Hortense tries to persuade Napoleon to let Eugene out of running Italy so he can fight in the war.

A lot of what I’m doing here is laying out a thesis. Basically that underneath the affairs and the marriages and all the misery, Napoleon and Hortense were crazy about each other. I started this project really only knowing Hortense’s Memoirs and Marchand’s Memoirs. I read many books about Napoleon but I wasn’t sure what to trust in regards to them. I had no idea if these rivers of new source material I’m putting out there would support my thesis: that Napoleon and Hortense were crazy about each other. We’ll see.


In this letter, we see Hortense again trying to get Napoleon to bend to her will. Napoleon obviously likes it because he’s stringing her along.

Dear Eugene,

Paris, this Tuesday, 30 Fructidor, Year XIII, September 17, 1805.

I arrived Sunday evening from Saint-Amand, my dear Eugene. The Emperor had written to Louis to tell him to come at once. He is definitively governor of Paris. Yesterday morning, Lavalette brought me a letter from you. I really felt the desire you have to go to war. I left for Saint-Cloud at noon. I cried while kissing Mom. We talked a lot about you, as you can imagine.


I have been to see the Emperor, he received me very well. He said to me, "Well your brother, what is he saying?” I told him that you were very sad not to go to war but that you were still hoping for it and that you would serve with pleasure under Massena. He joked to me saying: “How is this possible?! Do you want him to fight? And what if he is killed, poor little brother ... "

I thought I saw, however, in his air, that he was not very well resolved against letting you serve. I spoke to him once more, but he always changed his conversation with a laugh, which gives me hope, because you know that when he does not want something, he simply says it cannot be.

Would you believe that it seemed to me very extraordinary to find myself in a court? All the little intrigues are amazing when you come out of a loneliness like the one I left. Mom behaves very well in all this. She is no longer jealous, which is a great thing. The Emperor is very good to her. Goodbye, I’m going to see Mme. Murat and Mom. I will write to you soon. I kiss you.


Hortense and Josephine Bonaparte’s Letters are available here.