Napoleon III. - 19th Century Encyclopedia Entries

Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Meyer 1885-1892

Nordisk Familjebok 1876-1899, Article : Napoleon III. (1887)
Napoleon III., Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, born in Paris on April 20th 1808, was the third son of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, and of Hortense Beauharnais. He was a great favorite of his uncle, Napoleon I., whom from his latest childhood he learned to love and admire. After the fall of Napoleon I. Queen Hortense in 1815 had to leave Paris. With her two remaining sons (the eldest, Prince Napoleon Charles, had died in 1807) she fled to Switzerland. Her second son in the order [of succession], Prince Napoleon Louis, Queen Hortense already in 1816 had to give up to her aforementioned husband. With all the more effort she dedicated herself to raising her third son. Under the guidance of the scholar Philippe Lebas, Napoleon was given a thorough education. He even attended several classes in the gymnasium of Augsburg. Latin was his main subject. His military education Napoleon received together with the artillery officers of the Swiss army, under the guidance of General Dufour. Queen Hortense, whose hospitable home in the palace of Arenenberg in Thurgau, which she purchased in 1817, in many years was a center for the exiled Bonapartists, early implanted in her son her own unbreakable conviction of the undeniable rights of Napoleons dynasty to the crown of France.
In 1831, Napoleon hastened to participate, together with his brother, to participate in the attempt of the Italian patriots in the Romagna to throw off the Austrian yoke, and he saved himself only with effort from Austrian persecution (his brother died in Forli on March 17th 1831). He returned to Switzerland, where he occupied himself with studies and publication. His first publication, "Reveries politiques" (1832) insisted, that France only could be saved by a Napoleonic Empire, supported on democratic institutions. The following years he spent with establishing connections with the dissatisfied parties in France. In this undertaking, Fialin de Persigny was his foremost aide. A Bonapartist conspiracy was formed, and on October 30th 1836 the Prince personally made an attempt to induce the officers and garrison of Strassburg to revolt. The attempt utterly failed. Napoleon was taken prisoner and according to the law forfeited his right to live. But Louis Philippe had him put on a ship to North America in Lorient. In the summer of 1837 Napoleon returned to Switzerland, where his mother died shortly afterward, on October 5th 1837. The French government, supported by Austria and Prussia, expressed the wish that Napoleon should be expelled from Swiss territory. Although this request was denied, Napoleon regarded it advisable to find a safer refuge and, in October 1838, departed to England. there he and his trusted friend Persigny secretly concocted new plans to topple Louis Philippe. The popularity of the First Empire in 1840 was reinvigorated by the movement which decided to return Napoleon I.'s mortal remains from St. Helena to France. Trusting in this, Napoleon III. on August 6th 1840 landed with Persigny, General Montholon and about 100 armed men on the French coast not far from Boulogne. But the attempt to raise the garrison of Boulogne in rebellion utterly failed. Napoleon and most of his followers were taken prisoner, sentenced by the court of peers to lifelong imprisonment, and in the following night brought to Ham Palace in Picardie, where he dedicated himself to publication. He published "Fragments historiques ou comparaison des revolutions de 1688 et 1830" (1841) in which he violently attacked Louis Philippe's government, "Analyse de la question des sucres" (1842), the infamous pamphlet "Extinction du pauperisme" (1844), a philanthropic-philosophical text, which received great applause from the side of the workers, and which would form a step for the author on the way to the French presidency, "Reponse a Monsieur de Lamartine" (in the same year), where he refuted the latter's attack on Napoleon I., and "Etudes sur le passe et l'avenir de l'artillerie" (I, 1846).
