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Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, King of Naples and Sicily, King of Spain and the Indies, Comte de Survilliersmarker (Cortemarker, France, 7 January 1768 – Florencemarker, Italy, 28 July 1844) was the elder brother of Napoleon I of France, who made him King of Naples and Sicily (1806–1808) and later King of Spain as Joseph I of Spain. In Spain he was known as Pepe Botella (Pepe Bottle in reference to his supposed alcoholism). He was king of Spain from 6 June 1808 to 11 December 1813, but from 13 June 1812 he was back in France.

Early years

Bonaparte was born Giuseppe Buonaparte to Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino at Cortemarker in Corsicamarker. As a lawyer, politician, and diplomat, he served in the Cinq-Cents and was the French ambassador to Rome. He married Julie Clary on 1 August 1794 in Cuges-les-Pins, France. They had had three daughters, Julie Joséphine Bonaparte (1796–1796), Zénaïde Laetitia Julie Bonaparte (1801–1854) andCharlotte Napoléone Bonaparte (1802–1839). He claimed the surviving two daughters as his heirs. He also sired two children with Maria Giulia, the Countess of Atri (Giulio, born 1806 and Teresa, born 1808). Joseph had two American daughters born at Point Breeze his estate in New Jersey by his mistress Annette Savage (Madame de la Folie), Pauline Anne who died young and Caroline Charlotte (b. 1822, d. 1890) who married Col. Zebulon Howell Benton of Jefferson County, New York, and had issue.

In 1795 Joseph was a member of the Council of Ancients where he used his position to help his brother overthrow the Directory.

The Château de Villandrymarker had been seized by the French Revolutionary government and in the early 1800s Joseph's brother, Emperor Napoleon, acquired the château for him. In 1806, Bonaparte was given military command of Naplesmarker, and shortly afterward was made king by Napoleon, to be replaced after two years by his sister's husband, Joachim Murat, when Joseph was made king of Spain in August 1808, soon after the French invasion.
He somewhat reluctantly left Naples and arrived in Spain just in time for their revolt against French rule, and the beginning of the Peninsular War, in which the French were eventually expelled by Spanish guerilla fighters and by an Anglo-Portuguese army. After retreating with much of his army to northern Spain he attempted to abdicate the Spanish throne and exchange it back for the Neapolitan Throne; Napoleon dismissed this as out of hand and sent reinforcements to assist in suppressing Spain. The rest of his reign was tenuous and constantly warring with Spanish guerrillas. He never established complete control over the country.

Joseph Bonaparte's supporters were called josefinos or afrancesados (frenchified). During his reign, he ended the Spanish Inquisition, partly because Napoleon was at odds with Pope Pius VII at the time. Despite such efforts to win popularity, Bonaparte's foreign birth and support, plus his membership in a Mason lodge , virtually guaranteed he would never be accepted as legitimate by the bulk of the Spanish people. During his rule of Spain, Venezuela declared independence (1810) from Spain, the first nation to do so. During the Peninsular War, his command of French forces in Spain proved to be only nominal, as his commanders insisted on checking with the king's younger brother before carrying out Joseph's instructions.

Bonaparte abdicated and returned to France after defeat at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. He was seen by Bonapartists as the rightful Emperor of the French after the death of Napoleon's own son Napoleon II in 1832, although he did little to advance his claim.

In America

Bonaparte lived primarily in the United States in the period 1817-1832, initially inNew York Citymarker and Philadelphiamarker, where his house became the centre of activity for French expatriates, but later moved to an estate, formerly owned by Stephen Sayre, called Point Breeze in Bordentownmarker, New Jerseymarker. Joseph's home was located near the confluence of Crosswicks Creek and the Delaware River. He considerably expanded Sayre's home and created extensive gardens in the picturesque style. When his first home was destroyed by fire in January of 1820 he converted his stables into a second grand house. At Point Breeze Joseph entertained many of the leading intellectuals and politicians of his day.

He was also reputed to have encountered the Jersey Devil while hunting there.

Joseph Bonaparte returned to Europe, where he died in Florencemarker, Italy and was buried in the Les Invalidesmarker building complex in Paris.



  1. Gazeta de Madrid de 14 de junio page 568
  2. Ross, Michael The Reluctant King, 1977, pp. 34-35
  3. [1]
  4. PHMC Historical Markers Program
  5. American Folklore: Joseph Bonaparte and the Jersey Devil

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