Eugène Rose de Beauharnais, Prince Français, Prince of Venice, Viceroy of the Kingdom of Italy, Hereditary Grand Duke of Frankfurt, 1st Herzog von Leuchtenberg and 1st Fürst von Eichstätt ad personam (September 3, 1781 - February 21, 1824) was the first child and only son of the future French emperor Napoleon's first wife, Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie and Alexandre, Vicomte de Beauharnais.
He was born in Paris, France and became the stepson and adopted child (but not the heir to the imperial throne) of Napoleon. His natural father was executed during the revolutionary Reign of Terror. He commanded the Army of Italy and was viceroy of Italy under his stepfather.
Historians have looked upon him as one of the abler of Napoleon's relatives.
Eugène's first campaign was in the Vendée, where he fought at Quiberon. However, within a year his mother Joséphine had arranged his return to Paris. In the Italian campaigns of 1796-1797, Eugène served as aide-de-camp to his step-father, whom he also accompanied to Egypt. In Egypt, Eugène was wounded during the Siege of Acre). He returned to France in the autumn of 1799 and helped bring about the reconciliation which then took place between Bonaparte and his mother. When Napoleon became First Consul, Eugène became a captain in the Chasseurs à Cheval of the Consular Guard and with his squadron he took part in the Battle of Marengo.
During the War of the Fifth Coalition, Eugène was put in command of the Army of Italy, with General Étienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre MacDonald as his military advisor. In April 1809 he fought and lost the Battle of Sacile against the Austrian army of the Archduke John, but Eugène's troops decisively won the rematch at the Battle of Raab that June. After the Battle of Aspern-Essling, Napoleon recalled the Army of Italy and after joining the main army, on the island of Lobau in the Danube, Eugène took part in the Battle of Wagram.
During the Russian campaign, Eugène again commanded the Army of Italy (IV Corps) with which he fought in the Battle of Borodino and the Battle of Maloyaroslavets. After Napoleon and then Joachim Murat had left the retreating army, Eugène took command of the remnants and led it back to Germany in 1813.
During the campaign of 1813, Eugène fought in the Battle of Lützen. Napoleon then sent him back to Italy, where he organised the defence against the Austrians, holding out until the abdication in 1814. After the fall of Napoleon in 1814, Eugène retired to Munich and at the behest of his father-in-law Maximilian I of Bavaria, did not get involved with Napoleon and France again.
Status and titles
In 1804 he was made an official member of the imperial family as His Imperial Highness, French Prince (Prince français) Eugène de Beauharnais. By a statute of June 5, 1805, the Emperor added Viceroy of Italy to his titles.
Prince Eugène was adopted by Napoleon on 12 January, 1806; while excluded from the French empire's succession, he was given presumptive rights for him and his descendants in the male line to the throne of Italy in the absence of a second son of Napoleon on February 16, 1806, and hence on December 20, 1807 given the title of Prince de Venise ('Prince of Venice'), which had been instituted by article 9 of the decree of March 30, 1806 (when the former Austrian province of Venice was united to Bonaparte's kingdom of Italy) for the Heir Presumptive to Napoleon in Italy.
His stepfather also made him heir to the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt in 1810 and hence he technically succeeded as Grand Duke to Archbishop Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg, the Prince-Primate of the Confederation of the Rhine, upon the latter's abdication in 1813. This position, however, was purely theoretical, as Dalberg's abdication was due to his Grand Duchy's imminent conquest by the Allied armies.
A further imperial sinecure was archichancelier d'état de l'empire de France 'Archchancellor of the empire of France'.
In 1806 Eugène had married Princess Augusta Amalia Ludovika Georgia of Bavaria (1788-1851), daughter of Maximilian I of Bavaria, and his royal father-in-law made him Duke of Leuchtenberg and gave him the administration of the Principality of Eichstätt on 14 November 1817.
Eugène's and Augusta's children were:
- Princess Josephine of Leuchtenberg (1807-1876) became the Queen Consort to King Oscar I of Sweden, himself the son of Napoleon's old love, Desirée Clary.
- Princess Eugénie Hortense Auguste de Beauharnais (1808-1847). Married Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen.
- Prince Auguste Charles Eugène Napoléon de Beauharnais, 2nd Duke of Leuchtenberg, (1810 - 1835) married Queen Mary II of Portugal. There was no issue from this marriage
- Princess Amélie Auguste Eugénie Napoléone de Beauharnais, (July 31, 1812 - January 26, 1873) was the second wife of Peter I of Brazil (father of Mary II of Portugal) and became Empress of Brazil
- Princess Theodelinde Louise Eugénie Auguste Napoléone de Beauharnais (1814-1857). Married Wilhelm, 1st Duke of Urach.
- Princess Carolina Clotilde de Beauharnais (1816)
- Prince Maximilian Josèphe Eugène Auguste Napoléon de Beauharnais (1817-1852), married Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaievna of Russia, eldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, and received the title of "Prince Romanovsky", addressed as "His Imperial Highness", in 1852.
Eugène de Beauharnais died on February 21, 1824 in Munich.