On May 25th 1846 Napoleon III. succeeded in escaping and again settled in England. Two months later in Florence his old father died, and Prince Louis Napoleon, by this accident, became the head of the Bonaparte family. In June 1848 he was elected into the National Assembly by the Seine Departement (Paris) and by two other departements, but he did not accept any of these mandates. But when he again was elected into the National Assembly on September 17th 1848 by the Seine Departement and four other departements, on September 26th he took his seat in the assembly. During the preparations to the election of a president the Bonapartist Party developed great energy and skill. The influential Catholic priesthood was won over by the promise to restore the pope's worldly power. The memory of Napoleon I.'s exploits and era, without a doubt, was the primary cause for his nephew to be elected by 5,434,226 votes on November 10th 1848 as the president of the French Republic, for the time until May 1852. (His main opponent, Cavaignac, received only 1,448,107 votes). On December 20th Napoleon in the National Assembly swore an oath "to remain faithful to the democratic republic, and to defend the constitution", after which he assumed the government.
As president, Napoleon pursued a conservative policy. By the expedition to Rome (April 1849) and the restoration of the worldly power of the pope, he completely broke with the Liberal Republican Party, but instead won the support of the Clerical Party, which would serve him well, when he implemented his long-prepared and well-planned coup d'etat. Minister of war St.-Arnaud and the supreme commander of Paris, Magnan, two heavily indebted generals, together with Morny (Napoleon's half-brother), the prefect of police Maupas, Major Espinasse, Persigny, Rouher and Fleury, Napoleon's foremost confidants and aides in the coup d'etat, which was implemented early in the morning of December 2nd 1851. Persigny and Espinasse occupied the palace of the National Assembly, while Thiers, Cavaignac, Changarnier, Lamoriciere, Leflo and Bedeau, as well as 72 other influential opponents to Napoleon's planned coup were arrested in their homes. By decree the National Assembly was dissolved, and the universal franchise proclaimed in 1848, but much restricted by the law of May 31st 1850, was reintroduced. Later that day 220 members of the National Assembly were arrested (among others the Duke of Broglie, Dufaure, Tocqueville, Jules Grevy), who had assembled in a house on the Rue de Grenelle and unisono had declared that Napoleon III., by dissolving the National Assembly, had committed high treason and forfeited his office. Under the leadership of Baudin, Madier de Montjan, Schoelcher, Victor Hugo and other representatives of the people, on December 3rd and 4th barricades were built on the streets of Paris, and street battles were fought. After a few days order was restored, but only after the spilling of a lot of blood. Similarly merciless resistance in several departements was broken. With frightening severity the defeated republicans were persecuted. Illegal courts established for this purpose, in the course of a few months, sentenced 9,769 persons to deportation to Algeria or Cayenne; 88 representatives of the people were exiled without accusation or sentence. 26,642 of the opponents of the coup were thrown into jail. All newspapers were subjected to censorship.
In the middle of this terrible terrorism the French people, on December 20th and 21st 1851, in a general plebiscite, with almost 7 1/2 million votes against 640,000, decided that Napoleon should be given full power to work out a constitution. This was completed on January 14th 1852 and provided Napoleon with tremendous power, which only somewhat was limited by a Senate and a Legislative Body. On November 29th and 21st 1852 by 7.8 million yes votes against just over 253,000 no votes the question was answered, if a hereditary Empire should be restored in favour of Napoleon. On December 2nd 1852 Napoleon III. held his ceremonial entry into the Tuileries. A magnificent royal hosehold was established, a civil list of 25 million Francs established. On January 29th 1853, Napoleon married Eugenie de Montijo (see Eugenie).
From this time onward, Napoleon's history coincides with that of France (see France, columns 232, 233). In order to even out the impression of the treacherous way in which he gained the crown, he tried to gain popularity and respect through an energetic and glorious foreign policy. By his victorious participation in the Crimean War (1853-1856) he emerged as one of the courageous and successful defenders of Europe's freedom against Russia's oppression and expansionist zeal. Also by his energetic support for Sardinia in its war with Austria (victory at Magenta on June 6th and at Solferino on the 24th of the same month) he closed in on his zenith of glory and power. But the unjustified expedition to Mejico (1862-1867), which aimed at establishing in this country an Empire dependent on France under Archduke Maximilian (see there), by its unsuccessful outcome damaged his prestige greatly, and at the same time cost France great sacrifices in men and money, and hindered Napoleon from gaining power and focussing it on Prussia's policy of violence and conquest. By the expedition to Rome in 1867, which defeated Garibaldi's attempt to take Rome out of the hands of the pope, caused a very tense situation in Italy, on whose gratitude and aid he now hardly could count.
