Napoleon III: The Forgotten Bonaparte
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Napoleon III: The Forgotten Bonaparte

August 25, 2019


What comes to mind when you hear the words
“Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France”? We’re guessing it’s a certain petit corporal
in a bicorne hat, rearing up majestically on a horse as he conquers half of Europe. But what if we told you there was another
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte? A Bonaparte who not only managed to rule France
for longer than his famous predecessor, but basically created modern Paris. Well, meet that man. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, aka Napoleon III,
was the nephew of actual Napoleon. As a child, he was forced to watch as the
French Empire collapsed and his family was driven into hiding. As an adult, he single handedly returned the
empire from ruin, and then ruled it for 22 years. The man who created modern Paris, the politician
who made France great again, and the general who led his nation into a ruinous war… Napoleon III was all these things and many
more. This is the story of history’s forgotten
Bonaparte. The Boy Who Would be Emperor
On March 20, 1811, cannons boomed out across Paris. Revelers gathered outside the Tuileries Palace. It was official: Emperor Napoleon had a son! Had he been old enough to understand the news,
3-year old Charles Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte may have felt sadness. Born on April 20, 1808, the boy was the younger
son of Louis Bonaparte, brother of the Emperor, and Queen Hortense of Holland who, just to
gross you out a little, was also Louis Bonaparte’s niece. More important than his parents’ creepy
relationship, though, was that Louis-Napoleon was a potential heir to the imperial crown,
alongside his older brother, Napoleon-Louis. Yep, Louis-Napoleon, star of our story, had
an older brother called Napoleon-Louis. Like there aren’t already too many French
guys running around with the name Napoleon here. Or maybe we should say he had been an heir. Prior to that March day in 1811, Emperor Napoleon
had no legitimate son to inherit the crown. Now, though, he no longer had any need of
his nephews. This was tragic, not just from the perspective
of Louis-Napoleon not being emperor, but also because producing new Bonapartes was the only
reason his parents were married. Louis and Hortense hated one another. By 1810, they couldn’t even live in the
same country. Hortense had taken the boys to Paris, while
Louis remained in Holland. Not that young Louis-Napoleon saw much of
his famous uncle in the French capital. No longer a likely heir, he spent the early
1810s simply hanging around, waiting for his newborn cousin to supplant him as the future
emperor. He didn’t have to wait very long. In 1812, Emperor Napoleon made the really
stupid mistake of invading Russia. Barely 18 months later the French empire was
in ruins and Paris under allied occupation. Realizing the jig was up, desperate to save
his dynasty, Napoleon abdicated and made his three year old son Emperor Napoleon II on
April 4, 1814. The occupying allies said “pfft, yeah right,”
and forced the entire Bonaparte line to abdicate two days later on April 6, before handing
young Napoleon II over to Austria. If you responded to this video of Napoleon
III with “dudes, what about Napoleon II? You missed out a whole regnal number!” that’s
why. In the aftermath of Waterloo, the entire Bonaparte
clan was forced into exile. Louis-Napoleon and his family resettled in
Switzerland, where they could do nothing but watch as France abolished its empire and restored
the monarchy. It could have been a crushing psychological
blow, were it not for Queen Hortense. From the moment they reached exile, Hortense
started grooming Louis-Napoleon and his brother to become future emperors. It was a patently absurd thing to do. It would also turn out to be right. On May 5, 1821, Napoleon Bonaparte died in
exile on St. Helena. Back in Europe, the news made all the great
powers suddenly super nervous about young Napoleon II. So worried were they about this child prisoner
taking his father’s mantle that they completely overlooked Louis-Napoleon. No one noticed as he and his brother moved
to Italy’s Papal states in 1826. No one noticed as they joined a Carbonari
lodge and training in revolutionary warfare. Like an audience watching a magic trick, Europe’s
great powers were too busy looking at the wrong Napoleon. By the time they realized their mistake, it
was too late. On July 22, 1832, Napoleon II caught pneumonia
in Austria and died, aged 21. When the news hit, all surviving members of
the Bonaparte line were quick to renounce their claims to the imperial crown. With one exception. The year before, in 1831, Louis-Napoleon’s
older brother, Napoleon-Louis, had been carried off by an outbreak of measles. That meant that the chance to become Napoleon
III passed straight on to Louis-Napoleon. His mother’s prediction had come true. He was heir to the French Empire. 1832-1848: The Clown
