–1791) and then Stephanie herself. Her father was remarried in 1799 to Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis (1775–1850). The second marriage resulted in the birth of her half-sister Joséphine de Beauharnais, Marchioness de Quiqueran-Beaujeu (1803–1870).

Fanny de Beauharnais, née Marie-Anne-Françoise Mouchard, was a French lady of letters and salon-holder. She was the mother of French politician Claude de Beauharnais. She was the grandmother of Stéphanie de Beauharnais, Grand Duchess of Baden, and through her she is the ancestor of former royal families of Romania and Yugoslavia, and the present royal families of Belgium, of Luxembourg and of Monaco.

Claude de Beauharnais (1756–1819) French politician; father-in-law of Charles, Grand Duke of Baden

Claude de Beauharnais was a French politician.

The fates of her family however would be defined by another Joséphine. On December 13, 1779 Alexandre, Vicomte de Beauharnais, first cousin of her father, was married to Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie. On July 23, 1794, Alexandre was guillotined. Joséphine had affairs with several influential figures of the French Directory, including Paul François Jean Nicolas Barras. The latter would introduce her to his recent favorite Napoléon Bonaparte. Napoléon soon started courting her. On March 9, 1796 they were married.

Guillotine apparatus designed for carrying out executions by beheading

A guillotine is an apparatus designed for efficiently carrying out executions by beheading. The device consists of a tall, upright frame in which a weighted and angled blade is raised to the top and suspended. The condemned person is secured with stocks at the bottom of the frame, positioning the neck directly below the blade. The blade is then released, to quickly fall and forcefully decapitate the victim with a single, clean pass so that the head falls into a basket below.

French Directory Executive power of the French Constitution of 1795-1799

The Directory or Directorate was a five-member committee which governed France from 2 November 1795, when it replaced the Committee of Public Safety, until 9 November 1799, when it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, and replaced by the French Consulate. It gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution.

General Napoléon Bonaparte was now stepfather to Eugène de Beauharnais and Hortense de Beauharnais, second cousins of Stephanie. As his prominence and wealth continued to rise, Napoléon found himself being de facto patron to both the Bonaparte and the de Beauharnais families. Stephanie would soon see her patron rise to become First Consul of France.

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.

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.

In law and government, de facto describes practices that exist in reality, even if not officially recognised by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with de jure, which refers to things that happen according to law. Unofficial customs that are widely accepted are sometimes called de facto standards.

Her "uncle" crowned himself Emperor of the French on December 2, 1804. As a prominent member of the new Imperial Family, Stephanie held residence in the Tuileries Palace. Her new status allowed her to live a rather luxurious life. She would soon however have to depart both the Palace and France.

Tuileries Palace royal and imperial palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine

The Tuileries Palace was a royal and imperial palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine. It was the usual Parisian residence of most French monarchs, from Henry IV to Napoleon III, until it was burned by the Paris Commune in 1871.

This was a consequence of Napoleon's effort to secure an alliance with the Prince-elector of Baden. The alliance was to be secured through a marriage between the descendants of the two sovereigns, connecting the two dynasties. The Prince-Elector was to be represented by his grandson. Napoleon on the other hand lacked legitimate descendants of his own. He adopted Stephanie and named her "Princesse Française" (French Princess) with the style of Imperial Highness. The marriage took place in Paris on April 8, 1806. On July 25, 1806 her new grandfather-in-law was named Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden.

By most accounts the arranged marriage was not particularly successful. Her husband was determined to continue living as a bachelor. He set residence in Karlsruhe. She was allowed to settle separately in Mannheim. Even the official complaints by the Emperor did not resolve this situation. The Grand Duke offered Schwetzingen to be their common summer residence. But only Stephanie accepted the offer. The situation changed somewhat when it became evident that the aging Grand Duke would not live much longer. The couple apparently reconciled in an effort to produce heirs for the throne.


Statue of Stephanie de Beauharnais near Mannheim Palace Stephanie Beauharnais MA.jpg
Statue of Stéphanie de Beauharnais near Mannheim Palace

On June 10, 1811, Stephanie's husband, Karl succeeded his grandfather as Grand Duke of Baden. He and Grand Duchess Stephanie would have five children:

Among her descendants are the former Kings of Romania and former King of Yugoslavia, the present King of the Belgians, the present Grand Duke of Luxembourg and the present Sovereign Prince of Monaco.

The Grand Duke died on December 8, 1818. Stephanie remained a widow for the rest of her long life. She was reportedly a devoted mother to her three daughters. Her residence in Mannheim became a popular Salon for artists and intellectuals. Stephanie died in Nice, France at the age of 71, in 1860, 41 years after her husband. [2]

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  1. Fritz Trautz: Zum Problem der Persönlichkeitsdeutung: Anläßlich das Kaspar-Hauser-Buches von Jean Mistler, in: Francia 2, 1974, S. 723 [ permanent dead link ]
  2. "Death of the Grand Duchess Stephanie of Baden". New York Times. February 16, 1860.
Stéphanie de Beauharnais
Born: 28 August 1789 Died: 29 January 1860
German royalty
Preceded by
Landgravine Caroline Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt
as Margravine of Baden
Grand Duchess consort of Baden
10 June 1811 – 8 December 1818
Succeeded by
Princess Sophie of Sweden