Jérôme Bonaparte

Jérôme I
King of Westphalia
1st Prince of Montfort
A portrait of Jérôme Bonaparte by François Gérard.
King of Westphalia
Reign 8 July 1807 - 26 October 1813
(&100000000000000060000006 years, &10000000000000110000000110 days)
Predecessor None
Kingdom created
Successor None
Kingdom abolished
Spouse Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte
Catharina of Württemberg
Giustina Pecori-Suárez
Jérôme Napoleon Bonaparte-Patterson
Jérôme Napoléon Charles Bonaparte, 2nd Prince of Montfort
Mathilde Bonaparte, Princesse de San Donato
Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte
Full name
Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte
House House of Bonaparte
Father Carlo Buonaparte
Mother Letizia Ramolino
Born 15 November 1784
Ajaccio, Corsica
Died 24 June 1860(1860-06-24) (aged 75)
Villegenis, France
Religion Roman Catholicism

Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte, French Prince, King of Westphalia, 1st Prince of Montfort (15 November 1784 – 24 June 1860) was the youngest brother of Napoleon, who made him king of Westphalia (1807–1813). After 1848, when his nephew Louis Napoleon became President of the French Republic, he served in several official roles.


Early life

French Monarchy -
Bonaparte Dynasty
Imperial Coat of Arms of France (1804-1815).svg

Napoleon I
   Napoleon II
   Joseph, King of Spain
   Lucien, Prince of Canino
   Elisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
   Louis, King of Holland
   Pauline, Princess of Guastalla
   Caroline, Queen of Naples
   Jérôme, King of Westphalia
Nephews and nieces
   Princess Zénaïde
   Princess Charlotte
   Prince Charles
   Prince Louis
   Prince Pierre
   Prince Napoleon Charles
   Prince Napoleon Louis
   Napoleon III
   Prince Jérôme
   Prince Napoleon Joseph
   Princess Mathilde
Grandnephews and -nieces
   Prince Joseph
   Prince Lucien-Louis
   Prince Roland
   Princess Jeanne
   Prince Charles
   Prince Jerome
   Napoleon (V) Victor
   Maria Letizia, Duchess of Aosta
Great Grandnephews and -nieces
   Princess Marie
   Princess Marie Clotilde
   Napoleon (VI) Louis
Great Great Grandnephews and -nieces
   Napoleon (VII) Charles
   Princess Catherine
   Princess Laure
   Prince Jerome
Great Great Great Grandnephews and -nieces
   Princess Caroline
   Prince Jean-Christophe
Napoleon II
Napoleon III
   Napoleon (IV), Prince Imperial

Jérôme was born Girolamo Buonaparte in Ajaccio, Corsica as the eighth and last surviving child, fifth surviving son, of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino. He was a younger brother of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte, Lucien Bonaparte, Elisa Bonaparte, Louis Bonaparte, Pauline Bonaparte and Caroline Bonaparte.

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte Triple portrait by Gilbert Stuart, 1804
Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia and Queen Catharina

He studied at the Catholic college of Juilly, and then served with the French navy before going to the United States. On 24 December 1803, Jérôme married Elizabeth Patterson (1785–1879), daughter of Baltimore merchant William Patterson and his wife Dorcas Spear. Napoleon was unable to convince Pope Pius VII to annul their marriage, so he annulled their marriage himself. Elizabeth was pregnant at the time with a son, and on her way to Europe with Jérôme. When they landed in neutral Portugal, Jerome set off overland to Italy to attempt to convince his brother to recognize the marriage. Elizabeth then attempted to land in Amsterdam, but Napoleon had issued orders barring the ship from entering the harbour. Being with child Elizabeth went on to England where Jérôme Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 95 Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, London, England. Jérôme never saw Elizabeth again {she was divorced by a Special decree of the Maryland Assembly in 1815}.

King of Westphalia

Made king of Westphalia, the short-lived realm created by Napoleon from the states of northwestern Germany (1807–1813), with its capital in Kassel (then: Cassel), Jérôme married Catharina of Württemberg, the daughter of the King of Württemberg in a marriage arranged by Napoleon. The connection to a German princess was intended to strengthen the reputation of the young French king. In order to emphasize his rank as a ruler, Jérôme commissioned grandiose state portraits of himself and his spouse. Other paintings celebrated his military exploits. France's most prominent painters were in his service.

