Louis Bonaparte Biography

Louis Bonaparte was the brother of Napoleon I and the king of Holland. This biography provides detailed information about his childhood, life, reign, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: September 2, 1778

Nationality: French, Italian

Famous: Leaders Emperors & Kings

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

Height: 1.69 m

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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

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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.

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Childhood & Early Life
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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.
Major Works
  • 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.
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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.

See the events in life of Louis Bonaparte in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Louis Bonaparte Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- November 02, 2017
Louis Bonaparte

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