Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma

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Empress Marie Louise of France, Archduchess of Austria (German: Maria Ludovica Leopoldina Francisca Theresa Josepha Lucia von Österreich 12 December 1791 – 17 December 1847), was the second wife of Emperor Napoleon I of France. During her first marriage, she was Empress of the French. In 1817, she became Duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla.

She was the mother of Napoleon II, King of Rome.


Early life

Marie Louise (who was given the Latin baptismal name of Maria Ludovica Leopoldina Francisca Theresa Josepha Lucia) was born in at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, the daughter of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor (Francis I of Austria) and of his second wife, Maria Teresa of Naples and Sicily. Marie Louise was also a double great-granddaughter of Maria Theresa of Austria, thus a double grandniece of Marie Antoinette, as she was a paternal granddaughter of Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor (Maria Theresa's son, Marie Antoinette's brother) and a maternal granddaughter of Maria Carolina of Austria, Queen of Naples and Sicily (Maria Theresa's daughter, Marie Antoinette's favorite sister).

To make her more marriageable, her parents had her tutored in many languages. In addition to her native German, she became fluent in English, French, Italian, Latin, and Spanish.[1]

Empress of the French

On 11 March 1810, the 18-year-old archduchess married French Emperor Napoléon I by proxy, with a subsequent ceremony taking place in the chapel of the Louvre on 1 April 1810.

The bride's father intended the marriage to strengthen links between the Austrian Empire and the First French Empire. Napoleon sought the validation and legitimation of his Empire by marrying a member of the House of Habsburg, one of the oldest ruling families of Europe. He also hoped to cement his position by fathering a legitimate heir. Napoleon had previously tried to marry Grand Duchess Anna of the House of Romanov, younger sister of Tsar Alexander I of Russia, but his proposal had been refused.

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