Napoleon III

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Napoleon III, painting by Alexandre Cabanel , around 1865. It was Empress Eugenie's favorite portrait because it portrayed himself most faithfully.
Signature Napoleon III..PNG

Napoleon III ( French Napoléon III; * April 20, 1808 in Paris ; † January 9, 1873 in Chislehurst near London ) was under his maiden name Charles-Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (also Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte ) during the Second Republic from 1848 to 1852 French President and from 1852 to 1870 as Napoleon III. Emperor of the French . With the coup d'état of December 2, 1851 , the president who emerged from a popular election established a dictatorship . A year later he proclaimed himself emperor and his country the Second Empire . The parliament was largely disempowered and only received a little more authority again at the very end of its rule.

Due to the plebiscitary character of his rule, the emperor was practically forced to keep showing new successes in order to maintain the favor of the masses. This led to a relatively expansionary foreign policy, which also pursued the goal of territorial expansion of France at the expense of its neighboring states. The emperor was initially successful in the Italian war of unification in 1859/60. The planned annexation of Luxembourg in 1867 , however, failed. Napoleon's aggressive foreign policy led to the question of the Spanish succession to the throne leading to the Franco-German War . After Napoleon was captured on September 2, 1870, a new national government was formed in Paris, which declared him deposed and proclaimed a republic . He spent the last two years of his life in exile in England.


Origin and youth

The four Napoleons (propaganda picture, around 1858)

Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte was born on the night of April 20, 1808, not far from what would later become the Opera Garnier in Paris. He was the son of Louis Bonaparte and Hortense de Beauharnais ; his father was the brother of Napoleon I and from 1806 to 1810 King of Holland , his mother was the daughter of Alexandre Vicomte de Beauharnais and Joséphine Tascher de La Pagerie and later became Napoleon I's stepdaughter. She played a key role in the development of her imperial ambitions Son at. The chances of a succession to the throne were minimal at that time. Emperor Napoleon saw his son, Napoleon Franz Joseph Karl Bonaparte , who was married to Marie-Louise , the King of Rome, as his legitimate successor. After the death of Napoleon I, this was regarded by the Bonapartists as Napoleon II . In addition, contemporaries had doubts about the legitimacy of Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte: he was not recognized by opponents as the son of Louis Bonaparte. The paternity was attributed to Carel Hendrik Graf Verhuell . It is documented that Count Verhuell and Hortense de Beauharnais had a friendship, but there is also evidence of his stay in Holland, while Hortense and Louis stayed in Paris. Louis Bonaparte himself never officially questioned paternity.

The final fall of Napoleon I in 1815 initially undermined the Bonapartists' ambitions . For Hortense de Beauharnais and her son, this began a month-long escape through France and Switzerland. Ultimately, the Allies granted the family exile in eastern Switzerland. Louis Napoléon spent most of his youth alternately in or near Konstanz on Lake Constance and in Augsburg , which is why he had a perfect command of the German language. His mother bought a property in Konstanz in 1816 and a second one in 1817 (the predecessor of today's Villa Seeheim ). From the point of view of Hortense de Beauharnais, there was an important argument for the settlement of her family in the Grand Duchy of Baden : The family of Napoleon III. was dynastically connected to the House of Baden through a marriage between Stephanie de Beauharnais and the Hereditary Prince Karl Ludwig Friedrich von Baden . However, the Grand Duke of Baden could not allow Napoleon's family to go into exile because he had already refused a separation from Stephanie de Beauharnais , which was advocated by the victorious powers . Once again he did not dare to alienate the major European powers. So Hortense had to leave Baden with her children and lived from 1818 until her death in Arenenberg Castle on the Swiss side of Lake Constance, only about 8 km from Konstanz. Louis Napoleon spent his school days in Augsburg, first with private teachers and then from 1821 to 1823 at the grammar school near St. Anna . In 1829 he went to the Artillery School of Thun , later served as an artillery officer in the Swiss army and was awarded 1832 Swiss citizenship as an honorary citizen of the canton of Thurgau. This allowed him to retain French citizenship at the same time .

Fight in Italy, coup attempts and exile

President Louis Napoléon Bonaparte

In 1829 Louis Napoléon planned to take part in the Russo-Turkish War . This was forbidden by his father. Instead, he joined the Italian Carbonari together with his brother Napoléon Louis . There he led the siege of the fortress of Civita Castellana . After the rebellion was put down and his brother died, Louis Napoléon fled with his mother to France, which was ruled by Louis Philip I at the time.

