Napoleon III of France
Overview
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (20 April 1808 9 January 1873) was the President
President of the French Republic
The President of the French Republic colloquially referred to in English as the President of France, is France's elected Head of State....

 of the French Second Republic
French Second Republic
The French Second Republic was the republican government of France between the 1848 Revolution and the coup by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte which initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité...

 and as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I
Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, christened as Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte. Elected President by popular vote in 1848
French presidential election, 1848
The first-ever French presidential election of 1848 elected the first—and only—President of the Second Republic. The election was held on 10 December 1848 and led to the surprise victory of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte with 74% of the vote.-Election:...

, he initiated a coup d'état in 1851
French coup of 1851
The French coup d'état on 2 December 1851, staged by Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte , ended in the successful dissolution of the French National Assembly, as well as the subsequent re-establishment of the French Empire the next year...

, before ascending the throne as Napoleon III on 2 December 1852, the forty-eighth anniversary of Napoleon I's coronation. He ruled as Emperor of the French until 4 September 1870.
Encyclopedia
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (20 April 1808 9 January 1873) was the President
President of the French Republic
The President of the French Republic colloquially referred to in English as the President of France, is France's elected Head of State....

 of the French Second Republic
French Second Republic
The French Second Republic was the republican government of France between the 1848 Revolution and the coup by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte which initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité...

 and as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I
Napoleon I
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

, christened as Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte. Elected President by popular vote in 1848
French presidential election, 1848
The first-ever French presidential election of 1848 elected the first—and only—President of the Second Republic. The election was held on 10 December 1848 and led to the surprise victory of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte with 74% of the vote.-Election:...

, he initiated a coup d'état in 1851
French coup of 1851
The French coup d'état on 2 December 1851, staged by Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte , ended in the successful dissolution of the French National Assembly, as well as the subsequent re-establishment of the French Empire the next year...

, before ascending the throne as Napoleon III on 2 December 1852, the forty-eighth anniversary of Napoleon I's coronation. He ruled as Emperor of the French until 4 September 1870. He holds the unusual distinction of being both the first titular president and the last monarch of France.

Napoleon III is primarily remembered for an energetic foreign policy
Foreign relations of France
A charter member of the United Nations, France holds one of the permanent seats in the Security Council and is a member of most of its specialized and related agencies.-Nicolas Sarkozy:...

 which aimed to jettison the limitations imposed on France since 1815 by the Concert of Europe
Concert of Europe
The Concert of Europe , also known as the Congress System after the Congress of Vienna, was the balance of power that existed in Europe from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the outbreak of World War I , albeit with major alterations after the revolutions of 1848...

 and reassert French influence in Europe and abroad
French colonial empire
The French colonial empire was the set of territories outside Europe that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. The French colonial empire...

. A brief war against Austria
Second Italian War of Independence
The Second War of Italian Independence, Franco-Austrian War, Austro-Sardinian War, or Austro-Piedmontese War , was fought by Napoleon III of France and the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia against the Austrian Empire in 1859...

 in 1859 largely completed the process of Italian unification
Italian unification
Italian unification was the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century...

. In the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

, Napoleon III spearheaded allied action against Russia in the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 and restored French presence in the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, claiming for France the role of protector of the Maronite Christians. A French garrison in Rome likewise secured the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

 against annexation by Italy, defeating the Italians at Mentana
Battle of Mentana
The Battle of Mentana was fought on November 3, 1867 between French-Papal troops and the Italian volunteers led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, who were attempting to capture Rome, then the main centre of the peninsula still outside of the newly unified Kingdom of Italy....

 and winning the support of French Catholics for Napoleon's regime.

In the Far East, Napoleon III established French rule in Cochinchina
Cochinchina Campaign
The Cochinchina campaign , fought between the French and the Spanish on the one side and the Vietnamese on the other, began as a limited punitive campaign and ended as a French war of conquest...

 and New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

. French interests in China were upheld in the Second Opium War
Second Opium War
The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860...

 and the Taiping Rebellion
Taiping Rebellion
The Taiping Rebellion was a widespread civil war in southern China from 1850 to 1864, led by heterodox Christian convert Hong Xiuquan, who, having received visions, maintained that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Manchu-led Qing Dynasty...

; an abortive campaign against Korea
French Campaign against Korea, 1866
The French campaign against Korea of 1866 is also known as Byeong-in yangyo . It refers to the French invasion of Ganghwa Island in Korea in retaliation for the earlier execution by Korea's Joseon Dynasty of French Catholic priests proselytizing in that country...

 was launched in 1866 while a military mission to Japan participated in the restoration of Imperial rule
Boshin War
The was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the imperial court....

. French intervention in Mexico
French intervention in Mexico
The French intervention in Mexico , also known as The Maximilian Affair, War of the French Intervention, and The Franco-Mexican War, was an invasion of Mexico by an expeditionary force sent by the Second French Empire, supported in the beginning by the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain...

 was less successful and was terminated in 1867 due to mounting Mexican resistance and American diplomatic pressure.

Domestically, Napoleon's reign was a major period of industrialisation for the French economy. He also oversaw a major renovation of Paris
Haussmann's renovation of Paris
Haussmann's Renovation of Paris, or the Haussmann Plan, was a modernization program of Paris commissioned by Napoléon III and led by the Seine prefect, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870...

 that created the outline of the modern city. The Second French Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

 was overthrown three days after Napoleon's disastrous surrender at the Battle of Sedan
Battle of Sedan
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War on 1 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French...

 in 1870, which resulted in both the proclamation of the French Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 and the cession of the territory of Alsace-Lorraine
Alsace-Lorraine
The Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine was a territory created by the German Empire in 1871 after it annexed most of Alsace and the Moselle region of Lorraine following its victory in the Franco-Prussian War. The Alsatian part lay in the Rhine Valley on the west bank of the Rhine River and east...

 to the newly formed German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

.

Early life

Napoleon III, known as "Louis-Napoléon" prior to becoming Emperor, was the nephew of Napoleon I by his brother Louis Bonaparte
Louis Bonaparte
Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, Prince Français, Comte de Saint-Leu , King of Holland , was the fifth surviving child and the fourth surviving son of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino...

, who married Hortense de Beauharnais
Hortense de Beauharnais
Hortense Eugénie Cécile Bonaparte , Queen Consort of Holland, was the stepdaughter of Emperor Napoleon I, being the daughter of his first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais. She later became the wife of the former's brother, Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, and the mother of Napoleon III, Emperor of...

, the daughter by the first marriage of Napoleon's wife Joséphine de Beauharnais
Joséphine de Beauharnais
Joséphine de Beauharnais was the first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, and thus the first Empress of the French. Her first husband Alexandre de Beauharnais had been guillotined during the Reign of Terror, and she had been imprisoned in the Carmes prison until her release five days after Alexandre's...

. The Empress Joséphine proposed the marriage as a way to produce an heir for the Emperor, who agreed, as Joséphine was by then infertile. Louis-Napoléon's paternity has been brought into question (see Ancestry). Louis-Napoléon also harboured a lifelong suspicion about his legitimacy, although most historians have concluded that he was conceived by Louis Bonaparte and Hortense.

During Napoleon I's reign, Louis-Napoléon's parents had been made king and queen of a French puppet state
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

, the Kingdom of Holland
Kingdom of Holland
The Kingdom of Holland 1806–1810 was set up by Napoleon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom for his third brother, Louis Bonaparte, in order to better control the Netherlands. The name of the leading province, Holland, was now taken for the whole country...

. After Napoleon I's military defeats and deposition in 1815 and the restoration of the Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

 monarchy in France, all members of the Bonaparte dynasty were forced into exile. Louis-Napoléon was brought up in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, living with his mother in Arenenberg Castle
Arenenberg
Arenenberg is an estate with a small chateau, Schloss Arenenberg, in the municipality of Salenstein at the shore of Lake Constance in Thurgau, Switzerland that is famous as the final domicile of Hortense de Beauharnais. Today it houses the Napoleonmuseum...

 in the canton of Thurgau
Thurgau
Thurgau is a northeast canton of Switzerland. The population, , is . In 2007, there were a total of 47,390 who were resident foreigners. The capital is Frauenfeld.-History:...

, and in Germany, receiving his education at the gymnasium school at Augsburg
Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

, Bavaria. As a young man, he settled in Italy, where he and his elder brother Napoléon Louis
Napoleon Louis Bonaparte
Napoléon Louis Bonaparte , or Louis II of Holland, was the middle son of Louis Napoléon, King of Holland, and Hortense de Beauharnais. His father was the younger brother of Emperor Napoléon I and king of Holland, while his mother was the daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais, Napoléon's first wife...

 espoused liberal politics and became involved with the Carbonari
Carbonari
The Carbonari were groups of secret revolutionary societies founded in early 19th-century Italy. The Italian Carbonari may have further influenced other revolutionary groups in Spain, France, Portugal and possibly Russia. Although their goals often had a patriotic and liberal focus, they lacked a...

