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Napoleon III, detail of a portrait by Hippolyte Flandrin; in the Versailles Museum.—H. Roger-Viollet
(born April 20, 1808, Paris, Francedied Jan. 9, 1873, Chislehurst, Kent, Eng.) Emperor of France (1852–70). The nephew of Napoleon, he spent his youth in exile in Switzerland and Germany (1815–30). With the death in 1832 of Napoleon's son, Napoléon-François-Charles-Joseph Bonaparte, duke von Reichstadt, he became the claimant to the French throne. After an abortive coup d'état, he was exiled by King Louis-Philippe to the U.S. After another attempted coup (1840), he was arrested, tried, and imprisoned. He escaped to England (1846) and returned to Paris (1848), where he was elected to the national assembly. He evoked the legend of Napoleon to win the popular vote as president of the Second Republic. Attempting to expand his power, he staged a coup in 1851 and made himself dictator; in 1852, as Napoleon III, he became emperor of the Second Empire. Seeking to reestablish French power, he led France into the Crimean War and helped negotiate the treaty at the Congress of Paris (1856). He sided with Sicily against Austria (1859) and was victorious at the Battle of Solferino. He aided Italy in achieving unity and annexed Savoy and Nice (1860). He promoted liberalized policies within France, which enjoyed prosperity during much of his reign. In the 1860s he gradually introduced political liberalization. He expected material rewards from his Latin empire after installing Maximilian as emperor of Mexico (1864–67) but was disappointed. He kept France neutral in the Austro-Prussian War (1866), but in 1870 Otto von Bismarck contrived to involve France in the disastrous Franco-Prussian War. After leading his troops to defeat in the Battle of Sedan (September 1870), Napoleon surrendered and was deposed as emperor.
Variants of NAPOLEON III
Napoleon III or Louis-Napoléon orig. Charles-Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Napoleon III, visit Britannica.com.
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