Julie Clary

Julie Clary
Comtesse de Survilliers

Julie Clary and her daughters
Queen consort of Spain and the Indies
Tenure 8 June 1808 11 December 1813
Queen consort of Naples and Sicily
Tenure 30 March 1806 – 6 June 1808
Born 26 December 1771
Marseille, France
Died 7 April 1845(1845-04-07) (aged 73)
Florence, Tuscany
Spouse Joseph Bonaparte
Issue Julie Joséphine Bonaparte
Zénaïde Laetitia Julie Bonaparte
Charlotte Napoléone Bonaparte
Full name
Marie Julie Bonaparte (née Clary)
House Bonaparte (by marriage)
Father François Clary
Mother Françoise Rose Somis
Religion Roman Catholicism

Marie Julie Clary (26 December 1771 7 April 1845), was Queen consort of Spain and the Indies, Naples and Sicily as the spouse of Joseph Bonaparte, who was King of Naples and Sicily from January 1806 to June 1808, and later King of Spain and the Spanish West Indies from 25 June 1808 to June 1813.

Early life

Marie Julie Clary was born in Marseille, France, the daughter of François Clary (Marseille, St Ferreol, 24 February 1725 Marseille, 20 January 1794), a wealthy silk manufacturer and merchant of Irish heritage, and his second wife (married on 26 June 1759) Françoise Rose Somis (Marseille, St. Ferreol, 30 August 1737 Paris, 28 January 1815). Her sister Désirée Clary, six years younger, became Queen of Sweden and Norway when her husband, Marshal Bernadotte, was crowned King Charles XIV John of Sweden (Charles III John of Norway). Their brother, Nicholas Joseph Clary, was created 1st Comte Clary and married Anne Jeanne Rouyer (their granddaughter would be the first wife of Joachim, 4th Prince Murat).

On 1 August 1794, at Cuges (Bouches-du-Rhône department), she married Joseph Bonaparte, elder brother of Napoléon Bonaparte. She accompanied her spouse to Italy when he became ambassador to Rome in 1797, and then settled with him in Paris in 1800.[1]

In 1804, when her brother-in-law Napoleon made himself emperor, he named his brother Joseph Imperial Prince, giving Julie status of Imperial Princess. During the coronation of the emperor and empress the same year, Julie was given the task to carry the train of the empress with her sisters-in-law.[2]


Julie was reportedly very capable to behave in accordance with court etiquette and "royal formality", but she preferred to live a private life surrounded by her family and relatives in her chateau in Mortefontaine, Oise (which had been bought in 1800), away from court as well as her adulterous spouse.[3]

Joseph was made King of Naples in 1806, thereby making Julie queen consort of Naples. She preferred to stay separated from him in Mortefontaine, however, and was ceremoniously treated as queen in the Imperial court of Paris.[4] She finally joined Joseph in Naples before April 1808, when she was sent there by Napoleon to support him, as he by that time faced a rebellion. When they left, the Napolitans were convinced that they had removed many valuables with them, and commented: "The King arrived like a sovereign, and left like a brigand. The Queen arrived in rags and left like a sovereign."[5]

In 1808, Joseph was made King of Spain and Julie became Queen of Spain. However, she never lived there, preferring to reside in Mortefontaine, Oise. She was kept informed from Vichy and Plombières about her husband's adulterous relationships in Spain.

After the fall of Napoleon

Napoleon's army was defeated at the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June 1813. During the war, Julie gave refuge to her sister Desirée Clary, who by her marriage to the Crown Prince of Sweden was in fact an enemy citizen, as well as her sister-in-law Catharina of Württemberg, in her home Mortefontaine, and when the allied troops took Paris in 1814, Julie herself took refuge in the home of her sister Desirée in Paris.[6]

After the deposition of Napoleon, Julie bought the castle of Prangins in Switzerland, near Lake Léman.

During the Hundred Days in 1815, Julie was among those to welcome Napoleon to the Palace in Paris, dressed in Imperial court robe, alongside his former stepdaughter Hortense.[7]

After the Battle of Waterloo and the second downfall of Napoleon, Joseph bought a property in the State of New Jersey near the River Delaware, with the proceeds of the sale of Spanish paintings taken from ransacked Madrid palaces, castles, monasteries and town halls.

In 1816, her sister Desiree, who was Crown Princess of Sweden, wished to bring Julie with her upon her return to Sweden; her husband, however, thought this unwise, as Julie was a member of the Bonaparte family and her presence might be taken as a sign that he sided with the deposed Napoleon, and in the end, this came to nothing.[8]

Later life

Arms of Julie Clary as Queen Consort of Spain.

Julie went with her daughters to Frankfurt, where she stayed for six years, separated from her French-American husband. She later settled in Brussels and then in Florence, Italy, at the Serristori Palace. She did not socialize with the French people. She was described as charming, quiet, dignified and peaceful and generally well liked. In 1823, she parted with her sister Desiree, who, as the Queen of Sweden, moved to Sweden. In 1840, Joseph joined Julie in Florence. In spite of his adultery, she referred to Joseph as "my beloved husband".

Joseph Bonaparte died on 28 July 1844, aged 76. Julie died eight months later in Florence, on 7 April 1845, at the age of seventy-three. They were buried side by side at the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. 17 years later, in 1862, the self-proclaimed French Emperor Napoleon III brought Joseph Bonaparte's remains back to France and had them inhumed to the right of his younger brother, the Emperor Napoleon I. The remains of Julie are still at the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence beside those of her daughter, Charlotte, who died in Lucca, in Italy, on 3 March 1839, aged 37, giving birth to a stillborn child.


Joseph and Julie Bonaparte had three daughters:



  1. Lindwall, Lilly: (Swedish) Desideria. Bernadotternas anmoder.[Desideria. The Ancestral Mother of the Bernadottes] Stockholm. Åhlén och Åkerlunds Förlag A.-B. (1919)
  2. Philip Mansel: The Eagle in Splendour: Inside the Court of Napoleon
  3. Philip Mansel: The Eagle in Splendour: Inside the Court of Napoleon
  4. Philip Mansel: The Eagle in Splendour: Inside the Court of Napoleon
  5. Philip Mansel: The Eagle in Splendour: Inside the Court of Napoleon
  6. Lindwall, Lilly: (Swedish) Desideria. Bernadotternas anmoder.[Desideria. The Ancestral Mother of the Bernadottes] Stockholm. Åhlén och Åkerlunds Förlag A.-B. (1919)
  7. Philip Mansel: The Eagle in Splendour: Inside the Court of Napoleon
  8. Charlottas, Hedvig Elisabeth (1942) [1812–1817]. af Klercker, Cecilia, ed. Hedvig Elisabeth Charlottas dagbok [The diary of Hedvig Elizabeth Charlotte] (in Swedish). IX 1812-1817. Translated by Cecilia af Klercker. Stockholm: P.A. Norstedt & Söners förlag. OCLC 14111333. (search for all versions on WorldCat)
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Julie Clary
Born: 26 December 1771 Died: 7 April 1845
Royal titles
Preceded by
Marie Caroline of Austria
Queen consort of Naples and Sicily
Succeeded by
Caroline Bonaparte
Preceded by
Maria Luisa of Parma
Queen consort of Spain and the Indies
Succeeded by
Maria Isabel of Portugal
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