What happened to Napoleon's son? Exploring his cause of death amid Joaquin Phoenix's big screen portrayal of the emperor

Napoleon's heartbreaking separation from his son after the Battle of Waterloo and the tragic details of his son's untimely demise at the age of 21.

Published on Nov 26, 2023  |  08:37 PM IST |  682.7K
Getty Images
Napoleon II (Getty Images)

When Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix join forces, cinematic magic is bound to happen. The duo is set to grace the big screen with Napoleon, an epic historical drama that unveils the true story of the French emperor. While the anticipation builds for this visual spectacle, it’s essential to dive into the intriguing history of Napoleon Bonaparte, especially his relationship with his son Napoleon Francois-Charles-Joseph Bonaparte.

The tragic journey of Napoleon’s son

Napoleon Francois, also known as the Roi de Rome (King of Rome), was the first legitimate son of Napoleon I and Empress Marie-Louise. Born in 1811, his early life was marked by luxury and imperial attention. From lavish cradles to special carriages drawn by goats, his upbringing was nothing short of regal. However, fate had other plans for this young heir.

As Napoleon faced defeats and exile, so did his son. The Roi de Rome spent only the initial years of his life in France. After the Battle of Waterloo and his father’s final defeat, he was separated from Napoleon and lived the rest of his days in Austria. The separation led to a troubled existence, and he succumbed to a lung infection at the age of 21.

Napoleon Francois’s life was cut short by tuberculosis, a fact often overshadowed by the dramatic events surrounding his father. His death, occurring in 1832, is a poignant chapter in the Bonaparte legacy. The circumstances and the emotional toll of being distanced from the iconic father added layers of tragedy to his story.


Napoleon I, Marie Louise, and his son Napoleon II (Getty Images)

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Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Napoleon

Now, fast forward to 2023, Joaquin Phoenix steps into the shoes of Napoleon Bonaparte in Ridley Scott’s film. The movie promises to unravel the complex relationship between the emperor and his son, shedding light on the personal struggles behind the historical g=figure. Phoenix’s portrayal adds a contemporary touch to a historical saga, making it a must-watch for cinema enthusiasts.

Napoleon is set to hit theaters on November 22 in the USA and UK, followed by a release in other countries, including India, on November 24. With Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon and Vanessa Kirby as Josephine, the film poised to be a cinematic experience, providing a fresh perspective on the legendary French emperor and his tumultuous life. 

ALSO READ: 9 Best Movies Of Joaquin Phoenix



When did Napoleon I die?
Napoleon I died on May 5, 1821.

How many children did Napoleon have?
Napoleon had one legitimate son with Marie Louisen, and two step-children with Joséphine.

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