, an organization fighting Austria's domination of northern Italy. On 17 March 1831, while fleeing Italy due to a crackdown on revolutionary activity by Papal and Austrian troops, Louis-Napoléon's brother, suffering from measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

, died in his arms. His experiences in Italy later had a profound effect on his foreign policy. Louis-Napoléon travelled on to France where he was quickly arrested and quietly sent to England.
Meanwhile, France had again become a monarchy, both under the Bourbon Restoration
Bourbon Restoration
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution , the end of the First Republic , and then the forcible end of the First French Empire under Napoleon  – when a coalition of European powers restored by arms the monarchy to the...

 and the July Monarchy
July Monarchy
The July Monarchy , officially the Kingdom of France , was a period of liberal constitutional monarchy in France under King Louis-Philippe starting with the July Revolution of 1830 and ending with the Revolution of 1848...

. Under the latter emerged a Bonapartist
Bonapartist
In French political history, Bonapartism has two meanings. In a strict sense, this term refers to people who aimed to restore the French Empire under the House of Bonaparte, the Corsican family of Napoleon Bonaparte and his nephew Louis...

 movement that wanted to restore a Bonaparte to the throne. According to the law of succession established by Napoleon I when he was Emperor, the claim passed first to his son, who, at birth, had been given the title "King of Rome" by his father. Known by Bonapartists as Napoleon II
Napoleon II of France
Napoléon II , after 1818 known as Franz, Duke of Reichstadt, was the son of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, and his second wife, Marie Louise of Austria...

, he was living under virtual imprisonment at the court of Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 under the name Duke of Reichstadt. Next in line was Napoleon I's eldest brother Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph Bonaparte
Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte was the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily , and later King of Spain...

, followed by Louis Bonaparte and his sons. Since Joseph had no male children, and because Louis-Napoléon's own elder brother had died in 1831, the death of the Duke of Reichstadt in 1832 made Louis-Napoléon the Bonaparte heir in the next generation. His uncle and his father, relatively old men by then, left to him the active leadership of the Bonapartist cause.

Louis-Philippe
Louis-Philippe of France
Louis Philippe I was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 in what was known as the July Monarchy. His father was a duke who supported the French Revolution but was nevertheless guillotined. Louis Philippe fled France as a young man and spent 21 years in exile, including considerable time in the...

 had established the July Monarchy
July Monarchy
The July Monarchy , officially the Kingdom of France , was a period of liberal constitutional monarchy in France under King Louis-Philippe starting with the July Revolution of 1830 and ending with the Revolution of 1848...

 in 1830, and was confronted with opposition from the Legitimists, the Independents, and the Bonapartists (he had especially angered the Bonapartists by confiscating all the remaining family assets in France). Louis-Napoléon returned to France in October 1836, trying to emulate the start of the Hundred Days
Hundred Days
The Hundred Days, sometimes known as the Hundred Days of Napoleon or Napoleon's Hundred Days for specificity, marked the period between Emperor Napoleon I of France's return from exile on Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815...

 by initiating a Bonapartist coup at Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, calling on the local garrison to join him in restoring the Empire. The local troops instead arrested him and Louis-Napoléon returned to exile in Switzerland. When Louis-Philippe demanded his extradition, the Swiss refused to hand over a man who was a citizen and a member of their armed forces. In order to avoid a war, Louis-Napoléon left Switzerland of his own accord.

Between 1838 and 1839, Louis-Napoléon stayed at No. 6 Clarendon Square, Royal Leamington Spa. The building is now called "Napoleon House" and has a 'Blue plaque
Blue plaque
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

'. He secretly returned to France and attempted yet another coup in August 1840, sailing with some fifty hired soldiers to Boulogne-sur-Mer
Boulogne-sur-Mer
-Road:* Metropolitan bus services are operated by the TCRB* Coach services to Calais and Dunkerque* A16 motorway-Rail:* The main railway station is Gare de Boulogne-Ville and located in the south of the city....

, taking the train to Lille
Lille
Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

 and repeating the failure of the Strasbourg coup. This time, he was not exiled but sentenced to emprisonnement perpétuel
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

, albeit in relative comfort, in the fortress of the town of Ham
Ham, Somme
Ham is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Ham is situated on the D930 and D937 crossroads, some southwest of Saint-Quentin, in the far southeast of the department, near the border with the department of the Aisne....

 in the Somme
Somme
Somme is a department of France, located in the north of the country and named after the Somme river. It is part of the Picardy region of France....

 département.

While in the Ham fortress, his eyesight reportedly became poor. During his years of imprisonment, he wrote essays and pamphlets that combined his claim to be emperor with progressive
Progressivism
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

, mildly socialist economic proposals, published as L'extinction du paupérisme, which he came to define as Bonapartism
Bonapartism
Bonapartism is often defined as a political expression in the vocabulary of Marxism and Leninism, deriving from the career of Napoleon Bonaparte. Karl Marx was a student of Jacobinism and the French Revolution as well as a contemporary critic of the Second Republic and Second Empire...

. In 1844, his uncle Joseph died, making him the heir apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

 to the Bonaparte claim. He finally escaped in May 1846 by exchanging clothes with a mason working at the fortress. His enemies would later derisively nickname him "Badinguet", the name of the mason whose identity he assumed. He eventually made it to Southport
Southport
Southport is a seaside town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England. During the 2001 census Southport was recorded as having a population of 90,336, making it the eleventh most populous settlement in North West England...

, England. A month later, his father Louis died, making Louis-Napoléon the clear heir to the Bonaparte legacy in France.

Return to France

Louis-Napoléon lived within the borders of the United Kingdom until the revolution of February 1848 in France deposed Louis-Philippe
Louis-Philippe of France
Louis Philippe I was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 in what was known as the July Monarchy. His father was a duke who supported the French Revolution but was nevertheless guillotined. Louis Philippe fled France as a young man and spent 21 years in exile, including considerable time in the...

 and established a Republic. He was now free to return to France, which he immediately did. The provisional government, however, judged him an unnecessary distraction and requested his departure. Back in England, he volunteered to be a special constable
Special Constabulary
The Special Constabulary is the part-time volunteer section of a statutory police force in the United Kingdom or some Crown dependencies. Its officers are known as Special Constables or informally as Specials.Every United Kingdom territorial police force has a special constabulary except the...

 in the event of Chartist
Chartism
Chartism was a movement for political and social reform in the United Kingdom during the mid-19th century, between 1838 and 1859. It takes its name from the People's Charter of 1838. Chartism was possibly the first mass working class labour movement in the world...

 rioting. In the same month, April, he ran for, and won a seat in the French Constituent Assembly elected to draft a new constitution. He did not make a great contribution and, as a mediocre public orator, failed to impress his fellow members. Some even thought that, having lived outside of France almost all his life, he spoke French with a slight German accent. His temporary exile in 1848 proved to be a blessing in disguise for the December presidential election, as it meant he played no part in the June Days
June Days Uprising
The June Days Uprising was a revolution staged by the citizens of France, whose only source of income was the National Workshops, from 23 June to 26 June 1848. The Workshops were created by the Second Republic in order to provide work and a source of income for the unemployed, however only...

, and was able to enhance his image as "all things to all men" against his main opponent, Louis-Eugène Cavaignac, who had led the repression against the working-class of Paris.

President of the French Republic

When the constitution of the Second Republic
French Second Republic
The French Second Republic was the republican government of France between the 1848 Revolution and the coup by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte which initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité...

 was finally promulgated and direct elections for the presidency
French presidential election, 1848
The first-ever French presidential election of 1848 elected the first—and only—President of the Second Republic. The election was held on 10 December 1848 and led to the surprise victory of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte with 74% of the vote.-Election:...

 were held on 10 December 1848, Louis-Napoléon won a surprising landslide victory, with 5,587,759 votes (around 75% of the total); his closest rival, Cavaignac, received only 1,474,687 votes. Louis-Napoléon had no long political career behind him and was able to depict himself as "all things to all men". The Monarchist right (supporters of either the Bourbon or Orléanist
House of Orleans
Orléans is the name used by several branches of the Royal House of France, all descended in the legitimate male line from the dynasty's founder, Hugh Capet. It became a tradition during France's ancien régime for the duchy of Orléans to be granted as an appanage to a younger son of the king...

 royal households) and much of the upper class supported him as the "least bad" candidate, as a man who would restore order, end the instability in France which had continued since the overthrow of the monarchy in February and prevent a proto-communist revolution (in the vein of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 and Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

) A good portion of the industrial class, on the other hand, were won over by Louis-Napoléon's vague indications of progressive
Progressivism
Progressivism is an umbrella term for a political ideology advocating or favoring social, political, and economic reform or changes. Progressivism is often viewed by some conservatives, constitutionalists, and libertarians to be in opposition to conservative or reactionary ideologies.The...

 economic views. His overwhelming victory was above all due to the support of the non-politicized rural masses, to whom the name of Bonaparte meant something, as opposed to the other, little-known contenders. Louis-Napoléon's platform was based on the restoration of order, strong government, social consolidation, and national greatness. He appealed with all the credit of his name, that of France's national hero, Napoleon I, who in popular memory was credited with raising the nation to its pinnacle of military greatness and establishing social stability after the turmoil of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. During his term as President, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte styled himself the Prince-President (Le Prince-Président).

