UNE COLLECTION PRIVÉE DANS UNE DEMEURE FAMILIALE
THE HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM NAPOLEON DE LA POMMERIE
Napoléon I and Napoléon III each had only one son, but both of them died young without leaving descendants. With these two branchs closed, the line of the youngest brother of Napoléon I, Jérôme King of Westphalia, became the only family branch to continue. His grandson, the prince Victor Napoléon Bonaparte, gathered together an exceptional collection tracing the history of the two empires.
At his death in 1926 this collection was inherited by his two children, Marie-Clotilde and Louis Napoléon. In 1949 his daughter, princess Marie-Clotilde, married to count de Witt, settled at La Pommerie, in the Périgord. One part of the collection was given to the french government in 1976.
In 1998, the count Baudoin de Witt obtained classification by the Historics Monuments, of more than 150 objects.
In 1999, with his wife Isabelle, the comte de Witt opened their manor house La Pommerie, to present in the intimacy of their home this collection untill now unknown to the public.
THE KING JEROME
Extravigant brother of Napoleon 1st
(1784 - 1860)
" My life is like a novel" These word spoken by Napoleon can also be applied to his younger brother Jerome, who became by orders of the Empereur, king of Westphalia.
He entered the Navy at 16. Navigated to Egypt and Brazil, to St Helene and the USA and then came back to Europe to participate in the Prussian Campaigne of 1806 before marrying Catherine of Wurtemberg, and taking possession of the Kingdom of Westphalia. An essential part of the european system elaborated by Napoleon, this kingdom was to be a model State in french Germany.
Extravigant and charming the souverain, Jerome, became know as the "könig lustig" but he was also a reforming king. He introduced the principals of 1789 into his kingdom. Associated with the great steps of the history of the empire, he sunk with it, before returning to France for the Hundred Days and fought galantly at Waterloo. Thus begins for Jerome and his family a long exile which only finished at the eve of the 1848 Revolution. It was in Paris that he was in the forfront and able to take mesure of the popularity of the taking over of power of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte with the hope of playing a part in the New Empire.
In turn he became governor of the Invalides, president of the Senate, member of the Council of Regents he became a living incarnation, accentuated by his ressemblance with Napoleon, uniting the first and second empires. Actor of the imperial period, he was above all witness to a century marked by the influence of Napoleon.
THE PRINCE JEROME
Napoleon Joseph Charles
Napoleon Jerome was the second son of the king Jerome and Catherine de Wurtemberg, born after the empire during the exile of his parents in Trieste, he rapidly became the prefered son of his father.
After the death of his mother in 1835 his father sent him to Switzerland to stay with Queen Hortense and his cousin Louis, future Napoleon III. In 1837 he was sent to his uncle, king of Wurtemberg, where he followed a course in the military school of Ludwigsburg and became and officer of the guard.
Elected representative of Corsica in 1848 the deputy of the Sarthre in 1849 he is nicknamed "The prince of the mountains" for his extreme left wing sympathies. Napoleon III to whom he was oposed gave him the name of plenipotentiary to Madrid in order to get him out of the way.
French prince and senator in 1852, general of devision in 1853, president of the Universal Fair, he was minister of Algeria and the colonies in 1858. For his marriage with Marie-Clotilde of Savoy in 1859, he was listed in the Italian politics of Napoleon III.
Partisan of the Imperial Empire, fell into disgrace and retired to Switzerland in 1865.
Elected general counciller of Corsica in 1871 and Deputy in 1876 upon the death of the prince Imperial he came to loggerheads with his son Victor.
Banished from France by the law of exile of 1886, he returned to Switzerland and died in Rome in 1891.
THE PRINCE VICTOR NAPOLEON
by Laetitia de Witt
Thesis of contemporary history that was judged
« very honerable » by the director of research
Mr Jean Tullard of the University of the Sorbonne IV
It is necessary to situate Prince Victor. He is the grandson of King Jerome, the youngest brother of Napoleon Ist and of Catherine de Wurthenburg. It was in order to serve the politics of the Emperor that Jerome married in a second marriage Catherine De Württemberg and had three children. The prince Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte who died of a serious illness in 1847. The princess Mathilde and the Prince Napoleon Joseph, who after the death of his elder brother took his name. To tease him, he was know as Plon Plon. In the second empire in 1859, this time to serve the italien politics of Napoleon III, the prince Jerome married princess Marie-Clotilde of Savoy, daughter of Victor Emmanuel of Savoy and Adelaïde of Habsbourg. From this union three children were born. Victor in 1962, Louis in 1864 and Laeticia in 1866, so Prince Victor is the grandson of two kings. Jerome king of Westphalia, and Victor Emmanuel, king of Italy from 1861.
His prestigeous origins gave Victor a role of the first order. By play of successions, the prince Victor became chief of the Imperial House, because there was no other male issue of Napoleon Ist or his brothers. In effect king Joseph had only daughters and Lucien was dissinherited by Napoleon 1st and Louis's branch died out in 1879 with the death of the Imperial Prince. From this fact the branch of Jerome Napoleon were the only survivors of the dynasty. At the prince Imperial's death the chief of the Imperial House should have gone to Prince Jerome, however, because of reactionary political opinions, the prince Imperial was notified in a codicille of his testament that " The obligations of our house towards the nation will not extinguish with my life ; my death, the task to continue the work of Napoleon Ist and Napoleon III is encombered to the eldest son of prince napoleon".
The prince Imperial prefered that the successor be Victor. This wish of the prince imperial had important repercussions. Firstly it created an immediate rupture between Prince Jerome and his son Victor. As well it was at just 18 years old and independantly of his desire, the prince V became representative of the Imperial House. He remained thus up until his death in 1926. Inspite of being chief of the Imperial house for forty years, he was totally forgetten by history.
COMTESSE DE WITT
Princess Marie-Clotilde Napoleon
The Princess Marie-Clotilde Napoleon born in 1912 was the first child of Prince Victor and Princess Clementine of Belgium. She was born in Belguim because her father was exiled there.
In 1914 the invasion of Belgium, obliged the Prince Victor and his family to take refuge in England at the home of Princess Eugenie godmother to Marie-Clotilde, where they stayed until 1919.
After studies in Belgium, the princess Marie-C. spent three years at the court of Italy for medical reasons.
Returning to Paris in 1936 she studied medicine. She married the Count Serge de Witt issue of the Russion immigration to France and left for Tunisia with her husband an officer of the first REC.
In 1949 they bought the domaine of the Pommerie where they raised their eight children. Splitting their time between Paris and the Pommerie, she spent her later years in the Dordogne and died in 1996.