Maria-Letizia Bonaparte

Letizia Ramolino
Mother of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor

Letizia Ramolino by Robert Lefèvre, 1813
Spouse Carlo Buonaparte
Joseph, King of Spain
Napoleon I, Emperor of the French
Lucien, 1st Prince of Canino and Musignano
Elisa, Grand Duchess of Tuscany
Louis I, King of Holland
Pauline, Princess and Duchess of Guastalla
Caroline, Queen of Naples
Jérôme, King of Westphalia
Full name
Maria Letizia Buonaparte née Ramolino
Father Giovanni Geronimo Ramolino
Mother Angela Maria Pietrasanta
Born 24 August 1750
Ajaccio, Corsica
Died 2 February 1836(1836-02-02) (aged 85)
Rome, Papal States

Nobile Maria Letizia Buonaparte née Ramolino[1] (Marie-Lætitia Ramolino, Madame Mère de l'Empereur) (24 August 1750 – 2 February 1836) was the mother of Napoleon I of France.

She was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, to Nobile Giovanni Geronimo Ramolino (13 April 1723–1755), Captain of Corse Regiments of Chivalry and Infantry in the Army of the Republic of Genoa, and wife Nobile Angela Maria Pietrasanta (circa 1725–1790). The distant cousins of the Ramolinos were a low rank of nobility in the Republic of Genoa. Letizia was not formally educated. After the death of her father, her mother remarried to the Swiss-born noble naval officer Franz Fesch, a captain in the service of the Republic of Genoa stationed at Corsica, and gave birth to two children, among them her half-brother Joseph Fesch.

On 2/7 June 1764, when she was 13, she married at Ajaccio to attorney Carlo Buonaparte. She bore 13 children, eight of whom survived infancy, and most of whom were created monarchs by Napoleon:

She was a harsh mother, and had a very down-to-earth view of most things. When most European mothers, even those in the upper class, bathed perhaps once a month, she had her children bathed every other day.

Also after 1768, when France bought Corsica from Genoa, Letizia never learned French. When she was 35, her husband died of cancer. She was decreed "Madam, the Mother of His Majesty the Emperor" (Madame Mère de l'Empereur), Imperial Highness, on 18 May 1804 or 23 March 1805. After 1815 she moved to Rome, in Palazzo D'Aste-Bonaparte in piazza Venezia, where she lived out her days with her younger brother Joseph Fesch and died of old age in 1836, aged 85, three weeks before the 50th anniversary of her husband's death. By then she was nearly blind and had outlived her most famous son Napoleon by 15 years. During her years in Rome, she rarely saw any other family members than her brother, who rarely left her.[2]

See also

  • François Carlo Antommarchi


  • This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain

External links

  • Letizia Bonaparte Photograph part of the Nineteenth Century Notables Digital Collection at Gettysburg College
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