To these general foreign policy concerns came great domestic difficulties. General discontent increased further despite truly great accomplishments Napoleon III. achieved for France. They concern first of all in the introduction of free trade (from 1860). Further the reconstruction, expansion and beautification of Paris, the great world expositions of 1855 and 1867, the construction of the Suez Canal by a Frenchman, financed by French money, large-scale railroad construction and the laying of telegraph lines, the promotion of literature, sciences and the beautiful arts.
By the coup d'etat and the following regime of terror, Napoleon in the beginning had crushed the opposition. Prior to 1857 in the Legislative Body only one (Montalembert) dared to speak out against the government. But in the general election of 1857 the number increased to five (under the leadership of Jules Favre). In 1863 it increased considerably (then, Thiers became the leader of the opposition), and in 1869 - after the Prussian victories at Königgrätz and the inglorious conclusion to the Mejican Expedition - 93 energetic men of the opposition were elected, among them many "irreconcilables", lead by the energetic Gambetta. In order to save his dynasty, Napoleon tried to win over the people by increasing their freedom. The suppression, which had reached its climax after the assassination attempt by Italian Count Felice Orsini (of January 14th 1858), has gradually been mildened considerably, but the same dictatorship was still almost unshaken. Napoleon III. now decided to give up the dictatorship and to "crown" his work by introducing "the Liberal Empire". Charged by him, Emile Olivier, once one of "the five", on January 2nd 1870 introduced a cabinet responsible to the people's representation, and appeared in front of the Legislative Body with a Liberal program. It was received with great applause among the large majority of the Moderates, but met strong resistance from the far right and the "irreconcilable" extreme left. A new plebiscite on May 8th 1870 sanctioned the latest Liberal changes to the constitution, with 7.34 million yes against 1.56 million no votes. It was Napoleon III.'s last political triumph.
Misled by the Clerical Party and the Empress, and without assuring himself of an ally, and without the army being ready for the task, two months after this great accomplishment Napoleon III. began the terrible offensive war against Prussia, which should lead to his own and France's ruin (see Franco-German War 1870-1871). Although weakened by a long illness, Napoleon placed himself in command of the army. He established his headquarters in Metz. But after the terrible defeat in August he withdrew to the camp in Chalons. On August 17th there a war council was held, where the decision was made that the Emperor should return to Paris, and that Mac Mahon should take command of the Army of Chalons. But for political reasons and because of the pressure by the Empress, which had been appointed regent, and by minister of war Palikao, Napoleon III. permitted himself to be persuaded to remain with the Army of Chalons. With this army commanded by Mac Mahon Napoleon went to Sedan, where on September 2nd 1870, with 83,000 men he had to give himself over as a prisoner of war. Two days later in Paris a revolution, the so-called September Revolution, ended the so-called "Second Empire", without the least bit of resistance being put up.
Napoleon was brought from Sedan to Wilhelmshöhe, where he was held until March 1871. After he was set free, he went to England, where he took up residence in Camden House in the town of Chislehurst (15 km southeast of London). By a number of Bonapartist newspapers, which he financed, and by various pamphlets dealt out in large numbers, he tried to restore the Empire, but in vain. Despite his great misfortune and of a serious bodily illness, Napoleon maintained an extraordinary tranquility and displayed in regard to the latter the same passive mood, which has characterized him since childhood. After an attempt to remove a gallstone went wrong, Napoleon died in Chislehurst on January 9th 1873. In his marriage Napoleon had only one son, Louis Napoleon (see Napoleon IV).
Among the products of Napoleon's activity as a writer, to the aforementioned titles have to be added : "Manuel d'artillerie" (1836), "Des idees Napoleoniennes" (1839), "Histoire de Julius Cesar" (2 vols., 1865-1866; translated into several languages, even into Swedish, 1866-1867).

