- NAME: Napoleon III
- OCCUPATION: Military Leader, Emperor
- BIRTH DATE: April 20, 1808
- DEATH DATE: January 09, 1873
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Paris, France
- PLACE OF DEATH: Chislehurst, London, England, United Kingdom
- AKA: Louis-Napoleon
- AKA: Napoleon III
- Originally: Charles-Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte
- AKA: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte
Best Known For
Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I, was emperor of France from 1852 to 1870. His downfall came during the Franco-Prussian War, when his efforts to defeat Otto Von Bismarck ended in his capture.
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Instead of joining him, the local troops arrested him. King Louis-Philippe exiled Louis-Napoleon to the United States, but he was recalled to Switzerland in early 1837 due to his mother's final illness. Expelled from Switzerland the following year, he settled in England.
In 1839, Louis-Napoleon published the booklet "Des idées napoléoniennes," in which he tried to transform Bonapartism,
to this point essentially an object of reminiscence or romantic legend, into a political ideology. In his booklet, the Napoleonic ideal was put forth as a "social and industrial one, humanitarian and encouraging trade" that would "reconcile order and freedom, the rights of the people and the principles of authority." Louis-Napoleon saw it as his mission to return France to its earlier, Napoleonic, state with his ideals as its new backbone.
With this in mind, Louis-Napoleon again (secretly) returned to France in August 1840, sailing with 50 hired soldiers to Boulogne-Sur-Mer, and attempted yet another coup. The town's garrison, yet again, did not join Louis-Napoleon's efforts, and he was arrested. This time, however, Louis-Napoleon was not exiled, but was brought to trial and sentenced to "permanent confinement in a fortress." Confined in the town of Ham (in a castle), he again embarked on studying to prepare himself for his eventual imperial role. He also corresponded with members of the brewing French opposition and published articles in opposition newspapers, writing several more brochures.
In May 1846, Louis-Napoleon finally escaped and fled to England, where he waited for another chance to seize power. Just two months later, in July 1846, his father died, officially making Louis-Napoleon the clear heir to the Bonaparte legacy in France.
Louis-Napoleon lived in the United Kingdom until the Revolution began, in February 1848, and a new republic was established. He was then free to return to France, which he did immediately, but was sent right back to England by the provisional government because he was seen by many as a distraction to the settlement of a new government. Some of Louis-Napoleon's supporters, however, organized a small Bonapartist party and nominated him as their candidate for the Constituent Assembly, which was being brought together to draft a new constitution.
Louis-Napoleon won a seat and, in mid-1848, yet again returned to France, where he quickly began hatching a plan to run for the presidency. Because the Bonaparte name carried obvious weight in France, Louis-Napoleon captivated the voters as he evoked Napoleonic memories of national glory, promising to bring back those days with his administration. He also managed to succeed in promoting himself to literally every group of the population by promising to ensure the advancement of their particular interests, depicting himself as "all things to all men."
When the constitution of the Second Republic was finalized and elections for the presidency were held in December 1848, Louis-Napoleon won a surprising landslide victory, taking nearly 75 percent of the vote.
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