Despite his landslide victory, Louis-Napoléon was faced with a Parliament dominated by monarchists, who saw his government only as a temporary bridge to a restoration of either the House of Bourbon or of Orléans. Louis-Napoléon governed cautiously during his first years in office, choosing his ministers from among the more "centre-right" Orleanist Parti de l'Ordre
Parti de l'Ordre
The Parti de l'Ordre was a French Orleanist and Legitimist conservative political party that existed during the Second Republic....

monarchists, and generally avoiding conflict with the conservative assembly. He courted Catholic support by assisting in the restoration of the Pope's temporal rule in Rome, although he tried to please secularist conservative opinion at the same time by combining this with peremptory demands that the Pope introduce liberal changes to the government of the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

, including appointing a liberal government and establishing the Code Napoleon there, which angered the Catholic majority in the assembly. He soon made another attempt to gain Catholic support, however, by approving the Loi Falloux in 1851, which restored a greater role for the Church in the French educational system.

Because, according to the new constitution of 1848, Louis Bonaparte's term of office as president would end on the second Sunday in May 1852 and because the constitution did not allow any person to succeed himself as president for a second term, Louis Bonaparte, in the third year of his four-year mandate, began to seek an amendment to the constitution to allow him to succeed himself as president. Accordingly, President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte asked the National Assembly for a revision of the constitution to enable the president to run for re-election, arguing that four years were not enough to fully implement his political and economic program. The Constitution of the Second Republic stated that the Presidency of the Republic was to be held for a single term of four years, with no possibility of re-election, a restriction written in the Constitution for fear that a President would abuse his power to transform the Republic into a dictatorship with a president for life
President for Life
President for Life is a title assumed by some dictators to remove their term limit, in the hope that their authority, legitimacy, and term will never be disputed....

. The National Assembly, dominated by monarchists who wished to restore the Bourbon dynasty, refused to amend the Constitution.

The National Assembly passed a new election law on 31 May 1850. This new law placed restrictions on universal male suffrage, imposing a three-year residency requirement. It prevented a large proportion of the lower class, which was itinerant, from voting. In spite of his limited powers forcing him to acquiesce to this law, Louis-Napoléon was able to seize the opportunity and break with the Assembly and the conservative ministers opposing his projects in favour of the dispossessed. He surrounded himself with lieutenants completely loyal to him, such as Morny
Charles Auguste Louis Joseph, duc de Morny
Charles Auguste Louis Joseph Demorny/de Morny, 1st Duc de Morny was a French statesman...

 and Persigny, secured the support of the army, and toured the country making populist speeches condemning the assembly and presenting himself as the protector of universal male suffrage.

After months of stalemate, and using the money of his mistress, Harriet Howard
Harriet Howard
Harriet Howard, born Elizabeth Ann Haryett was a mistress and financial backer of Louis Napoleon, later Napoleon III of France.-London:...

, he staged a coup d'état
French coup of 1851
The French coup d'état on 2 December 1851, staged by Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte , ended in the successful dissolution of the French National Assembly, as well as the subsequent re-establishment of the French Empire the next year...

 and seized dictatorial powers on 2 December 1851, the 47th anniversary of Napoleon I's crowning as Emperor, and also the 46th anniversary of the famous Battle of Austerlitz
Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories, where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition...

 (hence another of Louis-Napoléon's nicknames: "The Man of December", "l'homme de décembre"). The coup was later declared to have been approved by the French people in a national referendum, the fairness and legality of which has been questioned by Napoleon III's detractors ever since. The coup of 1851 alienated the reactionary and careerist elements in the Assembly. Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

, who had hitherto shown support for Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, decided to go into exile after the coup, and became one of the harshest critics of Napoleon III, despite the amnesty of political opponents in 1859. Recognizing the reactionary classes in society as being the gravest threat to his position, Louis Bonaparte moved on 22 January 1852 to confiscate all the property of the House of Orleans. Citizen King Louis-Phillipe, who had been deposd by the Revolution of February 1848, had been a member of the Orleans family. Additionally, the House of Orleans had formed a major part of the "Party of Order" in the National Assembly, and later the Constituent Assembly, which acted in opposition to the Louis Bonaparte during his term as the elected President of France from 1848 until the coup on 2 December 1851.

Authoritarian empire

New constitutional statutes were passed which officially maintained an elected Parliament and re-established universal male suffrage
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

. However, the Parliament now became irrelevant as real power was completely concentrated in the hands of Louis-Napoléon and his bureaucracy. Exactly one year after the coup, on 2 December 1852, after approval by another referendum, the Second Republic
French Second Republic
The French Second Republic was the republican government of France between the 1848 Revolution and the coup by Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte which initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité...

 was officially ended and the Empire restored, ushering in the Second French Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

. President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte became Emperor Napoleon III. The numbering of Napoleon's reign treats Napoleon II, who never actually ruled, as a true Emperor (he had been briefly recognized as emperor from 22 June to 7 July 1814). That same year, Napoleon III began shipping political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s and criminals to penal colonies such as Devil's Island
Devil's Island
Devil's Island is the smallest and northernmost island of the three Îles du Salut located about 6 nautical miles off the coast of French Guiana . It has an area of 14 ha . It was a small part of the notorious French penal colony in French Guiana until 1952...

 or (in milder cases) New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

.
The emperor, hitherto a bachelor, began quickly to look for a wife to produce a legitimate heir. Most of the royal families of Europe were unwilling to marry into the parvenu
Parvenu
A Parvenu is a person who is a relative newcomer to a socioeconomic class. The word is borrowed from the French language; it is the past participle of the verb parvenir...

Bonaparte family, and after rebuffs from Princess Carola of Sweden
Carola of Vasa
Carola of Vasa was a titular princess of Sweden, and the queen consort of Saxony...

 and from Queen Victoria's German niece Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg was a niece of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. She was the second daughter of Ernst I, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Princess Feodora of Leiningen, older half-sister of the British queen...

, Napoleon decided to lower his sights somewhat and "marry for love", choosing the Countess of Teba, Eugénie de Montijo
Eugénie de Montijo
Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, 16th Countess of Teba and 15th Marquise of Ardales; 5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo , was the last Empress consort of the French from 1853 to 1871 as the wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of...

, a Spanish noblewoman of partial Scottish ancestry who had been brought up in Paris. In 1856, Eugénie gave birth to a legitimate son and heir, Louis Napoléon, the Prince Impérial.

Two assassination attempts were orchestrated against Napoleon III, one in April 1855 and the other in January 1858.

Until about 1861, Napoleon's regime exhibited decidedly authoritarian characteristics, using press censorship to prevent the spread of opposition, manipulating elections, and depriving the Parliament of the right to free debate or any real power.

Extension of the powers of the legislature

In 1860–61, Napoleon III made more concessions to placate his liberal opponents. He allowed free debates in Parliament to be held and published, relaxed press censorship, and appointed the Liberal Émile Ollivier
Émile Ollivier
Olivier Émile Ollivier was a French statesman. Although a republican, he served as a cabinet minister under Emperor Napoleon III and led the process of turning his regime into a "liberal Empire".-Early life and career:Émile Ollivier was born in Marseille...

 as Prime Minister in 1869. This later period is described by historians as the "Liberal Empire". Napoleon acted because his popularity had declined in the face of the Italian war and a commercial treaty with Britain. He hoped to revive parliamentary life, foster the creation of political parties, and exercise his power indirectly, by working through the parliament. Both major parties seized upon Napoleon's concessions as an opportunity to demand wider powers, and the revival of parliamentary institutions. Scale program of public works, his extravagantly expensive foreign policy, had created rapidly mounting government debts. The annual deficit was about fr.100 million, and the cumulative debt had reached nearly fr.1 billion. The Emperor had full control of the budget, but was managing it poorly. He needed to restore the confidence of the business world, and to involve the legislature and sharing responsibility. Therefore he renounced his right to borrow money when the legislature was not in session and agreed the budget should be voted on item by item. Nevertheless he retained the right to change the estimates section by section, thereby defeating parliamentary control and angering the parliamentarians. The opposition formed an increasingly powerful coalition, ranging from Catholics outraged by the Papal policies, Legitimate, Orleanists, protectionists and even some republicans. Napoleon's position was further undermined during the 1860s by his failures in foreign policy.

Economic and social policy

The French economy was rapidly modernized under Napoleon III, who desired a legacy as a reform-minded social engineer. The industrialization of France during this period, in general, appealed to members of both the business and working classes. The centre of Paris was renovated by clearing out slums, widening streets, and constructing parks according to Baron Haussmann's plan
Haussmann's renovation of Paris
Haussmann's Renovation of Paris, or the Haussmann Plan, was a modernization program of Paris commissioned by Napoléon III and led by the Seine prefect, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, between 1853 and 1870...

