Elisa Bonaparte and Felice Baciocchi

Portrait of a crowned Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi
Year of birth: 
Year of death: 

Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi was the most enterprising and ambitious of the Napoleon's sisters. She was born in Ajaccio on the 3rd of January in 1777 and she was baptized with the name of Maria Anna; the new name was imposed to herself by his brother Luciano.
She frequented the royal school of Saint Cyr. She precociously gave evidence of her self-sufficiency marrying the Corsican captain Felice Baciocchi, while Napoleon, in full political rise, was planning a more important marriage sealing strategical alliances.
She moved in Paris in 1798, while Felice Baciocchi followed his military errands, and she started her political career alongside Luciano Bonaparte, frequenting the high functionaries and ministers' parlors, giving proof of her culture and cleverness but avoiding to contrast herself to Napoleon, of who she always had a sincere sentiment of devotion. At the moment of the imperial rise she obtained the title of princess of Piombino.
Elisa wanted to get tested as a reign's governor. In 1805, through the mediation of Cristoforo Saliceti and the willingness of the people of Lucca to make her sovereign to save their independence, she obtained the title of Princess of Lucca and Piombino. She governed the little constitutional state in a certainly authoritarian but enlightened way: she reformed the administrative institutions following Napoleon's guidelines, she gave a new drive to the economy, the arts and the commerce, she subsidized education and the social assistance works, she was able to involve both the old aristocrats and the new bourgeoisie in her government, and she was able to exclude the people of Lucca from the obligatory duress in the imperial army. Lucca, however, was too little for her ambitions so, with an unscrupulous and sly disrepute operation against Maria Luisa of Bourbon, Queen of Etruria, Elisa was able to dethrone her rival, to annex Tuscany to France and, in 1809, to assume the administration of the region with the resumed title of Grand Duchess of Tuscany.
With the fall of the Empire she uselessly tried to at least preserve the little Principality of Lucca and it was recognized to her the title of countess of Compignano only.
She retired in Villa Vicentina in Monfalcone, where she died on the 7th of August in 1820.

Felice Baciocchi, born on the 18th of May in 1762 in a Corsican noble family, was a man of elegant manners but not of particular ambitions: he was in fact extraneous to his wife's political plots, admiring and respecting her character but voluntarily remaining in the background. He reached his career's high with the titles of Division General and Imperial Highness. After Elisa's death, he retired in Bologna where he died on the 27th of April in 1841.