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Prince Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoléon Bonaparte
Prince Napoléon Joseph Charles at age 43, 1865
Spouse Maria Clotilde of Savoy
Issue Victor, Prince Napoléon
Prince Louis
Princess Maria Letizia, Duchess of Aosta
Father Jérôme of Westphalia
Mother Catharina of Württemberg
Born (1822-09-09)9 September 1822
Died 17 March 1891(1891-03-17) (aged 68)

Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte, Prince Français, Count of Meudon, Count of Moncalieri ad personam, titular 3rd Prince of Montfort (commonly known as Prince Napoléon and occasionally as Prince Jerome Napoléon; 9 September 1822 – 17 March 1891) was the second son of Jérôme Bonaparte, king of Westphalia, by his wife Catherine, princess of Württemberg. He soon rendered himself popular by playing on his family ties to Napoleon I. After the French revolution of 1848 he was elected to the National Assembly of France as a representative of Corsica.


  • Biography 1
    • Issue 1.1
  • References in popular fiction 2
  • Ancestry 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Born at Trieste, Austrian Empire (today Italy), and known as "Prince Napoléon" or by the sobriquet of "Plon-Plon", he was a close advisor to his first cousin, Napoleon III of France, and in particular was seen as a leading advocate of French intervention in Italy on behalf of Camillo di Cavour and the Italian nationalists.

An anti-clerical liberal, he led that faction at court and tried to influence the Emperor to anti-clerical policies, against the contrary influence of the Emperor's wife, the Empress Eugenie, a devout Catholic and a conservative, and the patroness of those who wanted French troops to protect the Pope's sovereignty in Rome. The Emperor was to navigate between the two influences throughout his reign.

When his cousin became President in 1848, Napoleon was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. He later served in a military capacity as general of a division in the Crimean War, as Governor of Algeria, and as a corps commander in the French Army of Italy in 1859. His curious nickname, "Plon-Plon", derives from his pronunciation of his name when he was a child, while the nickname "Craint-Plomb" ("Afraid-of-Lead") was given to him by the army due to his absence from the Battle of Solferino.

Prince Napoleon with his two sons

As part of his cousin's policy of alliance with Piedmont-Sardinia, in 1859 Prince Napoleon married Marie Clotilde, daughter of Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia. When Napoléon Eugène, Prince Imperial died in 1879, Prince Napoleon became the genealogically most senior member of the Bonaparte family, but the Prince Imperial's will excluded him from the succession, nominating Prince Napoleon's son Napoléon Victor Jérôme Frédéric Bonaparte as the new head of the family. No doubt in this decision the Prince Imperial had been influenced by his cousin's hostile attitude at his birth. As a result, Prince Napoleon and his son quarrelled for the remainder of Prince Napoleon's life. Prince Napoléon died in Rome in 1891, aged 68. He had had two more children: Napoléon Louis Joseph Jérôme (1864–1932), governor of Erivan, who died unmarried and without issue,[1] and Marie Laetitia Eugénie Catherine Adélaïde (1866–1926), second wife of Amadeo I of Spain.

His grandson Louis Bonaparte (Brussels, 1914–1997) was a pretender of Bonaparte dynasty, and Louis's son, prince Charles Marie Jérôme Victor (born 1950), is the current head of the family. This Charles Napoleon has a son Jean-Christophe (born 1986) and a brother, Jérôme (born 1957), unmarried. There are no remaining legitimate descendants in male line from any other of Napoleon's brothers. There are, however, a substantial number of illegitimate descendants of Napoleon I himself, scions of his son Count Colonna-Walewski with Marie, Countess Walewski.


He and Maria Clotilde had three children:
Name Birth Death Notes
Napoléon Victor Bonaparte 1862 1926 Princess Clémentine of Belgium, a daughter of Leopold II of Belgium.
Louis Bonaparte 1864 1932
Maria Letizia Bonaparte 1866 1926 who in 1888 became the second wife of her uncle Amedeo (1845–1890), Duke of Aosta, and from 1870 until 1873 King of Spain.

References in popular fiction

Prince Napoléon takes a leading role in Robert Goddard's novel Painting the Darkness. References are made to his role in the Crimean War and his son's succession over him.


Prince Napoléon Bonaparte
Born: 9 September 1822 Died: 17 March 1891
Titles in pretence
Jérôme I — TITULAR —
King of Westphalia
24 June 1860 - 17 March 1891
Reason for succession failure:
Kingdom dissolved in 1813
Succeeded by
Napoleon Victor


  1. ^ Walker, Christopher (1980). Armenia: A Survival of a Nation, Chapter 3. Librairie Au Service de la Culture. p. 75.  
  • In the Courts of Memory, by Lillie de Hegermann-Lindencrone, relates the story of the origin of his nickname, with the warning; Se non è vero è ben trovato.

Further reading

  • Berthet-Leleux, François (1932) Le vrai prince Napoléon--Jérôme
  • Flammarion, Gaston (1939) Un neveu de Napoléon Ier, le prince Napoléon (Jérôme) 1822-1891
  • Edgar Holt, Plon-Plon: The Life of Prince Napoleon (London: Michael Joseph, 1973).

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

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