In Strasbourg , Louis Napoléon was able to win some officers to follow him in an attempted coup. On the morning of October 29, 1836, he told the men of the 4th Artillery Regiment, in which his uncle had already served, that he wanted to restore France's greatness and honor . With the regimental commander, Colonel Vaudrey, on his side, the artillerymen followed him. However, the coup was rejected and suppressed by the soldiers of the 46th Infantry Regiment, who were also stationed in Strasbourg. Louis Napoléon was captured and taken to Paris on November 9th. He was pardoned by King Ludwig Philipp on condition that he went into exile in the USA. On November 21, 1836, he traveled to New York via Rio de Janeiro on board the frigate Andromeda .

When his mother was dying in 1837, he returned to Arenenberg. France then asked Switzerland to expel Napoleon immediately. However, since he had served as an officer in the Swiss Army and had been a local citizen of Salenstein and an honorary citizen of the Canton of Thurgau since 1832, the Confederation refused (so-called Napoleon trade ). France mobilized her army, but Napoleon anticipated a military conflict by leaving for England. In exile in London he wrote his work Idées Napoléoniennes .

From England, Louis Napoleon began his second attempted coup. This took place on August 6, 1840 in Boulogne-sur-Mer and also failed. He has now been sentenced to life imprisonment in the northern French fortress of Ham . Here he wrote his work Eradication of Pauperism (Eradication of Poverty). His relationship with Eleonore Vergeot at this time resulted in two children whom he later raised to counts. On May 25, 1846, he escaped through an adventurous escape to the United Kingdom . There he had a relationship with Harriet Howard , a well-known mistress, who also supported him and his return to France with her fortune.

Presidency, coup and coronation

Napoleon III., 1855, painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Reception of the Siamese embassy in Fontainebleau Palace on June 27, 1861

Louis-Napoléon returned to France after the February Revolution in 1848 and now tried to win power democratically. In December he won the presidential election against the then Prime Minister Louis-Eugène Cavaignac with 5,430,000 of 7,317,344 votes. The basis for this was his program of stable government, social consolidation and national greatness. In addition, many petty bourgeois and proletarians did not want Cavaignac as president because of his tough crackdown on the June uprising . On December 20, 1848, he took over the official business from Cavaignac.

Already in April 1849 Louis-Napoléon troops to Italy to the proclaimed in February of the year sent Roman Republic put down and the power of the Pope in the Papal States recover. After an initial defeat on April 30th, they finally penetrated Rome on July 2nd .

Frequent changes of government enabled him to strengthen his position and fill the ministries with men who were loyal to him. For example, Joseph Marcelin Rulhières , Alphonse Henri, comte d'Hautpoul , Jean-Paul, comte de Schramm , Auguste Regnaud de Saint-Jean d'Angely , Jacques-Louis Randon and Armand-Jacques-Achille Leroy held office until 1851 de Saint-Arnaud took over the post of Minister of War. The last cabinet in particular was mainly used to conceal the appointment of a devoted assistant with the appointment of Saint-Arnaud.

Shortly before the end of his tenure, Louis-Napoléon carried out a coup d'état modeled on the 18th Brumaire VIII in 1851 on December 2nd - the day Napoleon I had crowned himself emperor in 1804 . Karl Marx processed these events in the book The Eighteenth Brumaire by Louis Bonaparte : “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world historical facts and persons occur twice, so to speak. He forgot to add: one time as a great tragedy, the other time as a rude farce. ”As a result of the coup d'état, bloody battles broke out across France, which Napoleon was finally able to win on December 5th. On December 21, he held a referendum on a new constitution that gave him dictatorial powers. 7.5 million French voted for, 640,000 against him.

On November 21, 1852, a plebiscite was held to restore the empire . 7,824,000 French voted yes, 253,000 no. Louis-Napoléon then had himself proclaimed Emperor of the French - again on December 2nd - 1852. The title inscriptions of the coins with his portrait were then changed from LOUIS NAPOLEON BONAPARTE to NAPOLEON III EMPEREUR.

The main reason for Napoleon's success lies in his populism . So he often traveled across France and gave speeches to the people in which, in the event of the reintroduction of the empire, great successes and progress were promised for the future. The imperialist foreign policy aimed at prestige also contributed to the mobilization of the masses. The predominantly conservative-minded inhabitants of the rural areas, who represented a very large part of the population, were a strong support of the power of the empire. However, he also received support from the capitalist bourgeoisie , the main reason being the fear of revolution caused by workers' uprisings in Paris. Marx wrote about it: "The obsession of the nephew was realized because it coincided with the obsession of the most numerous class of French."

