Draped in silk, she bent down to smell the tea roses, so their vapor would overcome her tears. With a gentle hand, she cultivated a garden that brought her closer to her love story’s beginning.
He gave her a small sapphire and diamond engagement ring before he married her in 1796, an intimate reminder that she would never be alone.
Two days later, he went to Italy to lead the French army, but could think of nothing but love. “You to whom nature has given spirit, sweetness, and beauty, you who alone can move and rule my heart, you who know all too well the absolute empire you exercise over it!”
His love seemed hardly worth thinking of because it was certain. She had an affair.
When he found out, his sorrow could not be mended. Love turned to anger, and he would never give all of his heart to anyone again. “Power is my mistress,” he said.
As their marriage progressed, her love became true, but she couldn’t give him a male heir. Screams could be heard throughout the palace on 30 November 1809, when he made it clear he had to divorce her and marry a younger woman.
Napoleon sent his Josephine to the Château de Malmaison, where she collected plants from all the lands he conquered. She also created a rose garden for every rose in the world. Her horticulturist even created new varieties. Could beauty’s bloom turn back time?
The rose “Souvenir de la Malmaison” was named after her. The engagement ring sold for $948,000 in 2013 at Osenat Auction House.
When Josephine died of pneumonia in 1814, Napoleon wouldn’t come out of his room for two days. On his deathbed, his last words were “France, l’armée, tête d’armée, Joséphine.”