Caroline Bonaparte

Caroline Bonaparte
Princess Murat
Countess of Lipona

Caroline Murat and daughter Letizia in 1807. The painting is by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun
Grand Duchess consort of Berg and Cleves
Tenure 15 March 1806 – 1 August 1808
Queen consort of Naples
Tenure 1 August 1808 – 3 May 1815
Born 25 March 1782
Ajaccio, Corsica
Died 18 May 1839 (aged 57)
Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany
Spouse Joachim, King of Naples
Francesco Macdonald
among others...
Achille, Crown Prince of Naples
Lucien, Prince Murat
Full name
Maria Annunziata Carolina Bonaparte
House Bonaparte
Father Carlo Buonaparte
Mother Letizia Ramolino
Religion Roman Catholicism

Maria Annunziata Carolina (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.

Early years

Marriage certificate of Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte. Archives nationales

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. There, 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. Caroline had been 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.

Queen of Naples

c.1810 jewelry of Caroline Bonaparte.

She became Grand Duchess of Berg and Cleves on 15 March 1806 and Queen consort of Naples on 1 August 1808. She was intensely jealous of her sister-in-law Joséphine and her children, as she felt Napoleon favored them over his Bonaparte relatives. Caroline continuously plotted against Joséphine. It was 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.

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.

Consequently, she devoted herself to the interests of her husband Joachim Murat, the King of Naples. Her relations with Napoleon became increasingly strained in 1813–1814, as Joachim shifted allegiances. 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. He 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 life

In 1830, she married Francesco Macdonald (1777–1837), 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.

Died in 1839, Caroline was buried at the Chiesa di Ognissanti, in Florence.

One of her great-great-great-grandsons is the American actor René Auberjonois, who is perhaps best known for portraying the character Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.


Caroline and Joachim were the parents of four children:



Wikimedia Commons has media related to Caroline Bonaparte.
  1. Frances Mossiker "Napoleon and Joséphine, pp.282-84.
  2. Caroline Bonaparte
Preceded by
Julie Clary
Queen Consort of Naples
1 August 1808–3 May 1815
Succeeded by
María Isabella of Spain
as Queen of the Two-Sicilies
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