On This Day in Napoleonic History – 17 March 1798

Josephine is accused of war profiteering

17Napoleon and his brother Joseph subjected Josephine to a tough interrogation that left her tearful, distressed and resentful but as deceitful as ever. Alongside her current lover Hippolyte Charles and her former lover Barras, Josephine was an investor in a firm that had long been accused of invoice manipulation, providing substandard equipment, rotting provisions and even direct horse thieving from peasants. The involvement of his wife in such shady dealings affected Napoleon’s strongest appeal to the populace – his integrity.

In her panicked letter to Charles, Josephine wrote, ‘I replied that I knew nothing about what he was saying to me. If he wished to divorce, he had only to say. He had no need to use such means and I was the most unfortunate of women and the most unhappy. Yes, my Hippolyte, they have my complete hatred. You alone have my tenderness and my love.’

Leave a Reply