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Napoleon III

Civilization:European: France
Era: Rise of Germany
1808–1873Field of Renown:monarch: Emperor
Napoleon III
 Napoleon the Third

Napoleon III holds the interesting distinction of being both the first president and the last emperor of France. Born Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, he was the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was elected to the French presidency in 1848, but when his requests to serve a second term were refused by the National Assembly, he organized a coup d'etat in 1851 and took control as dictator. Despite his unorthodox methods of gaining power, however, he proved to be a temperate and just emperor, even asking the people later to justify his ascension to power, to which the majority agreed. Hoping to be remembered as a socially-concerned reformer, he is most well-known for his renovation of Paris, particularly the widening of once-narrow alleys that allowed for easier transportation and a higher degree of sanitation in the city. Throughout his reign as monarch, he improved the economy through investment banking as well as railroad construction, and he appealed to the lower classes by advocating the formation of labor unions. In 1870, he created a new constitution that established a parliamentary regime with a monarchial head-of-state, a system closely similar to democracy.

He also led the French in several major wars and battles, notably the Crimean War, the Taiping Rebellion, and the Franco Prussian War. Napoleonís greatest mistake came in attacking the German states. Alarmed by newly united Prussiaís exponential growth in power under the clever leadership of Otto von Bismarck, the emperor made the rash decision to plunge into a war with his eastern neighbors. Under the pretense of a struggle over the Spanish throne, France heartily went to battle against Prussia, but the enemy was well-equipped and the French decisively defeated. Napoleonís army was crushed at Sedan and he himself publicly humiliated. Additionally, the French territory of Alsace-Lorraine was ceded to the German Empire. While the war was not yet over, all hope of a French victory was lost from that point onward. Napoleon spent his last years in exile in England with his wife, Eugenie, and their only son. After his death, presidential elections were once again instituted under the establishment of the Third Republic

Key events during the life of Napoleon III

Year Event
1808 Born
1848 Elected President of France by universal male suffrage under the Second Republic
1851 Initiated coup d'etat before taking control as Emperor
1860s Granted working class right to form unions and to strike
1870 Alarmed by growth of Germany, decided to attack them and cut off their power
1870 Created new French constitution with a government structure similar to democracy
1870 Captured during the Franco-Prussian War
1873 Died in England with many regrets over the terrible loss at Sedan


Story LinksBook Links
Later Days  in  France: Peeps at History  by  Finnemore
The Man of Sedan  in  Story of France  by  Macgregor
Prussian War and the Paris Commune  in  Historical Tales: 6— French  by  Morris
Franco-German War  in  Growth of the British Empire  by  Synge
Solferino  in  Boy's Book of Battles  by  Wood
Napoleon Bonaparte  in  Stories from French History  by  Dalkeith
The Birth of Louis Napoleon  in  Hortense  by  Abbott
Letter from Louis Napoleon  in  Hortense  by  Abbott
Brave Archbishop  in  Story of France  by  Macgregor

Image Links
The Little Prince Charles Napoleon in Hortense Hortense and her Children in Hortense The Study of Louis Napoleon. in Hortense
The Arrest in Hortense After the Battle of Sedan; First meeting of Napoleon III and Bismarck  in Boys' Book of Battles Napoleon III and Bismarck at Sedan  in Famous Men of Modern Times
Napoleon III and Bismarck on the morning after the battle of Sedan  in Bismarck and the Foundation of the German Empire Chairs were brought that Napoleon and the minister might sit out of doors  in Story of France Napoleon the Third  in Eugenie - Empress of the French
The two Emperors.  in Emperor William First

Contemporary Short Biography
Eugenie de Monijo Wife of Napoleon III and Empress of France. Influential figure in society and fashion as well as politics.
Victor Emmanuel II of Italy First king of United Italy won for him by his father Charles Albert, King of Sardinia, and Garibaldi.
Otto von Bismarck Mastermind of the Unification of the German State, and wars against Austria and France.