The authoritarian empire

Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte took the ruler's name Napoleon III. to suggest a continuity with Napoleon Bonaparte . His son Napoleon Franz Bonaparte , the Duke of Reichstadt , had in fact never ruled, but was named as his successor by Napoleon I when he abdicated. He was thus in the choice of the ruler name similar to Louis XVIII. in front. The Second Empire began as an authoritarian empire. At first Napoleon ruled with absolute power. The parliament (Corps législatif) had no legislative initiative, but could only approve laws introduced by the emperor. There was a majority vote . The electoral system at that time was based on slips of paper, the color of which determined the candidate. There were election recommendations from the government. During elections, the administration regularly put pressure on the opposition, did not allow certain colors of paper to be sold for the duration of the election, electoral posters to be torn down by state officials, etc. Free elections in the current sense did not take place. The emperor's ministers were his most devoted supporters. The pillars of the system were the army and the church.

He had one of the last defenders of parliamentarism , Alexis de Tocqueville , arrested during the coup. Opponents such as Louis-Eugène Cavaignac, Victor Hugo , Adolphe Thiers , Louis Juchault de Lamoricière and Marie-Alphonse Bedeau were forced to leave the country. The following year he began to deport political prisoners and criminals in penal colonies such as Devil's Island (Île du Diable) or, in less serious cases, to New Caledonia .

France, which has been under European control since the Congress of Vienna , was at the beginning of the Empire still a state that was considered a revolutionary source of unrest for all European powers. The first goal of Napoleonic politics was to overcome this foreign policy isolation.

The Crimean War

Napoleon III ( Adolphe Yvon , 1868)

Napoleon III tended to keep the Ottoman Empire on the oriental question . He wanted to prevent Russia from gaining access to key geographic positions such as the Bosporus . In the religious conflict over the use of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem , which triggered the Crimean War , the Catholics tried with the support of Napoleon III. to improve their situation. The Russian Tsar Nicholas I then demanded a protectorate over them in the Holy Land to protect the Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire . The Ottoman Sultan and Napoleon III did not want to agree to Russian domination over the Christians in Palestine. Napoleon's questioning of Russian claims against the Ottoman Empire led to the declaration of war on Russia at the end of March 1854.

The attempt by Russia to enlarge its territory at the expense of the weakened Ottoman Empire should be prevented by the deployment of an allied force under French leadership. In May 1854 the allied French-British troops landed near Varna and in September 1854 in the Crimea . After several battles and a siege lasting almost a year, Sevastopol was captured in September 1855 . After conquering the fortress, Napoleon III planned to advance inland in order to step out of the shadow of his uncle Napoleon I with a spectacular success. But his generals advised against such an adventure. The mood in France was also dampened by the length of the campaign and the high losses of the troops, mainly due to illness. His cousin Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte had also left the troupe and gave the French public space for all kinds of discussions. All of this led to Napoleon III. was finally ready for peace negotiations.

In 1855 the emperor was assassinated two times: on April 28th by the Italian Giovanni Pianori and on September 8th by Edouard Bellemare . The ruler escaped both attacks.

Napoleon proved his diplomatic skills when he appeared as an arbitrator at the Paris Peace Congress . Napoleon III's son, Napoléon Eugène Louis Bonaparte , was born during the negotiations for the Peace of Paris . The birth was very difficult because the child did not turn in the mother's womb. After the success of the forceps delivery, representatives of all the great powers that took part in the peace negotiations parade. With the birth of the prince, the Bonaparte dynasty seemed to have permanent rule in France.

The Paris Peace led to a new European constellation of powers. Napoleon achieved the recognition of the Empire in Europe. In the place of the old continental power Russia, France now stepped. The Holy Alliance broke up, and relations between Russia and Austria remained permanently disrupted. Russia now turned to France and Prussia. Austria remained isolated. After the victory in the Crimean War, the successful negotiations in the Peace of Paris and the subsequent economic boom in France, the emperor's popularity in the country increased.

In 1857 Napoleon commissioned Eugène Viollet-le-Duc to rebuild the medieval Pierrefonds Castle . In 1861 he expanded the contract: Pierrefonds was to be converted into a private residence. The work continued even after the emperor's death. The project was finally canceled in 1885.

