Sunday, June 23, 2013
June 23 - Joséphine de Beauharnais
Joséphine de Beauharnais, Empress of the French, was born Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie on June 23, 1763, to a wealthy white Creole family in Martinique. In France, she married an aristocrat, Alexandre de Beauharnais, who was guillotined during the Reign of Terror. After several affairs, Joséphine met Napoléon Bonaparte, six years her junior, in 1795, and became his mistress. They married the following year. In 1804 he crowned her Empress at his own coronation. Because she was barren, Napoléon divorced Joséphine in 1810 but insisted she retain her title. She maintained her lavish lifestyle at the Château de Malmaison (pictured), near Paris, which she had acquired in 1799. In its English-style gardens, she indulged her passion for roses and sought to acquire all known varieties. Her horticulturalist, André Dupont, began all modern hybridization of roses through artificial pollination. She produced the first written history of the cultivation of roses, and specimens even crossed British and French naval blockades to grace her gardens.