When Did Napoleon & Josephine Get Married (Ridley Scott’s Movie Is Wrong)

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Napoleon.




  • Ridley Scott’s Napoleon receives mixed reviews but is praised for its epic battle scenes, spectacle, and stellar performances.
  • The film is criticized for its lack of accuracy in portraying real history, especially in regards to Napoleon and Josephine’s relationship timeline.
  • Napoleon and Josephine’s divorce in the movie involves creative liberties, including a scene where Napoleon publicly slaps Josephine, which did not happen.

Ridley Scott’s Napoleon gets several details of Napoleon and Josephine’s relationship timeline wrong, especially their divorce. Although Napoleon has received negative reviews from viewers, and even its overall critical ratings seem mixed, the Ridley Scott movie is being appreciated for its epic battle scenes, emphasis on spectacle, and the stellar performances of its cast. The movie is also being hailed as an old-fashioned period drama that effectively balances humor with serious bloodshed.

However, one of the primary reasons why Napoleon has left viewers and critics divided is its lack of sincerity in accurately portraying real history. While some of its creative liberties are subtle and make narrative sense, others are too evident, diminishing the impact of its ambitious historical drama. Napoleon‘s depiction of the timeline of the former French Emperor’s romance with Josephine is also marred with similar discrepancies.

RELATED: Napoleon Fact Check: 12 Biggest Changes & Historical Inaccuracies

Napoleon & Josephine Got Married In 1804 In Real Life

After meeting Josephine in 1795, Napoleon proposed to her in January 1796. A few months later, in March, they got married. While Napoleon was ecstatic about his decision to marry Josephine, his family members were not content with his marriage. They were surprised that he chose to marry a widow with two children. Throughout their marriage, the couple shared several romantic letters when Napoleon was gone to lead the French army, but they also had multiple extramarital affairs. As portrayed in Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, the turning point in their relationship came when Napoleon realized Josephine could not conceive a child.

After considering divorce for a while, Napoleon told Josephine in 1809 that he would have to leave her and find a wife who could give him his heir. Despite being heartbroken by Napoleon’s decision, Josephine complied, and their divorce ceremony ensued in January 1810. Before their divorce, Napoleon and Josephine had an official annulment in December 1809, where both shared words of gratitude and expressed how they were taking the decision with a heavy heart. Napoleon even said (via that he desired her to “retain the rank and title of crowned empress” and value him “as her best and dearest friend.

Ridley Scott’s Napoleon Movie Changes Napoleon & Josephine’s Romance Timeline

Custom image of Napoleon and Josephine in the Ridley Scott movie

In Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, the titular character marries Josephine somewhere between the scenes set in 1795 and 1798. This establishes how the movie’s timeline of Napoleon’s romance with Josephine is inconsistent by a large margin. Even the movie’s depiction of Napoleon and Josephine’s divorce involves several creative liberties. Although Napoleon accurately portrays how the titular historical figure and Josephine officially got divorced in 1910, its depiction of how Napoleon publicly slaps Josephine for mourning their relationship never actually happened.



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