Napoleon III approved a naval expedition to Vietnam in 1858 and urged the government there to recognize the French presence in that country (see Vietnam under French colonial rule ).

The Sardinian War

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino

On January 14, 1858, Napoleon survived an assassination attempt by the Italian revolutionary Felice Orsini . Orsini was one of the Carbonari that Napoleon had joined in 1830. This was impressed by Orsini's appearance at the next court hearing so that he was on 20 July 1858 in Plombières-les-Bains with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont Camillo Benso met. Napoleon offered Cavour in the secret meeting to support him in the unification of Italy. Without consulting his ministers, he signed a secret treaty with Cavour . This provided for the support of France in the event of an Austrian attack. Cavour claimed northern Italy Sardinia-Piedmont and went a confederation of Italy taking account of Napoleon's idea Papal States a. In return, the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont should renounce its home country Savoy and the county of Nice in favor of France. In addition, the alliance was sealed by the marriage of the daughter of the future Italian king Victor Emanuel to Prince Napoléon .

With his New Year's speech on January 1, 1859 before the diplomatic corps and his words to the Austrian ambassador, Napoleon III provoked. Austria. After a similar speech by King Victor Emanuel, Austria began military armament. This could give France the appropriate pretext to protect the threatened Sardinia against the attack plans of Austria. A subsequent ultimatum from the Austrians on April 19, 1859 finally led to the Sardinian War from May to July 1859.

Napoleon III took command of the 130,000-strong French army himself. However, he had little part in the military operations led by his generals. Through the victorious battles of Magenta and Solferino , Austria could be defeated and the way was clear for a united Italy. From then on, Napoleon III was in effect. as a promoter of Panlatinism .

Modernization of the infrastructure

Reshaping Paris

Grands Boulevards newly built by Haussmann , here Rue de Rome, approx. 1853–70

An important step during his reign was the redesign of Paris. Much of the city was razed and many of the old, curved streets were replaced with wide avenues. Georges-Eugène Baron Haussmann , Prefect of the Seine department , was in charge of the urban redevelopment .

Expansion of the railway network

Haussmann also led the expansion of the French railway network, with main lines centered primarily on Paris being created. For example, travelers from Marseille in the south of France to Bordeaux had to accept the detour via the capital for a long time. This also turned out to be a strategic disadvantage, as the poorly developed cross-connections made it much slower to organize troop movements via this rail network.

Interest in history, archeology and art

Like Napoleon I, his nephew showed great interest in the life of important historical figures and in archeology . In 1862 Napoleon III published a two-volume French Histoire de Jules César plus atlas ribbon, which by 1865 had also been translated into German and eight other European languages. In the course of this work he hired a colonel to locate the Caesarian camps in Gergovia and Alesia . Modern excavations in recent years have confirmed the results of these early archaeological explorations. Among other things, he sponsored the excavations in the Celtic oppidum of Bibracte (Mont Beuvray).

In 1857 Napoleon III acquired the painting by Jacques Alfred van Muyden exhibited in the Paris Salon . Refectory of the Capuchins of Albano . He later gave the painting to Guillaume Henri Dufour .

In terms of art history, Napoleon's decision, made in 1863, that a Salon des Refusés should take place in addition to the official Paris Salon . In doing so, he gave the painters who later founded Impressionism the opportunity to present their work to the general public for the first time. The reasons that led to this decision are controversial. Some art historians see it as an attempt by the imperial court to restore the authority of the criticized Paris salon. Others, such as Édouard Manet's biographer Gottlieb Jedlicka, see it as a move in a rich and uninterrupted game of intrigues between court and opposition aimed at weakening the École des Beaux-Arts , which is independent from the imperial court .

Foreign policy adventures of the "liberal empire"

The ailing Napoleon III. must rely on the lady parliamentarianism. Caricature in Vanity Fair , September 1869.

From 1860/61 Napoleon III changed his style of government. Parliament was given more rights, freedom of the press was extended and trade unions were allowed. The economic development, which had been positive from the beginning of the empire, fell into a crisis from the mid-1860s. In addition to the subsequent setbacks in foreign policy and the alleged domestic weakness, this led to the destabilization of the imperial system.

