Few woman in history have been storied and studied more than Rose, the simple
island girl, who became Josephine, empress of a nation, and one of the most prominent
female figures in world history.
Marie Joseph Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, born of simple
and uneducated parentage on a Caribbean island and completely devoid of all political
ambition or social standing, became intimately involved, in the course of her lifetime, in the
lives of three of France’s most prominent leaders, all the while keeping her sweet disposition
and love of the simple things in life.
On June 23, 1763, on a sugar plantation on the French-owned Caribbean island of
Martinique, a little girl was born.
She was baptized Marie Joseph Rose Tascher de La
Pagerie, and was known to her family as Rose.
She was the oldest of three daughters, born to
Joseph Gaspard Tascher de La Pagerie and his wife.
Typical life on sugar plantations in the
eighteenth century was a life of wealth, but Joseph Gaspard, a gambler and philanderer, was
not a typical plantation owner.
He managed to squander away nearly all the money that the
plantation earned (Gulland 1).
When Josephine was three, her home was destroyed by a
hurricane, and her family was forced to move into the second floor of the sucrerie, the
building they used to boil down the sugar syrup.
At the age of ten, Josephine was sent to convent school, across the bay at Port Royal.
Her school career lasted merely four years.
Regrettably, her education at Les Dames de la
Providence was lacking.
She was taught only those skills deemed important on the tropical
island of Martinique; those skills of appearing well bred, and behaving in a way becoming to
a young woman (Aronson 15).
She was taught that the most important thing and only worthy
goal in her life was marriage.
Legend has it that around the time her schooling ended, a
mulatto fortune teller predicted that Josephine would be unhappily married, widowed, and