Napoleon II of France

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Napoleon II
Emperor of the French
Preceded by Napoleon I
Succeeded by Louis XVIII (as King of France)
Joseph Bonaparte (as Head of the Bonapartes)
King of Rome
Duke of Reichstadt
Personal details
Born 20 March 1811
Paris, France
Died 22 July 1832(1832-07-22) (aged 21)
Vienna, Austria Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg
Full name Napoléon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte
Father Napoleon I
Mother Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma


Napoléon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte, Duke of Reichstadt (1811 – 1832), was the son of Napoleon Bonaparte and his second wife, Marie Louise of Austria. When he was born, he was called the King of Rome. His father said this was a polite way of reminding everyone that his son was going to be his successor.

Early Life[change | change source]

Napoléon II was born in Paris in 1811. Three years later, the First French Empire collapsed. Napoleon wanted to resign as Emperor and let his young son take over, but Emperor Alexander I of Russia disagreed. Napoléon II was taken by his mother to Château de Blois in April 1814.

Emperor of the French[change | change source]

After Napoleon I's defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon II convinced his father to resign. Napoleon I then declared his son "Emperor of the French" but this was not official because the Bourbon Restoration was proclaimed immediately after the abdication of Napoleon I.

Duke of Reichstadt[change | change source]

Napoleon II as Duke of Reichstadt

After 1815, the young prince, known as "Franz" (after his maternal grandfather, Emperor Francis of Austria), lived in Austria. He was awarded the title of Duke of Reichstadt in 1818.

He was very close to Princess Sophie of Bavaria and it has been said that he was the father of her son, the future ill-fated Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. This idea has not found acceptance.

Napoléon II died of tuberculosis at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna on 22 July 1832. It was said that Sophie never recovered after his death and that she blamed it on Metternich for the rest of her life.

Remains[change | change source]

On 15 December, 1940, his remains were moved from Vienna to the dome of Les Invalides in Paris. This a "gift" to France by the German dictator Adolf Hitler. Coming from Hitler, this "gift" was not appreciated by the French people. The remains of Napoleon I had been moved there on 15 December 1840. For some time, the young prince was buried beside his father. Later his remains were moved again into the lower church. While most of his remains are in Paris, his heart and intestines are still in Vienna. The heart is in Urn 42 in the "Heart Crypt" (Herzgruft) and his intestines are in Urn 76 of the Ducal Crypt.


Legacy[change | change source]

Bonapartists referred to him as the King of Rome and as Napoleon II. Although this latter designation had (and still has) no official status, the next Napoleon to come to the throne of France took the name Napoleon III in deference to him. He was also known as "L'Aiglon", or "The Eaglet". Edmond Rostand wrote a play, L'Aiglon about his life.

Sources[change | change source]

  • Welschinger, Le roi de Rome, 1811-32, (Paris, 1897)
  • Wertheimer, The Duke of Reichstadt, (London, 1905)