Books Biography

Napoleon III: A Life

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Pages: 464

Language: English

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: HarperCollins: New edition edition (16 Oct. 2000)

By: Fenton Bresler (Author)

The first biography for twenty years of Napoleon Bonaparte’:s nephew, who became President of France in 1848 and assumed the title of Emperor in 1852. By the early 1860s he was the most powerful man in Europe.

Prince Louis Napoleon was born with a compelling sense of destiny. The eldest nephew of Bonaparte, he came from exile and ignominy to rule France, first as President then as Emperor for 22 years, from 1848 to 1870. Under his benevolent dictatorship, the nation grew in artistic fulfilment, industrial wealth and international influence –: until catastrophic defeat at the hands of Bismarck in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–:71 cast her back into the shadows.

Subsequently, with his wife the Empress Eugenie, Napoleon III went into exile in Chislehurst, Kent, until his death in 1873. (His widow was not to die till 1920.) There is now a movement in France to retrieve his ashes from their mausoleum in Farnborough and bring them back to France.

Napoleon III was, according to Queen Victoria, ‘:endowed with wonderful self-control and with a power of fascination, the effect of which upon all those who became more intimately acquainted with him is most sensibly felt.’: He was brave in battle and a compulsive womaniser: one of the only two really great loves of his life was Harriet Howard, an English true-life equivalent of Violetta, the courtesan heroine of Verdi’:s La Traviata.


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