Carlo Buonaparte

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Carlo Buonaparte
Noble Patrician of Tuscany
Carlo Buonaparte.jpg
Portrait attributed to Anton Raphaël Mengs, between c. 1766–1779
Full name
Carlo Maria Buonaparte
Born27 March 1746
Ajaccio, Corsica, Republic of Genoa
Died24 February 1785(1785-02-24) (aged 38)
Montpellier, Kingdom of France
BuriedImperial Chapel, Ajaccio, France
Noble familyBuonaparte
(m. 1764)
FatherGiuseppe Maria Buonaparte
MotherMaria Saveria Paravicini
Blason fam fr Bonaparte ornamented.svg

Coat of arms of Carlo Buonaparte

Carlo Maria Buonaparte or Charles-Marie Bonaparte (27 March 1746[1] – 24 February 1785) was a Corsican lawyer and diplomat, best known as the father of Napoleon Bonaparte and grandfather of Napoleon III.

Buonaparte served briefly as a personal assistant to revolutionary leader Pasquale Paoli, fighting with the Corsican forces during the French conquest of Corsica. With the island conquered and the resistance defeated, Buonaparte eventually rose to become Corsica's representative to the court of Louis XVI. Twenty years after his death, his second surviving son, Napoleon, became Emperor of the French; subsequently, several of Buonaparte's other children received royal titles from their brother, and married into royalty.

Early life[edit]

Carlo Buonaparte was born in 1746 in Ajaccio, Corsica, at the time part of the Republic of Genoa; he already had a sister Maria Gertrude, born in 1741, and a brother Sebastiano, born in 1743. His father, Giuseppe Maria Buonaparte,[2] had represented Ajaccio at the Council of Corte in 1749. The Corsican Buonapartes were of Tuscan origin.[3] Carlo's ancestor, Guglielmo di Buonaparte, had been a member of the Ghibelline-controlled municipal council of Florence in the thirteenth century, when the Guelphs faction took over Florence, Guglielmo and his family fled to Sarzana.[4] His descendant Francesco di Buonaparte, sailed from Liguria to Corsica in the 16th century for a new life.[3]

Carlo initially followed in his father's footsteps and studied to be a lawyer at Pisa University, but following a substantial inheritance from the death of his father, he left before earning his degree to tend to his inheritance and take charge of family responsibilities. On 2 June 1764, he married fourteen year old Maria Letizia Ramolino: the Ramolinos descended from noble Lombard antecedents and were established in Corsica for 250 years.[4] Their marriage was arranged by their families, economic convenience was one of several factors considered while arranging the match, the main considerations being of cultural compatibility in matters such as speech dialect, church habits, food habits, attire and other family traditions. Buonaparte's new wife brought with her a dowry of thirty-one acres of land, including a mill and bakery which yielded an annual income of roughly £10,000.[5]

French takeover[edit]

For a period after his marriage at Ajaccio on 2/7 June 1764, he worked as a secretary and personal assistant to Pasquale Paoli. He had a son, Napoleone, who died in infancy in 1765 as did a daughter.[6] Paoli sent him to Rome to negotiate with Pope Clement XIII in 1766. He had apparently enjoyed his time in Rome up until being forced for reasons unknown back to Corsica in 1768 - though he had possibly enjoyed an affair with a married woman during his stay which led to his departure.[6] At the time of his return, the Republic of Genoa had offered Corsica to Louis XV as payment for a debt. The French were eager to obtain the strategically placed island for the protection of their own coasts, and Genoa equally keen to relinquish control given their inability to resist growing independence movements.[6] Buonaparte was noted for a fervent speech against the French "invasion". Political upheaval followed as France gained ownership of Corsica, and many of Paoli's supporters had to flee to the mountains. Buonaparte and his family, now boasting newborn Giuseppe, who was the first child to survive infancy,[7] were included. The family eventually returned to the town, where Buonaparte's wife gave birth to a third son, Napoleone.[7]

Soon after the French acquisition of the island, Carlo Buonaparte embraced the new government. He was appointed Assessor of the Royal Jurisdiction of Ajaccio and the neighbouring districts on 20 September 1769. Shortly after that, he became a Doctor of Law at the University of Pisa on 27 November 1769.