. Working class neighbourhoods were moved to the outskirts of Paris, where factories utilized their labour. Some of his main backers were Saint-Simonians, and these supporters described Napoleon III as the "socialist emperor." Saint-Simonians at this time founded a new type of banking institution, the Crédit Mobilier, which sold stock to the public and then used the money raised to invest in industrial enterprises in France. This sparked a period of rapid economic development.

Napoleon's Empire has been said to be the first regime in France to give "distinct priority to economic objectives". Napoleon sought to advance his belief in free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

, cheap credit
Credit (finance)
Credit is the trust which allows one party to provide resources to another party where that second party does not reimburse the first party immediately , but instead arranges either to repay or return those resources at a later date. The resources provided may be financial Credit is the trust...

, and the need to develop infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 as ways of ensuring progress and prosperity through government policy. Napoleon, like Haussmann and Persigny
Jean Gilbert Victor Fialin, duc de Persigny
Jean Gilbert Victor Fialin, duc de Persigny was a French statesman of the Second French Empire.Fialin was born at Saint-Germain-Lespinasse , the son of a receiver of taxes, and was educated at Limoges. He entered the cavalry school at Saumur in 1826, becoming maréchal des logis in the 4th Hussars...

, believed that the budget deficits that the state incurred due to its high contributions would be offset by subsequent high profits. His regime has also been cited as one of the few in French history to make a concerted effort towards breaking down trade barriers.

As it turned out, this time period was favourable for industrial expansion. The gold rushes in both California
California Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter's Mill in Coloma, California. The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands , and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to...

 and Australia
Victorian gold rush
The Victorian gold rush was a period in the history of Victoria, Australia approximately between 1851 and the late 1860s. In 10 years the Australian population nearly tripled.- Overview :During this era Victoria dominated the world's gold output...

 increased the European money supply. In the early years of the Empire, the economy also benefited from the coming of age of those born during the baby boom of the Restoration
Bourbon Restoration
The Bourbon Restoration is the name given to the period following the successive events of the French Revolution , the end of the First Republic , and then the forcible end of the First French Empire under Napoleon  – when a coalition of European powers restored by arms the monarchy to the...

 period. The steady rise of prices caused by the increase of the money supply encouraged company promotion and investment of capital. Rail mileage in France increased from 3,000 to 16,000 km during the 1850s, and this growth allowed mines and factories to operate at higher production rates. The fifty-five small rail lines of France were merged into six major lines, while new iron steamships replaced wooden ships. Between 1859 and 1869, under the direction of Ferdinand de Lesseps
Ferdinand de Lesseps
Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de Lesseps, GCSI was the French developer of the Suez Canal, which joined the Mediterranean and Red Seas in 1869, and substantially reduced sailing distances and times between the West and the East.He attempted to repeat this success with an effort to build a sea-level...

, the Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez
Suez Canal Company
The Universal Suez Ship Canal Company was the Egyptian corporation which was formed by Ferdinand de Lesseps during 1858, constructed the Suez Canal between 1859 and 1869, and owned and operated it for many years thereafter...

, a French company, built the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

, opening a new chapter in global transportation and trade.

Algeria

Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 had been under French rule since 1830. Compared to previous administrations, Napoleon III was far more sympathetic to the native Algerians. He halted European migration inland, restricting them to the coastal zone; moreover, he freed the Algerian rebel leader Abd al Qadir (who had been promised freedom on surrender but was imprisoned by the previous administration) and gave him a stipend of 150,000 francs. He also allowed Muslims to serve in the military and civil service on theoretically equal terms and allowed them to migrate to France. In addition, he gave the option of citizenship; however, for Muslims to take this option they had to accept all of the French civil code, including parts governing inheritance and marriage which might conflict with Muslim tradition, and they had to reject the competence of religious courts. This was interpreted by some Muslims as requiring them to give up parts of their religion to obtain citizenship and was resented.

One of the most influential decisions Louis Napoleon made in Algeria was to change its system of land tenure. While ostensibly well-intentioned, in effect this move destroyed the traditional system of land management and deprived many Algerians of land. While Napoleon did renounce state claims to tribal lands, he also began a process of dismantling tribal land ownership in favour of individual land ownership over the course of three generations, though this process was accelerated by later administrations. This process was corrupted by French officials sympathetic to the French in Algeria who took much of the land they surveyed into public domain. In addition, many tribal leaders, chosen for loyalty to the French rather than influence in their tribe, immediately sold communal land for cash.

Foreign policy

In a speech at Bordeaux in 1852, Napoleon III famously proclaimed that "The Empire means peace" ("L'Empire, c'est la paix"), reassuring foreign governments that the new Emperor Napoleon would not attack other European powers in order to extend the French Empire. He was, however, thoroughly determined to follow a strong foreign policy to extend France's power and glory, and warned that he would not stand by and allow another European power to threaten its neighbour. He was also a partisan of a "policy of nationalities" (principe des nationalités) re-casting the map of Europe, sweeping away small principalities to create unified nation-states, even when this seemed to have little relevance to France's material interests. In this he remained influenced by the themes of his uncle's policy, as related in the Mémorial de Sainte-Hélène, such as Italian unification and a united Europe. These two factors led Napoleon to a certain adventurism in foreign policy, in the opinion of some contemporaries, although this was tempered by pragmatism.

The Crimean War

Napoleon's challenge to Russia's claims to influence in the Ottoman Empire led to France's successful participation in the Crimean War (March 1854 – March 1856). During this war, Napoleon established a French alliance with Britain, which continued after the war's close. The defeat of Russia and the alliance with Britain gave France increased authority in Europe. This was the first war between European powers since the close of the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna, marking a breakdown of the alliance system that had maintained peace for nearly half a century. The war also effectively ended the Concert of Europe
Concert of Europe
The Concert of Europe , also known as the Congress System after the Congress of Vienna, was the balance of power that existed in Europe from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the outbreak of World War I , albeit with major alterations after the revolutions of 1848...

 and the Quadruple Alliance
Quadruple Alliance (1815)
The Quadruple Alliance was a treaty signed in Paris on 20 November, 1815 by the United Kingdom, Austria, Prussia, and Russia. It renewed the alliance first agreed to in 1813 and it modified the aims of the alliance from defeating Napoleon Bonaparte to upholding the settlement following the...

, or "Waterloo Coalition" that the other four powers had established. The Paris Peace Conference of 1856
Congress of Paris (1856)
The Congress of Paris was a peace conference held in Paris, France, in 1856, , between representatives of the great powers in Europe to make peace after the almost three year long Crimean War.- Before the Congress :...

 represented a high-water mark for the regime in foreign affairs, when Napoleon had followed through with his ideas set out in Des idées napoléoniennes.

Asia

In 1857, Napoleon III provided his assistance in negotiations to end the Anglo-Persian War
Anglo-Persian War
The Anglo-Persian War lasted between November 1, 1856 and April 4, 1857, and was fought between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Persia . In the war, the British opposed an attempt by Persia to reacquire the city of Herat...

, leading to the March 1857 Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1857)
The Treaty of Paris marked the end of the hostilities of the Anglo-Persian War. On the Persian side negotiations were handled by ambassador Ferukh Khan...

.
In East Asia, Napoleon took the first steps to establishing a French colonial influence in Indochina
Indochina
The Indochinese peninsula, is a region in Southeast Asia. It lies roughly southwest of China, and east of India. The name has its origins in the French, Indochine, as a combination of the names of "China" and "India", and was adopted when French colonizers in Vietnam began expanding their territory...

. He approved the launching of a naval expedition under Charles Rigault de Genouilly
Charles Rigault de Genouilly
Pierre-Louis-Charles Rigault de Genouilly was a nineteenth-century French admiral...

 in 1858 to punish the Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

ese for their mistreatment of French Catholic missionaries and force the court to accept a French presence in the country. An important factor in his decision was the belief that France risked becoming a second-rate power by not expanding its influence in East Asia. Deeper down was the sense that France owed the world a civilizing mission.

This eventually led to a full-out invasion in 1861. By 1862, the war was over and Vietnam conceded three provinces in the south, called by the French Cochin-China
Cochinchina
Cochinchina is a region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam whose principal city is Saigon. It was a French colony from 1862 to 1954. The later state of South Vietnam was created in 1954 by combining Cochinchina with southern Annam. In Vietnamese, the region is called Nam Bộ...

, opened three ports to French trade, allowed free passage of French warships to Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 (which led to a French protectorate over Cambodia in 1863), allowed freedom of action for French missionaries and gave France a large indemnity for the cost of the war. France did not intervene, however, in the Christian-supported Vietnamese rebellion in Bac Bo, despite the urging of missionaries, or in the subsequent slaughter of thousands of Christians after the rebellion.

In China, France took part in the Second Opium War
Second Opium War
The Second Opium War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War, the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French expedition to China, was a war pitting the British Empire and the Second French Empire against the Qing Dynasty of China, lasting from 1856 to 1860...

 along with Britain, and in 1860 French troops entered Peking. China was forced to concede more trading rights, allow freedom of navigation of the Yangtze, give full civil rights and freedom of religion to Christians, and give France and Britain a huge indemnity. This combined with the intervention in Vietnam set the stage for further French influence in China leading up to a sphere of influence over parts of southern China.

