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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pauline Borghese Part 5

  Now to continue...

In spite of her history, at Plombieres in 1806,  Pauline began a love affair of the heart. The 33 year old Comte Auguste de Forbin, a mediocre painter who studied in the workshop of the revolutionary artist Jacques-Louis David. The comte was an impoverished aristocrat who thought of himself  as a poet. While keeping her affair a secret, Pauline was able to get Napoleon to give Forbin a job as Pauline's chamberlain by begging. With that accomplished she paid Forbin's debts and while her husband was off fighting in central Europe, Pauline's emotional attachment to Forbin did not go unremarked. She lavished upon him additional benefits, including an expensive carriage pulled by a team of matching milk white horses.  In 1807 Pauline became a fastidious hostess at her segment of the imperial court. An invitation to her grand home in Paris, the Hotel Charost,
for a Monday evening soiree was a highly sought item.

  But Pauline's physical condition had deteriorated by this time. It was reported by her doctors that her limbs were spasmodic.It is said that the imperial physician told Pauline's personal physician that it was her overstimulated uterus was the cause of all her ailments. The imperial physician, Dr. Halle and her personal physician, Dr.Peyres abstinence, along with medicinal baths. A letter was quickly written to Forbin that the two lovers were being deliberately kept apart by her family and doctors and sent for him while she took her cure. She even visited Forbin's family mansion in Aix-en-Provence with out him. Pauline held onto the fantasy that they would be able to enjoy their provencal love nest indefinitely.

  Courtesy of his spies Napoleon did find out about Pauline and Forbin  and was not at all pleased. Neither was Camillo,who by this time had attained the rank of general in the imperial army. He, Camillo, let it be known that if Pauline were not the sister of the emperor she would have met with dire consciences. While he was genuine royalty the Prince also resented being made to feel like he was his social climbing wife's consort, instead of accepting the fact that she was Camillo's consort.

  But as luck would have it, in a day in 1807, much to the delight of the emperor and prince, the two lovers quarreled and the love affair was done. Of course it didn't help that Pauline threw a book at Forbin's head. Napoleon must have taken just enough relief that the whole mess was over, because he gave Forbin a commission in the grand Army and sent him to Portugal. Or maybe that was Forbin's punishment for having an affair with Pauline.

  The lack of an extramarital affair in Pauline's life did not last long, because soon thereafter Felice Blangini, an Italian musician, entered her life.  Now understandably Blangini was scared that their affair would become public and dreaded the wrath of the emperor. For as Blangini stated, he "had no wish to go and sing my nocturnes in Spainto a chorus of cannonballs and gunfire."

  He needn't have worried too much, for around the New Year napoleon mad Camillo governor-general of the Transalpine Department of the French Empire, basically the emperors viceroy in northern Itaian states that once included the Kingdom of Savoy. Pauline was ordered to go to Turin, the seat of government, and settle in as first lady.Even though she resented being sent to a provincial backwater, Pauline dropped Blangini like a  hot potato and put her focus on a new wardrobe. Once in Turin PAULINE wanted to be the one to meet with dignitaries and to hear common pleas of their new subjects; never mind that Camillo WAS the governor-general , not her. They vehemently quarreled over the issue and only the invocation of Napoleon's name and temper quiet Pauline down. Napoleon once again had to tell her to behave herself.    But as usual his admonishment was ignored. For once again Pauline embarked on  yet another extramarital affair. This time with an Italian violinist by the name of Niccolo Paganini.

  But when Napoleon began serious contemplation of divorcing his wife, Josephine, Pauline decided to return to France, whole-heartedly in favor of brother's plan. In France Pauline played court hostess to the hilt, determined to excel in her duties. However this was not done for free. Oh no, for Pauline decide in exchange for her responsibilities as hstess she would be paid an annual annuity, by Napoleon, of six hundred thousand francs. This annuity was also regarded as "separate property" from Camillo so he could never touch it.

