Beauharnais Josephine Marie Rosede
Beauharnais, Josephine Marie Rose de, was born in Martinique in 1763, her family name being Tascher de la Pagerie. At the age of 15 she married Vicomte Alexandre de Beauharnais, who joined the revolutionary movement, served as a general of division in the army of the Rhine (1792), was accused of treason and beheaded in 1794. By this marriage she had two children, Eugene (q.v.) and Hortense, the wife of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland. She nearly shared her husband's fate, but Tallien, charmed by her beauty and manner, saved her. She next exercised her influence on Barras, and in 1796 in an interview with Napoleon so captivated the great conqueror that he married her. She filled her high position with grace and brilliancy, but unhappily no children were born of this union, and Napoleon, though as deeply attached to her as his nature permitted, for dynastic considerations procured a divorce in 1809. Josephine bore this cruel parting bravely, but it broke her heart. She lived in retirement at Malmaison until after Napoleon's banishment to Elba, and died in 1814.