In 1866, French naval troops attacked Korea in response to the execution of French missionaries there. Though the campaign against Korea
French Campaign against Korea, 1866
The French campaign against Korea of 1866 is also known as Byeong-in yangyo . It refers to the French invasion of Ganghwa Island in Korea in retaliation for the earlier execution by Korea's Joseon Dynasty of French Catholic priests proselytizing in that country...

 was primarily the work of the ranking French diplomat in China and not formally authorized by the French government, its failure nevertheless resulted in the decline of French influence in the region. In 1867, a military mission to Japan played a key role in modernizing the troops of the Shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

 Tokugawa Yoshinobu
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
was the 15th and last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. He was part of a movement which aimed to reform the aging shogunate, but was ultimately unsuccessful...

, and even participated on his side against Imperial troops during the Boshin war
Boshin War
The was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the imperial court....

.

Italy

As President of the Republic, Louis-Napoléon sent French troops to help restore Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 as ruler of the Papal States in 1849 after his rule had been overthrown by the revolutionaries led by Giuseppe Mazzini
Giuseppe Mazzini
Giuseppe Mazzini , nicknamed Soul of Italy, was an Italian politician, journalist and activist for the unification of Italy. His efforts helped bring about the independent and unified Italy in place of the several separate states, many dominated by foreign powers, that existed until the 19th century...

 and Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure. In his twenties, he joined the Carbonari Italian patriot revolutionaries, and fled Italy after a failed insurrection. Garibaldi took part in the War of the Farrapos and the Uruguayan Civil War leading the Italian Legion, and...

 who had proclaimed the Roman Republic
Roman Republic (19th century)
The Roman Republic was a state declared on February 9, 1849, when the government of Papal States was temporarily substituted by a republican government due to Pope Pius IX's flight to Gaeta. The republic was led by Carlo Armellini, Giuseppe Mazzini and Aurelio Saffi...

 (although as a Carbonaro
Carbonari
The Carbonari were groups of secret revolutionary societies founded in early 19th-century Italy. The Italian Carbonari may have further influenced other revolutionary groups in Spain, France, Portugal and possibly Russia. Although their goals often had a patriotic and liberal focus, they lacked a...

he had been involved in plotting a similar revolt in the Papal States during his youth in Italy). This won him support of Catholics in France. However, the Constituent Assembly saw the unilateral intervention by Bonaparte in Italy as a violation of Section V of the Constitution and on 11 June 1849, Alexandre Ledru-Rollin introduced a bill of impeachment against President Bonaparte and his ministers. Although many Catholics supported the Italian intervention, they nonetheless remained supporters of the Bourbon monarchy at heart and tended to support anything that would weaken Bonaparte's polictial position. Still Bonaparte's growing popularity in France meant that the bill of impeachment was defeated on 12 June 1849.

Despite the incursion of troops into Italy on behalf of the reactionary forces, Louis Bonaparte remained attached to ideal of Italian nationalism
Italian nationalism
Italian nationalism refers to the nationalism of Italians or of Italian culture. It claims that Italians are the ethnic, cultural, and linguistic descendants of the ancient Romans who inhabited the Italian Peninsula for centuries. The origins of Italian nationalism have been traced to the...

 which he had embraced in his youth. Accordingly, he sent an emissary to negotiate with the revolutionary Italian nationalist Mazzini. The Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

 observes: "In this way the difficulties of the future emperor reveal themselves from the beginning; he wished to spare the religious susceptibilities of French Catholics" and yet to support "the national susceptibilities of the Italian revolutionists—a double aim which explains many an inconsistency" in his policy. Pragmatically, Louis Bonaparte supported Italian nationalist aspirations because he wished particularly to end Austrian rule in Lombardy and Venice (he always nursed a dislike for Austria as the incarnation of reactionary, legitimist monarchy, and the great barrier to the reconstruction of Europe on nationalist lines. As Emperor, Napoleon dreamed of doing this, and thus satisfying his own inclinations and winning over liberal and left-wing opinion in France (which was passionately in favour of Italian unification) while at the same time supporting the Pope in Rome and thus maintaining conservative and Catholic support in France. These contradictory desires were evident in his policy in Italy.

In April–July 1859 Napoleon made a secret deal with Cavour, Prime Minister of Piedmont
Piedmont
Piedmont is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.4 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin. The main local language is Piedmontese. Occitan is also spoken by a minority in the Occitan Valleys situated in the Provinces of...

, for France to assist in expelling Austria from the Italian peninsula and bringing about a united Italy
Italian unification
Italian unification was the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century...

, or at least a united northern Italy, in exchange for Piedmont ceding to France Savoy
Savoy
Savoy is a region of France. It comprises roughly the territory of the Western Alps situated between Lake Geneva in the north and Monaco and the Mediterranean coast in the south....

 and the Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 region (which was destined to become the so-called French Riviera
French Riviera
The Côte d'Azur, pronounced , often known in English as the French Riviera , is the Mediterranean coastline of the southeast corner of France, also including the sovereign state of Monaco...

). He went to war with Austria in 1859 and won victories at Magenta
Battle of Magenta
The Battle of Magenta was fought on June 4, 1859 during the Second Italian War of Independence, resulting in a French-Sardinian victory under Napoleon III against the Austrians under Marshal Ferencz Gyulai....

 and Solferino
Battle of Solferino
The Battle of Solferino, , was fought on June 24, 1859 and resulted in the victory of the allied French Army under Napoleon III and Sardinian Army under Victor Emmanuel II against the Austrian Army under Emperor Franz Joseph I; it was the last major battle in world...

, which resulted in the ceding of Lombardy
Lombardy
Lombardy is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about one fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in this region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe...

 to Piedmont by Austria (and in return received Savoy and Nice from Piedmont as promised in 1860). After this had been done, however, Napoleon decided to end French involvement in the war. This early withdrawal, however, failed to prevent central Italy, including most of the Papal states, being incorporated into the new Italian state. This led Catholics in France to turn against Napoleon. Napoleon tried to redress the damage by maintaining French troops in the city of Rome itself, which prevented the new Italian government seizing it from the Pope. However, Napoleon on the whole failed to win back Catholic support at home (and made moves to appeal instead to the anti-Catholic left in his domestic policy in the 1860s, most notably by appointing the anti-clerical Victor Duruy
Victor Duruy
Jean Victor Duruy was a French historian and statesman.He was born in Paris, the son of a factory worker, and at first intended for his father's trade...

 Minister for Education, who further secularized the schooling system). French troops remained in Rome to protect the Pope until the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.

Grand Scheme for the Americas

Napoleon III envisioned a "Grand Scheme for the Americas", which would consist of three general points. The first involved recognition of the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 and a military alliance with them. The second involved reintroducing monarchical rule to Latin America, in the form of Maximillian I in Mexico
Second Mexican Empire
The Second Mexican Empire was the name of Mexico under the regime established from 1864 to 1867. It was created by Napoleon III of France, who attempted to use the Mexican adventure to recapture some of the grandeur of earlier Napoleonic times...

, and increasing French trade throughout Latin America. The third point involved control over Mexico with the creation of a large buffer state
Buffer state
A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers, which by its sheer existence is thought to prevent conflict between them. Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy, which distinguishes them from satellite...

 from the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

 to the Baja California peninsula
Baja California Peninsula
The Baja California peninsula , is a peninsula in northwestern Mexico. Its land mass separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. The Peninsula extends from Mexicali, Baja California in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur in the south.The total area of the Baja California...

.
Mexico


Another example of Napoleon's adventurism in foreign policy was the French intervention in Mexico
French intervention in Mexico
The French intervention in Mexico , also known as The Maximilian Affair, War of the French Intervention, and The Franco-Mexican War, was an invasion of Mexico by an expeditionary force sent by the Second French Empire, supported in the beginning by the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain...

 (January 1862 – March 1867). Napoleon, using as a pretext the Mexican Republic's refusal to pay its foreign debts, planned to establish a French sphere of influence in North America by creating a French-backed monarchy in Mexico, a project that was supported by Mexican conservatives who resented the Mexican Republic's laicism. The United States was unable to prevent this contravention of the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 because of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

; Napoleon hoped that the Confederates
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 would be victorious in that conflict, believing they would accept the new regime in Mexico.

But his imperial dreams would not be so easy to achieve. In Mexico, the French army suffered its first military defeat in 50 years, on the Fifth of May, 1862 in Puebla
Puebla
Puebla officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Puebla is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 217 municipalities and its capital city is Puebla....

 when the Mexican army under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza
Ignacio Zaragoza
Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín was a general in the Mexican army, best known for defeating invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 ....

 defeated a much better-equipped French army. The defeat not only surprised the world, but served to revitalize the national spirit of Mexicans, helping to sustain a guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 that lasted 5 years. In the end, it remained the Second Mexican Empire
Second Mexican Empire
The Second Mexican Empire was the name of Mexico under the regime established from 1864 to 1867. It was created by Napoleon III of France, who attempted to use the Mexican adventure to recapture some of the grandeur of earlier Napoleonic times...

