Napoleon François Charles Joseph or Napoleon II, was born on March 20th, 1811 in Paris.
But he spent his whole life in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Why exactly at Schönbrunn? Well, it wasn’t a coincidence.[tweetbutton]
Marriage between the dynasties
Napoleon married the eldest daughter of Emperor Francis I of Austria, the Archduchess Marie-Louise, by proxy in 1810 in the Augustinian Church. Napoleon, since 1804 the self-proclaimed emperor, had left his first wife Joséphine because she was unable to produce an heir. The marriage to Marie-Louise and the resulting connection to the old dynasty of the House of Habsburg were primarily supposed to legitimize Bonaparte’s newly founded imperial dynasty.
The new King of Rome is born
Let’s now go directly to the cradle, which is hard to overlook in room number five of the Imperial Treasury.
Since Napoleon François Charles Joseph was the desired heir of his father, he was placed into the throne-shaped cradle and proclaimed the new King of Rome immediately after his birth.
280 kilograms or 617 pounds of silver were used to make the throne-shaped cradle based on a design by the painter Pierre-Paul Proud’hon.
The little eagle sitting on the edge of the cradle is dedicated to little King of Rome of whom his father hopes that one day he will be a star as bright as himself. As we all know, that didn’t happen.
After Napoleon’s final downfall, the fate of the little King of Rome was also sealed. As the modest Duke of Reichstadt he lived under strict supervision at the Habsburg Court with his mother Marie-Louise.
Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna (c) Maximilian Just
At the young age of 21, the son of Napoleon Bonaparte died in Schönbrunn Castle of a lung disease.
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The question of temperament
What kind of person was he in his short life? One could say, gauged by his temperament, that Napoleon François Charles Joseph was a true son of his father.
Since Napoleon François Charles Joseph wasn’t allowed to even think about politics, he could only pit his strength against that of his insurmountable father within his private life. And thus in his short life he managed to impress Princess Sophie of Bavaria, the later mother of Emperor Franz Joseph I, so much that all-knowing courtiers suspected that a son was derived from their friendship. This son was said to be no one less than Maximilian, the later Emperor of Mexico. The similarity between Maximilian and his supposed father Napoleon François Charles Joseph endorses this theory.
The heart and other memorabilia
Unfortunately, his unhappy fate did not end with his death.
Adolf Hitler, the big admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, transferred in 1940 remains of Napoleon II from Vienna to Paris. But he forgot his heart and viscera in Vienna. His heart is still in the “Heart Crypt” (Urn 42) of the Augustinian Church and his viscera in the “Ducal Crypt” (Urn 76) under the St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
There are also other objects that memorialize Napoleon’s son located in Vienna:
- A room with personal belongings from Napoleon François Charles Joseph’ estate in the Schönbrunn palace building;
- The splendid children’s coach of the little King of Rome in the Carriage Museum.
Both men who started two world wars were born in a same small country in the middle of Europe. Even more, for years they have lived at the same time in the capital of this country and they have even met several times. This country was Austria and the city was Vienna.
For centuries, the ruling dynasty in Vienna was obsessed with the cult of the dead. After the death of a Habsburg the heart and viscera were removed from the body according to strict ceremony. So, each of Habsburg was buried three times at three different locations in Vienna.
Vienna is still stuffed with strange customs and curious places, royal mummies
The guidebook The Dark Side of Vienna is in many ways a different Vienna travel guide. Away from the tourist traps you will be guided through the dark places and royal catacombs unique for its historical importance and scary atmosphere.
One of specialities of this book are Extra Walks for Special Interests. If you have special interests about Empress Elisabeth – Sisi, you can spent a day or more followed the path of that famous Empress through Vienna.
In WHO IS WHO and WHAT IS WHAT IN VIENNA you will find more than 100 brief biographies of historical figures as well as about 90 public places with the addresses, opening hours, admission fees and public transport connections for each one of them.
Last but not least: This guide will be updated and published 2-times a year. If you buy the book once, you will be able to download new book version with recent information, new chapters, pictures and maps every six months without additional charge. The actual version is 1.7
You can read the first chapters for FREE here: The Dark Side of Vienna