Napoleon and Josephine's Engagement Ring Sells for $949,000

"Everyone knows the extreme grace of the Empress Josephine and her sweet and attractive manners. The acquaintance soon became intimate and tender, and it was not long before we married."

The wedding day was March 9, 1796, but the honeymoon lasted only 36 hours. Napoleon left to lead the French army on a successful invasion of Italy, but during this absence he wrote frequently, sometimes twice a day.

"Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed," one letter says. "My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude."

"How happy I would be if I could assist you at your undressing," the Emperor writes, "the little firm white breast, the adorable face, the hair tied up in a scarf a la creole."

Napoleon begged Josephine to join him in on his conquest in Milan, but Josephine was often unresponsive, preferring Paris where her kids attended school to the front line in Italy. And the there was her Parisian affair with Lt. Hippolyte Charles.

When Napoleon learned about Josephine's affairs, his letters changed in tone: "I don't love you, not at all; on the contrary I detest you -- You're a naughty, gawky, foolish slut."

The marriage didn't last, but "Josephine continued to treasure the ring and gave it to her daughter Hortense, later Queen of Holland, through whom it came down to her son, Napoleon III and his wife Empress Eugene to whose family this relic ring still belongs," claims Chataignier.

The buyer broke up something of a set. The ring had been on display alongside other historic treasures, including portraits of Napoleon's son and a sword given to the emperor by King Henry IV.

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