Napoleon’s Brothers


A vast amount of print has been devoted to Napoleon and his campaigns. Most published material concentrates on his rapid advance to Emperor of France. Rather less has been devoted to his early life, his family and his final years in exile. The result is that he dominates a period of history and many important people and events around him have been completely over shadowed by him. On a number of occasions in history, one man has emerged from humble origins as the leader of a country into which he was not born. That humble origin is airbrushed out by the individual, his supporters and historians. Hitler was not keen to see his humble origins in Austria publicised and even less enthusiastic that details of his family should become public currency. It may be that historians and supporters were prepared to do the same for Napoleon but he was a part of the family ‘firm’. A Corsican who came to lead France and to dominate Europe, Napoleon believed in the reliability of blood. His brothers play key roles during his ascent to power and in maintaining that power. From their humble beginnings, they each achieved a level of success in their own right and helped propel their famous brother to his place in history and yet they have remained almost unknown, minor footnotes and anecdotes to his history. The author set out to redress this imbalance by writing what is a family history of the Bonapartes that begins with their origins in Ajaccio, Corsica, where a monument was erected to Napoleon and his four brothers, follows the story of the brothers and then continues through the later generations. The resulting book was first published as long ago as 1909 and Nonsuch has produced a welcome reprint.

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