Rise to prominence[edit]

In April 1770, the French administration created a Corsican Order of Nobility. He became an advocate of the Superior Council of Corsica on 11 December 1769 and a Substitute Procurator of the King of France in Ajaccio in October 1770. Carlo already possessed the title of a "Noble Patrician of Tuscany" (Nobile Patrizio di Toscana) since 1769 by permission of the Archbishop of Pisa due to his ancestry, and had his nobility confirmed on 13 September 1771. He then became the assessor of the Royal Jurisdiction of Ajaccio in February 1771, Deputy of the Nobility in the General States of Corsica on 13 September 1771, Member of the Council of the Twelve Nobles of Dila (Western Corsica) in May 1772, Deputy of the Nobility of Corsica at the Royal French Court in July 1777 and finally he was named Corsica's representative to the Court of Louis XVI of France at Versailles in 1778.[8]

Despite being honoured with many titles, Buonaparte's dissatisfied nature led him to embark in risky business enterprises. He made many claims on land and money through legal means, but his success was limited and he burned through his finances rapidly. His apparent fondness of gambling worsened his monetary difficulties. Buonaparte made note of his situation in his account book: "In Paris, I received 4,000 francs from the King and a fee of 1,000 crowns from the government, but I came back without a penny." By 1782, Buonaparte was beginning to grow weak, and was suffering from constant pain. He travelled to Montpellier to seek proper medical care. Nothing could be done to quell the effects of what was believed to be stomach cancer,[9] the same disease that may have killed his famous son, Napoleon.[10] Carlo Buonaparte died on 24 February 1785,[11] and, due to his frivolous spending, left his surviving wife and eight children penniless. Carlo Buonaparte's youngest son was born only three months before he died.


Carlo Buonaparte by Girodet (1805)

Carlo Buonaparte's marriage to Letizia Ramolino produced thirteen children between 1768 and 1784; five of them died, two at birth and three in their infancy. Eight children survived.[12]


Direct ancestors of Carlo Buonaparte[13][14]


  1. ^ Seward 1986, p. 6.
  2. ^ Richardson 1920, p. 85.
  3. ^ a b McLynn 1998, p. 2.
  4. ^ a b Stroud 2014, p. 2.
  5. ^ Harvey 2009, p. 58.
  6. ^ a b c Harvey 2009, p. 59.
  7. ^ a b Harvey 2009, p. 60.
  8. ^ Seward 1986, p. 9.
  9. ^ Herold 2002, p. 18.
  10. ^ McLynn 1998, p. 656.
  11. ^ McLynn 1998, p. 41.
  12. ^ McLynn 1998, p. 4.
  13. ^ Genealogy index 2003.
  14. ^ Napoleon & Empire 2021.


  • "Bonaparte 2". Genealogy index. 20 June 2003.
  • "Genealogy of Napoleon - The Bonaparte Family". Napoleon & Empire. 29 September 2021.
  • Harvey, R. (2009). The War of Wars: The Epic Struggle Between Britain and France: 1789-1815. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 978-1-84901-260-7.
  • Herold, J.C. (2002). The Age of Napoleon. A Mariner book. Mariner Books. ISBN 978-0-618-15461-6.
  • McLynn, F. (1998). Napoleon: A Biography. Pimlico (Series). Pimlico. ISBN 978-0-7126-6247-5.
  • Richardson, H.N.B. (1920). A Dictionary of Napoleon and His Times. Cassell.
  • Seward, D. (1986). Napoleon's Family. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-78809-6.
  • Stroud, P.T. (2014). The Man Who Had Been King: The American Exile of Napoleon's Brother Joseph. University of Pennsylvania Press, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-8122-9042-4.

External links[edit]