Prince Napoléon Bonaparte

For other people named Napoleon, see Napoleon (disambiguation).
Napoléon Bonaparte
Count of Meudon
Count of Moncalieri
3rd Prince of Montfort

Jérôme Napoléon by Hippolyte Flandrin (1860).
Prince Français
Tenure 1853–1891
Predecessor Title created
Successor Victor Napoleon
Born (1822-09-09)9 September 1822
Died 17 March 1891(1891-03-17) (aged 68)
Spouse Maria Clotilde of Savoy
Issue Victor, Prince Napoléon
Prince Louis
Maria Letizia, Duchess of Aosta
Full name
Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte
House Bonaparte
Father Jérôme of Westphalia
Mother Catharina of Württemberg
Religion Roman Catholicism

Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte, Prince Français, Count de Meudon, Count di Moncalieri ad personam, 3rd Prince von Montfort (commonly known as Prince Napoléon and occasionally as Prince Jérôme Napoléon; 9 September 1822 17 March 1891) was the second son of Jérôme Bonaparte, king of Westphalia, by his wife Princess Catherine of Württemberg. He soon rendered himself popular by playing on his family ties to Napoleon I. After the French revolution of 1848 he was elected to the National Assembly of France as a representative of Corsica.


Born at Trieste in the Austrian Empire (today Italy), and known as "Prince Napoléon", "Prince Jérôme Napoléon,[1] or by the sobriquet of "Plon-Plon", he was a close advisor to his first cousin, Napoleon III of France, and in particular was seen as a leading advocate of French intervention in Italy on behalf of Camillo di Cavour and the Italian nationalists.

An anti-clerical liberal, he led that faction at court and tried to influence the Emperor to anti-clerical policies, against the contrary influence of the Emperor's wife, the Empress Eugenie, a devout Catholic and a conservative, and the patroness of those who wanted French troops to protect the Pope's sovereignty in Rome. The Emperor was to navigate between the two influences throughout his reign.

When his cousin became President in 1848, Napoleon was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. He later served in a military capacity as general of a division in the Crimean War, as Governor of Algeria, and as a corps commander in the French Army of Italy in 1859. His curious nickname, "Plon-Plon", derives from his pronunciation of his name when he was a child, while the nickname "Craint-Plomb" ("Afraid-of-Lead") was given to him by the army due to his absence from the Battle of Solferino.

Prince Napoleon with his two sons

As part of his cousin's policy of alliance with Piedmont-Sardinia, in 1859 Prince Napoleon married Princess Maria Clotilde of Savoy, daughter of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy.

When Napoléon Eugène, Prince Imperial died in 1879, Prince Napoleon became, genealogically, the most senior member of the Bonaparte family,[1] but the Prince Imperial's will excluded him from the succession, nominating Prince Napoleon's son Napoléon Victor Jérôme Frédéric Bonaparte as the new head of the family. As a result, Prince Napoleon and his son quarrelled for the remainder of Prince Napoleon's life.

Prince Napoléon died in Rome in 1891, aged 68. Prince (Jérôme) Napoléon, upon being banished from France by the 1886 law exiling heads of the nation's former ruling dynasties, settled at Prangins on the shores of Lake Geneva, in Vaud, Switzerland where, during the Second Empire, he had acquired a piece of property.[1] The assets he left his heir were extremely modest: Besides the Villa Prangins and the adjoining estate of 75 hectares, estimated at 800,000 francs of the time, approximately 130 million of France's old francs, they were limited to a portfolio valued at 1,000,000 (1891) francs, about 160 million old francs.[1]

His grandson Prince Louis Napoléon (19141997) succeeded to his father's claim. Louis's elder son, Prince Charles Napoléon (born 1950), claimed headship of the Bonapartes upon his father's death, despite being explicitly excluded from the dynastic succession in his father's will.

This Charles Napoléon has a son Prince Jean-Christophe (born 1986) and a brother, Prince Jérôme (born 1957). There are no remaining legitimate descendants in male line from any other of Napoleon's brothers. There are, however, a substantial number of descendants of Napoleon I himself, scions of his illegitimate son Count Colonna-Walewski by Marie, Countess Walewski.


He and Maria Clotilde had three children:[2]

Victor, Prince Napoléon 1862 1926 married Princess Clémentine of Belgium, a daughter of Leopold II of Belgium.
Louis Bonaparte 1864 1932 Russian Lieutenant General and Governor of Erivan
Maria Letizia Bonaparte 1866 1926 who in 1888 became the second wife of her maternal uncle Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta (1845–1890), who had, from 1870 until 1873, reigned as King of Spain.

Prince Napoléon takes a leading role in Robert Goddard's novel Painting the Darkness. References are made to his role in the Crimean War and his son's succession to the Bonapartist claim over him.


Prince Napoléon Bonaparte
Born: 9 September 1822 Died: 17 March 1891
Titles in pretence
Jérôme I  TITULAR 
King of Westphalia
24 June 1860 - 17 March 1891
Reason for succession failure:
Kingdom dissolved in 1813
Succeeded by
Napoleon Victor


  1. 1 2 3 4 Joseph Valynseele (1967). Les Prétendants aux Trônes d'Europe. France: Saintard de la Rochelle. p. 179.
  2. Walker, Christopher (1980). Armenia: A Survival of a Nation, Chapter 3. Librairie Au Service de la Culture. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-312-04944-7.

Further reading

Media related to Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte at Wikimedia Commons

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