Paul Frecker
Fine Photographs

Prince Pierre Napoléon Bonaparte

Pierre-Napoléon Bonaparte was born in Rome on 11 October 1815, the son of Lucien Bonaparte and his second wife Alexandrine de Bleschamp. He was a nephew of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoléon I of France, Elisa Bonaparte, Louis Bonaparte, Pauline Bonaparte, Caroline Bonaparte and Jérôme Bonaparte.

He began his life of adventure at the age of fifteen, joining the insurrectionary bands in the Romagna. He then joined his uncle Joseph in the United States. In 1832 he was in Colombia with Francisco de Paula Santander. Returning to Rome he was taken prisoner by order of Pope Gregory XVI. He finally took refuge in the United Kingdom.

Following the revolution of 1848 he returned to France and was elected deputy for Corsica. He declared himself an out-and-out republican and even voted with the socialists. Nevertheless, he accepted the title of prince when his cousin Louis Napoléon seized power in 1851. The republicans at once abandoned him.

He subsequently lost all political importance and led a life of debauchery. He dabbled in literature and published some mediocre poems. He gained notoriety in 1870 when he shot and killed a journalist, Victor Noir. The republican press demanded his trial and when the High Court subsequently acquited him, criticism fell on the government. 

Pierre Bonaparte died in obscurity at Versailles on 7 April 1881. He was interred in the Cimetière des Gonards in Versailles.

On 22 March 1853 he married the daughter of a Paris plumber, Justine Ruflin, by whom he had two children: the geographer and explorer Roland Napoléon Bonaparte; and a daughter, Jeanne Bonaparte.


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