source in Swedish, posted by Project Runeberg

Meyer's Konversationslexikon 1885-1892, Article : Napoleon III.
Napoleon III., Emperor of the French, born on April 20th 1803 in the Palace Royale in Paris as the third son of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, and of Hortense Beauharnais, daughter-in-law of Napoleon I., was called Charles Louis Napoleon, after the Empire fell for the second time, he accompanied his mother into exile, first ti Gent, then to Augsburg, where he attended the gymnasium, finally to Arenenberg in Thurgau. In 1831 together with his older brother, Napoleon Louis, who died on March 17th 1831 of the measles, he participated in Menotti's failed rebellion in the Romagna, and only with difficulty escaped the Austrians, then for several years he lived reclusive in Arenenberg and joined the Swiss militia as a captain of the artillery; at that time he published "Considerations politiques et militaires sur la Suisse" and "Manuel sur l'artillerie". The death of the Duke of Reichstadt (1832) made him the recognized head of the Napoleonic Dynasty, and he developed the ideal of the Imperial system of government in the "Reveries politiques". From Baden-Baden he prepared in 1836 the Strassburg Incident, in order to topple the July Dynasty. After having won over the commander of the artillery in Strassburg, Major Vaudrey, he went there on October 28th 1836, but was arrested on October 30th in the Finkmatt Barracks, and banished to America. On a report on the illness of his mother he returned to Europe in 1837, and after her death (October 3rd) he lived on Arenenberg, until the French government demanded his expulsion from the Swiss government. He forestalled this by going to London, where he again published his political vision in the "Idees Napoleoniennes" (1839). The latter is a skillful compilation of the actions, and even more of the hypocritical phrases of his uncle. When Louis Philippe in 1840, by bringing back to France the bodily remains of Napoleon I., himself paid homage to the cult of Napoleon, Napoleon (III.) believed an opportune moment for a renewed raising of his banner to have come, and, after having won over a number of high-placed generals, landed on August 5th 184o on the French coast near Boulogne, and there, on October 6th, he tried to force his way into this city, but as nobody declared for him, had to flee, was arrested; the entire putsch had been designed theatrically, its miserable failure for a long time exposed Napoleon (III.) to ridicule.
The Chamber of Peers sentenced him to life in prison in the fortress of Ham. Here he lived in the company of a fellow culprit, Conneau, for 5 years in mild arrest. Disguised as a mason (allegedly under the name Badinguet, which stuck yo him as a nickname), he escaped from Ham on May 25th 1846, to England. On reports on the February Revolution 1848, Napoleon (III.) immediately hurried to Paris, but was asked by the new government, to leave France again. He not only complied, but also, at first, rejected a mandate in the National Assembly. Only in September, when he was elected a deputee by Paris and 4 departements, he appeared in the National Assembly, where, deemed not dangerous, he was tolerated, even sponsored by the Conservative Party. He employed prudent restraint, but simultaneously permitted the mass of the people, in the eyes of which his name gave him a nimbus, to be belabored, to be promised calm and free time to spend in their businesses under his rule. So in the election to president, which the National Assembly imprudently did not undertake herself, but left to the people, on December 10th 1848 5 1/2 million votes [opted for Napoleon [III.]] against 1 1/2 million votes for Cavaignac. On December 20th he swore the oath on the constitution of the republic. While the representatives of the people wasted their energy in factional strife, Napoleon filled army and state service with his supporters and won over the clergy by supporting the pope against the Roman Republicans (1849) and the bourgeoisie by the perspective of a lasting peace under a strong government. Vis-a-vis the legislative assembly, with which he soon entered into a conflict, he now appeared as the one chosen by the nation, and when the latter refused to make possible his reelection by a revision of the constitution (July 19th 1851), refused him to dispose of the troops, and rejected the third pay raise of Napoleon, in the night from December 1st to 2nd he implemented the long-prepared coup d'etat : the leaders of parliament were banned and exiled, a Republican insurrection in the streets of Paris, by brutal action of the troops, suppressed