On This Day in Napoleonic History – 22 November 1809

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portraitannapavlovnaNapoleon asks for Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna’s hand in marriage

Even before telling Josephine he wanted a divorce, Napoleon asked his ambassador to Russia, Armand-Augustin-Louis de Caulaincourt, to mention to Tsar Alexander that he desired to marry his fifteen-year old sister, the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna. ‘I do not make a formal request. I solicit the expression of your opinion,’ he said to Caulaincourt.

Although Anna was Russian Orthodox, Napoleon seemed to prefer her to any other candidate. When his divorce was granted, Napoleon ordered Caulaincourt to propose to Anna on his behalf. The Tsar’s family took thirty-eight days to respond, finally asking to postpone the marriage indefinitely on account of Anna’s young age. It was just an excuse – the last thing the Romanovs wanted was a misalliance with the Corsican upstart.

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