Marie-Louise, Empress of the French 1791-1847

Marie-Louise, the second wife of Napoleon I, was the great-niece of Queen Marie-Antoinette. The daughter of Francis II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, her upbringing was marked by a hatred of Revolutionary France and then of Bonaparte, as Austria was repeatedly humiliated by defeat and stripped of its territories.

Marie-Louise, Empress

It was a painful experience for her to see the break-up of the Holy Empire by Napoleon, which made her father, henceforth Francis I, no more than Emperor of Austria in 1806.

At the end of the second Austrian campaign she learned that she was to marry the Emperor of the French who had recently divorced Joséphine de Beauharnais. Initially reluctant, she eventually yielded and the wedding was first held in Vienna on 11 March 1810, in the presence of Marshal Berthier who was the Ambassador Extraordinary of Napoleon. Marie-Louise left Austria in the company of Caroline Murat. The civil marriage took place in Saint-Cloud on 1 April, followed the next day by a religious ceremony at the Salon Carré in the Louvre. On 20 March 1811 she bore an heir to the Emperor, titled King of Rome.

Marie-Louise, Empress of the French (1791-1847) by François Gérard
© RMN-GP (Palace of Versailles) / © Franck Raux


Marie-Louise at Versailles

She came to the Estate of Trianon for the first time in 1810 after the buildings had been specially refurnished for her by the cabinetmaker Marcion. The empress grew fond of this unique place, which she compared to Laxenburg situated not far from Vienna. The great party of August 1811 was organised in her honour in the gardens of the Petit Trianon, culminating in a grand dinner held in the gallery of the Grand Trianon.

At the fall of the Empire she returned to Austria accompanied by her compatriot, the General Count of Neipperg, who later became her second husband.

The Estate of Trianon