Josephine plays a similar power game to Madame du Barry, but is more successful at it, because she conceals her intentions a little better. She is rational and detached, marrying for a reason rather than out of love, and being mostly okay with her husband not even liking her (though she does get insulted when he doesn’t find her pretty enough to bed). She constantly does things for effect and to advance their positions, often without his knowledge or consent, such as faking a pregnancy to put pressure on Marie and shame her and Louis, while reassuring the public that she and Provence are a reasonable alternative. She then fakes a miscarriage and slices her own thigh open so that blood gets left on the floor (to make it more convincing). While Marie gains traction at court and makes big changes, Josephine undermines her by spreading malicious rumors and creating scandalous libel sheets, having them printed in secret and spreading them around court—slander that involves Marie in increasingly debauched roles with her favorite courtiers. Josephine is smart enough and observant enough to know what will catch fire at court—which men will cause Marie the most distress in the public eye if she’s accused of adultery with them. She also wants children, to secure the line of the succession, and is angry with her husband for not providing them. Josephine is highly opportunistic and risk-taking; her libel against Marie could get them thrown out of court, but she persists in doing it and denies having any role in it. She can come across as rather callous, but also has feelings that she conceals from everyone; Josephine desperately wants to be a wife and mother, but otherwise does not share her feelings with anyone (if her husband will not touch her, she says, the least he could do is give her a child to love and to hold).

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Josephine is much stronger than her husband, and is determined to do what needs done, to secure their power and position at court, even if it means using underhanded tactics against Marie. In one of her more callous moments, she presses her hand to Marie’s pregnant abdomen, asks in false concern when she last felt the baby kick, then when Marie isn’t sure, asks her “how do you know it’s still alive?” and watches with pleasure as Marie hurries out of the room in tears. Her husband says that is callous even for his taste, and she just smiles. It was a power tactic, a way to assert herself over Marie. Josephine in this way is ruthless. Once, when her husband violently reacts against her asking him to give her a child by slamming her into a bookshelf, Josephine gouges him in the stomach, knocks him to the floor, and kicks him repeatedly. She then puts her high heel over his head and threatens to crush his skull unless he apologizes to her. It’s clear who wears the pants in that family! But unlike Madame du Barry, Josephine has no hedonistic 7 streak. She’s not over-indulgent, but withdrawn, strategic in how she makes her plans, and can be even avoidant at times of causing upsets unless they are for a particular reason (and to her advantage).

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