Birthday: September 2, 1778
Nationality: French, Italian
Died At Age: 67
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Luigi Buonaparte
Born Country: France
Born in: Ajaccio
Famous as: King of Holland from 1806 to 1810
Emperors & Kings
Height: 1.69 m
Spouse/Ex-: Hortense de Beauharnais
father: Carlo Buonaparte
mother: Letizia Ramolino
siblings: Caroline Bonaparte, Elisa Bonaparte, Jérôme Bonaparte, Joseph Bonaparte, Lucien Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte, Pauline Bonaparte
children: Napoléon Charles Bonaparte, Napoleon III, Napoléon Louis Bonaparte
Died on: July 25, 1846
place of death: Livorno
Louis Bonaparte served as the king of Holland from 1806 till 1810 yet he is better known for being the brother of Napoleon I than for his own achievements as a king! And this was not the only curse of being the brother of someone very famous and popular. Bonaparte, who stared his military career fighting under Napoleon I was a General by the time he was just 25! Even he himself was surprised at reaching such a high rank at quite a young age. Eventually he was made the king of Holland and his elder brother expected him to act according to his wishes. However, Louis retaliated as he was not in favor of letting anyone else govern over his country covertly. Thus he refused to join the Continental System which made his brother upset and soured the relationship between them. As the king of Holland he genuinely cared for his subjects and tried his best to bring about reforms. However, he suffered from certain psychological issues and was very soft natured. He was not the kind of man who had it in him to be an aggressive leader of a nation. He abdicated his throne and spent his later years in literary pursuits.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Luigi Buonaparte on September 2, 1778 to Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino in Corsica. He had several brothers and sisters. One of his elder brothers was the powerful Napoleon Bonaparte, later known as Napoleon I of France.
He attended military school at Chalons, France. After that he joined his brother Napoleon in his campaigns.
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Accession & Reign
In 1796-97 he accompanied Napoleon I on the Italian campaign and the next year he went on the Egypt campaign with his brother’s army.
Louis was given a commission in the French Military and promoted to Lieutenant in the 4th Artillery Regiment. His quick ascent through the ranks was made possible because of his powerful brother.
Eventually he was made a Captain, again because of his brother’s influence. He was just 25 years old when he became a General! Even Louis knew that he had risen too high too soon. It was no secret to anyone how he could find such tremendous success in a short time.
In spite of all his ostensible military success, Louis was not a man suited to military life. Reserved and soft natured, he knew in his heart of hearts that all his accomplishments had been due to the influence of his brother.
He did not participate in any military activities after 1804 and was made the governor of Paris in 1805.
Meanwhile Napoleon felt that the Batavian Republic was becoming too independent for his comfort and thus created the Kingdom of Holland to replace it. Knowing the personality of his brother, he made Louis the king of Holland in 1806 expecting him to be no more than a Dutch governor.
However Louis was an independent minded man and refused to follow all the orders of Napoleon. Now that he was the king of a country, he tried his best to serve his subjects in the best possible way.
He even learned the Dutch language and declared himself Dutch. He was very devoted to his country and strived to establish Holland as an independent nation resisting nay type of French influence.
He was having problems deciding upon the capital city and changed capitals several times over his reign. He also moved his residence quite often, causing a disruption in the works of the state forcing the European diplomatic corps to petition that he stay at one place.
In 1807, a cargo ship loaded with gunpowder exploded in Leiden. This was a major disaster but Louis managed to provide proper relief work for the affected. Tragedy struck again in 1809 when nature unleashed her fury upon his citizens in the form of a flood. Again, he effectively saw that relief was provided to his people.
By now, his relations with Napoleon were very strained. Napoleon wanted Louis to abdicate the throne so that he could annex Holland. The elder brother invaded Holland on 1 July 1810. Louis had to abdicate the throne the very same day and Napoleon conquered Holland within days.
Louis was given asylum from the Austrian Emperor Francis I and lived in Graz from 1811 to 1813 where he pursued his literary passions and wrote poetry. He eventually settled in Rome.
Louis had served as the king of Holland for a relatively short period from 1806 to 1810. Even though he fought no major battles, he was a popular king as he genuinely cared about his subjects and took steps to promote their welfare.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was married to Hortense de Beauharnias, the daughter of Napoleon’s first wife from a previous marriage. This marriage had been forced upon him by his elder brother despite his pbjection.
The couple was not happy though his wife gave birth to three children whom Louis acknowledged as his. His wife had numerous admirers with whom he suspected her of having affairs and thus he was not really sure of her children’s’ paternity.
He suffered from certain psychological issues and was mentally disturbed. It was also suggested that he was confused about his sexual orientation. He separated from his wife and controlling elder brother during his later years. He died on July 25, 1846.