So, here’s the thing about suddenly declaring yourself emperor of France: it doesn’t actually
make you emperor of France. Trust us, we’ve tried. That’s not to say Louis-Napoleon’s claim
was empty. There was still a large contingency of Bonapartists
in France, looking to revive the empire. France itself was unstable. In July 1830, the Three Glorious Days had
toppled the restored Bourbons and put the July Monarchy on the throne; while June 1832
had seen another attempted revolution against the July Monarchy, this time involving a lot
more showtunes. (That’s a Les Misérables reference there,
kids!) It wasn’t impossible, therefore, to imagine
some charismatic leader with the Bonaparte name rallying the people of France to his
side and overthrowing the government. Sadly, Louis-Napoleon was not that man. Napoleon III was one weird looking guy. A member of his entourage once described him
as “a small man, with a long, fat face, broad drooping shoulders, a fat torso, and
very short legs. He walked slowly, with his feet pointing out,
and his body tilted to the left side.” He was puffed up and pompous, prone to prancing
around in military regalia. Although he was said to be charming in private,
Europe at large regarded Louis-Napoleon as a clown. The thing is, he kinda was. Take the Strasbourg coup. On October 30, 1836, Louis-Napoleon tried
to seize control of France by walking into a military garrison in Strasbourg and rallying
the men to his cause. Instead, the garrison commander had all the
mutineers arrested and Louis-Napoleon was deported to America. Not that the exile lasted long. In August 1837, Queen Hortense fell seriously
ill. Louis-Napoleon caught the first boat back
to Europe to be at her side when she passed away on October 5. Rather than return to America in the wake
of his mother’s death, Louis-Napoleon instead went to London. It was while in the British capital that he
cooked up boneheaded coup attempt number two. By 1840, the July Monarchy was unpopular. Looking to prop up his support, King Louis
Philippe arranged to have Napoleon Bonaparte’s remains reinterred in Paris’s Les Invalides. Across the channel, Louis-Napoleon mistook
the celebrations for a sign the French were crying out for another Emperor Bonaparte. So, on August 5, 1840, he rounded up a gang
of 56 mercenaries and staged a landing at Boulogne-sur-Mer. The plan was that the sight of Louis-Napoleon
would inspire the population of France to revolt, overthrow the July Monarchy, hoist
Louis-Napoleon up on their shoulders and declare him Emperor of the French! Instead, the emperor was once again promptly
arrested. The coup of 1840 was so flagrantly incompetent
that it probably saved Louis-Napoleon’s life. Le Journal des Débats wrote, “one doesn’t
kill crazy people, one just locks them up.” The July Monarchy agreed. Rather than death, Louis-Napoleon was condemned
to life imprisonment in Ham fortress near Reims. Despite his insurrectionary past, Louis-Napoleon’s
imprisonment was kinda comfortable. He had a large library and was allowed to
read and write at leisure. He wound up learning so much that he took
to calling his prison “the university of Ham.” He even managed to write and publish a book,
L’extinction du pauperism (the Extinction of Poverty) which was almost Marxist in its
treatment of the poor. The book became a surprise bestseller in France,
and earned Louis-Napoleon a strong base of support among the workers. By 1846, though, Louis-Napoleon had grown
tired of Ham University. On May 25, he escaped by dressing as a laborer
and simply walking out the front door. He resurfaced in London a few days later,
and went back to his impotent coup plotting. By now, the self-proclaimed Napoleon III was
now almost 40, and had nothing but two failed coups to his name. It would take a spectacular turnaround for
Louis-Napoleon to fulfil his mother’s dreams and become emperor. The entire social order of France would have
to be exploded like a volcano had just erupted underneath it. Little did anyone realize that, as the 1840s
drew to a close, a volcano was exactly what France was sitting on. 1848: Vive la (autre) Révolution! Remember how, back in 1830, the July Monarchy
came to power in France on the back of a revolution? Well, in 1848, it exited in exactly the same
way. On February 22, 1848, a government ban on
people meeting for banquets somehow span off into violent street protests. This in turn somehow led to King Louis Philippe
abdicating, the monarchy being abolished, and the Second French Republic being declared
on February 26. This was the moment Louis Napoleon had been
dreaming of. Not two days later, on February 28, he arrived
in Paris and offered the revolutionary Provisional Government his help. The Provisional Government promptly sent him
back into exile. Yep, France may have revolted, but it was
not a revolt aimed at putting a Bonaparte in power. The new republican government wanted liberal
reform, not some bumbling clown pretending to be his famous uncle. But Louis-Napoleon wasn’t as stupid as his
enemies thought. Back in England, he settled down to watch
