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The Reign of Napoleon III
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| Words: 500 | Submitted: 15-Mar-2011
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DescriptionThe Reign of Napoleon III
The Reign of Napoleon III
Karl Marx, in the preface to his article on The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, a political paper written in 1852, describes Napoleon III’s reign as “the class struggle in France
that created circumstances and relations that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play a hero's part” (Price 2003). Considering that Marx writes this during NIII’s reign, it is clear that there is some strong critique of his leadership. Price writes that in Napoleon’s zeal to be the “guardian of the Napoleonic tradition, he combined the outlook of a romantic mystic with the instincts of a political opportunist.” The ambition portrayed by NIII has been considered a precursor to Hitler and Mussolini. But there are few papers to show how NIII really thought. It has been left to historians to conclude from his actions what may have been the truth.
Despite Marx’s irreverance, NIII does create a “cult” of followers and supporters that causes the 5.4 million voters to favor him over his rival. The range of supportive ideologies behind his rule included monarchists, Catholics, Bonapartists, businesses and workers. But in addition to this support comes some very opposing viewpoints as to how the country should be run.
James McMillan writes in his book Napoleon III that “the Second Empire was a much more important episode in European history than the First, and its ruler, NIII, was the man who, more than any other individual, shattered the status quo of the Vienna Settlement, leaving both map and the moral order of Europe revolutionised.”
The ‘Vienna Settlement’ or ‘Congress” (Funk & Wagnall 1979) is established after the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the downfall of Napoleon I. A meeting that lasts from September 1814 to June 1815 remaps Europe and the territorial divisions. Alexander I, Prince Klemens von Metternich, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Prigord, Britain’s Robert Stewart and Prussia’s Carl August von Hardenberg are major participants who negotiate this event. France loses all the conquered territories. In addition, the Germanic Confederation is established that unite 39 soveriegn states, including Prussia, under the presidency of Austria (Funk & Wagnall 1979).
This congress also condemns slave trade and provides for freedom of travel on rivers between
the different states. A balance of power has been achieved for 40 years, and peace.
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