When Jérôme and Katharina arrived in Kassel, they found the palaces in a plundered state. As such, they placed orders for an array of stately furniture and expensive silverware with leading Parisian manufactures. The local artisans oriented themselves with these French models. The king also intended to refurnish his capital architecturally. The court theatre ranks among the small number of projects realised. Jérôme had it designed by Leo von Klenze and constructed next to the summer residence previously known as Wilhelmshöhe, but subsequently changed to Napoleonshöhe.

As a model state, the Kingdom of Westphalia was to serve as an example for the other German states. For this reason, it received the first constitution and parliament to be found on German soil. Jérôme imported the empire style from Paris, thereby bestowing the new state with a modern, representative appearance. Thanks to these efforts, Kassel celebrated an enormous cultural upturn.

At the same time, Jerome's expensive habits earned him the contempt of Napoleon. His court incurred comparable expenses to Napoleon's court (which oversaw a vastly larger and more important realm), and Napoleon refused to support Jerome financially.[1]

In 1812 Jérôme commanded a corps of soldiers marching towards the Russian front. Because he insisted in traveling in state Napoleon reprimanded him and ordered him to leave his court behind. Angered by Napoleon's order, Jérôme returned with his court to Westphalia. After the defeat in Russia he petitioned Napoleon to allow his wife to come to Paris due to her fear of the advancing allied army. After two attempts Napoleon granted permission.

Jérôme briefly re-entered the army in 1813 when his kingdom was being threatened by the allied Prussian and Russian armies. He led a small force to challenge their invasion. After a clash with a detachment he camped his army while hoping for reinforcements from the French army. However, before the reinforcements arrived the main allied force captured Kassel and declared the Kingdom of Westphalia dissolved. This ended Jérôme's kingship. He then fled to France where his wife was already waiting.

Hundred Days

During the Hundred Days, Napoleon put Jerome in command of the 6th Division of the II Corps under General Honoré Charles Reille. At Waterloo, Jerome's division was to make an initial attack on Hougoumont, which Napoleon expected would draw in Wellington's reserves, however Jerome misunderstood the nature of his role and his division became completely engaged attempting to take Hougoumont outright.

Later years

Early 19th century enamel with portrait of Jérôme Bonaparte.

Although Katharina was aware of Jérôme's constant affairs, she remained true to her husband even after the loss of dignity. They had a son, Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822–1891), also known as "Prince Napoleon" or "Plon-Plon". Their second child, a daughter, Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, was prominent during and after the Second French Empire as a hostess. After his own kingdom was dissolved, he was given the title of Prince of Montfort by the king of Württemberg, his father in-law. But by 1814 the king forced him and his wife to leave the country. He returned to France and rallied to Napoleon during the Hundred Days rule.

Later, Jérôme moved to Italy where he married Giustina Pecori-Suárez, the widow of an Italian nobleman.

When his nephew, Prince Louis Napoleon, became President of the French Republic in 1848, Jérôme was made governor of Les Invalides, Paris, the burial place of his famous brother. When Napoleon III became emperor, Jérôme was recognized as the heir presumptive to the throne until the birth of the crown prince Napoléon Eugène. He later became Marshal of France and president of the Senate, and received the title Prince Français.

Tomb of Jérôme Bonaparte, Les Invalides

Jérôme Bonaparte died on 24 June 1860 at Villegenis, France (today Massy in Essonne). He is buried in Les Invalides, Paris.

His grandson Charles Joseph Bonaparte served as United States Secretary of the Navy and United States Attorney General. He founded the precursor of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1908.

Baroness Jenny von Sustedt, one of Jérôme Bonaparte's illegitimate children, was the grandmother of the German Socialist and Feminist writer Lily Braun.



See also


  1. ^ La Grande Armée by Georges Blond, translated by Marshall May, p. 303

External links

Regnal titles
Kingdom of Westphalia
King of Westphalia
Kingdom of Westphalia
annexed by the Kingdom of Hanover and Electorate of Hesse-Kassel
French royalty
Preceded by
Robert, Duke of Chartres
Heir to the Throne
as Heir presumptive
18 December 1852 – 16 March 1856
Succeeded by
Louis Napoléon, Prince Imperial

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