  She was back in he element. According to some, if not most, "she was in love with herself and her sole occupation was pleasure."  "Men pressed about her to admire her, to pay her court. And she enjoyed this homage as her due." " Few women have savored more the pleasure for being beautiful." Were just some of the comments made about Pauline.

  One of her conquest around this time was a German-born lieutenant on a temporary mission  to Paris requesting reinforcements for napoleon's occupying army in Italy, by the name of Conrad Friedrich. In hopes  that she could influence her brother into giving the necessary troops, he visited Pauline in Neiully. Insisting that she had no special power over the emperor, while she and Friedrich enjoyed a stroll in her gardens, Pauline invited friedrich to come back the next day for an appointment.With her 27year old body thinly veiled Pauline welcomed the young lieutenant in a grand salon dominated by an enormous bathtub, in which Friedrich describrd as "being out of a novel or even  fairy tale."  There he realized that Pauline was the seducer and that he was the one being seduced. Theirs was a brief affair, due to Friedrich's discomfort at not being special.

  He was certainly one of the many lovers Pauline took from 1808-1812. Many were not only generals but quite a few were also considerably older than her. One who would assuredly provoke her brother was known as "Le beau Montrond" a suave and rakish diplomat, a confidant of Napoleon's former foreign secretary, Talleyrand. Napoleon had a dim view of her latest conquest supposedly saying "There will never be morals in France as long as Montrond lives there." What was even worse than Montrand's scruples was his politics. He managed to even get himself exiled from Paris for criticizing the emperor's foreign policy strategy.

  The year was 1812 when the 31 year old Pauline decided to embark on another affair this time with the French actor Francois-Joseph Talma, who was 18 years her senior. Talma spent countless nights giving personal command performances for an audience of one, Pauline.She demanded, as usual, that he read one scene after another from the French playwright, Moliere every evening with her as his costar. It obviously delighted her to have a relationship with one of France's greatest talents.

  Maybe her affair with Talma  was somehow connected with Pauline's determination to be immortalized by the most celebrated artist of the day. Canova not only did the "Venus Victrix" but he also did a cast of her hand. A commemorative coin was done by Denon, featuring her profile on one side and he Three Graces on the other side, with the inscription, 'Beauty be our queen'. Jean Francois Bosio sculpted her bust; and Paris goldsmith John-Baptiste used used one of her breast as the mold for the one of a kind golden goblet.

  Even though outside beauty appeared flawless her physical condition beneath the surface was entirely different. Pauline' gynecological ailments began to be so painful, in 1812, that her doctors advised *WARNING* leeching her genitals in addition to the usual douches, bleedings and purgatives. At this time in history the use of leeches were a common treatment on the effects of gonorrhea and it would be no surprise if Pauline had contracted it. naturally, she ignored all of the advice to abstain from sex if she wanted to fully recovered.

  Pauline began to grow anxious when napoleon's star began to fall. After the 1812 defeat of his army in Russia, Pauline downsized. She converted some of her wealth into portable assets. Due to Napoleon's defeat in Spain Pauline sold off some of her important pieces of jewelry and offered the cash to her brother to help defray the huge military expenses. As her brother's empire continued to crumble, Pauline's health continued to crumble. Her entourage sought ways to keep her in the dark about bad news.

  But when Napoleon exiled to Elba in1814 Pauline packed her trunks and, in the company of a small entourage, set out for Elba. But first she had to make a detour to southern Italy to avail herself of a spa cure. Even after napoleon's fate, Pauline ordered some of the latest fashions sent to her in care of the Neapolitan minster in Paris.

  Meanwhile, her estranged husband,Camillo, and Pauline were both in the bad graces of the pope.During the Napoleonic wars the pope was a prisoner at Savona, which just so happened to be in Camillo's governor-generalship. And also because of CAMILLO'S immoral lifestyle (he was having an affair with one of his cousins) His Holiness refused to allow him to move back to Rome.

