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Napoleon & Empire

Marie-Julie Clary

Queen Consort of Naples then Spain

Pronunciation:

Arms of Marie-Julie Clary (1771-1845)

Marie-Julie Clary, the daughter of a rich merchant and shipowner of the city, was born in Marseille Marseille on December 26, 1771.

She married on August 1, 1794 in Cuges-les-Pins [43.27609, 5.70198], a village in the heart of the Sainte-Baume massif (southeast France), Joseph Bonaparte, older brother of Napoleon.

Dependent on her husband's political career, Julie thus became Queen of Naples The Gulf of Naples, by J.P. Hackert in March 1806. However, it was not until March 31 1808, two years later, that she joined him there. Yet not for a long time: on May 21, Joseph received the order from Napoleon to join him in Bayonne, and he left his kingdom three days later.

In July 1808, Joseph abdicated the crown of Naples to become King of Spain and the Indies. But Julie did not accompany him to Madrid, preferring to stay in Paris, in Fontainebleau or in their castle of Mortefontaine Castle of Mortefontaine [49.11002, 2.60335] surrounded by a 750 hectare park, in the Oise department. However, she made herself useful to her husband by being a wise advisor, and, quite unofficially, his ambassador in Paris.

After the fall of the French Empire, she successively stayed in Prangins in Switzerland, then – separated from Joseph – in Frankfurt am Main, Brussels [Bruxelles], and finally Florence [Firenze], in the Serristori Palace.

It was in the Tuscan capital that Julie died on April 7, 1845. She was buried there Grave of Julie Clary in the Santa Croce basilica Santa Croce Basilica in Florence [43.76867, 11.26220], alongside her husband, who died eight months earlier after having returned to end his life with her.

"Julie Clary" by Robert Jacques François Faust Lefèvre (Bayeux 1755 - Paris 1830). Detail of a full-length painting with her daughter Zénaïde.

"Julie Clary" by Robert Jacques François Faust Lefèvre (Bayeux 1755 - Paris 1830). Detail of a full-length painting with her daughter Zénaïde.

After having lost a first daughter in the cradle, Julie gave two others to Joseph: Zénaïde in 1801 and Charlotte the following year, who respectively married Charles-Lucien Bonaparte, son of Lucien (he would become a zoologist and leading ornithologist), and Napoléon-Louis Bonaparte, son of Louis and Hortense de Beauharnais (who died at the age of 28 from measles).