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article imageNapoleon and Josephine's marriage certificate at auction in Paris

By Robert Myles     Jul 10, 2014 in World
Paris - The marriage certificate that preceded the tying of the knot between Napoleon Bonaparte and his first love, Josephine, will be sold at auction by a Paris auction house, September 2014.
Osenat, based at Paris and Fontainebleau are offering for sale the document, dated March 8, 1796 at a sale headlined, “The Empire at Fontainebleau — the manuscript that may have changed the history of the world.”
Bearing the date, March 8, 1796, the marriage certificate preceded the wedding that took place the following day and gave legal effect to one of history’s most celebrated love affairs.
It was signed by the future Napoleon 1, Emperor of the French, using his birth name Napoleone Buonaparte, and his betrothed Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, or Josephine, the Viscomtesse de Beauharnais.
Image of a section of the marriage certificate of Napoleon and Josephine with the signatures of the ...
Image of a section of the marriage certificate of Napoleon and Josephine with the signatures of the future husband and wife clearly visible.
Versailles and More
In the course of the marriage that lasted till annulled in1810, Napoleon’s progeny of titles included King of Italy, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, Mediator of the Swiss Confederation, President of the Italian Republic and First Consul of the Republic.
But although Napoleon ended up with a proliferation of titles, his marriage to Josephine was childless. The lack of an heir increasingly troubled France’s greatest leader but his love for Josephine always overcame any thoughts of divorce. The turning point came in 1807 when Josephine's grandson Napoleon Charles Bonaparte, who’d been declared Napoleon's heir, died.
Subsequently, Napoleon prepared lists of eligible princesses one of whom might become his consort and continue the Napoleonic lineage. The crux came at dinner with Josephine on November 30, 1809, when Napoleon told his wife that, in the interests of France, he would need to find a wife who could produce an heir.
Josephine agreed to a divorce so Napoleon could remarry, in anticipation of such a remarriage producing an heir. The couple went through an elaborate but solemn divorce ceremony on January 10, 1810. At the divorce ceremony, each read a statement of devotion to the other.
But despite Napoleon loving his Josephine till the parting of ways and beyond, the marriage certificate offered for auction by Osenat, also discloses a pragmatic, even modernist, approach to the couple’s union. The certificate to be sold in September states Napoleon and Josephine will, "in no way be responsible for the debts and mortgages of the other." It also stipulates that there would be “no common property" between them, reports The Local.
Lurking behind one of history’s greatest romances, therefore, is an ante-nuptial marriage contract, a device more likely to be found in the armory of a modern-day celebrity’s’ attorney rather than the Tuileries Palace in Paris, one of Napoleon’s official residences.
But maybe Napoleon knew his Josephine all too well. Two days after the couple married, Napoleon departed for his very own Italian Job, the Italian campaign. Napoleon wrote almost daily to Josephine imploring her to join him in Italy. But not only did Josephine steadfastly resist the charms of la dolce vita, she took a string of lovers.
In correspondence, Josephine pretended to miss Napoleon but in reality she was having a ball, literally, as she partook in a hedonistic whirl of parties, balls, even adultery.
Such was her determination not to join her husband in Italy, Josephine went as far as pretending she was pregnant and couldn’t travel.
Napoleon and Josephine’s marriage certificate is expected to go for up to €100,000 ($135,000) when the auctioneer’s hammer falls at the September 21 sale. Along with the marriage certificate, Osenat is also exposing for auction a number of other historic items from the Napoleonic era including a number of manuscripts.
This diamond and sapphire engagement ring offered by Napoleon to his first wife Josephine sold at au...
This diamond and sapphire engagement ring offered by Napoleon to his first wife Josephine sold at auction for almost $1 million.
Osenet auctions
In March 2013, the same auction house sold the engagement ring offered by Napoleon Bonaparte to Josephine. The ring, containing a large pear-shaped diamond and a similarly sized deep-blue sapphire, was estimated to fetch between €10,000 and €15,000. It sold for €730,000 — almost $1 million.
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