Naples & A Wedding

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“First gain the victory and then make the best use of it your can.”

Horatio Nelson

England

Emma was famous. Sir Charles Greville did not relish being the “lesser half” of a power couple.  He was also in need of a huge injection of funds.  Ever a schemer, his goal was simple.  He would marry Henrietta Middletown, an eighteen-year-old rich heiress.  As well, he was newly involved with  Lady Craven, a playwright and daring socialite. The Emma “problem” would be easily solved by persuading his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, British Envoy to Naples, to take Emma on as a hostess for his Naples home, known for its excellent hospitality and elegance.

Sir William, fourth and youngest son of Lord Archibald Hamilton, was the Envoy Plenipotentiary to Naples. Known for his extravagant lifestyle, he mingled with the leading aristocrats in England.   A recent widower, he had returned to England to finalize his late wife’s estates.  By all accounts, his marriage was happy and successful, even though his late wife suffered from bouts of depression.

Emma was enchanting, Sir William acknowledged. And he did have need of someone to organize his household and arrange for the elaborate banquets and soirées.  Keeping the childish King Ferdinand of Naples and his demanding Queen Maria Carolina (sister to Marie Antoinette) was a difficult task at best. Emma would be ideal. Alas, poor Emma did not know of the secretive machinations that swirled about her.  Sir Charles simply lied. A short holiday to Naples, she was told, along with a promise that he would come for her.

Sir Charles, in his devious and selfish way, released Emma. Naples embraced Emma with open arms and showered her with fame, fortune and title.   Yes, she was distressed by Sir Charles’s rejection, but she grew to love Sir William.  They were married on September 6, 1791.    She became Lady Hamilton.

The French Revolution, which began in 1789, was creating instability and alarm in all of Europe.  Before long, Lady Hamilton would be embroiled in the politics of Kings and Queens.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” 

Anaïs Nin

20 thoughts on “Naples & A Wedding

      • yes, I imagine the diary of her life and actions, and reasons therefore would be …. astounding

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      • Oh, how I wish she would have kept a diary, but there are letters that give insight into her character. I often wonder when I read biographies of men and women who achieve fame, whether they knew that they were living history. But then, I can say the same thing about us. Do we know we are living history?

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    • Emma was born in 1765, so by my calculations she would have been twenty-six years old. William Hamilton was 60 years old. Emma would briefly meet Nelson for the first time in 1793, when she was 28.

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  1. Lady Hamilton could’t have guessed in her wildest dreams the twists and turns her life would take. An incredible post.

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    • Thank you!!! Anaïs Nin – now that is another person I am going to look into, too! There seems to be a common thread in all of these remarkable women….

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