events unfold, biding his time. He didn’t have to wait long. On June 23, 1848, the workers of Paris revolted
against the Provisional Government, who they felt had betrayed the revolution. The result was the June Days, a three day
massacre which saw 1,500 Parisians killed. When it was over, the Second Republic still
stood. But those connected to it were now even less
popular than the July Monarchy had been. All of which put Louis-Napoleon in an excellent
position. On September 17-18, 1848, France held elections
for the Constituent Assembly. Louis-Napoleon got on the ticket and won five
departments. The Assembly was forced to lift his exile. Now legally back in France, Louis-Napoleon
began campaigning energetically for the upcoming presidential elections. He ran as an outsider populist, promising
L’extinction du pauperism to the poor, military discipline to Bonapartists, and a president
untainted by the June Days to everyone else. The results, on December 10, 1848, were a
landslide. Louis-Napoleon romped home with 74% of the
vote. Elites were left gasping in his dust. This clown was now president? Still, his opponents comforted themselves
with the knowledge that the new constitution only allowed Presidents one four year term. By 1852, President Louis-Napoleon would be
gone. After all, it’s not like he had a habit
of launching coups or anything. Louis-Napoleon’s motivations revealed themselves
slowly. The self-styled “Prince-President” at
first worked with the National Assembly, supporting populist moves like sending the military to
Rome to protect the Pope from revolutionaries. In fact, things went so slowly that nobody
even seemed to notice the way Louis-Napoleon was stuffing all the key posts in government
and the army with loyalists. Y’know, just like someone plotting a coup
might do. In 1851, Louis-Napoleon finally came into
the open with his ambitions. He asked the National Assembly to amend the
constitution to let him run again. They said “no”. So the Prince-President got rid of them. December 2 is a special day for Bonapartists. It’s the day Napoleon was coronated in 1804. It’s also the day he defeated the Third
Coalition at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1851, it also became the day that Louis-Napoleon
finally did a coup right. Overnight, 30,000 army loyalists occupied
Paris. People awoke to posters announcing the National
Assembly had been dissolved. Although some die hard Republicans manned
the barricades, it wasn’t enough. On December 4, 1851, Paris fell. President Bonaparte announced the effective
dissolution of the Second Republic, then held a referendum just to check that this was all
cool with everyone. He won by an enormous margin. Ten months later, in November 1852, he held
another referendum on restoring the French empire and giving himself near-unlimited power. He won that, too. On December 2, 1852, the first anniversary
of his coup, Louis-Napoleon was officially crowned Napoleon III, Emperor of the Second
French Empire. This is actually what Karl Marx’s famous
quote refers to, about history repeating itself “first as tragedy then as farce.” But what did Louis-Napoleon care? He’d finally done it. He’d achieved that impossible dream his
mother had set for him, back when they were both living as exiles. The world had laughed at him, and he’d won. Now it was time to show them just how wrong
they were. The Authoritarian Empire (1852-1860)
What does a guy who’s been lusting after power for basically his entire life do when
he finally gets it? In the case of Napoleon III, the answer is:
everything at once. The period of 1852-1860 is known as the Authoritarian
Empire, and it’s the period when Napoleon III ruled like a mad cross between a total
despot, a liberal utopian, and a kid on a sugar rush running around trying to do a bazillion
things at once. His biggest project was Paris. At the time, the City of Lights was more like
the City of Horrible Smells and Oh My God What’s that Floating in the Seine, Seriously
You Guys! The French capital was dirty. Cholera outbreaks were common. The streets were crowded slums. Everything you’re picturing as Paris is
exactly what the city wasn’t in 1852. One of Emperor Napoleon III’s first acts
was to call architect Baron Haussmann into his office and tell him “go forth and bring
in air, light and cleanliness.” Together, the two men wrote the Paris street
plan of today. They knocked down slums, built parks, improved
sanitation, gave every worker a home, created the sweeping boulevards Paris is famous for. Those elegant buildings that pop into your
head whenever you hear “Paris”? This is when they first appear. It’s also when Paris first gets its nickname. Haussmann installed so many gas streetlights
that the capital was christened the City of Lights. Still, Napoleon III’s reign wasn’t just
construction work. He made education free and compulsory, lifted
the ban on women gaining higher education, instituted public pensions, and ushered in
agricultural reforms that wiped out famines in France permanently. He also made the state invest heavily in railway
