Obverse: Laureated bust right. Legend: HIERONYMUS NAPOLEON
Reverse: Value (*X*) above denomination (EINE FEINE MARK),d ate (*1812*) and mint initial (C.). Legend: KOENIG VON WESTPHALEN FR. PR.
Jérôme-Napoléon Bonaparte (15 November 1784 – 24 June 1860) was the youngest brother of Napoleon I and King of Westphalia between 1807 and 1811. After 1848, when his nephew, Louis Napoleon, became President of the French Republic, he served in several official roles, being created 1st Prince of Montfort.
Jérôme was born Girolamo Buonaparte in Ajaccio, Corsica as the eighth and last surviving child, fifth surviving son, of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino. He was a younger brother of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte, Lucien Bonaparte, Elisa Bonaparte, Louis Bonaparte, Pauline Bonaparte and Caroline Bonaparte.
He studied at the Catholic College of Juilly, and then served with the French navy before going to the United States. On 24 December 1803, Jérôme married Elizabeth Patterson (1785–1879), daughter of Baltimore merchant William Patterson and his wife, Dorcas Spear. Napoleon was unable to convince Pope Pius VII to annul their marriage, and so annulled the marriage himself. Elizabeth was pregnant with a son at the time, and on her way to Europe with Jérôme. When they landed in neutral Portugal, Jérôme set off overland to Italy to attempt to convince his brother to recognize the marriage. Elizabeth then attempted to land in Amsterdam, but Napoleon had issued orders barring the ship from entering the harbour. Being with child, Elizabeth went on to England where Jérôme Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 95 Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, London, England. Jérôme and Elizabeth were divorced by a Special decree of the Maryland Assembly in 1815.
Made King of Westphalia, the short-lived realm created by Napoleon from the states of northwestern Germany (1807–1813), with its capital in Kassel (then: Cassel), Jérôme married HRH Princess Catharina of Württemberg, the daughter of Frederick I, King of Württemberg, in a marriage arranged by Napoleon. The connection to a German princess was intended to strengthen the reputation of the young French king. In order to emphasize his rank as a ruler, Jérôme commissioned grandiose state portraits of himself and his spouse. Other paintings celebrated his military exploits. France's most prominent painters were in his employ.
When Jérôme and Catharina arrived in Kassel, they found the palaces in a plundered state. As such, they placed orders for an array of stately furniture and expensive silverware with leading Parisian manufactures. The local artisans oriented themselves with these French models. The king also intended to refurnish his capital architecturally. The court theatre ranks among the small number of projects realised. Jérôme had it designed by Leo von Klenze and constructed next to the summer residence previously known as Wilhelmshöhe, but subsequently changed to Napoleonshöhe.
As a model state, the Kingdom of Westphalia was to serve as an example for the other German states. For this reason, it received the first constitution and parliament to be found on German soil. Jérôme imported the Empire style from Paris, thereby bestowing the new state with a modern, representative appearance. Thanks to these efforts, Kassel celebrated an enormous cultural upturn.
At the same time, Jérôme's expensive habits earned him the contempt of Napoleon. His court incurred comparable expenses to Napoleon's court (which oversaw a vastly larger and more important realm), and Napoleon refused to support Jérôme financially.
In 1812 Jérôme commanded a corps of soldiers marching towards the Russian front. Because he insisted in traveling in state Napoleon reprimanded him and ordered him to leave his court behind. Angered by Napoleon's order, Jérôme returned with his court to Westphalia. After the defeat in Russia he petitioned Napoleon to allow his wife to come to Paris due to her fear of the advancing allied army. After two attempts Napoleon granted permission.
Jérôme briefly re-entered the army in 1813 when his kingdom was being threatened by the allied Prussian and Russian armies. He led a small force to challenge their invasion. After a clash with a detachment he camped his army while hoping for reinforcements from the French army. However, before the reinforcements arrived the main allied force captured Kassel and declared the Kingdom of Westphalia dissolved. This ended Jérôme's kingship. He then fled to France where his wife was already waiting.
During the Hundred Days, Napoleon put Jérôme in command of the 6th Division of the II Corps under General Honoré Charles Reille. At Waterloo, Jérôme's division was to make an initial attack on Hougoumont, which Napoleon expected would draw in Wellington's reserves, however Jérôme misunderstood the nature of his role and his division became completely engaged attempting to take Hougoumont outright.
Although Catharina was aware of Jérôme's constant affairs, she remained true to her husband. They had a son, Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822–1891), also known as "Prince Napoleon" or "Plon-Plon." Their second child, a daughter, Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, was a prominent hostess during and after the Second French Empire. After the dissolution of his kingdom, Jérôme was given the title Prince of Montfort by the King of Württemberg, his father in-law. The king later forced Jérôme and his wife to leave the country in 1814, during which they visited the United States. Jérôme returned to France and joined Napoleon during the Hundred Days.
Later, Jérôme moved to Italy where he married Giustina Pecori-Suárez, the widow of an Italian nobleman.
When his nephew, Prince Louis Napoleon, became President of the French Republic in 1848, Jérôme was made governor of Les Invalides, Paris, the burial place of Napoleon I. When Louis Napoleon became emperor as Napoleon III, Jérôme was recognized as the heir presumptive to the throne until the birth of the Napoléon Eugène, Prince Imperial. Jérôme went on to be named a Marshal of France, served as president of the Senate, and received the title Prince Français.
Jérôme Bonaparte died on 24 June, 1860, at Villegenis, France (today Massy in Essonne). He is buried in Les Invalides, Paris.
His grandson, Charles Joseph Bonaparte, served as United States Secretary of the Navy and United States Attorney General. He founded the precursor of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1908.
Baroness Jenny von Gustedt, born as Jeromée Catharina Rabe von Pappenheim (1811–1890), one of Jérôme Bonaparte's illegitimate children, was the grandmother of the German Socialist and Feminist writer Lily Braun.