Caroline Bonaparte

Maria Annunziata Carolina Murat (French: Marie Annonciade Caroline Murat; née Bonaparte; 25 March 1782 – 18 May 1839), better known as Caroline Bonaparte, was the seventh surviving child and third surviving daughter of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino, and a younger sister of Napoleon I of France. She was queen of Naples during the reign of her spouse there, and regent of Naples during his absence four times: in 1812-13, 1813, 1814, and 1815.

Caroline Bonaparte
Princess Murat
Countess of Lipona
Caroline Murat by Vigee-Lebrun.jpg
Caroline Murat and her daughter Letizia in 1807. Painting by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun
Grand Duchess consort of Berg and Cleves
Tenure15 March 1806 – 1 August 1808
Queen consort of Naples
Tenure1 August 1808 – 3 May 1815
Born25 March 1782
Ajaccio, Corsica
Died18 May 1839(1839-05-18) (aged 57)
Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany
(m. 1800; died 1815)
Francesco Macdonald
(m. 1830; died 1837)
among others...
Maria Annunziata Carolina Bonaparte
FatherCarlo Buonaparte
MotherLetizia Ramolino
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Early yearsEdit

Caroline was born in Ajaccio, Corsica. She was a younger sister of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoléon Bonaparte, Lucien Bonaparte, Elisa Bonaparte, Louis Bonaparte, and Pauline Bonaparte. She was an older sister of Jérôme Bonaparte.

In 1793, Caroline moved with her family to France during the French Revolution. Caroline was educated as a pupil at the school in St-Germain-en-Laye founded by Madame Jeanne Campan. She attended the school at the same time as Hortense, Joséphine's daughter and Caroline's brother Louis' wife.

She fell in love with Joachim Murat, one of her brother's generals, and they married on 20 January 1800. Caroline was seventeen years old. Initially, Napoleon did not wish to allow them to marry, however, his wife Joséphine de Beauharnais persuaded him to change his mind.

When Napoleon became Emperor, she and her sisters persuaded him to make them Imperial princesses.

Queen consort of NaplesEdit

Caroline became Grand Duchess of Berg and Cleves on 15 March 1806 and Queen consort of Naples on 1 August 1808, when her husband was appointed to the equivalent positions by her brother. According to the terms of the appointment, she would keep the title queen also after the death of her spouse.

As queen, Caroline renovated the royal residences in Naples, had new gardens planned, encouraged the growing interest in furniture of Classical design, patronized the silk- and cotton industry and French artists in Naples, showed an interest in the archaeological discoveries of Pompeii and founded a school for girls.

Marriage certificate of Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte, now in the Archives nationales

She was described as intensely jealous of her sister-in-law Joséphine and her children, reportedly because she felt Napoleon favored them over his Bonaparte relatives. It was reportedly Caroline who arranged for Napoleon to take a mistress, Éléonore Denuelle, who duly gave birth to his first illegitimate child.[1] This had the desired effect of establishing that Joséphine was infertile, as Napoleon showed he was clearly capable of siring children, which eventually resulted in his divorce from Josephine and remarriage. In 1810, when Napoleon married his second Empress Consort Marie Louise of Austria, Caroline was responsible for escorting her to France. After meeting her at the border of Austria and her duchy, Caroline forced Marie-Louise to leave all her luggage, servants, and even her pet dog, behind in Austria.

Caroline devoted herself to the interests of her husband Joachim Murat, the King of Naples, where she was very much involved in the affairs of the Kingdom. As queen of Naples, she functioned as the regent of Naples during the absence of Joachim on four occasions: during his participation in the war on Russia in 1812-1813, during his participation in the war in Germany in 1813, during the war against Napoleon in 1814, and, finally, during the return of Napoleon to power in 1815. In 1814, she supported his decision to make a separate peace with the anti-Napoleonic allies, keeping his throne while Napoleon was deposed.[2]

Then, during the Hundred Days of 1815, Joachim came out for Napoleon. During his absence, Caroline was left as regent of Naples. Joachim was defeated and executed, and Caroline fled to the Austrian Empire. Whilst in exile, she adopted the title 'Countess of Lipona'; 'Lipona' being an anagram of 'Napoli' (Naples).

Later lifeEdit

In 1830, she married Francesco Macdonald (1777–1837)[citation needed], who had been Minister of War of the Kingdom of Naples in 1814 and 1815. She lived in Florence until her death in 1839. The couple had no children. Caroline died in 1839 and was buried at the Chiesa di Ognissanti, in Florence.

One of her great-great-great-grandsons was the American actor René Auberjonois.

Jewelry of Caroline Bonaparte


Caroline and Joachim were the parents of four children:


  1. ^ Frances Mossiker "Napoleon and Joséphine, pp.282-84.
  2. ^ Caroline Bonaparte
Preceded by Queen consort of Naples
1 August 1808–3 May 1815
Succeeded by
María Isabella of Spain
as Queen of the Two-Sicilies