and steamship building, and opened lines of guaranteed credit to small businessowners. It was almost like a New Deal of the 1850s,
an Old New Deal, if you like. And it worked. By 1870, the economy was growing at 5% a year,
while industrial output had boomed by 75%. In short, the clown turned out to be not such
a clown after all. Napoleon III even managed to grab France some
choice colonies like New Caledonia (acquired 1853), Vietnam (acquired 1858), and Cambodia
(acquired 1863). Not that we should gloss over his authoritarian
side. While France boomed economically, socially
it transformed into a police state. There was censorship, restrictions on association
and free speech, and spies everywhere. And then there was the sticky topic of war. The period from the end of the Napoleonic
Wars until the rise of the Second French Empire hadn’t seen a single conflict between Europe’s
Great Powers. Barely was Napoleon III’s throne warm from
his imperial backside than the Crimean War erupted in 1853. Now, the Crimean War is super complicated,
and it would be unfair to blame it all on Napoleon III. But he was itching for a fight, and he pressed
forward where maybe others would have backed down. The result was a conflict that killed nearly
a million people, but left France and her ally Britain newly victorious on the European
stage. This confidence boost led in turn to Napoleon
III getting involved with Italy’s Second War of Unification in 1859. Given Italian nationalists had tried to assassinate
him the year before – throwing a bomb at his carriage that killed 14 of his entourage
– you might have expected Napoleon III to fight against unification, but no. He sent the French army to help the Kingdom
of Sardinia kick the Austrians out of their Italian colonies. They won that war, too, which is why Nice
and Savoy are currently part of France. By 1860, Louis-Napoleon was riding high. As Napoleon III he really had made France
great again. He’d also convinced himself that he was
a tactical military genius, on a par with his legendary uncle. He’d even found time to marry countess Eugénie
de Montijo. But you know what they say about pride. It always comes before a fall. And Louis-Napoleon was a legendary fool. The Liberal Empire (1860 – 1870)
Historians of the Second French Empire often call the period after 1860 the “Liberal
Empire”. Why? Well, it’s the period when Napoleon III
pivoted from being a nasty despot to a slightly more cuddly one. The transformation came in 1860. To head off a political crisis over the huge
loans his projects were racking up, Louis-Napoleon offered his Senate new powers and eased censorship. The changes were enough to keep him in power,
and led to more liberalization down the line. Yet all this is really just a sideshow to
the two major events of 1862. The first was something of a private problem. Louis-Napoleon’s reign had been partially
held together by his boundless energy but in 1862, he developed exceedingly painful
bladder stones that sapped his energy and left him reliant on those around him. The second was far more consequential for
world history. The rise of Otto von Bismarck. We already have a Biographics video in the
works about Bismarck, so we won’t get too sidetracked with him here, but to give you
a very quick overview: Bismarck was the Minister President of Prussia, a Germanic country roughly
analogous to modern Eastern Germany and northern Poland with its capital in Berlin. Bismarck was a firm believer in both the strategic
use of warfare and the unification of all the many German statelets into a single “Germany”. He was also a political genius who didn’t
take fools lightly. Big problem for Louis-Napoleon. Not that tiny Prussia appeared much of threat
to France in 1862. When Bismarck went to war against the Danes
in 1864, Napoleon III barely noticed. In October 1865, Louis-Napoleon even promised
the Iron Chancellor that France wouldn’t intervene if Prussia went to war with Austria. Less than a year later, the Seven Weeks War
ended with Vienna beaten. Louis-Napoleon actually mediated the peace
talks, which oversaw the creation of a sort of half-unified Germany: the Northern German
Confederation. This was a problem, because by now it was
clear that this thing called Germany was becoming extremely big and extremely powerful in an
extremely short space of time. But Napoleon III was simply too arrogant,
or too deluded to realize the threat Germany posed. He still thought he was the senior partner
in his relationship with Bismarck. It wasn’t until Bismarck blocked the French
annexation of Luxembourg by threatening war that Louis-Napoleon realized he was in way
over his head. The trouble was, everyone else realized it,
too. When France backed off on Luxembourg, Bismarck
was able to see just how weak the Empire was. The French public turned on their emperor. In the 1869 elections, the government nearly
lost control of the senate. By the end of 1869, Napoleon III was forced
to fully liberalize the Empire just to keep power, turning it into a kind of constitutional
monarchy. Unfortunately, the change meant listening