After the Mexican parliament decided in July 1861 to stop repaying foreign debts with immediate effect, Napoleon III signed. Signed the London Treaty with Great Britain and Spain on October 31. This stipulated that the undersigned nations would collectively collect the outstanding debts from Mexico with all necessary means. Since the United States was bound in the Civil War , it was impossible for them to intervene in accordance with the Monroe Doctrine in favor of Mexico. Spanish, French, and British troops arrived in Mexico in December 1861 and January 1862. When the British and Spanish governments realized that Napoleon III's goal was consisted not in a mere repayment of the loans, but rather in a conquest of Mexico, they withdrew their troops. The French intervention in Mexico from January 1862 to March 1867 ended with a defeat and the execution of Maximilian I, who was appointed " Emperor of Mexico " by the French from 1864 to 1867. This defeat had a further destabilizing effect on Napoleon's regime. The French also saw their influence threatened by Austria's crushing defeat by Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War (1866).

In the further course of the 1860s, Franco-Prussian tensions were further heightened, in particular through alliance negotiations between France and Austria and Italy. On June 12, 1866, Austria concluded with the French Emperor Napoleon III. a secret treaty . In it the emperor promised the neutrality of France, but in the event of an Austrian victory in a military conflict with Prussia he had Veneto promised as a reward for keeping still. In addition, Austria verbally promised Napoleon that a new state could be established in the previously Prussian Rhineland, which would be dominated by France.

Prussia had previously signed a secret treaty with Italy on April 8th . In it, Italy was to receive the Austrian-ruled Veneto if it entered a war against Austria on the Prussian side. This finally happened after the German War in the summer of 1866. France had assumed that Austria would win, so that it had not negotiated anything in return from Prussia for its neutrality. The disappointment about this was expressed in the popular phrase " revenge for Sadova ".

Caricature in Kladderadatsch , 1867. While Bismarck is striving for German unity, Napoleon looks to Luxembourg.

In 1867 the Luxembourg crisis broke out . Before the war in 1866, Napoleon III. negotiated with Prussia over territorial acquisitions as compensation for its neutrality. Luxembourg was also mentioned. Otto von Bismarck had not disclosed any objections, but indicated that France would have to take action itself. In 1867 France wanted to acquire Luxembourg. When this became known, there were violent protests in the German principalities, including an inquiry made by Bismarck in the Reichstag of the North German Confederation. Napoleon had to drop his plans and Luxembourg was declared neutral in the Second London Treaty of 1867. For Napoleon III. this was a defeat that further diminished his already tarnished political reputation. Domestically, he had to defend himself against republican efforts; glorious battles in the tradition of his ancestors could have been helpful in this situation.

Franco-German War

In order to fulfill the hopes of his supporters and his wife for imperial military glory (and also challenged by the Prussian Prime Minister Bismarck with the Emser dispatch ), Napoleon III began. in July 1870 the Franco-German War . Napoleon and his government had assumed completely wrong basic assumptions about foreign policy: the southern German states allied with Prussia did not remain neutral, and no states on the French side entered the war. Efforts had been made to establish a Franco-Austrian-Italian alliance , but they had not resulted in a binding agreement.

Napoleon III and Bismarck after the battle of Sedan

Napoleon, who had taken over the supreme command himself, traveled to the fortress of Metz . However, due to severe bladder pain, he was barely able to take command. After he and his son had set foot on Prussian soil near Saarbrücken on August 2 , he handed over the supreme command to Marshal François-Achille Bazaine on August 12 and went via Gravelotte and Verdun to the camp of Châlons-en-Champagne , where he Arrived on the afternoon of August 16. Since the Empress objected to his return to Paris, which was planned for August 18, he joined the newly established army of Marshal Mac-Mahon in Châlon's - without any military function, quasi as a private citizen - who moved from there on August 19 with 120,000 men Marched towards Reims to join Marshal Bazaine's army. After the Battle of Beaumont , the route to Metz was blocked by Prussian troops. The Battle of Sedan took place on September 1, 1870; in the evening the emperor surrendered to the Prussians after having hoisted a white flag on the citadel of Sedan. On September 2, the French army surrendered.

With the proclamation of the Third Republic in Paris, Napoleon was deposed on September 4th. Napoleon was brought to Kassel by Prussian troops (" Off to Kassel "). On September 5, 1870, he arrived at Wilhelmshöhe Castle (the former residence of his uncle Jérôme ), where he was placed under arrest until March 19, 1871. On October 30, 1870, Empress Eugénie visited him there. Attempts had been made to restore Napoleon's regime, especially until the peace agreement with the provisional government .

