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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pauline Borghese Part 4

Pauline Borghese breast mold. Antonio Canova (1805-1808)
   A short thank you for everyone sticking with this topic. Hopefully, this will be the last on Pauline Borghese. Now to continue...

  It was the summer of 1804 Pauline and Camillo went on holiday to Florence and from there the baths at Pisa. Saying that the accommodations were to cramped and that Pauline's entourage was already large enough Camillo convinced Pauline to leave her son, six year old Dermide, in the care of Camillo's brother, Don Cecco. While holidaying in Tuscany and Pauline being ill, Camillo received a tragic letter from his brother informing him that Dermide had died of a fever. The Borghese family decided that Pauline could not handle the devastating news of her poor son,because  of her own illness, and kept the news from her. This was accomplished for the next ten days, with the reluctant help of her Lady-in-waiting. But Pauline was finally able to guess the truth after receiving a letter telling her of Dermide's illness.With her lady-in-waiting's tears and gloominess in Pauline's presence, Pauline was able to confirm her suspicions that the worst had already taken place- the death of her son.

  Camillo was immediately blamed for Dermide's death by Pauline.In her eyes Italy, particularly Rome, was a cursed placeand never wished to live there again. As she had done when her first husband, LeClerc, had died Pauline cut off her hair and gave it to her lady-in-waitingto place inside her sons coffin. Even though napoleon wanted his sister to stay in Italy, Pauline insisted that her grief was so heavy that there was no other place to go but France, where LeClerc was buried and where their son would join his father.

  Dermide's death made Pauline even more self-centered. Initially refusing to attend napoleon's coronation because her sisters and she were expected to act as train bearers for their sister-in-law (who none of them liked), Josephine as she became empress, It was only after her son was laid to rest and a sample of the latest fashion in court dresses, sent to her by one of her sisters, did Pauline decide to put in an appearance at  the coronation. Pauline the made herself as one of her brother's greatest supporter.

  Even though all of napoleon's sisters were supposed to take turns hosting his soirees (why I don't know that is what his wife's job, in my opinion) naturally Pauline was more interested in showing off. She paid close attention to her lavish wardrobe, coiffure and her lengthy grooming, but neglected to prepare to receive their guest.

  It soon became fully apparent  to Napoleon that Pauline had no intention of returning to Italy with her husband. Napoleon was also all too aware of his sister's dalliances and did not wish to leave her to her own devices in Paris.So in order to fix this problem the emperor conferred upon Camillo the grand cordon of the Legiod'Honneur, which gave the Prince Borghese French citizenship-immediately. 

This did little to improve  an already bad marriage.Camillo and Pauline were always at each others throats. Pauline even began referring to her husband as "His Serene Idiot". Napoleon even gave his brother-in-law a commission in the French army to get him as far away as possible from Pauline. But having Camillo far away wasn't far enough for Pauline.

  Because of the ever expanding empire, family members were put in different places in the empire to act as Napoleon's proxies or viceroys, who would govern according to Napoleon's wishes. That is all family members except Camillo and Pauline. This was because Napoleon thought Camillo to be a moron and Pauline's disdain and deride of court etiquette. Of course Pauline had a fit about the situation, so to appease her Napoleon gave them Guastalla, Italy.Pauline was delighted at the thought of becoming Duchess of Guastalla. She dreamed of presiding over the lavish court in her own little empire, then she thought to ask her brother where exactly Guastalla was. She was informed that it was a village, a borough in the states of Parma and Piacenza. and that the duchy barely covered four square miles. Well, as you can imagine this went over like a ton of bricks.  Pauline eventually SOLD the duchy of Guastalla to the kingdom of Italy for six million francs,  kept the money, as well as the revenue from Guastalla;s feudal lands and kept her title. Then invested the money in French government bonds that gave an annual income of four hundred THOUSAND francs.

  In the summer of 1806 Pauline visited the spa town of Plombieres, due to gynecological concerns, lower abdominal pain and periodic pain in the lumbar area of her spine. Her doctor believed these ailments were due to an infection of her fallopian tubes. While there she insisted on being carried everywhere, which actually could have been due to pain instead of being a diva.Plus she insisted on bathing and showering in milk. She had her African male servant(slave?) rinse the liquid from her body through a hole in the ceiling This was highly scandalous but her blithe reply ( remember the times here) was that a Negro was not a man.

  A former lover of empress Josephine when she was between marriages,was certain that he understood the cause of Pauline's malady, after meeting her at Greoux, another healing spa: "Excessive sexual activity,  in consequence of 'furor uterinus' (nymphomania) had given her incurable ill. Too weak to walk, she was in such a state she had to be carried everywhere." Josephine was of the same thought about her sister-in-law, among other things.Mainly the many rumors of  a possible illicit and incestuous relationship between Napoleon and Pauline.The buzz had started almost as soon as Napoleon made himself emperor at the end of 1804. Another tale was that Pauline was a teenage prostitute in Corsica at a brothel that was supposed to have been run my their mother, Letizia.

Whether or not it was true of relationship as lovers, Pauline flaunted her intimacy with Napoleon and the odd sort of power that she above all her siblings wielded over the most powerful man on earth. She loved to shock and excite people.

Going to work on part 5 because part 4 would have been way too long.  Hopefully I'll have part 5 done sooner than part 4. I hope you are enjoying this series.

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