more than ever to what the public wanted. And what the public wanted was war with Prussia. The Death of an Emperor
Even by the standards of the 19th Century, the causes of the Franco-Prussian War are
ridiculous beyond belief. In Spain, Queen Isabella abdicated the throne,
and a Prussian prince offered to take her place. France said no, and sent their ambassador
to tell the Prussian King to back off. The ambassador met the king on a walk, shouted
at him for a minute and stormed off. And so the Franco-Prussian War started. OK, it was slightly more complicated than
that. The real trigger was the Ems Dispatch, which
contained an account of the meeting between the king and ambassador that was perfectly
calibrated to make both sides think they’d been grievously insulted. It was edited by Bismarck, who by now had
decided a quick war with the French would be the perfect bonding exercise to seal German
unification. He got his wish. On July 19, 1870, France declared war on Prussia. The French army’s 280,000 troops were mobilized. Despite being shockingly ill by this stage,
Napoleon III rode out to personally lead the troops. Amusingly, his staff were so sure they’d
soon be conquering German territory that they forgot to pack any maps of their own country. The first engagement came on August 4, 1870. It was a massacre. The well-trained Prussians made mincemeat
out of Louis-Napoleon’s shambolic army for two whole days. After a staggering retreat, the French fought
again on August 16. Again, they were wiped out. Getting desperate, Louis-Napoleon tried to
summon the spirit of his dead uncle. He gathered all remaining French soldiers
for an attack on the Prussian troops besieging Metz. It was exactly the sort of foolhardy gamble
his uncle would have made. The difference is, his uncle would have pulled
it off. On September 1, 1870, the French and Prussians
fought the Battle of Sedan, which could just as well be called The Defeat of Sedan. The French were pulverized. The Prussians managed to encircle and capture
their entire army. Among those arrested was Louis-Napoleon. When the news of their emperor’s capture
reached Paris on September 4, the government was so outraged that it voted then and there
to abolish the Second French Empire along with its useless emperor. France immediately became the Third Republic. It wasn’t the end of the war. That dragged on through the grueling Siege
of Paris. But, for Louis-Napoleon, it was all over. Louis-Napoleon was kept prisoner until a peace
treaty was signed and the unification of Germany declared on January 18, 1871. Finally, in March, the now-former emperor
was released back to exile in England. But the humiliations weren’t over yet. In the wake of France’s epic defeat, Paris
was seized by a radical revolutionary group that became known as the Paris Commune. The Communards ruled for two months before
putting Paris to the torch when the French army retook the city. The new Paris Louis-Napoleon had spent so
long building was burned to the ground. Although it would be rebuilt to his designs,
he wouldn’t live to see it. Over in England, Louis-Napoleon had settled
in the village of Chislehurst with his wife Eugénie and their son, still hopefully called
the Prince-Imperial. It was a short, painful retirement. Louis-Napoleon’s health got worse until,
on January 9, 1873, he went to hospital for a last ditch operation to cure his bladder
stones. He died under the knife, aged 65. All those times he’d listened to his mother
as a young exile and dreamed of being emperor, he could never have dreamed it’d end like
this. In 1879, Louis-Napoleon’s heir, the Prince
Imperial, also died, extinguishing their family’s line. Two years later, Eugénie had both of them
reburied in Farnborough, a pleasantly boring town some 30 miles from London. Although the tomb that holds Napoleon III
remains a tourist attraction, it’s hardly Les Invalides. So what, in the end, did Louis-Napoleon accomplish? Well, he ruled France for longer than his
uncle did, and he undoubtedly oversaw an industrial boom that modernized the French economy. He founded colonies, like New Caledonia, that
are still departments of France today, and he promoted workers’ and women’s rights
at a time when it was deeply unfashionable. On the other hand, he took France from a peaceful
state back to one of dangerous warfare and paid a catastrophically high price. The peace settlement after the Franco-Prussian
war crippled France all the way up until WWI. But perhaps the biggest thing the other Emperor
Bonaparte accomplished was becoming the other Emperor Bonaparte. This was a man who as a child was banned from
his home country, forced to live in exile, and derided as a clown. Yet through sheer dogged determination, he
managed to conquer the very system that had locked him out – if only for a time. Was he an clown, a tyrant, or a visionary
leader let down by one disastrous lapse in judgement? The jury’s still out on that one. But there’s one thing we cannot deny Louis-Napoleon. He was, and forever will be, Napoleon III,
Emperor of the French.