.

With the support of Mexican conservatives and French troops, in 1863 Napoleon installed Maximilian I of Mexico
Maximilian I of Mexico
Maximilian I was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire.After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico on April 10, 1864, with the backing of Napoleon III of France and a group of Mexican monarchists who sought to revive the Mexican monarchy...

, a Habsburg prince, as emperor. Ruling President Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez
Benito Juárez born Benito Pablo Juárez García, was a Mexican lawyer and politician of Zapotec origin from Oaxaca who served five terms as president of Mexico: 1858–1861 as interim, 1861–1865, 1865–1867, 1867–1871 and 1871–1872...

 and his Republican forces retreated to the countryside and fought against the French troops and the Mexican monarchists.

The combined Mexican monarchist and French forces won victories up until 1865, but then the tide began to turn against them, in part because the American Civil War had ended. The U.S. government was now able to give practical support to the Republicans, supplying them with arms and establishing a naval blockade to prevent French reinforcements arriving from Europe. Due to continued losses inflicted by the Mexican guerrillas loyal to the Republic and the threat of an American military intervention, Napoleon withdrew French troops from Mexico in 1866, which left Maximilian and the Mexican monarchists doomed to defeat in 1867. Despite Napoleon's pleas that he abdicate and leave Mexico, Maximilian refused to abandon the Mexican conservatives who had supported him, and remained alongside them until the bitter end, when he was captured by the Republicans and then shot on 19 June 1867. The complete failure of the Mexican intervention was a humiliation for Napoleon, and he was widely blamed across Europe for Maximilian's death. However, letters have since shown that Napoleon III and Leopold of Belgium
Leopold I of Belgium
Leopold I was from 21 July 1831 the first King of the Belgians, following Belgium's independence from the Netherlands. He was the founder of the Belgian line of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha...

 both warned Maximilian not to depend on European support. Empress Eugénie
Eugénie de Montijo
Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, 16th Countess of Teba and 15th Marquise of Ardales; 5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo , was the last Empress consort of the French from 1853 to 1871 as the wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of...

 has also been largely blamed for the fiasco, the implication being that she tried to meddle in affairs of state in order to get over her husband's affairs of the heart.

Empress Carlota of Mexico visited Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie at Les Tuileries
Tuileries Palace
The Tuileries Palace was a royal palace in Paris which stood on the right bank of the River Seine until 1871, when it was destroyed in the upheaval during the suppression of the Paris Commune...

 to request financial and military aid to rescue the agonizing empire, but her petitions were rejected. Carlota in turn insulted the Emperor and his wife by mocking their humble origins. She subsequently declined into mental illness
Mental illness
A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioural,...

.
United States of America


In the beginning of the 1860s, the objectives of the Emperor in foreign policy had been met: France scored several military victories in Europe and abroad, the defeat at Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 had been exorcised, and France was once again a significant continental military power.

During 1861 to 1862, Napoleon III positioned France to intervene in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 on the side of the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. The United States repeatedly warned that this meant war but the emperor inched steadily toward officially recognizing the Confederacy, especially after the crash of France's cotton textile industry and his successes in Mexico. Through 1862, Napoleon III met unofficially with Confederate diplomats, raising their hopes that he would unilaterally recognize the Confederacy. The emperor, however, could do little without the support of Britain, which refused to recognize the Confederacy. In 1863 the Confederacy realized there was no longer any chance of intervention, and expelled the French and British consuls, who were advising their citizens not to enlist in the Confederate Army.

Prussia

A far more dangerous threat to Napoleon III, however, was looming. France saw its dominance on the continent of Europe eroded by Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

's crushing victory over Austria in the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 in June–August 1866. Due in part to his Carbonaro past, Napoleon was unable to ally himself with Austria, despite the obvious threat that a victorious Prussia would pose to France. Napoleon felt secure in the presumption that the war with Austria would be drawn out, or would result in Austrian victory, when he agreed not to intervene in 1864. Yet, having decided not to prevent the Prussian rise to power by allying against her, Napoleon also failed to take the opportunity to demand Prussian consent to French territorial expansion in return for France's neutrality. Napoleon only requested that Prussia agree to French annexation of Belgium and Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 after Prussia had already defeated Austria, by which time France's neutrality was no longer needed by Prussia. This extraordinary foreign policy failure saw France gain nothing while allowing Prussia's strength to increase greatly. In part the reason for the Emperor's blunder must be laid on his deteriorating health during this period—he had begun to suffer from a bladder stone that caused him great pain, even preventing him from riding a horse.

Napoleon's later attempt in 1867 to re-balance the scales by purchasing Luxembourg from its ruler, William III of the Netherlands
William III of the Netherlands
William III was from 1849 King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg until his death and the Duke of Limburg until the abolition of the Duchy in 1866.-Early life:William was born in Brussels as son of William II of the Netherlands and...

, was thwarted by a Prussian threat of war. The Luxembourg Crisis
Luxembourg Crisis
The Luxembourg Crisis was a diplomatic dispute and confrontation in 1867 between France and Prussia over the political status of Luxembourg. The confrontation almost led to war between the two parties, but was peacefully resolved by the Treaty of London....

 ended with France renouncing any claim to Luxembourg in the Treaty of London (1867).

Demise

Napoleon III paid the price for his failure to help defend Austria from Prussia. In 1870, when goaded by the diplomacy of the Prussian Prime Minister (and chancellor of the North German Confederation, and soon of the new German Empire) Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

, he began the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

. This war proved disastrous for France, and was instrumental in giving birth to the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, which would take France's place as the major land power in continental Western Europe until the end of World War I. In battle against Prussia in July 1870, the Emperor was captured at the Battle of Sedan
Battle of Sedan
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War on 1 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French...

 (2 September) and was deposed by the forces of the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 in Paris two days later.

Napoleon spent the last few years of his life in exile in England, with Eugénie and their only son. The family lived at Camden Place, Chislehurst
Chislehurst
Chislehurst is a suburban district in south-east London, England, and an electoral ward of the London Borough of Bromley. It is south-east of Charing Cross.-Toponymy:...

, where he died on 9 January 1873. He was haunted to the end by bitter regrets and by painful memories of the battle at which he lost everything; Napoleon's last words, addressed to Dr. Henri Conneau standing by his deathbed, reportedly were, "Were you at Sedan?" ("Etiez-vous à Sedan?")

The Emperor died during a multistage process to break up a bladder stone. The surgeon Sir Henry Thompson
Sir Henry Thompson, 1st Baronet
Sir Henry Thompson, 1st Baronet FRCS , British surgeon and polymath, was born at Framlingham, Suffolk.-Medical career:...

, sounded the emperor and detected a bladder stone. Surgery was performed on 2 and 6 January under chloroform
Chloroform
Chloroform is an organic compound with formula CHCl3. It is one of the four chloromethanes. The colorless, sweet-smelling, dense liquid is a trihalomethane, and is considered somewhat hazardous...

 anaesthesia delivered by Joseph Thomas Clover. The cause of death was reportedly kidney failure and septicaemia. Clover and Thompson signed the post-mortem report with four other physicians; however, it has long been suspected that the operation was botched due to the arrogance of Thompson
Sir Henry Thompson, 1st Baronet
Sir Henry Thompson, 1st Baronet FRCS , British surgeon and polymath, was born at Framlingham, Suffolk.-Medical career:...

, resulting in the Emperor's untimely death.

Napoleon was originally buried at St Mary's, the Catholic Church in Chislehurst. However, after his son died in 1879 fighting in the British Army against the Zulus in South Africa, the bereaved Eugénie decided to build a monastery. The building would house monks driven out of France by the anti-clerical laws of the Third Republic, and would provide a suitable resting place for her husband and son. Thus, in 1888, the body of Napoleon III and that of his son were moved to the Imperial Crypt at St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, Hampshire
Farnborough, Hampshire
-History:Name changes: Ferneberga ; Farnburghe, Farenberg ; Farnborowe, Fremborough, Fameborough .Tower Hill, Cove: There is substantial evidence...

, England. Eugénie, who died many years later, in 1920, rests in the same abbey. The caskets can be viewed by visitors to the Abbey during public tours. It was reported in 2007 that the French Government was seeking the return of his remains to be buried in France, but this is opposed by the monks of the abbey.

Personal life

Louis Napoleon has a historical reputation as a womanizer, yet he referred to his behaviour in the following manner: "It is usually the man who attacks. As for me, I defend myself, and I often capitulate." He had many mistresses. During his reign, it was the task of Count Felix Bacciochi, his social secretary, to arrange for trysts and to procure women for the emperor's favours. His affairs were not trivial sideshows: they distracted him from governing, affected his relationship with the empress, and diminished him in the views of the other European courts. Among his numerous love affairs and mistresses were:
  • Mathilde Bonaparte
    Mathilde Bonaparte
    Mathilde Laetitia Wilhelmine Bonaparte, Princesse Française , was a French princess and Salon holder. She was a daughter of Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte and his second wife, Catharina of Württemberg, daughter of King Frederick I of Württemberg.- Biography :Born in Trieste, Mathilde Bonaparte...

