Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Napoleon Bonaparte was military and political leader of France. His actions and decisions shaped European politics of 19th century. It was him who gave the Poles hope, during the time when their country was partitioned, that Poland will be reborn. They would fight for him trusting that their deeds would bring their country independence. Although the Poles needed to have waited another 100 years for independence, it was thanks to Bonaparte that Kingdom of Poland (or Congress of Poland) was proclaimed in 1815.
Although male sex is thought to be stronger one, it happens very often that their actions are influenced by woman – great cunning seducers who can use their charm to influence their man’s decisions. Also Napoleon met in his life a beautiful woman who surely changed some of his points of view. Her name was Maria Walewska and she was Polish.
Maria was born In 1786 in Poland, nearby Lowicz, as a daughter of Mateusz Laczynski and Ewa Zaborowska. For couple of years during her childhood – together with her two brothers – she was brought up by father of Frydderyk Chopin. At the age of 18 she married Anastazy Walewski – chamberlain of Walewice – and 6 months later she gave birth to their son. As her husband was much older than his young wife, the publicity questioned his fatherhood.
Mrs Walewska met Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807. Although the met in Jablonno, they were officially introduced to each other at the ball in Warsaw Castle. Shortly after, thanks to many different approaches from his side, she became his official mistress. When in 1809 Maria got pregnant, Napoleon realized that it was not him who was infertile in his relationship with his wife with Josephine. Although son of Bonaparte – from his relationship with Mrs Walewska – was born in 1810, he abandoned Josephine and married Maria Louise, daughter of Austrian Holy Roman Emperor, who gave him legitimate son.
Napoleon Bonaparte would still take care of his Polish lover. He presented her a palace in Paris where she lived with her two sons. He gave his son Alexander a title of count and terrains that enabled him and his mother to get financially independent. Maria met Napoleon for the last time in 1815 – shortly before he was sent to Elba Isle – before she got in relationship with Napoleon’s cousin Phillip-Anthony D’Ornano (count and marshal of France) whom she married after divorce and death of first husband. Shortly after the birth of her third son – in 1817 – Maria Walewska died.
Many would today wrongly assess Maria Walewska. But, as written resources say, she was very reluctant to her relationship with Napoleon. While he noticed her and fell in love with her at the first sight, she refused his feeling. The more reluctant she was, the more desperate Napoleon felt to make her his lover. During that time thousands of people would visit Walewska’s house begging her to take offer of Bonaparte. They believed that this young, beautiful lady would change the history and encourage Napoleon to fight for Polish independence as fiercely as they were willing to. He would call her his Polish wife but never legalized the relationship (especially that it was only one among many illegitimate relationships that he had).