Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte, French Prince, King of Westphalia, 1st Prince of Montfort (November 15, 1784 – June 24, 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.
He studied at the Catholic college of Juilly, and then served with the French navy before going to the United States. On December 24, 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 harbor. Being with child Elizabeth went on to England where Jérôme Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, London, England. Jérôme never saw Elizabeth again.
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.
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.
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.
Baroness Jenny von Sustedt, one of Jérôme Bonaparte's illegitimate children, was the grandmother of the German Socialist and Feminist writer Lily Braun.