Napoleon’s Sex Life (a look back)

NapoleonIt was back in 1962 that Major-General F M Richardson CB DSO OBE Md (Retired) penned his (now classic) article for the Journal of The Royal Army Medical Corps – entitled : Napoleon’s Sex Life. According to the Major-General, Napoleon exhibited some ‘symptoms’ and had ‘leanings’ which considerably fuzzied his placement on the Kinsey Scale. He observed, for example, that the Empress Josephine, his wife, wasn’t always entirely happy with their marriage :

“She spread the mot that ‘Bon-a-parte est bon-a-rien’ and described his incapacity in crude and indecent terms.”

On top of that, said the Major-General :

“It is very well known that he liked to have physical contact with his soldiers. He used to embrace them, to grasp the buttons on their tunics, pull their ears and hold on to their noses. The latter gesture may be significant.”

And, probing further :

“He himself saw in his body a resemblance to a young female beauty, and made an often-quoted remark to Antommarchi, differently translated in different books, but on these lines “See Doctor, what lovely arms, what smooth white skin without a single hair! What rounded breasts – any beauty would be proud of a bosom like mine.” A great military leader could hardly have liked looking like that, and there is something pathetic in his drawing attention to it, and even boasting about it.”

The Major-Gen. did note though, in more broad terms, possible mitigating circumstances for what he called the “pathetic” condition of the Emperor  :

“It has been said that if all males were exclusively heterosexual (Kinsey rating 0) normal social life in clubs and messes would be impossible, since we would all behave like stags, rounding up as big a share as our strength allowed of the available hinds.”

Unfortunately (as you will have noticed if you clicked on the link) the paper isn’t available for download via its citation above, but fortunately it can be perused in its entirety as an accompaniment to a later comment article by Major JP Garner (RAMC) entitled : Froelich, Fertility And A French Emperor (J R Army Med Corps 2003; 149: 344-358)

Major Garner leant more towards the possible medical aspects of Napoleon’s predicament. Noting that he may (though we cannot be sure) have been suffering from Froelich’s Syndrome, Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, Borjeson Syndrome, Klinefelter’s syndrome, or even Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Bonus: According to the Liverpool Herald, 06 Apr, 1901, [that’s Liverpool Australia, not Liverpool UK] Napoleon was once ‘attacked’ by a phalanx of rabbits.