    , his cousin and fiancee
  • Maria Anna Schiess (1812–1880), Allensbach (Lake of Constance, Germany), mother of his son Bonaventur Karrer (1839–1921)
  • Alexandrine Éléonore Vergeot, laundress at the prison at Ham
    Ham, Somme
    Ham is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Ham is situated on the D930 and D937 crossroads, some southwest of Saint-Quentin, in the far southeast of the department, near the border with the department of the Aisne....

    , mother of his sons Alexandre Louis Eugène and Louis Ernest Alexandre
  • Elisa Rachel Felix, the "most famous actress in Europe"
  • Harriet Howard
    Harriet Howard
    Harriet Howard, born Elizabeth Ann Haryett was a mistress and financial backer of Louis Napoleon, later Napoleon III of France.-London:...

    , (1823–1865) wealthy and a major financial backer
  • Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione (22 March 1837 – 28 November 1899) Spy, Artist and famous beauty, sent by Camillo Cavour to influence the Emperor's politics
  • Marie-Anne Waleska, a possible mistress, who was the wife of Count Alexandre Joseph Count Colonna-Walewski
    Alexandre Joseph Count Colonna-Walewski
    Alexandre Florian Joseph, Count Colonna-Walewski was a Polish and French politician and diplomat. He was the illegitimate son of Napoleon I by his mistress Countess Marie Walewska.-Life:...

    , his relative and foreign minister
  • Justine Marie Le Boeuf, also known as Marguerite Bellanger, actress and acrobatic dancer. Bellanger was falsely rumoured to be the illegitimate daughter of a hangman, and was the most universally loathed of the mistresses, though perhaps his favorite
  • Countess Louise de Mercy-Argenteau, (1837–1890), likely a platonic
    Platonic love
    Platonic love is a chaste and strong type of love that is non-sexual.-Amor Platonicus:The term amor platonicus was coined as early as the 15th century by the Florentine scholar Marsilio Ficino. Platonic love in this original sense of the term is examined in Plato's dialogue the Symposium, which has...

     relationship, author of The Last Love of an Emperor, her reminiscences of her association with the emperor.


His wife, Eugenie, resisted his advances prior to marriage. She was coached by her mother and her friend, Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée was a French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and short story writer. He is perhaps best known for his novella Carmen, which became the basis of Bizet's opera Carmen.-Life:...

. "What is the road to your heart?" Napoleon demanded to know. "Through the chapel, Sire", she purportedly answered. Yet, after marriage, it took not long for him to stray as Eugenie found sex with him "disgusting". It is doubtful that she allowed further approaches by her husband once she had given him an heir.

By his late forties, Napoleon started to suffer from numerous medical ailments, including kidney disease, bladder stones, chronic bladder and prostate
Prostate
The prostate is a compound tubuloalveolar exocrine gland of the male reproductive system in most mammals....

 infections, arthritis
Arthritis
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints....

, gout
Gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...

, obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

, and the effects of chronic smoking. In 1856, Dr. Robert Ferguson, a consultant called from London, diagnosed a "nervous exhaustion" that had a "debilitating impact upon sexual ... performance" and reported this also to the British government.

Legacy

An important legacy of Napoleon III's reign was the rebuilding of Paris. Part of the design decisions were taken in order to reduce the ability of future revolutionaries to challenge the government by capitalizing on the small, medieval streets of Paris to form barricades. However, this should not overshadow the fact that the main reason for the complete transformation of Paris was Napoleon III's desire to modernize Paris based on what he had seen of the modernizations of London during his exile in the 1840s, when he lived in the small village of Chislehurst, just outside the city. With his characteristic social approach to politics, Napoleon III desired to improve health standards and living conditions in Paris with the following goals: to build a modern sewerage system to improve health, to develop new housing with larger apartments for the masses, and to create green parks all across the city. The Emperor ordered the creation of three large parks in Paris (Parc Monceau
Parc Monceau
Parc Monceau is a semi-public park situated in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France, at the junction of Boulevard de Courcelles, Rue de Prony and Rue Georges Berger. At the main entrance is a rotunda. The park covers an area of 8.2 hectares ....

, Parc Montsouris
Montsouris
Parc Montsouris is a public park in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, on the rive gauche The park is fifteen hectares in area, and it is styled as an English garden, a genre popular since the early 19th century...

, and Parc des Buttes Chaumont) with the clear intention of offering them for poor working families as an alternative to the pub (bistrot) on Sundays, much as Victoria Park
Victoria Park, East London
Victoria Park is 86.18 hectares of open space that stretches out across part of the East End of London, England bordering parts of Bethnal Green, Hackney, and Bow, such as along Old Ford Road, London E3 and Victoria Park Road E9. The park is entirely within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets...

 in London was also built with the same social motives in mind. Large sections of the city were thus flattened and the old winding streets replaced with large thoroughfares and broad avenues. The rebuilding of Paris was directed by Baron Haussmann
Baron Haussmann
Georges-Eugène Haussmann, commonly known as Baron Haussmann , was a French civic planner whose name is associated with the rebuilding of Paris...

, turning Paris into the city of broad tree-lined boulevards and parks so beloved of tourists today.

With Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée
Prosper Mérimée was a French dramatist, historian, archaeologist, and short story writer. He is perhaps best known for his novella Carmen, which became the basis of Bizet's opera Carmen.-Life:...

, Napoleon III continued to seek the preservation of numerous mediaeval buildings in France, which had been left disregarded since the French revolution (a project Mérimée had begun during the July Monarchy). With Viollet-le-Duc acting as chief architect, many buildings were saved, including some of the most famous in France: Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame de Paris
Notre Dame de Paris , also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a Gothic, Roman Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. It is the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the cathedra of...

, Mont Saint-Michel, Carcassonne
Carcassonne
Carcassonne is a fortified French town in the Aude department, of which it is the prefecture, in the former province of Languedoc.It is divided into the fortified Cité de Carcassonne and the more expansive lower city, the ville basse. Carcassone was founded by the Visigoths in the fifth century,...

, Vézelay Abbey
Vézelay Abbey
Vézelay Abbey was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne département in Burgundy, France. The Benedictine abbey church of Ste-Marie-Madeleine Vézelay Abbey (now known as Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne...

, Pierrefonds, and Roquetaillade
Château de Roquetaillade
The Château de Roquetaillade is a castle in Mazères , in the French département of Gironde.Charlemagne, on his way to the Pyrenees with Roland, built the first fortification there...

 castle.

Napoleon III also directed the building of the French railway network, which greatly contributed to the development of the coal mining and steel industry in France, thereby radically changing the nature of the French economy, which entered the modern age of large-scale capitalism. The French economy, the second largest in the world at the time (behind the United Kingdom), experienced a very strong growth during the reign of Napoleon III. Names such as steel tycoon Eugène Schneider
Eugène Schneider
Joseph Eugène Schneider was a French industrialist who in 1836 co-founded the Schneider company with his brother Adolphe.-Biography:...

 or banking mogul James de Rothschild are symbols of the period. Two of France's largest banks, Société Générale
Société Générale
Société Générale S.A. is a large European Bank and a major Financial Services company that has a substantial global presence. Its registered office is on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, while its head office is in the Tours Société Générale in the business district of La...

 and Crédit Lyonnais
Crédit Lyonnais
Crédit Lyonnais is a historic French bank. In the early 1990s it was the largest French bank, majority state-owned at that point. Crédit Lyonnais was the subject of poor management during that period which almost led to its bankruptcy in 1993...

, still in existence today, were founded during that period. The French stock market also expanded prodigiously, with many coal mining and steel companies issuing stocks.

Although largely forgotten by later Republican generations, which only remembered the non-democratic nature of the regime, the economic successes of the Second Empire are today recognized as impressive by historians. The emperor himself, who had spent several years in exile in Victorian Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

, was largely influenced by the ideas of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 in England, and he took particular care of the economic development of the country. He is recognized as the first ruler of France to have taken great care of the economy; previous rulers considered it secondary.

His military adventurism is sometimes considered a fatal blow to the Concert of Europe
Concert of Europe
The Concert of Europe , also known as the Congress System after the Congress of Vienna, was the balance of power that existed in Europe from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the outbreak of World War I , albeit with major alterations after the revolutions of 1848...

, which based itself on stability and balance of powers, whereas Napoleon III attempted to rearrange the world map to France's favour even when it involved radical and potentially revolutionary changes in politics. A 12-pound cannon
Canon obusier de 12
The Canon obusier de 12 , also known as the "Canon de l’Empereur" was a type of canon-obusier developed by France in 1853...

 designed by France is commonly referred to as a Napoleon cannon or 12-pounder Napoleon in his honour.

