French Imperial Nobility3

The family of Bonaparte and its connection to the Castelletti family of Malta 



 Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, 1804 - 1814, is a household name. 


Everyone acknowledges him as a remarkable man, but different sides paint him in shades varying from demi-god to villain. 


One shade is that his father’s family is regarded as having had “pretensions to nobility”.


According to Trollope in “What I remember” (1887), it appears that this widely accepted ‘truism’ was made capital of after Prince Klemens von Metternich gave his opinion (1842) of the man: “The most unpleasant part of the circumstance connected with dealing with Napoleon arose from the fact that he was not a gentleman in any sense of the word, or anything like one”. 


[The Prince’s family had been first ennobled on April 14, 1664 (“Freiherr”, granted to Wolfgang Heinrich von Metternich) and were later further elevated (“Graf”, granted to Philipp Emmerich Freiherr von Metternich-Winneburg on March 20, 1667; “Graf”, granted to Ernst Freiherr von Metternich-Chursdorf on May 28, 1696; “Fürst”, granted to Franz Georg Carl Joseph Johann Nepomuk von Metternich-Winneburg on June 30, 1803, extended October 20, 1813 and “Duke in the Kingdom of Naples”, granted to Klemens von Metternich on August 1, 1818).]


But Trollope explains the Prince was not talking of anything connected with Napoleon's birth; Metternich, in expressing the opinion quoted, was not thinking of anything of the kind but was only speaking of the moral nature of the man. 


Trollope goes on to say Napoleon Bonaparte was technically gentle by virtue of his descent from an ancient Tuscan territorial noble race. 


Proof of the relative prominence of the Bonaparte family in a book published in Cologne (1756) by Jacopo Buonaparte about the 1707 sacking of Rome. The Buonaparte family as being “one of the most conspicuous families in Tuscany”.




In Tozzetti’s travelogue about Tuscany (1777), a chapter is dedicated to the “Prerogatives of Sarzana”, the family is described as listed in registers dating between 1460 and 1474.


Tozzetti links the Corsican family to that of Tuscany:


“Li Bonaparte hebbero la loro Origine da Marciasio, come si prova da Vacchetta di Terre rilevate dal Fiume Magra negl' atti d' Antonio Ivani Notaro 1' Anno 1449, e sebbene costoro habitavano già da un Secolo avanti in Sarzana , sempre però ritennero il nome di Bonaparte di Marciasio ; di qual Famiglia altri trasmigrarono in Corsica , dove sono anche al presente .”


In the annals of Corsica’s history we find reference to Francesco Buonaparte (d. 1540), nicknamed "il Moro" (the Moor) who is described as nobleman from Sarzana dispatched on military service to Corsica in 1490. His wife (1491) was Caterinada daughter of Guido da Castelletto. Their son Gabriele (d. 1589) married Francesca Montano, from whom he had a son Geronimo (c. 1550–1650) who married Pellegrina Calvari. Their son Francesco (c. 1570–1633 was commissioned in the military forces of the Republic of Genoa and appointed a "Colonel Commander" of his own Regiment in Corsica. From his marriage to Camilla Catacciolo, he had a son Sebastiano (1603–1642/1643) who served as Elder in Corsica’s council, becoming Chancellor of Ajaccio in 1633. Sebastiano married Maria, daughter of Domenico Rastelli and had a son Carlo Maria (1637–1692), also an Elder of the council of Ajaccio, married to Virginia daughter of Pietro Odone. Their son Giuseppe Maria (1663–1703) also served as an Elder of the council of Ajaccio. He married Maria Colonna Bozzi (c. 1668–October 16, 1704). Their son Sebastiano Nicola also served as an Elder of the council of Ajaccio. He married (1708) Maria-Anna daughter of Carlo Tusoli. Their son Giuseppe Maria Buonaparte (31 May 1713, Ajaccio – 13 December 1763, Ajaccio) the Delegate (1749) who represented the City of Ajaccio in the Council of Corte.


Giuseppe married Maria Saveria daughter of Giuseppe Maria Paravisini from whom he had three children amongst whom Carlo Maria Buonaparte (1746 –1785). 


Following the death of his father Carlo Maria received a substantial inheritance and married Maria Letizia Ramolino, an equally wealthy lady who brought in a dowry of thirty-one acres, including a mill and bakery, with a fine income with it. He is noted (1769) as advocate of the Superior Council of Corsica and Substitute Procurator (1770) of the King of France in Ajaccio. 


The Archbishop of Pisa acknowledged Carlo Maria’s ancestry and recognized (1769 and 1771) his right to bear the noble title of "Patrician of Tuscany" (Patrizio di Toscana).  


Following the French reorganization (1770) of the Corsican Nobility, Carlo Maria was appointed (1771) assessor of the Royal Jurisdiction of Ajaccio, Deputy (1771) of the Nobility in the General States of Corsica, Member (1772) of the Council of the Twelve Nobles of Dila (Western Corsica), Deputy (1777) of the Nobility of Corsica at the Royal French Court in July 1777 and finally (1778) he was Corsica's representative to the court of Louis XVI.


By all European standards including Metternich’s, Carlo Maria’s son Napoleon had a patrilineal descent that mattered. 


The arms of the Bonaparte family were: Gules two bends sinister between two mullets or. Upon his accession, Napoleon changed the arms to Azure an imperial eagle or.


One of Napoleon’s ancestors was Guido da Castelletto. It is unknown if Guido is related to the Catalan Knight Gilberto Castelletto whose relatives settled in Malta and took on the surname of Castelletti.'oro/castelletti.htm