End of life

Napoleon III after his death, illustration from the Illustrated London News dated January 25, 1873

Napoleon III went into exile in Great Britain after the end of the war. On March 19, 1871 he left Wilhelmshöhe Castle and reached Chislehurst on March 21, today part of the London Borough of Bromley . From there he planned - following the example of the rule of the Hundred Days of his uncle - to land again in France. However, he died before the implementation of his plans. On January 3 and 6, 1873, Napoleon had undergone operations to remove his bladder stones. He was supposed to have another operation on January 9th. The chloroform administered in the course of the operations carried out by England's first urologist Henry Thompson , the side effects of which were not yet known at the time, but led, in connection with Napoleon's weakening by the advanced disease, to heart failure. His last words are said to have been “Étiez-vous à Sedan?” (“Were you in Sedan?”), According to another source he said “Henri, you were with Sedan?” To his doctor Henri Conneau.

Napoleon III is buried in the Imperial Crypt of Saint Michael's Abbey in Farnborough , Hampshire , England. His only son, Napoléon Eugène Louis Bonaparte , who died in the Zulu War in 1879 , and his wife Eugénie de Montijo , who died in 1920 at the age of 94, were also buried there.

Ancestral table

Napoléon Eugène Louis Bonaparte (1856–1879)

Prince of France

Eugenie de Montijo (1826-1920)

Empress of the French

María Manuela Kirkpatrick (1794–1879)

Duchess of Peñaranda

Father: Guillermo Kirkpatrick de Closeburn

Mother: María Francisca de Grevigné

Cipriano de Palafox y Portocarrero (1784–1839) Duke of Peñaranda Father: Felipe Antonio de Palafox y Croy

Mother: María Francisca de Sales Portocarrero, VI condesa de Montijo

Napoleon III (1808–1873)

Emperor of the French

Hortense de Beauharnais (1783–1837)

Queen of Holland

Father: Alexandre de Beauharnais


President of the French National Assembly

Mother: Josephine de Beauharnais (1763–1814)

first wife of Napoleon I.

Louis Bonaparte (1778-1845)

King of Holland

Father: Carlo Buonaparte (1746–1785)

Mother: Laetitia Ramolino (1750–1836)

without offspring Napoleon II (1811-1832) Napoleon I (1769-1821)

Emperor of the French

Marie Louise of Austria (1791–1847)

second wife of Napoleon I.

Father: Franz II (1768–1835)

Emperor of Austria

Mother: Maria Theresa of Naples-Sicily

Empress of Austria

Empress Eugénie

Marriage and offspring

On 29./30. January 1853 married Napoleon III. the Spanish Countess Eugénie de Montijo . The wedding was a faithful copy of the celebrations of Napoleon I. A previous courtship for Princess Adelheid zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg , who later became Duchess of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg , had failed due to the resistance of Queen Victoria , whose niece was the princess, as well as probably also because the bride's father, Prince Ernst I zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg , did not consider the bridegroom, who was powerful but not of old nobility, to be of equal standing.

The marriage between Napoleon and Eugénie was not a happy one. Eugénie suffered from her husband's affairs, who also made no effort to hide his infidelities. His early passion for the beautiful Spanish woman quickly died out. In addition, her confinement in 1856 - before she had already suffered a miscarriage - exhausted the Empress so much that she not only could not have any more children, but also severely restrict marital intercourse with her husband and finally had to stop it altogether.

On the other hand, Eugénie became increasingly involved in political business, especially since the 1860s, with the tolerance of her husband. In contrast to him, her position was decidedly conservative, clerical and authoritarian: she advocated an alliance with Austria and vigorously advocated the preservation of the papal state under French protection. Napoleon, although at odds with her on many points, nevertheless set her up as regent in Paris in both 1859 and 1870. He was increasingly unable to meet their wish to maintain the neo-absolutist form of government. In 1870, Eugénie was one of the declared supporters of armed conflict against Prussia and acted accordingly on her weak decision-making husband.

Napoleon and Eugénie had a son, Napoléon Eugène Louis Bonaparte (1856–1879), Prince impérial.


On festive occasions, the emperor, the empress and certain guests of honor used to dine from aluminum dishes. Since aluminum could only be produced cheaply in the 1880s, it was more valuable than gold at the time.

