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Lucien was the most talented of the Bonaparte brothers, who not only can be credited for helping Napoleon seize power, but who also had a promising political career of his own. He was a romantic, an idealist, and an anti-monarchist whose love for Alexandrine, the woman he married in spite of Napoleon’s objections, caused him to fall out of favor with his powerful brother. Here, authors Simonetta and Arikha draw from a massive trove of first-hand documents, allowing them to present a rare, detailed portrait of ...
Lucien was the most talented of the Bonaparte brothers, who not only can be credited for helping Napoleon seize power, but who also had a promising political career of his own. He was a romantic, an idealist, and an anti-monarchist whose love for Alexandrine, the woman he married in spite of Napoleon’s objections, caused him to fall out of favor with his powerful brother. Here, authors Simonetta and Arikha draw from a massive trove of first-hand documents, allowing them to present a rare, detailed portrait of this remarkable dynasty that reveals Emperor Napoleon and his family at their most intimate and vulnerable moments. The turbulent relationship between Napoleon and his favorite brother, Lucien, of whom the emperor said, “of all my siblings, he was the most gifted, and the one who hurt me most,” creates the perfect springboard to illustrate the bloody power struggles, romantic idealism, and corruption that characterized nineteenth-century Europe, as well as the rise and fall of the French empire.
Napoleon's recalcitrant,republican younger brother has his say in this lively reconstruction of the Bonaparte family's accession to power.
Simonetta (The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A Renaissance Mystery Decoded, 2008) and Arikha (Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours, 2007) acquired unpublished correspondence and notebooks belonging to Lucien Bonaparte and his wife, Alexandrine, that were spared the purge by Napoleon III's revisionists. Much of their work here revisits Lucien's Memoirs, with expurgated passages restored involving telling scenes between the brothers as well as details about Lucien's relationship with Alexandrine, his lovely second wife who was vilified by Napoleon mostly because the First Consul wanted his brother to make an astute political match rather than marry for love. The authors "take [Lucien] at his word," allowing the dialogue he recorded seemingly verbatim to remain intact and jump off the page—namely, when Napoleon informs his brothers Joseph and Lucien while reclining in the bathtub of his precipitous decision to sell the vast Louisiana territories to the Americans, the same territory Lucien had skillfully and very recently negotiated from the Spanish. Napoleon had often been away in military school during Lucien's youth, and the relationship between them was respectful but never warm. Lucien had studied in seminary before becoming a political activist and speaker; he was deeply imbued with republican ideals and early on expressed his suspicions about his older brother's despotic ambitions. If Napoleon were king, Lucien wrote to Joseph, "his name would be a terror to posterity and to sensitive patriots." Nonetheless, Napoleon relied on Lucien's diplomacy and cool-headedness to help stage his coup amid the Council of the Five Hundred in November 1799, and used him as a diplomatic tool until Lucien's forced exileover hismarriage to Alexandrine.
A fresh piece of turbulent French history.
List of Illustrations vii
Chapter 1 Youth (1775-1799) 1
Chapter 2 Diplomacy (1800-1802) 55
Chapter 3 Love (1802-1803) 107
Chapter 4 Exile (1804-1807) 153
Chapter 5 Empire (1808-1815)p193
Posted April 7, 2012
This is an extremely well written and apparently thoroughly researched work about Lucien, Napoleon's younger brother and the "brains" of the family.
An historical novel presenting a chronological portrayal of Lucien's life and his influence on major and some minor events during that rather interesting period of Europe's past.