On This Day in Napoleonic History – 26 June 1796

17Josephine leaves Paris for Milan

After her husband bombarded her with letters begging to join him, Josephine couldn’t postpone her journey to Italy any longer. She embarked on her trip in tears but there was one person she couldn’t part with – her lover, Hippolyte Charles, whom she brought with her.

Oblivious to his wife’s affair that by now had become common knowledge, Napoleon overwhelmed her with long love letters on her journey south. ‘Looking forward to the moment when I can be in your arms, at your feet, on your breasts,’ he wrote.

Josephine arrived in Milan on July 10 and Napoleon joined her there three days later. So happy was he to see his wife, he didn’t suspect Josephine’s relationship with Hippolyte Charles that was taking place right under his nose. Neither Junot, Murat nor Joseph were willing to tell him about Josephine’s betrayal.

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