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  1. Nappie the third wasn’t the only leader to under estimate Germany. It’s seems to happen on a regular basis in historical time.

  2. Okay, I’ve been binging this channel and there’s one thing that has been driving me crazy. What’s the deal with starting a ton of sentences with a noun, and then always following that noun with a comma, followed by a pronoun referring to the previous noun (ex. Napoleon Bonaparte, he had conquered all of mainland Europe)?

  3. Whoever is editing in those stupid noises should quit…it doesn't add anything, it's not funny. Stop it

  4. We learned about Nap 3 in school but I can't remember anything about him.
    Women's rights means women don't have babies and the country loses its majority population.

  5. I read that Paris was not called the City of Lights but the City of Light. Because of its high latitude (as far north as Edmonton) and its wide boulevards the south-facing apartments and shops were very well lit by the low-angled sun in the southern sky in the depths of winter. Others say it was an abbreviation of the City of Enlightenment, though all three theories are technically possible.

  6. Scratching my head in massive confusion. And Simon can you pull your ‘stache like that? And European royalty is all intermarried and messed up.

  7. Can you please make one for Empress Eugenie also known Eugenie de montijo or Empress Eugenie of France in 5th May 1826 – June 11th 1920

  8. 6:23 the French tricolor with the list of battles of the during napoleonic wars I wonder why it put Moscow there

  9. While you might of failed to become Simon Whistler Emperor of France you do hold the distinction of being Simon Whistler Emperor of Biographies and for that we thank you. keep the information flowing

  10. Having mentioned the Commune, you should make a video on Mac Mahon, the general who took back Paris and years alter became president. (Yeah, De Gaulle wasn't the first and only General became president…)

  11. The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon is a great way of understanding Trump, just some bumbling oaf leaving a trail of obvious criminality stumbling into power.

  12. Bro I did not know about Louis Napoleon the Third like at all how did I not know about that. we Americans just get cut out from a lot of stuff like yeah we have freedom but freedom to be biased toward America. I eould like to know more of the world I wish we were all just unified why can't we live in peace why must there be War for is that how the world must work?

  13. I enjoy putting your videos on in the background of just like everything I do. Simon's voice is calming to me. Also interesting topics so yeah.

