Napoleon and Marie Louise: Courtship and wedding in Vienna
The news that "their" princess was to marry the "archenemy" caused outrage amongst the Austrians at first, but they quickly began to recognise the advantages brought by the deal:
Above all they hoped that this marriage would bring the much longed for peace. Consequently the French Maréchal Berthier was received with jubilation when he arrived in Vienna as Napoleon’s Special Ambassador to make the official request to Emperor Franz for Marie Louise’s hand in marriage and to stand in for the bridegroom at the subsequent wedding celebrations. Marie Louise, on the other hand, was celebrated as the “new Iphigenia” who was sacrificing her own happiness for the good of the people.
On the evening of 11th March1810, crowds of Austrians and visitors from abroad, eager for a spectacle, rushed to see the wedding procession through the Vienna Hofburg and the subsequent wedding service. “The truly extraordinary number of diamonds and pearls, the expensive clothes and uniforms, the countless number of chandeliers that lit up all areas of the palace, and the sheer joy of those present lent the occasion a brilliance worthy of such a great and majestic event,” reported one eyewitness. In the richly decorated Church of St Augustine, Marie Louise gave her consent to the bridegroom who was finally represented by Archduke Karl. Since nobody had thought to send details of Napoleon’s ring size to Vienna, 11 rings of different sizes were consecrated at the ceremony in order to ensure that the bridegroom would have a suitable ring at the final ceremony in Paris.