Josephine - Josephine Few woman in history have been...

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Josephine 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
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then become not just the Queen of France, but also more than a queen, though only for a short time. Josephine’s Aunt Edmée, mistress to Marquis de Beauharnais, wrote a letter to Joseph Gaspard, in search of a wife for Beauharnais’ son, Alexandre. Beauharnais was a man of rank and money, though his health was failing. Edmée thought that if she was connected and related to him in more than one way, she would, upon his death, be better provided for (Napoleon 1). Josephine, at fifteen was considered too old for this marriage, and so she was not offered. Instead, Catherine, her younger sister, was offered to Alexandre. Before he could accept, however, Catherine died, and so Josephine took her sister’s place, and “was all eagerness to go” (Aronson, 16). In late summer 1779, at the age of sixteen, Josephine set off with her father to meet her fiancée, the nineteen year-old Alexandre de Beauharnais. Alexandre was well educated, worldly, and, though still young, already a lady’s
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Josephine - Josephine Few woman in history have been...

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