  14. Well compared to many other Emperors and dictators i'd say he was a better bet than many others and had quite revolutionary ideas (pun intended) for that period

  15. re Herod

    we are always in the now…
    what would the just built pyramids look and smell like
    in emerald blaue white

    there are many tangents here…
    it would make at least one good video…

  16. Actually Napoleon III is fairly known in italy because the alliance between the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont and Napoleon III's France during the second italian war of indepence allowed the the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont to conquer MIlan and Lombardy and annexed Tuscany by referendum…
    So, no Napoleon the Third no Kingdom of Italy… (well funny thing is that the french defeat in the French-Prussian War allowed italy to annex Rome) xD

  17. An irony: Trying to grab power for decades…finally succeeding in it…. just to be remembered as "the forgotten Bonaparte"….There you see how big the shadow of his uncle really was…

  18. One should consider the growing role that the Communist’s began to play in European politics at this time. The Communist did indeed burn a quarter of Paris and the prussion commander told the French either you go in and clean those reds out or we prussians will. They did.

  19. Currently in 2019 Germany is rearming in order to hold up its end in NATO. I wonder if the French are worried. Granted my sources could be inaccurate, but a rearmed Germany is not a happy thought.

  20. Lesser-known, but surely not forgotten. As I type this, I can hear the mourning doves' gentle cooing. Look up their scientific name, and why it was given, and by whom. Hint: cousins! Also an attorney-general of the US under T. Roosevelt (cousin twice removed.) Now THEY are forgotten Bonapartes, and worth a mention.

  21. Very well done–riveting, even. A couple of dynastic notes: Hortense was the daughter of Josephine by her first husband, and no blood relative of the Bonapartes. No incest there, not even the more distant sort so common in European nobility. Napoleon II (aka a whole slew of names) was the grandson of the "double emperor" Franz II (of the Holy Roman Empire) and I (of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). He could scarcely be called a prisoner, except in the way that all princes (like Will and Harry) are prisoners of their heritage. He had TB, which combined with his pneumonia attack would have rendered poison almost ludicrously superfluous. His maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother outlived him. He was said to be intelligent, focused, and strong-willed–traits more prominent in the latter forbear. (Letizia, "Madame Mere", deserves a chapter, too.)

  22. Fun fact:
    There was a 2nd cousin to Napoleon called Dave Bonaparte who worked in a bakery.
    He was exiled to London and opened a bakery near Victoria by the station and old bandstand. Dave's as it was called was frequented by the elite of London. Dave died in 1843 and his sons Dave jnr and Keith took their business to new heights branching out opening new stores on the Caledonian Road, Putney high street and The Kings road Chelsea and talking the bold move of renaming their shops 'Napoleons'.
    Sadly the last Napoleon's bakery in Putney was shut in 1998 and turned into a Wetherspoons.
    Keith Napoleon died at a retirement home in Hove and Dave jnr choked on scampi while holidaying in Clacton some time in the early 1920s.
    Neither produced children.

  23. Hortense was the daughter of Josephine from her previous marriage, therefore, it's not an incestuous relationship. Yes, still effing weird, but not blood relation incest.

  24. The forgotten Bonaparte is clearly Napoleon II. Napoleon III is well known to anyone interested in 19th century European history.

  25. @Biographics Why didn't you mention about the Mexican-Franco War? Unless you didn't want to piss off the French or you just don't care and ignore it.

  26. 24:40
    For some reason this line hit me really hard.
    Rightly or wrongly, I see more than a little bit of myself in Louis Napoleon, and am irrationally proud of his story.

  27. Slightly misleading…Louis was not Hortense’s BIOLOGICAL uncle. Makes it a tad less sensational though still odd to our modern sensibilities.

  28. Introduction to the Second Mexican Empire would have been nice here.
    But well done, thoroughly enjoyable presentation as always.

  29. Louis and Hortense were not related by blood – she was the daughter of Josephine and her first husband, Alexandre de Beauharnais. She was a stepdaughter of Napoleon (I) Bonaparte and therefore of no blood relation to his brother Louis.

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