Johann Baptist Hoechle and Court Theatre set designer Janitz: Archduchess Marie Louise is handed over to Maréchal Berthier in Braunau, oil painting, 1813/14

Napoleon and Marie Louise


In 1809, after divorcing his wife Josephine because she was no longer able to bear children, Napoleon set about finding a new bride. The Habsburg princess Marie Louise seemed to be the ideal candidate. The fact that she came from one of the most powerful dynasties in Europe was a highly influential factor in Napoleon's decision. At first Emperor Franz I/II refused his permission, but once Metternich succeeded in convincing him of the benefits of this marriage, he finally consented.

The bride, Marie Louise, was no more than a pawn in the game of power. In spite of grave misgivings on her part, she finally accepted her fate. Contrary to all expectations the marriage of convenience developed into a harmonious relationship, from which a son was born: Napoleon II Franz Bonaparte, also known in France as "L’Aiglon" (the little eagle).

Read more