BONAPARTE Josephine - Letter Signed 1796
JOSEPHINE BONAPARTE (1763-1814)
Letter Signed (“Lapagerie Bonaparte”) to Citizen Carusson, the French Consul at Malta, requesting that he assist her relative Citizen du Roure Brison, a member of the Order of Malta, in any way he can.
1 page folio in French with integral address leaf, Milan, 27 vendemiaire an 5 [18 October 1796].
A letter from a momentous period in Josephine’s life, barely seven months after her marriage to Bonaparte.
Josephine married the brilliant general, Napoleon Bonaparte in March 1796. Within days, he left to take up his command of the Army of Italy, and soon sent a series of messages asking, then ordering, her to join him. Not only did she fail to obey, within two months of the marriage she embarked on a love affair with the dashing Hippolyte Charles.
Josephine was eventually persuaded, much against her will, to join her husband in Milan, now firmly in French hands. Initially fêted by the Italian nobility and adored by her new husband, Josephine nevertheless remained dissatisfied, longing for a return to Paris.
Trans: “The desire I have, Citizen Minister, to be of assistance to one of my relatives, Citizen du Rourre Brison M[aste]r of the Order of Malta, who has come to Milan to deal with some of his Order’s affairs, and who must return to Malta, I undertake to ask you to give him every assistance which your position enables you to do.
I beg you to rest assured, Citizen Minister, of the special gratitude which I will have for everything which you will do for Citizen Durroure Brison my relative. . .”
Josephine’s request for a favour for a friend or relative is quite typical. Throughout her life, she would use her position, even when she was still the “Citoyenne Beauharnais”, to beg favours for those who asked her to intercede for them, though her intercession was not always entirely without self-interest. In this particular instance, it would appear that there was some uncertainty as to the name of the addressee of the letter. The name has been filled in in a darker ink, both in the heading of the letter, and on the address leaf.
It seems likely that Josephine may have been stretching the facts slightly when calling du Roure Brison her relative. The family of du Roure de Beaumont, Baron de Brison, were Royalists, nobles of ancient lineage, many of whom had fled France at the time of the Revolution and were only to return after Napoleon’s rise to power.
The letter has some light foxing, not affecting its legibility.
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