Jeanne Bonaparte

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Jeanne Bonaparte
Marquise de Villeneuve-Escaplon
Jeanne Bonaparte.jpg
Born (1861-09-15)15 September 1861
Orval Abbey, Belgium
Died 25 July 1910(1910-07-25) (aged 48)
Paris, France
Spouse Christian de Villeneuve-Esclapon
House Bonaparte
Father Pierre Napoleon Bonaparte
Mother Justine Eleanore Ruflin

Princess Jeanne Bonaparte (15 September 1861 - 25 July 1910) was a great-niece of Napoleon I of France, and the only daughter of Pierre Napoleon Bonaparte by his wife Justine Eleanore Ruflin.[1] She was well known in French society as an artist and sculptor, and was married to Christian de Villeneuve-Esclapon.


French Monarchy
Bonaparte Dynasty
Grandes Armes Impériales (1804-1815)2.svg
Napoleon I
Napoleon II
Joseph, King of Spain
Lucien, Prince of Canino
Elisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
Louis, King of Holland
Pauline, Princess of Guastalla
Caroline, Queen of Naples
Jérôme, King of Westphalia
Nephews and nieces
Princess Zénaïde
Princess Charlotte
Prince Charles Lucien
Prince Louis Lucien
Prince Pierre Napoléon
Prince Napoléon Charles
Prince Napoléon Louis
Napoleon III
Prince Jérôme Napoléon
Prince Jérôme Napoléon Charles
Prince Napoléon
Princess Mathilde
Grandnephews and -nieces
Prince Joseph
Prince Lucien Cardinal Bonaparte
Prince Roland
Princess Jeanne
Prince Jerome
Prince Charles
Napoléon (V) Victor
Maria Letizia, Duchess of Aosta
Great Grandnephews and -nieces
Princess Marie
Princess Marie Clotilde
Napoléon (VI) Louis
Great Great Grandnephews and -nieces
Napoléon (VII) Charles
Princess Catherine
Princess Laure
Prince Jérôme
Great Great Great Grandnephews and -nieces
Princess Caroline
Jean Christophe, Prince Napoléon
Napoleon II
Napoleon III
Napoléon (IV), Prince Imperial

Early life[edit]

Jeanne was born on 15 September 1861 in Orval Abbey in Belgium.[2] She was one of two five children born to her parents, although she only had one sibling that survived to adulthood: Roland Bonaparte.[3] Though born during the reign of Napoleon III of France, her family was never well received at the French imperial court.[3] Her grandfather Lucien Bonaparte had displeased Napoleon I by his marriage to Alexandrine de Bleschamp, and had been consequently barred from his inheritance.[2][3] In 1852, Jeanne's father was also barred from his inheritance, only receiving instead a modest income from Napoleon III's private purse.[3] This divide was dramatically widened upon his announcement to marry Justine Eleanore Ruflin, as he refused to give his consent to the match. Ruflin's great wealth managed to support her husband and children.[4] After the collapse of the Second French Empire in 1870, Jeanne and her family, like other Bonapartes, were sent into exile. Their family moved to Brussels, and later to London.[5] Pierre died soon after, forcing his wife to be the sole earner in the family.[6] Justine opened a dressmaking shop called Princesse Pierre Bonaparte, Marchande de Confections pour Dames, but was forced to close it down within a year due to a lack of customers.[5] It was not until five years after Pierre's death that their fortunes started improving.

The children of a well-educated mother, Jeanne and her brother were given outstanding educations. While in London an old French officer whose father had served under Napoleon I took pity on their family; he made arrangements for Roland to be permitted to return to France and enter a military school.[6] He also provided for Jeanne, sending her to an art school in Paris.[6] Jeanne took lessons in painting and engraving; at the art school she attended she became acquainted with the wealthy Monaco heiress Marie Blanc.[4] She was responsible for introducing Marie to her brother, and the couple were later married.[4] Jeanne's talent as an artist was displayed in 1878 at the Exposition des Beaux Arts.[7] Jeanne was preparing to earn herself a living when the marriage of her brother to Marie changed their fortunes considerably.[7] She continued to work as a sculptor and artist however. She lived in Marie's hotel on the Rue Rivoli leading up to Marie and Roland's wedding, and often smoothed over any arguments between the two; Marie reportedly gave her one million francs (in gratitude, as befitting her rank).[2][6][7] Marie's father gave her a further one million francs.[6] After receiving this large fortune as a dowry, marriage offers came from all directions.[2] Her family wished that she choose a marriage for love, and not simply the highest ranking.[2]


Coat of Arms Jeanne Bonaparte.svg

In 1882, Jeanne married Henri Marie Christian de Villeneuve-Esclapon, 10th Marquis de Villeneuve-Esclapon (1852–1931) in Paris.[1][3] He was a former officer in the army of Don Carlos of Spain, and belonged to one of France's most noble families.[4][7] He was very intelligent and well-educated; in his youth, he did much traveling.[2] Upon his return from fighting in Spain, he devoted himself to the study of literature and history; his writings were much admired by critics.[2] One observer commented at their wedding:

"Jeanne Bonaparte advanced up the nave leaning on the arm of her brother... She has little of her mother's striking beauty, although she resembles her a good deal, but she is tall, distinguished looking, and has a wealth of raven tresses..."[7]

Jeanne and Christian had six children.

Later life[edit]

Jeanne had a Paris salon that was frequented by illustrious writers and painters, as well as the cream of American society. Her husband was, apart from politics, mostly interested in occultism.[4] George Greville Moore, an English officer, was a contemporary of Jeanne's. He wrote that she:

"used to make a great display of toilette at certain balls. She was remarkable for her beauty, which was more of the Oriental style; she was very dark and had a sallow complexion, but beautiful black eyes and long eyelashes. I remember one evening every one crowding around the staircase to see her arrive at a ball. On that occasion she wore a white dress trimmed with water-lilies, with a tremendously long train, and no jewelery whatsoever. She rarely, if ever, danced; her long train scarcely allowed it".[8]

On 21 November 1907, Jeanne served as a witness for the marriage of her niece Princess Marie Bonaparte to Prince George of Greece and Denmark.

Jeanne died on 25 July 1910 in Paris, at the age of 48.[1]


Jeanne 's ancestors in four generations

16. Giuseppe Maria Buonaparte
8. Carlo Buonaparte
17. Maria Saveria Paravisini
4. Lucien Bonaparte
18. Giovanni Geronimo Ramolino
9. Letizia Ramolino
19. Angela Maria Pietrasanta
2. Pierre Napoleon Bonaparte
10. Charles Jacob de Bleschamp
5. Alexandrine de Bleschamp
11. Philiberte Bouvet
1. Jeanne Bonaparte
6. Julian Ruflin
3. Justine Eleanore Ruflin
7. Justine Lucard


  1. ^ a b c Lundy, Darryl. "The Peerage: Jeanne Bonaparte". Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Princess Jeanne Bonaparte", Galveston Daily News, 11 November 1894 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Princess Jeanne Bonaparte", The Washington Post, 14 October 1894 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Romance of Princess Jeanne Bonaparte", The New York Times (Paris), 29 October 1905 
  5. ^ a b "Princess As Shopkeeper", Hackney Express And Shoreditch Observer, 13 August 1910 
  6. ^ a b c d e "A Modern Cinderella in Fashionable Society", San Antonio Light, 29 October 1911 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Two Weddings in Paris", The New York Times (Paris), 10 April 1882 
  8. ^ Greville Moore, George (1907). Society Recollections in Paris and Vienna, 1879-1904. London: John Long. p. 8. 

External links[edit]