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Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, Duchess of Saint-Leu (1783-1837)

Long-suffering sister of Prince Eugene, Hortense de Beauharnais was the wife of Napoleon's brother Louis Bonaparte, becoming Queen of Holland when Louis was given the Dutch throne in 1806. She was born in Paris, the daughter of the revolutionary general Alexandre de Beauharnais and of Josephine, later the wife of Napoleon and Empress of the French.

After Napoleon married Joséphine in 1796, Hortense became closely associated with the Bonaparte family, marrying Louis at Napoleon's politically-motivated request in 1802. The marriage was a deeply unhappy one and only endured because Napoleon wished it to appear stable.

Eager to put the welfare of their own Dutch subjects, writhing in economic agony under the harsh and altogether counterproductive realities of Napoleon's 'Continental System', Louis and Hortense agreed to relinquish their crowns in 1810 after a dispute with Napoleon. In the same year the emperor finally allowed Louis and Hortense to separate.

Hortense bore Louis three sons. However, there is suspicion that a lover fathered the third, the future Emperor Napoleon III. In 1811 she had a fourth son, the future Duke of Morny, by the Count of Flahaut.

Despite her separation, Hortense remained a loyal adherent to the Bonapartist cause, and her support of Napoleon after his return from exile on Elba in 1815 led to her banishment from France after his final defeat. After travelling in Germany and Italy, Hortense bought the Château of Arenenberg in the Swiss canton of Thurgau, where she died after an illness in 1837. Today, she lies entombed near her mother in a small church in the center of Reuil.