1. Headline
  1. Headline
University of Aberdeen
Researchers believe these little silk and leather slippers were once worn by Napoleon Bonaparte's sister, Princess Pauline Borghese.
updated 2/5/2013 1:34:53 PM ET 2013-02-05T18:34:53

A delicate pair of slippers that had been sitting unnoticed in a Scottish university's collection for more than a century may have actually belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte's sister, Princess Pauline Borghese, researchers say.

The narrow silk and leather shoes, which measured just 1.5 inches (40 millimeters) across the toes and about 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) long, were marked on the sole "Pauline Rome." They would fit a small child today, but might have been perfect for the famously petite princess who researchers say was often carried from room to room. Pauline would have been the youngest of Napoleon's three sisters; Napoleon also had four brothers.

They tiny slippers were sitting inside a chest of clothes in the collection of the University of Aberdeen, where they attracted the attention of Louise Wilkie, a museum staff member. Wilkie said the slippers were given to the museum by Robert Wilson (1787 – 1871), who traveled the world extensively as a ship's surgeon and had a friendship with Princess Pauline Borghese.

  1. Science news from NBCNews.com
    1. Cosmic rays may spark Earth's lightning
      NOAA

      All lightning on Earth may have its roots in space, new research suggests.

    2. How our brains can track a 100 mph pitch
    3. Moth found to have ultrasonic hearing
    4. Quantum network could secure Internet

"Letters from him to Pauline show a close friendship, and in his diary he describes how she spent a lot of time with him traveling in Italy and gave him many gifts, including a ring which is also held in the museum collections," Wilkie said in a statement.

Though it's not clear Pauline and Wilson had a love affair, the princess was known for her infidelity to Prince Camillo Borghese, whom she wed in 1803.

"The relationship between Wilson and Princess Pauline can only be speculated upon, however records do indicate some form of attraction and attachment," Wilkie added. "In his diary he wrote 'I passed a fortnight in the vicinity of Pisa with the Princess Borgese in a state of almost perfect seclusion and afterwards accompanied her to the Baths of Lucca.' It seems she spent a great deal of time with him in Italy and a close friendship developed."

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We're also on Facebook  and Google+.

© 2012 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Lupita Nyong’o is People magazine’s Most Beautiful person

    The Oscar winner with the perfect smile and the style to match beams from a cover that promises "her inspiring story.

    4/23/2014 11:54:41 AM +00:00 2014-04-23T11:54:41
  2. video Actress tells Savannah: Oscar win has opened doors

    video After a tremendous year for the actress, including winning an Oscar for her breakout role in “12 years a Slave,” and now being selected as People magazine’s Most Beautiful person, Lupita Nyong’o reflects on her rising fame in an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie.

    4/23/2014 12:35:32 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T12:35:32
  3. slideshow Her flawless looks: See Lupita’s colorful wardrobe

    slideshow Bright yellow, sky blue, rich red, shimmering gold — there's not a color that the fashionably adventurous Oscar-winning actress hasn't conquered.

    4/23/2014 1:40:41 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T13:40:41
  4. Reuters; AP
  1. Pool / Getty Images

    Prince William, Duchess Kate try their hand at the DJ decks

    4/23/2014 4:30:48 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T16:30:48
  1. Anthony Harvey / Getty Images

    Andrew Garfield gets tangled in web of words during Q&A with Emma Stone

    4/23/2014 2:01:43 PM +00:00 2014-04-23T14:01:43
  1. Courtesy of Savannah Guthrie

    Savannah’s honeymoon dispatch: Letting it hang out on the best vacation ever

    4/23/2014 10:56:55 AM +00:00 2014-04-23T10:56:55