On This Day in Napoleonic History – 22 April 1794

17Josephine is imprisoned

Josephine was arrested as a suspected royalist and detained until July in the crypt of the church of St Joseph. She had lived those three months in daily fear of the guillotine, enduring truly inhumane conditions. The crypt was freezing cold and many prisoners were too ill to be executed, which might have been the case with Josephine. If it wasn’t for Robespierre’s death, Josephine would have probably followed her first husband to the guillotine.

It is ironic that the events which saw Napoleon imprisoned were the very same that liberated his future wife. This horrendous experience would leave a dark shadow over her for life. Some historians believe that Josephine suffered with what’s now known as post-traumatic stress disorder, which explains why she spent more money than Marie-Antoinette, engaged in military profiteering and married for stability rather than love.

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