Joseph Bonaparte

Joseph Bonaparte ( born January 7, 1768 in Corte ( Corsica), † July 28, 1844 in Florence), actually Giuseppe Bonaparte, was the eldest brother of Napoleon, and was by him only as Joseph I ( Italian: Giuseppe I) to the king of Naples (1806-1808) and then also as Joseph I. (Spanish: José I) to the king of Spain ( 1808-1813 ) appointed. After the fall of Napoleon he called himself Comte de Survilliers.


Joseph was born as Giuseppe Bonaparte in 1768, the son of Carlo Buonaparte and Maria Laetitia Ramolino in Corte, the capital of the Republic of Corsica. Thanks to a royal scholarship for impoverished French nobleman Joseph and Napoleon Bonaparte were together in 1779 to visit a boarding school in Autun. Originally he was supposed to start the career of a clergyman, but then his father Carlo Buonaparte studied law at the University of Pisa and worked as a lawyer and judge and temporarily as a diplomat in Rome. He also served on the Council of Five Hundred. The later Concordat of 1801 with the Roman Catholic Church carries thanks to his skillful negotiations clearly its legal moves.

Napoleon put him as King of Naples 1806-1808 - Joachim Murat became his successor - and 1808 then as King of Spain. After the lost of France Battle of Vitoria in 1813, he had to withdraw from Spain. After his brother's fall, he first went in 1814 into exile in Switzerland, where he resided until the return of Napoleon from Elba to Prangin Castle. During the rule of the Hundred Days Joseph led the government business in Paris. In 1815 he emigrated for 17 years after Bordentown, New Jersey, in the United States, where he conducted a farm near New York. He died in Florence and was buried in the Invalides as Napoleon in Paris.


After the abdication of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII Joseph was proclaimed on 6 June 1808 by Napoleon I., with the participation of Kastilienrates to the king of Spain. After it had come as early as May 1808 uprisings, the resistance spread to his proclamation. This resulted in a permanent feud that overshadowed the entire reign of Joseph.

Joseph tried to modernize the political and economic foundations of the state. In June 1808 a Constituent Assembly was convened in Bayonne. Although this had sized character, however, was composed partly arbitrary due to the hasty convocation. In the drafted constitution, although some special rights of the provinces were circumcised, but neither the abolition of the privileges of the nobility and the Church, nor the introduction of the Code could be enforced civil. The Constitution of Bayonne enabled Joseph to rely on at least parts of the Spanish liberals and reformers. Due to the difficult military situation of the Constitution from the beginning could not be procured in the country validity. An administrative reform was already appears fragmented. Only the abolition of Kastilienrates in favor of the individual ministries and the division of the country in prefectures on the French model could be achieved.

The ongoing guerrilla war also prevented consolidation of public finances. During the reign of Joseph it was not possible to establish a regular government budget. Spain was at this time constantly on the verge of bankruptcy.

The reign of Joseph was severely limited from the outset. Firstly, the de facto commander of Napoleon I. It was not until the end of March 1812 stood Joseph was officially transferred the command of the French troops located in the country. Secondly, Napoleon I kept myself before important decisions. In a proclamation in January 1810, he finally announced that he could divide Spain, if it were the case still hostile. As a result of this proclamation, he built four military governments ( Aragon, Catalonia, Navarra and Vizcaya) that should govern their provinces according to martial law. While Joseph was able to achieve the commitment to be informed of the actions in their area, but this proved in practice to be worthless. When it is taken into account that other lands were controlled by the junta, it is clear that Joseph could not exert any real power over extensive parts of Spain.

During the year 1813, his military situation deteriorated (see Spanish History ). Napoléon I was ready to end the war in Spain by the fact that he admitted Spain and Ferdinand VII recognized again as King of Spain at the latest after the defeat at the Battle of Vitoria. As a result of the Treaty of Valençay from December 11, 1813 Joseph therefore had to abandon the rule of Spain.


Joseph Bonaparte married Julie Clary 1794, a daughter of François Clary (* 1725). Her sister was Désirée Clary, wife of Jean Baptiste Bernadotte.

  • Zenaide Charlotte Julie (1801-1854) ∞ Charles Lucien Jules Laurent Bonaparte (1803-1857)
  • Charlotte Napoleone (1802-1839) ∞ Napoléon Louis Bonaparte (1804-1831)