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Elisa Bonaparte
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    (January 3, 1777-August 7, 1820)
    Born in Ajaccio, Corsica, France
    Birth name was Maria Anna Elisa Bonaparte
    Younger sister of Napoleon Bonaparte
    Princess of Lucca and Piombino (1805-14)
    Grand Duchess of Tuscany (1809-14)
    Growing up in Corsica, she allowed Napoleon to be whipped for eating a relative’s basket of figs and grapes when she and a friend were the guilty parties.
    She almost triggered a revolt in Lucca when she had the Church of San Paolo torn down in order to build a piazza in front of her residence (1807).
    When events went against Napoleon, she tried to cut a deal with his enemies that would allow her to retain her titles, but the Tuscan populace made it clear that they wanted her and her husband to go.
    She and her husband tried (and failed) to loot the silver and furniture from several Tuscan palaces before going into exile.
    Napoleon said, ‘Elisa has the courage of an Amazon.’
    After the death of the first wife of her brother Lucien, she raised Lucien’s two oldest daughters.
    Her first two sons died in infancy.
    She built a new hospital and several schools in Lucca.
    She was a patron of the arts, including appointing Paganini as court violinist.
    While in exile in Trieste, she financed local archaeological digs.

Credit: C. Fishel

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