It is uncontested that Marie Louise was born to be a political pawn and that she became one. All of the Napoleon memoirists including Napoleon himself react to this reality in different ways.
This memoir by Méneval is the first one we’ve broadcast that is not aligned with my own personal pro de Beauharnais view on things. I can see in many places where Méneval is directly refuting Hortense’s memoirs. He basically sticks up for those she disliked and showed in a negative light.
The Méneval memoirs are amazing and very congruent with all the other memoirs but I feel he has created a massive double standard where whatever Marie Louise does or doesn’t do is entirely justified because she was scared or sad or whatever. I’m sure lots of the people who betrayed Napoleon were scared and sad yet Méneval applies his approbation and contempt somewhat unevenly.
Here is Hortense’s account of the last time she saw Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise of Austria.
Méneval and Hortense’s memoirs are available here. They agree on almost everything but Méneval has a serious issue with Hortense if you ask me.