Napoleon III was the addressee of two letters from the Persian religious founder Baha'ullah , who was a prisoner of the Ottoman government at the time. In the first letter, which was probably written in 1868, he pointed out to the French emperor the suffering he and his followers endured and warned him to take action against oppression in general and against the unjustified imprisonment of himself and his followers in particular . According to a report, the authenticity of which is uncertain, Napoleon III. the letter with the words "If this man is God, then I am two gods" contemptuously thrown to the ground. Probably the following year Baha'ullah wrote to the emperor a second time. In this second letter he accuses Napoleon III. of insincerity, rebukes him for throwing aside his first letter and announces, "For what you have done, your empire will be thrown into confusion, and the empire will slip out of your hands as punishment for what you have done." Baha'i see this announcement as a prophecy that was fulfilled the following year with Napoleon's defeat in the Battle of Sedan, his deposition and the ensuing French civil war.

Johann Strauss dedicated the Napoleon March to him in 1854 .

See also


Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c d Johannes Willms: Napoleon III .: France's last emperor . CH Beck, S. 15 .
  2. ^ A b Johannes Willms: Napoleon III .: France's last emperor . Ed .: CH Beck. S. 16 .
  3. ^ A b Johannes Willms: Napoleon III .: The last emperor of France . Ed .: CH Beck. S. 17 .
  4. ^ Napoleon Museum - Arenenberg Castle, the most beautiful castle on Lake Constance. Labhard, Konstanz 2005, ISBN 3-926937-85-8 . Bodensee-Magazin special.
  5. Christina Egli: The French Emperor Napoleon III. - a "rascal" from Lake Constance. In: Writings of the Association for the History of Lake Constance and its Surroundings. 127th year 2009, pp. 113-138 (digitized version )
  6. Peter Forster: Prince Louis Napoleon and the Thurgauer Schützen. Thurgauer Jahrbuch, accessed on April 5, 2020 .
  7. ^ Rieder: Napoleon III. Adventurer and Emperor. 2006, p. 44 ff.
  8. ^ Rieder: Napoleon III. Adventurer and Emperor. 2006, p. 62 ff.
  9. ^ Rieder: Napoleon III. Adventurer and Emperor. 2006, p. 158.
  10. ^ The eighteenth Brumaire by Louis Bonaparte. 1st chapter
  11. ^ Rieder: Napoleon III. Adventurer and Emperor. 2006, p. 188.
  12. Bonapartism. Westphalian Wilhelms University .
  13. ^ The eighteenth Brumaire by Louis Bonaparte (p.199).
  14. ^ Rieder: Napoleon III. Adventurer and Emperor. 2006, p. 215.
  15. Napoleon III . In: Brockhaus Konversations-Lexikon 1894–1896, Volume 12, p. 177.
  16. ^ Rieder: Napoleon III. Adventurer and Emperor. 2006, p. 217.
  17. ^ Rieder: Napoleon III. Adventurer and Emperor. 2006, p. 231.
  18. Sikart . Purchase of the painting Refectory of the Capuchins of Albano.
  19. Lothar Gall : Europe on the way to modernity 1850-1890. ISBN 3-486-49774-X , p. 55.
  20. ^ Wilhelm Oncken : The Age of Emperor Wilhelm. (Single edition: ISBN 978-3-8460-3638-9 ). In: W. Oncken (Ed.): General history in individual representations . Fourth main department, part six, volume 2, Grote, Berlin 1890 and more often, p. 114.
  21. ^ Wilhelm Oncken : The Age of Emperor Wilhelm. (Single edition: ISBN 978-3-8460-3638-9 ). In: W. Oncken (Ed.): General history in individual representations. Fourth main department, part six, volume 2, Grote, Berlin 1890 and more often, pp. 151f. with reference to Napoleon III: oeuvres posthumes et autographes inédits de Napoléon III en exil. E. Lachaud, Paris 1873, pp. 121-123 (new edition: ISBN 978-1-4212-4394-8 ).
  22. Barbara I. Tshisuaka: Thompson, Sir Henry. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , pp. 1396 f.
  23. Johannes Willms: Napoleon. A biography . Pantheon, S. 12 .
  24. ^ Heinz Gollwitzer : The noblemen. 2nd Edition. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1964, p. 267 f.
  25. Octave Aubry : L'impératrice Eugénie. Fayard, Paris 1931.
  26. Shoghi Effendi : The promised day has come . Bahá'í-Verlag GmbH, Frankfurt am Main 1967, p. 85 .


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Commons : Napoleon III.  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
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Ludwig Philipp
(King of the French)
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