Napoleon III to this day lacks the favourable historical reputation that Napoleon I enjoyed. Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

 portrayed him as "Napoleon the Small" (Napoléon le Petit
Napoléon le Petit
Napoleon le Petit was an influential political pamphlet by Victor Hugo which condemned the reign of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French. Hugo lived in exile in Guernsey for most of Napoleon III's reign, and his criticism of the monarch was significant as he was one of the most prominent Frenchmen...

), a mere mediocrity, in contrast with Napoleon I "The Great", presented as a military and administrative genius. In France, such arch-opposition from the age's central literary figure, whose attacks on Napoleon III were obsessive and powerful, made it impossible for a very long time to assess his reign objectively. Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon
Der 18te Brumaire des Louis Napoleon was written by Karl Marx between December 1851 and March 1852, and originally published in 1852 in Die Revolution, a German-language monthly magazine published in New York and established by Joseph Weydemeyer...

, famously mocked Napoleon III by saying "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historical facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." Napoleon III has often been seen as an authoritarian but ineffectual leader who brought France into dubious, and ultimately disastrous, foreign military adventures.

Historians have also emphasized his attention to the fate of the working classes and poor people. His book Extinction du paupérisme ("Extinction of pauperism"), which he wrote while imprisoned at the Fort of Ham in 1844, contributed greatly to his popularity among the working classes and thus his election in 1848. Throughout his reign the emperor worked to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, on occasion breaching the nineteenth-century economic orthodoxy of complete laissez-faire
Laissez-faire
In economics, laissez-faire describes an environment in which transactions between private parties are free from state intervention, including restrictive regulations, taxes, tariffs and enforced monopolies....

 and using state resources or interfering in the market. Among other things, the Emperor granted the right to strike to French workers in 1864, despite intense opposition from corporate lobbies. Marxist sociologist Göran Therborn
Göran Therborn
Göran Therborn is a professor of sociology at Cambridge University and is amongst the most highly cited contemporary Marxian-influenced sociologists. He has published widely in journals such as the New Left Review, and is notable for his writing on topics that fall within the general political and...

 has characterized the reign of Napoleon III as the "first modern bourgeois regime", one which combined a movement of mass support with bourgeois rule, albeit through authoritarian statist means. According to Therborn, such a form of rule, ossified upon the point of crisis, proves fatal to such regimes once major external crises emerge.

Titles and styles

  • 2 December 1852 – 4 September 1870: His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the French

Full title as Emperor

His Imperial Majesty
Imperial Majesty (style)
Imperial Majesty is a style used by Emperors and Empresses. The style is used to distinguish the status of an emperor/empress from that of a king/queen, who are simply styled Majesty or Royal Majesty...

 Napoleon the Third, By the Grace of God
By the Grace of God
By the Grace of God is an introductory part of the full styles of a monarch taken to be ruling by divine right, not a title in its own right....

 and the will of the Nation, Emperor of the French
Emperor of the French
The Emperor of the French was the title used by the Bonaparte Dynasty starting when Napoleon Bonaparte was given the title Emperor on 18 May 1804 by the French Senate and was crowned emperor of the French on 02 December 1804 at the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, in Paris with the Crown of...

.

Paternity

Speculation about his paternity
Paternity (law)
In law, paternity is the legal acknowledgment of the parental relationship between a man and a child usually based on several factors.At common law, a child born to the wife during a marriage is the husband's child under the "presumption of legitimacy", and the husband is assigned complete rights,...

 was a favorite topic of his detractors, as his parents were estranged and his mother Hortense was known to have multiple lovers. However, the parents met briefly between 23 June and 6 July 1807, nine and a half months prior to his birth, and there is no reason to assume that Louis was not his father. Additionally, Article 312 of the Napoleonic Code stated (and still states) that the father of any child born within wedlock is the mother's husband. The meeting prior to his birth meant that there was no "impossibility" of conception, and that the Article 312 designated Louis as the father of the future Napoleon III.

Ancestry



See also

  • Bonaparte
    Bonaparte
    The House of Bonaparte is an imperial and royal European dynasty founded by Napoleon I of France in 1804, a French military leader who rose to notability out of the French Revolution and transformed the French Republic into the First French Empire within five years of his coup d'état...

  • History of France
    History of France
    The history of France goes back to the arrival of the earliest human being in what is now France. Members of the genus Homo entered the area hundreds of thousands years ago, while the first modern Homo sapiens, the Cro-Magnons, arrived around 40,000 years ago...

  • List of coupled cousins
  • Second French Empire
    Second French Empire
    The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...


Sources

  • Thompson, J.M. Louis Napoleon and the Second Empire. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965.

Further reading

  • Baguley, David. Napoleon III and His Regime: An Extravaganza (2000)
  • David Harvey
    David Harvey
    David Harvey is the name of:*David Harvey *David Harvey , geographer and social theorist*David Harvey , American luthier...

    , Paris: Capital of Modernity, (New York: Routledge, 2003)
  • Corley; T. A. B. Democratic Despot: A Life of Napoleon III (1961)
  • Cunningham; Michele. Mexico and the Foreign Policy of Napoleon III (Palgrave, 2001)
  • Duff, David. Eugenie and Napoleon III (Collins, 1978)
  • McMillan, J. Napoleon III (Longman, 1991)
  • Price, Roger. "Napoleon III: 'hero' or 'grotesque mediocrity'?" History Review (2003) pp 14+
  • Price, Roger. Napoleon III and the Second Empire (Routledge, 1997)
  • Price, Roger. The French Second Empire: an anatomy of political power (Cambridge University Press, 2001)
  • Wawro, Geoffrey. The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870–1871(2005)
  • Wetzel, David A Duel of Giants: Bismarck, Napoleon III, and the Origins of the Franco-Prussian War (University of Wisconsin Press, 2001)
  • Zeldin, Theodore. The Political System of Napoleon III (Oxford University Press, 1958).

In French

  • De la Gorce, Histoire du second empire, (four volumes, Paris, 1885–98), and
  • Taxile Delord, Histoire du second empire, (six volumes, Paris, 1869–76).
  • Thirra, Napoléon III avant l'empire, (Paris, 1895)
  • E. Ollivier
    Émile Ollivier
    Olivier Émile Ollivier was a French statesman. Although a republican, he served as a cabinet minister under Emperor Napoleon III and led the process of turning his regime into a "liberal Empire".-Early life and career:Émile Ollivier was born in Marseille...

    , L'Empire libéral, (Paris, 1895–1909)

Primary sources

  • T. W. Evans, Memoirs of the Second French Empire, (New York, 1905)
  • Marie-Clotilde-Elisabeth Louise de Riquet, comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau
    Marie-Clotilde-Elisabeth Louise de Riquet, comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau
    Marie-Clotilde-Elisabeth Louise de Riquet was the elder daughter of Michel Gabriel Alphonse Ferdinand de Riquet , created prince de Chimay 1834, for himself only, and Rosalie de Riquet de Caraman...

    , The Last Love of an Emperor: reminiscences of the Comtesse Louise de Mercy-Argenteau, née Princesse de Caraman-Chimay, describing her association with the Emperor Napoleon III and the social and political part she played at the close of the Second Empire
    Second French Empire
    The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

     (Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Page & Co., 1926).

Movie portrayals

  • Leon Ames
    Leon Ames (actor)
    Leon Ames was an American film and television actor. He is best remembered for playing fatherly figures in such films as Meet Me in St. Louis , as Judy Garland's father, and in Little Women ....

     played him in Suez
    Suez (film)
    Suez is a 1938 film account of the building of the Suez Canal by Ferdinand de Lesseps, played by Tyrone Power. It was so highly fictionalized that de Lesseps' descendants sued for libel....

     (1938), although Loretta Young
    Loretta Young
    Loretta Young was an American actress. Starting as a child actress, she had a long and varied career in film from 1917 to 1953...

     as Eugenie is a more prominent character.
  • Claude Rains
    Claude Rains
    Claude Rains was an English stage and film actor whose career spanned 66 years. He was known for many roles in Hollywood films, among them the title role in The Invisible Man , a corrupt senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington , Mr...

     portrays him in Juarez
    Juarez (1939 film)
    Juarez is a 1939 American historical drama film directed by William Dieterle. The screenplay by Aeneas MacKenzie, John Huston, and Wolfgang Reinhardt is based on the novel The Phantom Crown by Bertita Harding and the play Juarez and Maximilian by Franz Werfel.-Plot:The film focuses on the conflict...

     (1939) as a weak man ready to betray Maximilian in Mexico.
  • Jerome Cowan
    Jerome Cowan
    Jerome Palmer Cowan was an American film and television actor. At eighteen he joined a travelling stock company, shortly afterwards enlisting in the navy in World War I. After the war he returned to the stage and became a vaudeville headliner, then gained success on the New York stage...

     plays Napoleon III in The Song of Bernadette
    The Song of Bernadette (film)
    The Song of Bernadette is a 1943 drama film which tells the story of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, who, from February to July 1858 in Lourdes, France, reported 18 visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was directed by Henry King....

    (1943).
  • Guy Bates Post plays Louis Napoleon in Maytime (1936).

External links

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