Anatole Demidoff


[boh-nuh-pahrt; Fr. baw-na-part]

Bonaparte is a French family name of Italian origin. Originally Buonaparte, this family claims numerous influential descendents including Corsican Napoléon I who ruled France during the early 19th century. The Bonaparte family's descendants also include kings of Spain, Naples, Holland and Westphalia, and a second French Emperor, Napoléon III. Supporters of the Bonaparte family's claim to the throne of France are known as Bonapartists.

Buonaparte family

The Buonaparte family were from minor Italian nobility who held most of their property in the hill town of San Miniato near Florence, Italy. The Buonapartes came from a Tuscan stock of Lombard origin.

After settling in Florence the family enjoyed a relationship with the then ruling Medici family. Jacopo Buonaparte was a friend and advisor to Medici Pope Clement VII. Jacopo was also a witness to and wrote an account of the sack of Rome (1527), which is one of the most important historical documents recounting that event. Two of Jacopo's nephews, Pier-Antonio Buonaparte and Giovanni Buonaparte, however, took part in the 1527 Medici rebellion, after which they were banished from Florence and later were restored by Alessandro de' Medici. Jacopo's brother Benedetto Bounaparte maintained political neutrality.

The family later broke in two branches: Buonaparte-Sarzana, Nobili di Sarzana had been compelled to leave Florence due to the defeat of the Ghibellines and later when Francesco Buonaparte came to Corsica in 16th century and the island was in Genoese possession.

The Buonaparte tomb lies in the Church of San Francesco in San Miniato.

Buonaparte arms

The arms of the Buonaparte family were: Gules two bends sinister between two stars or. In 1804 Napoleon changed the arms to Azure an imperial eagle or. The change applied to all members of his family except for his brother Lucien, and the son of Jerome's first marriage.

Napoleon I

Napoleon is the most prominent name associated with the Bonaparte family because he conquered much of the Western world during the early part of the 19th century. He was elected as first consul of France on November 10, 1799 with the help of his brother, Lucien Bonaparte, and president of the Council of Five Hundred at Saint-Cloud. He was crowned Emperor of the French and ruled from 1804-1814, 1815.

Following his conquest of most of Western Europe, the first Napoleon made his elder brother Joseph (1768-1844) king first of Naples (1806-1808) and then of Spain (1808-1813), his third brother Louis (1778-1846) king of Holland (1806-1810) (subsequently forcing his abdication after his failure to subordinate Dutch interests to those of France) and his youngest brother Jerome Bonaparte (1784-1860) king of Westphalia, the short-lived realm created from some of the states of northwestern Germany (1807-1813).

Napoleon's son Napoleon François Charles Joseph (1811-1832) was created king of Rome (1811-1814) and was later styled Napoleon II by loyalists of the dynasty, though he only ruled for two weeks after his father's abdication. Charles Louis Napoléon (1808-1873), son of Louis Napoléon, was president of France in 1848-1852 and emperor in 1852-1870, reigning as Napoléon III; his son, Eugène Bonaparte (1856-1879), styled the Prince Imperial, died fighting the Zulus in Natal, South Africa. With his death, the family lost much of its remaining political appeal, though claimants continue to assert their right to the imperial title. A political movement for Corsican independence surfaced in the 1990s which included a Bonapartist restoration in its programme.

Crowns held by the family

Emperors of the French

Kings of Holland

Kings of Naples

King of Westphalia

King of Spain

Grand Duchess of Tuscany

The family tree

Carlo-Maria (Ajaccio 1746-Montpellier 1785) married Maria Letizia Ramolino (Ajaccio 1750 - Rome 1836) in 1764. He was a minor official in the local courts. They had eight children:

  1. Joseph Bonaparte (Corte 1768-Florence 1844), King of Naples and Spain, married Julie Clary, sister of Napoleon's childhood sweetheart, Désirée, who was to become the wife of General Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, the later Charles XIV of Sweden.
  2. Napoléon (I) Bonaparte (1769-1821) Emperor
  3. Lucien Bonaparte (1775-1840)
  4. Maria-Anna Elisa Bonaparte (1777-1820), grand-duchess of Tuscany married Félix Bacciochi
  5. Louis Bonaparte, (1778 - 1846) married Hortense de Beauharnais, Napoleon's stepdaughter
  6. Maria Paola or Marie Pauline Bonaparte (1780-1825), married in 1797 to French general Charles Leclerc and later married Prince Borghese.
  7. Maria Annunziata Caroline Bonaparte (1782-1839) married Joachim Murat
  8. Jérôme Bonaparte (1784-1860), King of Westphalia

Current descendants

The headship of the family is in dispute between Charles Napoléon, born 1950, great-great-grandson of Jérôme Bonaparte by his second marriage; and his son Jean-Christophe (born 1986) who was appointed heir in the will of his grandfather Prince Louis Napoléon. The only other male member of the family is the brother of Charles, Prince Jérôme, (born 1957), unmarried. There are no remaining descendants in male line from any other of Napoleon's brothers. There are, however, numerous descendants of Napoleon's illegitimate, but recognized son Walewski from his union with Marie, Countess Walewski. Of these include the Wattier family and its union with the Bonaparte family. The later descendents were the Peschongs and Herrs. A descendant of Napoleon's sister Caroline Bonaparte is actor Rene Auberjonois.


See also

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