How is it that one woman’s health and personality so deeply affected thousands of 18th and early 19th century Europeans?
Born in a distant French colony, Josephine, the future wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, was unwittingly to have a major influence on Europe. Yet she has often been overlooked by the masculine machinations and intrigues of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. She was very nearly, by only a few days, born a British subject. By fate of opportunity she came to France at the whim of a chance encounter. By mischance she was rendered a widow of the French Revolution only a few days before it ended with Robespierre’s execution.
As a companion sequel to the author’s previous book Napoleon Immortal, the author examines, with a doctor’s detailed eye, how her mental and physical health permeated events across Europe. The mother of two children by her first husband, now widowed and facing penury, with characteristic boldness she introduced herself to Napoleon who was bewitched by her eloquence and demeanour, to the extent that his ardour resulted in their marriage within five months.
But her inability to bear him a son, as the Emperor required to perpetuate his lineage, was for her a disaster. Was it her or her new husband’s inability? The consequences of her illnesses were as far-reaching as they were devastating for her, her family and for Europe.