To the Victor the Prizes

To the Victor the Prizes.


Just as a man is known by the company he keeps, some women achieve fame  from the company they sleep with. Marilyn Monroe slept with the greatest sportsman, the greatest playwright and the greatest president of her generation. Francoise Gilot partnered both Picasso and the man who discovered the polio vaccine. But today is the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. So  its time to look at  a couple of babes who slept with both Napoleon and Wellington. Way to Go.

Josephina Grassini came from Lombardy in northern Italy. A little younger than both her famous lovers she was one of the greatest opera stars of her age. But “It was her looks as much as her considerable dramatic ability that made her”. She had a full figure. At first Napoleon after his successful Italian campaigns in 1797 ignored her, but three years later, smarting from Josephine’s infidelity it was a different story. She became “La Chanteuese de l’Empereur” and did a lot more than sing for the generous 15000 francs a month the Corsican paid her. But just as Napoleon had other interests so did she. He is credited with 22 mistresses.

With Napoleon was shipped off  for his winter break in Elbe in 1814 the new cock of the Parisian walk was the English ambassador, Wellington. English commentators remarked on his attentions to Grassini and one wrote of Wellington being in ecstasy at one of her informal concerts. ”He showed her attentions usually only granted to princesses.” Grassini referred to the Iron Duke as “ce cher Villianton.” (And they complain about our accent!)

A much younger prize was Marguerite Weimer nearly twenty years younger than her two famous beaux. Like many of the world’s great lovers a creature of the stage. At one point Napoleon in true gangster style pushed 40K francs down her cleavage. (As Onassis once brilliantly said, Without women there is no point in money)Georgina’s, which became her nom d’amour, affair with  Boney lasted two years. She famously if inaccurately claimed that the reason the affair ended, was because “He left me to become emperor.”

The details of the affair with the Duke are not forthcoming but as  Andrew Roberts states in “Napoleon and Wellington “it is generally accepted to have taken place.

Not least because,bless, “Georgina” actually came up with a  comparison between her two famous swordsmen. “Monsieur le Duc etait de beaucoup le plus fort”. It was not for this  that he became known as the Iron Duke but because he put iron shutters on his London house for protection during his political years after 1820.

So on the battle field and in the bed room the sepoy general got the better of the Corsican upstart. Hey ho.

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One Response to To the Victor the Prizes

  1. Johan Vivian VAN DIJK says:

    An interesting read, as ever. JDS’s spirit of enquiry and interest in history lives on.

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