ROYAL READING – Who really was Charles Bonaparte, the father of Napoleon I, and what influence did he have on him? This is explained by the historian Michel Vergé-Franceschi in the biography he dedicates to him.
“Far from legends and strong claims, here is finally the long-awaited biography of Napoleon’s father, lively and erudite at the same time,” writes Jean Tulard in the foreword to “Charles Bonaparte”, a new book by the historian Michel Vergé-Franceschi, published by Passés/Composés (in bookstores 1ahem March 2023, at a price of 22 euros). Who but a great specialist on the emperor can judge the interest of this 352-page work.
As Jean Tulard explains, there was only a biography published in 1977 and an article on Charles Bonaparte in the Dictionnaire Napoléon from 1987. And many gray areas remained on his subject. “It was up to the best connoisseur of Corsica at the time, Michel Vergé-Franceschi, to dispel them,” he adds. What the latter did, he spent many years researching the archives related to him.
Ambition as a principle and work as a duty
Consequently, we should not believe everything we are told. And especially not that Napoleon was born into a humble family and got to the highest offices only thanks to his merits and efforts. Because if his extraordinary rise is undeniable, it’s part of the upbringing his father gave him.
Descended from a line of well-to-do and educated notables, a wise owner and manager, Charles Bonaparte was a “father-citizen” close to Napoleon and his other children, training them to conquer this new world that was about to open up. before them with the French Revolution. He himself had “ambition as a principle and work as a duty”, emphasizes Michel Vergé-Franceschi. Unfortunately, he died in 1785 at just 38 years old, never knowing that his younger brother was ruling France and offering the kingdom to his siblings.