  Not to be outdone, when Pauline sold the Hotel Charost in 1814, she demanded that the finest paintings from the Borghese collection be removed from their frames and hidden so that Camillo couldn't find them.The paintings were to be, if necessary, bargaining chips to presumably  to protect her or napoleon's interest. Her house was bought by the Duke of Wellington, who would go on to defeat her brother at Waterloo.

  Now Pauline arrived in Elba in November of 1814 and honored her promise to be her brother's "good angel...the treasure of the palace." She had also just celebrated her 34th birthday but still dressed like she was 18. On the island of Elba Pauline cultivated the image of being an invalid, giving dirty looks to those who remarked upon her good health, even as she danced at balls and soirees.

   Napoleon made his daring escape February 26,1815 sailing for the south of France aboard the INCONSTANT.  Pauline supposedly gave Napoleon the famous Borghese diamond necklace, in case he might need funds. It is said that the necklace was hidden in a secret compartment in Napoleon's coach, which he abandoned at the Battle of Waterloo. In any case, the Borghese diamond necklace has never been seen again. On March 4,1815 Pauline left Elba for Italy, looking for sanctuary at her sister Elisa's residence in Compignano, near Lucca. But Elise had been placed under house arrest in what is now Brno, Czech Republic after the fall of Napoleon. Once pauline made her way to Elisa's villa she too was also put under house arrest, as Lucca was now under the control of the Austrian governor.

  In October of 1815 Pauline was back in Rome where the pope agreed to grant her refuge. But her movents, along with those of her siblings were monitored by both Britain & Austria. But this did nothing to censor Pauline.

 With all of this going on Camillo still lived, with his mistress, at the Palazzo Borghese & wanted a divorce, but pauline fought with him over her rights to the apartments at the Palazzo. Granted she wanted nothing more to do with him but she wanted to keep her title as princess & all the trappings that came with it. Eventually a compromise was reached. They received a judicial separation & Pauline was allowed to keep her apartments in the palazzo, along with 2 carriages & a cash settlement. Plus the priceless Borghese jewelry, because she had reset them so many times & refused to identifypauline fought with him over her rights to the apartments at the Palazzo. Granted she wanted nothing more to do with him but she wanted to keep her title as princess & all the trappings that came with it. Eventually a compromise was reached. They received a judicial separation & Pauline was allowed to keep her apartments in the palazzo, along with 2 carriages & a cash settlement. Plus the priceless Borghese jewelry, because she had reset them so many times & refused to identify the pieces for Camillo.  she kept much of her beauty & took a young lover. But she began to look tired mainly because of her worrying about Napoleon's health on the island of St. Helena & because of this she tried to prevent the exhibiting of Canova's "Venus Victrix" to anyone.

   When Napoleon died on May 5,1821 there was no dramatic chopping of of her hair, but Pauline walked on emotional eggshells. She grew obsessed with her own mortality  drawing up many wills and then changing her mind on who the beneficiaries would be. Speculation was rampant as she had no heirs as to who would receive her things.

 Friendly relations finally occurred, in 1824 between Camillo & Pauline, due to the papal tribunal upholding of the 1816  decree concerning the distribution of the couple's marital property, which meant that he no longer had to give her anything financially. At the urging of the new pope, Leo X, Camillo  relocated his mistress & moved a very ill, possible from liver cancer, Pauline back in with him. Because Camillo was now stout & had a jowl, & Pauline had become very frail & her once luminous skin was now sallow, they were no longer one of the most glamorous couples in Europe. Plus Pauline was now suffering from tuberculosis.

 On June 9,1825 Pauline agreed, because of deteriorating health, to receive last rights, then she dictated her will. She gave her hoouse at Lucca to Camillo because of the sincere care he had shown her during her last illness & because of the way he always behaved towards Napoleon.  With her affairs in order Pauline died at the age of 44 at one o'clock in the afternoon from a stomach tumor, the same thing that had killed her father.
She is buried in the Borghese family vault in the Basilica di Santa Maria Magiore in Rome. Camillo died in Florence on may 9, 1832.

     Pauline Chapel in Rome, Italy

Bust of Pauline Borghese in the Massena Museum in Nice, France

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