- Bonaparte, Joseph
- (1768–1844)Napoleon Bonaparte ’s eldest brother, best known for his time as king of Spain (1808–1813) during the French occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Joseph was never accepted by his new subjects, failed to control more than a fraction of the country, and remained largely impotent and strongly influenced by Napoleon, who sent him directives from Paris or from campaign headquarters. Joseph made increasingly urgent and largely futile requests for the social and political reform of his kingdom, and in spite of his several attempts to abdicate, remained on the throne. He had no aptitude for military affairs, and after his disastrous defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Vitoria on June 21, 1813, was forced to flee Spain. During the Allied invasion of France in 1814, Joseph, put in command of Paris, authorized Marshal Marmont to enter into a truce, as a result of which the capital was surrendered. After Waterloo, Joseph went to live under an assumed name in America until 1839, when he retired to Florence and died there five years later.FURTHER READING:Glover, Michael. The Legacy of Glory: The Bonaparte Kingdom of Spain, 1808-13. New York: Scribner 1971;Ross, Michael, Reluctant King: Joseph Bonaparte, King of the Two Sicilies and Spain. New York: Mason/Charter, 1977.GREGORY FREMONT-BARNES
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.