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He was born in Ajaccio, Corsica. Napoleon I of France made him king of Holland in 1806. Intended by his brother as little more than a French governor, Louis took his duties as King seriously, calling himself King Lodewijk I (adopting the Dutch form of his name), attempting to learn Dutch and trying hard to be a responsible, independent ruler of Holland. This was not to the liking of Napoleon, who forced him to abdicate in 1810.
During the reign of Napoleon I, Louis had been made the Count of Saint-Leu and in 1808 he was made Constable of France, a strictly honorary title. He died on July 25, 1844, and is buried at Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, Île-de-France.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte and Hortense de Beauharnais had three sons:
- Napoleon Charles Bonaparte, born December 10, 1802, Prince Royal of Holland. When he died on May 5, 1807 at 4½ years of age, his body lay in state at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He is buried at Saint-Leu-La-Foret, Ile-de-France.
- Napoleon Louis Bonaparte, born October 11, 1804. Became Prince Royal of Holland on his brother's death, and was King Lodewijk II for one week between his father's abdication and the fall of Holland to Napoleon's invading army. He died on March 17, 1831, and is buried at Saint-Leu-La-Foret, Île-de-France.
- Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, (1808-1873). Born in Paris, he was the third and last son, and would become Emperor Napoleon III of France (1852-1870).
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