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Ajaccio, Napoleon I's baptism... and his Breton dad?

The interior | Isiwal / CC-BY-SA
Cathedral Napoleon I Notre-Dame cathedral in Ajaccio

Do you notice the baptistery made of white marble? Little Napoleon Bonaparte was christened here, on July 2th 1771...

Napoleon was born in Ajaccio in 1769. His mum, Laetizia Ramolino, felt the first contractions while she was quietly attending the Mass in the cathedral. Ouch. We were on August 15th, it was 11AM.

She went home on foot, but didn’t have the time to get up in her bedroom: she gave birth on the ground floor, in the living room... on a carpet representing Caesar, said the chronicler Las Cases!

But, well, that’s another story! Hey, wait a minute... Napoleon was born in 1769, but his baptism happened 2 years after... it was a little late!

Usually, they used to christen babies immediately after the birth, at that time. Well, it’s because the tradition says that Napoleon’s date of birth was mistaken: in fact, he would be born in August 1771, not in August 1769. So it make sense with the baptism’s date. They wrote 1769 on the birth certificate to hide a shady thing.

What thing? Charles Bonaparte, Napoleon’s dad, was not present when the future emperor was conceived. And yet, Laetizia was excepting her child... Well, gossips say Charles Bonaparte is not Napoleon’s biological dad. Historians like specialist Jean Tulard disputed, others like Edmond Outin wrote books about this.

So, who’s Napoleon’s daddy? Some say the count de Marbeuf, a Breton nobleman, governor of Corsica at that time. Whoa, Napoleon was half Breton... that’s all we needed! We don’t know what really happened, but Marbeuf fell madly in love with Laetizia and they had a baby.

And Marbeuf didn’t want to attend to the boy’s baptism, because he could not assume. On the other hand, he would support the young Napoleon when he’d be admitted in the prestigious military school of Brienne: he paid all the registration fees and even used his connections, because you had to be from a noble family to be admitted… Weird, did you say?

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!