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Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, King of Holland, and his Breguet, No. 1717

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Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Français, King of Holland, Comte de Saint-Leu was born on September 2, 1778 and died on July 25, 1846. He was the fifth surviving child and the fourth surviving son of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino. His brother and third son were the first and last emperors of France, Napoleon I, and Napoleon III.

Napoleon made him the King of Holland on June 5, 1806. Though the older brother, Napoleon, had intended for the younger brother to be little more than a French governor of Holland, Louis took his duties as the King seriously, calling himself Koning Lodewijk I, attempting to learn the Dutch language and trying hard to be a responsible, independent ruler of Holland. His attempt at speaking the Dutch language earned him some respect from his subjects. Louis also forced his court and ministers to speak only Dutch, and also to renounce their French Citizenships.

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Two major tragedies occurred during the reign of Louis Bonaparte: the explosion of a cargo ship loadeded with gunpowder in the heart of the city of Leiden in 1807, and a major flood in Holland in 1809. In both instances, Louis personally and effectively oversaw local relief efforts, which helped earn him the moniker of Louis the Good.
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(This Breguet, No. 1717, was sold to the King of Holland on June 7, 1808 for 2.400 francs).

Louis Bonaparte’s reign of The Netherlands was short-lived, however, which was due to two factors. The first was that Napoleon wanted to reduce the value of French loans from Dutch investors by two-thirds, meaning a serious economic blow to the Netherlands. The second factor was the one that became the pretext for Napoleon’s demand of Louis’s abdication. As Napoleon was preparing an army for his invasion of Russia, he wanted troops from the entire region under his control, the allied border countries. Unfortunately for Louis, the English landed an army of 40,000 in 1808 in an attempt to capture Antwerp and Flushing. With Louis unable to defend his realm, France sent 80,000 militiamen and successfully repelled the invasion. Napoleon then suggested that Louis should abdicate, citing Louis’s inability to protect Holland as a reason. Louis refused. Napoleon finally forcibly removed Louis from the Dutch throne and annexed the entire Kingdom of Holland on 1 July 1810.
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(It is an extremely fine and important Breguet 18K gold dumb quarter repeating pocket watch with duplex escapement built on the principles of the garde temps with Breguet gold chain and ratchet key)

[Breguet Home Page]

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