Laure Junot, duchess of Abrantes - Encyclopedia

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LAURE JUNOT, DUCHESS OF ABRANTES (1738-1834), wife of the preceding, was born at Montpellier. She was the daughter of Mme. Permon, to whom during her widowhood the young Bonaparte made an offer of marriage - such at least is the version presented by the daughter in her celebrated Memoirs. The Permon family, after various vicissitudes, settled at Paris, and Bonaparte certainly frequented their house a good deal after the downfall of the Jacobin party in Thermidor 1794. Mlle. Permon was married to Junot early in the consulate, and at once entered eagerly into all the gaieties of Paris, and became noted for her beauty, her caustic wit, and her extravagance. The first consul nicknamed her petite peste, but treated her and Junot with the utmost generosity, a fact which did not restrain her sarcasms and slanders in her portrayal of him in her Memoirs. During Junot's diplomatic mission to Lisbon, his wife displayed her prodigality so that on his return to Paris in 1806 he was burdened with debts, which his own intrigues did not lessen. She joined him again at Lisbon after he had entered that city as conqueror at the close of 1807; but even the presents and spoils won at Lisbon did not satisfy her demands; she accompanied Junot through part of the Peninsular War. On her return to France she displeased the emperor by her vivacious remarks and by receiving guests whom he disliked. The mental malady of Junot thereafter threatened her with ruin; this perhaps explains why she took some part in the intrigues for bringing back the Bourbons in 1814. She did not side with Napoleon during the Hundred Days. After 1815 she spent most of her time at Rome amidst artistic society, which she enlivened with her sprightly converse. She also compiled her spirited but somewhat spiteful Memoirs, which were published at Paris in1831-1834in 18 volumes. Many editions have since appeared.

Of her other books the most noteworthy are Histoires contemporaines (2 vols., 1835); Scenes de la vie espagnole (2 vols., 1836); Histoire des salons de Paris (6 vols., 1837-1838); Souvenirs d'une ambassade et d'un sejour en Espagne et en Portugal, de 1808 a 1811 (2 vols., 1837). (J. HL. R.)

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