in its beginnings. From the people's representation, Napoleon [III.] directly appealed to the sovereign nation, which by electing Napoleon president for 10 years, with 7 1/2 million votes (December 20th) approved of the establishment of a military dictatorship. The new constitution of January 14th 1852 granted the people the right of a plebiscite in special cases, to the people's representation (Senate and Legislative Body) only the right of consultation, otherwise granted unlimited power to the head of state. By establishing a military household and bodyguard the reestablishment of monarchist forms was prepared. Also a tour of southern France by the president in September 1852 intended, by the development of unprecedented magnificence and generosity, as well as by speeches (in Bordeaux the phase was uttered "L'Empire c'est la paix") to win over the population for the Empire. In response the Senate on November 7th declared the reestablishment of the Empire the will of the nation, which the Senate Consulte on the 22nd confirmed with more than 7,800,000 votes. On December 2nd 1852 Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor of the French Napoleon III. A revision of the constitution of January 14th 1852 actually transformed France into an absolute monarchy. The European powers soon recognized Napoleon III.; but a marriage with a princess from a princely house could not be arranged. Therefore on January 29th 1853 Napoleon III. married a Spaniard, Eugenie (see there), Countess of Teba, who bore him an heir on March 16th 1856, the Imperial prince (see page 1009).
Napoleon first of all strove to bedazzle the French nation by military glory, and thus to accomplish to regain for France the legitimate superiority in Europe. With this object in mind he participated in the Crimean War. The fights off Sevastopol satisfied the ambition of the army, the defeat of Russia freed Liberal Europe of the pressure which despotic Czar Nicholas had exercised, England [!] and Austria were France's allies, and on the Paris Congress 1856 the emissaries of all powers were assembled around the Emperor, who by generosity, at the expense of his allies, won Russia over. The assassination attempt by the Italian Orsini (January 14th 1858), which failed as had before those of the Italians Pianori (April 28th 1855) and Bellamare (September 8th 1855), marks a turning point in Imperial policy. Following his doctrinary tendency, Napoleon III. now declared the liberation of the suppressed peoples the goal of French policy. After having come to an agreement with Cavour in Plombieres, and having concluded an alliance and a connection of the dynasties with Sardinia, in 1859, together with the latter he took the field in Italy against Austrian rule, and was victorious, althouth not brilliantly, near Magenta and Solferino, and escaped further compliucations by signing the Peace of Villafranca (July 11th), and gained Savoy and Nizza [Nice] (1860). He now seemed to have reached the climax of his power; he had humbled the most powerful states of the continent, the entire world anxiously listened to his words. But the usurpatory origin of his rule caused him to restlessly strive for new successes, and the consideration of his allies in the coup d'etat brought him many difficulties. In order to reconcile the clergy he had to resist the complete unification of Italy, and in 1867 near Mentana, militarily had to interfere in favour of the pope, by which he forfeited the gratitude of Italy. The other alliance Napoleon III. had entered into in the coup d'etat, that with adventurors, the frivolity and cynical greed of whom had compromised him in several bamboozlements at the bourse, in 1862 gaused him to engage in the calamitous Mexican expedition, which which he combined the nebulous goal of French protection over the Latin race also in the new world. But his calculations turned out as self-deceipt : the conquest of Mexico and the establishment of a vassall throne was not as easy as thought, and then the United States of North America [!], after ending their civil war, protested against the French intervention, Napoleon III. had to evacuate Mexico, and to give up his protege, Emperor Maximilian (1867), after this undertaking, in direct costs for the army and in loans to the Mexican Empire had cost immense sums in money, and had exhausted army supplies. So Napoleon had to accept that Russia rejected his intervention in favour of Poland (1863), that England [!] rejected his proposal of a general congress in Paris (1863), and in 1866 after Prussia's glorious victory over Austria, he could not restrain the winner and force compensations for France