PAULINE FOURÈS Biography history

Pauline Fourès, whose maiden name was Marguerite-Pauline Bellisle, was born on 15 March 1778 in the south of France, the daughter of watchmaker Henri-Jacques-Clément Bellisle and his wife Marguerite Barandon. She initially worked as a milliner, but caught the attention of Jean-Noël Fourès, a soldier on medical leave after being wounded in campaigns in the Pyrenees. They married, but their honeymoon was brief as Jean-Noël Fourès was called to fight in the Egyptian campaign. Pauline didn’t want to be left alone, so they decided that she would dress up as if she were a cavalry hunter and accompany him. However, only 54 days after her arrival in Alexandria, she was discovered.

On July 30, 1798, Pauline arrived in Cairo with her husband and there again dressed as a woman. It is said that they were an exemplary couple. However, it is at that moment that Napoleon enters the scene.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Dissatisfied with Josephine’s alleged infidelities, Napoleon decides to take an interest in the women of the region. Six local women are said to have been taken away and rejected by the 29-year-old military leader as too “robust”. However, when he meets Pauline, he is attracted to her blonde hair, petite figure, and perfect teeth. He begins courting her with gifts and messages, but she is reluctant. To make sure he had her around, Napoleon sent her husband, Lieutenant Jean-Noël Fourès, on a mission to France to carry a message to the Directory. Afterwards, he invites Pauline to lunch and apparently she falls in love with his gallantry, which leads to an affair, according to historians. All this happens on December 1, 1798.

Her husband came back unexpectedly and learned about the rumors. As a way to deal with the situation, she decided to file for divorce, and she succeeded. One of the first steps he took was to return to his maiden name, Bellisle, which earned him the nickname “La Bellilote”. It is rumored that El Corso, as Bonaparte was also known, was very attached to her and apparently suggested that if she were able to father a male of his, he would be willing to disown Josephine. In his letters, he called her “Clioupatre” and “La Générale”.

Bonaparte returned from Egypt on August 23, 1799, but did not take Josephine with him. Command of the army in the region was left to Kleber, who became Pauline’s mistress for several months. She returned to Paris, but did not meet Bonaparte, who decided to avoid her to avoid possible scandals.

Biography-Life: Pauline Fourès

She married Pierre-Henri Ranchoup (or Ranchoux according to other sources), a man of good family and retired infantry officer, on 11 October 1801, on the advice of Duroc, advisor to the Consul. As a wedding gift, Napoleon granted them the French consulate in Santander, Spain. However, in 1810, her husband was sent to Sweden while she stayed in Paris, which caused scandal in French society at the time due to his unconventional behavior, such as smoking in windows, associating too much with retired military and foreign aristocrats, and even taking her dog to church.

In 1826, she was widowed and engaged in timber importing and luxury furniture manufacturing with her new husband, Jean-Auguste Bellard, a retired captain of the Imperial Guard. In addition, he devoted himself to painting and created several paintings, including a self-portrait that is preserved in the French National Library with the title of “Lady of Ranchoup”. She also wrote three novels and was known for being a prominent art collector.

Pauline Fourès, lover of Napoleon, self-portrait

« Pauline Fourès » for Ecole Française —

He died on March 18, 1869.

Webography consulted at 07/05/2014


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