Rose’s first husband was killed in the “reign of terror.” She had also been imprisoned for being too close to the counter-revolutionary financial circles, but was miraculously was freed with the fall of the dreaded Robespierre. Her second husband was Napoléon Bonaparte, who insisted that she would be forever called Joséphine.
Napoléon needed a rich wife and Joséphine saw him as a possible patron even though she knew him to be silent and awkward around women. Their marriage took place in March 1796. Napoléon’s gift to his beloved was a gold medallion inscribed with the words “To Destiny.”
Destiny would indeed be with them, even though their fates led them in separate directions. Napoléon required an heir. Even during the divorce ceremony, their love was unmistakable.
“Far from ever finding cause for complaint, I can to the contrary only congratulate myself on the devotion and tenderness of my beloved wife. She has adorned thirteen years of my life; the memory will always remain engraved on my heart.”
“With the permission of our august and dear husband, I must declare that, having no hope of bearing children who would fulfill the needs of his policies and the interests of France, I am pleased to offer him the greatest proof of attachment and devotion ever offered on this earth.”
There is a postscript. History has given Joséphine a prominent position through her two children from her first marriage. Joséphine was the maternal grandmother of Napoléon III, through her daughter Hortense. And through her son, Eugène, she was the great-grandmother of later Swedish and Danish kings and queens. The reigning houses of Belgium, Norway and Luxembourg are also her descendents.