on the Rhine, as demanded by public opinion; he was not even capable in 1867 to acquire Luxemburg. These failures quickly reduced Napoleon III.'s reputation, they even caused irony and ridicule. From that moment on, his countenance was an insecure, shifting one, to which also the pain caused by gallstone contributed. On one side he constantly created plans to appease the nation's greed for territorial annexations, for the purpose of which he had the army reorganized by Niel, and equipped with the Chassepot rifle; on the other hand he made concessions in domestic policy, by granting the Legislative Body the right of interpellation (1860), and the right to debate the address (1867), and in 1869 granted it the right to decide over the budget, conceded the responsibility of the ministers etc. The cabinet Ollivier, appointed on January 2nd 1870, was to transform France in a constitutional state. In the plebiscite on the reform plan on May 8th 1870 1 1/2 million votes voted no; this relatively high figure shows that the concessions had come too late, that they were appreciated as little as the merit Napoleon III. had won by a trade treaty with England [!] (1860). Under the impression of an irreconcilable dissatisfaction of the nation, Napoleon III. in 1870 against his will permitted himself to be persuaded by his spouse, who was dominated by the Jesuits, and by his surrounding, to go to war with Prussia (see Franco-German War). He did not share the confidence in victory of the Court Party; his lack in self-confidence and his illness deprived him of what energy and spirit he had left in the guidance of the army, the supreme command he already gave up on August 12th. He did not have the courage to return to Paris from Metz, but, with his son, went to Chalons, where, clueless and indecisive, he followed Marshal Mac Mahon. The day of Sedan (September 1st) sealed his fate. After he "did not succeed in finding death" he gave himself up as a prisoner, but did not dare to take on the responsibility for peace negotiations, but on September 2nd attempted to achieve from Bismarck that the [French] army [at Sedan] would not be taken prisoner. On the same day he departed for the residence allocated to him, Wilhelmshöhe Palace, and in March 1871 after the conclusion of the preliminary peace, with his family, he went to Chislehurst, after having protested against his deposition by the National Assembly in Bordeaux (March 1st) on March 6th. In Chislehurst he died on January 9th 1873 from the consequences of surgery on his gallstone.
In his outward appearance, Napoleon III. had little of the Bonapartist family type. Also his phlegma, his dreamy apathy pointed at an origin other than Corsican. By nature mild and benevolent, loyal and grateful to his friends and servants, not without intellectual talent, but not creative. He had a wide-ranging knowledge, knew to rganiza it by general criteria, and to express his views well in good language, but he tended toward doctrinarism. His pretenderness was his doom; the guilt of the coup d'etat was a heavy burden on him, his system of government had to fail because of the irreconcilable conflict between despotism and people's sovereignty. His fall is all the more tragic, as it caused not even pity, but only ill wishes, irony and ridicule in the entire nation. Only the Italian nation has preserved grateful memory of him and set up a monument to him in Milan in 1879. His collected works were published under the title "Oeuvres de Napoleon III." (Paris 1854-1869, 5 vols., in German by Richard, Leipzig 1857-58 {!], 4 vols.). Smaller publications are : "Politique de la France en Algerie" (Paris 1865), "Carte de la situation militaire en Europe" (Paris 1868),"Titres de la dynastie Napoleonienne" (Paris 1868), "Progres de la France sous le gouvernement imperial" (Paris 1869), "Forces militaires de la France" (Paris 1872). His main work is "Histoire de Jules Cesar" (Paris 1865-1866, 2 vols., in German Wien 1865-1866),the second volume of which is valuable because of the thorough studies of the Gallic War. After his death were published "Oeuvres posthumes : autographes inedits de Napoleon III. en exil" (Paris and London 1873).
See : Gottschall, Napoleon III. Eine biographische Studie (2. ed., Liegnitz 1871); von Sybel, Napoleon III. (Bonn 1873); Delord, Histoire du second Empire (Paris 1869-1875, 6 vols.); Jerrold, The life of Napoleon III. (London 1877, 3 vols.); Simson, Die Beziehungen Napoleons III. zu Preussen und Deutschland (Freiburg 1882).

source in German, posted by Retro Bibliothek

DOCUMENTS Article Napoleon III., from EB 1911

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