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{great love stories № 07 | napoleon bonaparte & maria walewska}

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love letter — noun; a letter or note written by someone to his or her sweetheart or lover; a personal letter to a loved one expressing affection

Whether reading a breathtaking and enchanting tale of heroic deeds and star crossed lovers, or remembering a stolen first kiss or a midnight stroll on a cool midsummer’s night—a love story, be it your own or that of another, can evoke the most quixotic of feelings.

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History has delivered many beautiful love stories, and many of the ‘ancient’ stories are so utterly enchanting, as they are from another time—a time of love letters and great exclamations of love, of damsels in distress and knights in shining armour. . .

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The tale of Napoleon Bonaparte & Marie Walewska is one of these magical ones—Napoleon wore his heart on his sleeve and wrote numerous heartfelt love letters to his lover, constantly expressing his innermost and intimate feelings . . .

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Maria Countess Walewska was a wealthy Polish noblewoman, and Napoleon Bonaparte, the emperor of France. Their first encounter was in Błonie, a tiny village in Warsaw West County, on the New Years Eve of 1806. With champagne abundant, and the sound of fireworks in the near distance, the scene was like that from a romance novel—Napoleon was instantly smitten with the countess for her extraordinary beauty, and immediately requested to see her again.

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Maria, perhaps being accustomed to would-be suitors proclaiming their undying love, was reluctant at first. Her hesitance prompted a bold but honest love letter from Napoleon:

I saw no one but you, I admired no one but you, I want no one but you.
Answer me at once, and assuage the impatient passion of N.

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Maybe Maria admired Napoleon’s candid sincerity, or perhaps she too, had been immediately smitten with him—whatever the reason, she agreed to meet with the emperor again, this time, at a grand ball held in his honor. From there began one of history’s greatest love stories . . .

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Napoleon, being the hopeless romantic that he was, inscribed hundreds of love letters during their passionate yet tumultuous affair:

Marie, my sweet Marie, my first thought is of you, my first desire is to see you again.
You will come again, won’t you? You promised you would.
If you don’t, the eagle will fly to you! I shall see you at dinner – our friend tells me so.
I want you to accept this bouquet: I want it to be a secret link, setting up a private understanding between us in the midst of the surrounding crowd.
We shall be able to share our thoughts, though all the world is looking on.
When my hand presses my heart, you will know that I am thinking of no one but you; and when you press your bouquet, I shall have your answer back!
Love me, my pretty one, and hold your bouquet tight!
N.”

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Maria travelled through Europe with Napoleon, beginning with the Royal Castle in Walewska, to Finckenstein Palace in East Prussia, and the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, constantly by the emperor’s side, his perpetual companion. Their fervent and amorous affair would not last forever, and as it drew to a close, Maria settled into a palatial residence in the Rue de Montmorency.

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Their love affair may have been over, but they remained acutely dear to each other—in fact, following his exile to Elba, Maria was the only of Napoleon’s lovers to visit him, even after all those years . . .

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The passion and eagerness of this feverous tale inspires perseverance in the pursuit of a sweetheart, and proves the power of a love letter will never die; a wonderfully fervent love story that may inspire modern-day romances to ‘take a leaf’ out of the book of these ancient tales of love . . .

Joey

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{p.s.} editor’s note — also interesting : a display of Napoleon’s living room & dining room at the Louvre /// a film about Maria /// the former home of Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon’s grandnephew

previously:

* great love stories № 01 : grace kelly & prince rainer III of monaco
* great love stories № 02 : nacho figueras & delfina blaquier
* great love stories № 03 : shah jahan & mumtaz mahal
* great love stories № 04 : elizabeth taylor & richard burton
* great love stories № 05 : prince william & kate middleton
* great love stories № 06 : audrey hepburn & robert wolders

[image sources & credits : eye poetry /// the pixie jar /// eye poetry /// simply seleta /// eye poetry /// kirsten dunst in marie antoinette by sofia coppola via encore! life /// eye poetry /// sense & sensibility /// eye poetry /// eye poetry /// aileenzakka /// eye poetry]

NET-A-PORTER
Contributor, Australia

Inspired by film noir, F. Scott Fitzgerald novels & the thought of a summer spent in Paris, this high tea connoisseur enjoys photography & designing & making her own clothes. Joey has been buying fashion, wedding & interior design magazines since a wonderfully young age, and would spend hours browsing through their glossy pages making ‘inspirational’ scrapbooks. Never spotted without high heels, a sketchpad, a pop of pink lipstick & a strong coffee— Joey adores great love stories, chandeliers, crème brûlée, the French countryside & sequins & sparkles & her long time sweetheart— the love of her life whose kisses still give her butterflies …
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