Thursday, December 3, 2009

On the subject of Napoleon and letters, the first year of his Italian Campaign produced some absolute doozies of love letters to Josephine, who was extremely turned off by Napoleon's phonetic spelling, dreadful grammar, abysmal diction and horrible habit of underlining erotic passages so violently that he occasionally scratched through the stationary.

She was therefore extremely disinclined to write back to Napoleon and even less inclined to write to him as he wished her to, i.e. "Make sure you tell me that you are convinced you love me beyond what it is possible to imagine."

Napoleon eventually went somewhat mad at the lack of response, to the point where the Directory began to worry that the Republic's best and most successful general might actually quit his post, abandon Italy and march on Paris. Barras personally sent Josephine to Italy, which at least saved Josephine the indignity of having to answer letters begging her not to bathe.


  1. I thoroughly enjoy this Napoleonic(?) theme: please keep it up!

    (And please find more anecdotes that makes the Corsican look silly; I can think of them when he kicks my a** in Age of Empires...)

  2. A fun read to follow up on this subject is NAPOLEON'S PRIVATES by Tony Perrottet.

  3. Napoleon had, shall we say, graphic tastes -- this summer I read about his Egyptian campaign, during which he liked to send his darling Josephine the physical evidence of his desire -- and asked for the same in return. She thought, YEWWWWW, and declined. Katherine Louise

  4. *Spits cheap white win on the monitor*
    Thank you, KL, you made my day!

  5. Poor Josephine had to put up with a lot. During the Empire, Napoleon liked to express sartorial dissatisfaction with his wife's attire by ripping off her dress and throwing it into the fire. Josephine apparently bore this quite calmly, and usually just sent for another dress (which is either the cause of her shopaholic tendencies, or just a problem to which being a shopaholic was a serendipitous solution).