Beatrice de Graaf

Hortense de Beauharnais (1783 – 1837): Queen on the Run, Kingmaker Behind the Scenes

Who was Hortense de Beauharnais? In France, she is not well remembered, although she was the only one who remained with Napoleon until his bitter end, both in 1814 and 1815. She was his stepdaughter (child of Josephine), and was the mother of Napoleon III, who made himself emperor of France in 1852. In the Netherlands, however, she is honoured as the first Queen, married to Louis Bonaparte, the first King of the Netherlands. (The Oranges were Stadholders, and only became monarchs after 1813). In this talk, Hortense will be brought back from oblivion, and put center stage. Why did Napoleon want her to marry his little brother, Louis? Why was she so popular as Queen in the Netherlands? Why did she flee the country and leave Paris in 1815, to remain on the run and in exile until her death? Beatrice will make the case that we should reconsider her role as Kingmaker behind the scenes, and that Metternich was right in viewing her as perhaps the most dangerous Bonapartist.

Beatrice de Graaf is Distinguished Professor and holds the chair of History of the International Relations at Utrecht University. Her research focuses on the history of security, conflict and terrorism, both in the 19th century, and in the present day. With her book Fighting Terror After Napoleon, How Europe became Secure after 1815 (Cambridge University Press 2020), she won the Arenberg Prize for the Best Book in European History in 2022. She is one of the core editors of the Journal for Modern European History, for Terrorism and Political Violence, and initiated the Security History Network. She is currently working on a sequel to Fighting Terror, dealing with security and empire in 1830. See for more info: https://www.uu.nl/staff/badegraaf.

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