Who is Louis Napoleon III

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    • Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, with crown insignia, after 1853

Emperor of the French

  • April 20: Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (called Louis Napoléon) is born in Paris to Louis Bonaparte, the temporary king of Holland and brother Napoléon I, and his wife Hortense de Beauharnais, the last of three children.

  • Napoléon is expelled from France with his mother, who supported Napoléon I on his return from exile. You move around without a permanent residence.

  • Napoléon lives with his mother in exile in Germany. He first received private tuition and then went to the Protestant high school in Augsburg.

  • Switzerland grants asylum to Napoléon and his mother. He attended the military school in Thun, served as an artillery officer in the Swiss army and was granted Swiss citizenship.

  • February: Inspired by the June Revolution of 1830 in Paris, he and his brother Napoléon Louis (1804-1831) take part in the uprisings of the "Carbonari" national movement in central Italy.

  • After the death of his cousin Napoléon Franz Joseph Karl Bonaparte (1811-1832), Duke of Reichstadt, called Napoléon II, Louis Napoléon became the first candidate for the French imperial crown.

  • October: He initiates an attempted coup in Strasbourg against the French King Louis Philippe (1773-1850).
    November: Napoléon is captured but pardoned by King Louis Philippe on condition that he go into American exile.

  • When his mother is dying, Napoléon returns to Switzerland from the USA. France demands his extradition, but Switzerland refuses to do so because of Napoléon's Swiss citizenship (so-called Napoleon trade). Napoléon went into exile in London and wrote his work "Idées Napoléoniennes", in which he formulated his idea of ​​a "hierarchical democracy".

  • August: Second attempted coup in Boulogne, which also fails.

  • May 25: Escape from custody into exile in London.

  • February: The French Revolution and the founding of the Second Republic make it possible for Napoleon to return to Paris.
    June: Election to the National Assembly, but he rejects the mandate.
    December 10: He wins the election for President of the French Republic with 74 percent. Domestically unsound and disregarded by the National Assembly, he seeks support from monarchist circles and in foreign policy initiatives.

  • June: French troops march into Rome after Italian revolutionaries proclaimed the "Roman Republic" instead of the Papal States. Napoléon presents himself as a defender of Catholicism.

  • December 2: Shortly before the end of his term of office, Napoléon carries out a bloody coup d'état that has been prepared for a long time with the help of the military, disempowers the National Assembly and takes on the quasi-monarchist title of "Prince-President". A successful plebiscite on a new constitution gives him dictatorial powers.

  • December 2: After the successful plebiscite of November 21, 1852, Napoléon proclaimed himself hereditary Emperor of the French and called himself Napoléon III. The Second Republic ended and the Second Empire began.

  • With the help of the army and church, Napoléon succeeds in suppressing the political opposition ("Empire autoritaire"): Bonapartists occupy the most important functions, opposition members are expelled from penal colonies or arrested.

  • Napoleon appoints Georges-Eugène Baron Haussmann (1809-1891) as prefect of Paris and entrusts him with the redesign of the French capital. Almost all of medieval Paris fell victim to the world's largest urban modernization, which lasted until the 1870s.

  • France successfully fights against Russia in the Crimean War with Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire. The victories raise Napoléon's reputation in Europe. He succeeds in establishing France as the leading great power on the continent.

  • February / March: As arbitrator during the Paris Peace Congress, Napoleon gains Europe-wide recognition for France, which has been isolated since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. It is at the height of its international reputation. He supports the national movements in Poland, Italy and the Balkans through economic, social and technical aid. Domestically, he advocates the establishment of health and old age pension funds as well as the construction of the railway.

  • January 14th: Napoléon survives an assassination attempt by the Italian revolutionary Felice Orsini (1819-1858).
    July: Signing of a secret treaty with Piedmont-Sardinia promising Nice and Savoy to France if it supports Italy's unification.

  • May-June: Austria, which occupies territories in northern Italy and rejects Italian unification, declares war on Piedmont-Sardinia. Napoléon wins the "Sardinian War" against Austria on Italy's side.
    November 10th: With the Peace of Zurich Napoléon receives Lombardy from Austria, which he passes on to Piedmont-Sardinia according to the secret treaty.

  • Economic crises and setbacks in foreign policy are forcing the Kaiser to grant parliament more rights, to expand freedom of the press and to allow trade unions.

  • When Mexico refuses to pay its national debt to France, French troops invade Mexico. Napoleon dissolves the Mexican Republic in order to establish an empire dependent on France. He appoints the younger brother of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, Maximilian I (1832-1867), as Emperor of Mexico. The intervention ends with the execution of Maximilian and the defeat of France.

  • During the German war between Austria and Prussia, France remains neutral, as a strong Prussia is considered less dangerous than a strong Austria. Napoléon demands that the Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck Luxembourg and Belgium compensate for the Prussian increase in power in northern Germany as a result of the victory over Austria.

  • With the initiative to conclude a purchase agreement for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, he intervenes in the interests of the German Confederation. Strong German protests lead to the so-called Luxembourg crisis, which can only be ended with the London Treaty of May 11th. The neutrality of the Grand Duchy is enshrined in it.

  • July: Napoleon still expects Prussia to settle territories. In the dispute over the Spanish succession to the throne, he declares war on the North German Confederation after the Emser Depesche has been published. He assumed that Austria and Italy would take their side in a Franco-German war and that the southern German states would remain neutral.
    September 2: Napoléon is captured after the lost battle of Sedan and placed under arrest at Wilhelmshöhe Castle near Kassel.
    September 4th: proclamation of the third French republic and deposition of Napoleon as emperor.

  • March 9th: After his release from captivity, Napoléon goes back into exile in London.

  • January 9: Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte dies of an operation and is buried in the family mausoleum in Farnborough, Hampshire, UK.

Julian Plenefisch, Johannes Leicht
© German Historical Museum, Berlin