Josephine became empress of France as the consort of Napoleon I. Born in Martinique on June 23, 1763, she was originally named Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie. She married Alexandre, vicomte de Beauharnais in 1779 and had two children by him, Eugène and Hortense (see Beauharnais family). Their marriage became one of mutual infidelity.

After Beauharnais was guillotined (1794), Josephine became a leading figure in the salon society of Paris. She met Napoléon Bonaparte and married him on Mar. 9, 1796, to assure security and social position for herself and her children. However, she soon became involved in numerous affairs, scandalizing the Bonaparte clan.

Josephine was crowned empress by Napoleon in 1804, but her failure to bear him a male heir led to the annulment of their marriage in 1810. She withdrew to Malmaison and lived in imperial style until her death on May 29, 1814. Josephine contributed to Napoleon's success by serving as a link with the French bourgeoisie and by the informal atmosphere of her court.

Horward, Donald D. "Josephine." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. Grolier Online, 2012. Web. 4 Jan. 2012