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Napoleon III and Eugénie


Napoleon III and Eugénie (Science museum group)

The first elected President of France, reigning between 1852 and the defeat of the French at the end of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. His father was the younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon III modernised the French economy and rebuilt the centre of Paris to what we would recognise today. His reign also saw an expansion of construction projects in many French cities including the railway system and he established trade agreements with many European countries, including Britain.

On the outbreak of the Crimean War 1853-6 France was allied to Britain and the Ottoman Empire against the Russians and helped to defeat them. 30,000 French troops and 20,000 British lay siege to Sevastopol for nearly a year before it was taken.

1870, The Kingdom of Prussia lead by Otto Von Bismarck wanted to unify the state within the German Empire. Napoleon III saw it as a threat to France and declared war. The British government was unwilling to join forces with the French and fight in continental Europe, France was defeated and Napoleon III was captured and exiled, with his wife Eugénie, and his son to England, living at Chislehust in Kent, where he died in 1873.

Napoleon and Eugénie visited Queen Victoria and Albert at Windsor Castle in April 1855 and they toured the Crystal Palace. She and Albert made a reciprocal visit to Versailles in August the same year.

The French couple came to Osborne House between the 6th and 10th August 1857, with a large entourage of staff who were housed in Osborne Cottage on York Avenue.

Portrait of Napoleon III by Winterhalter (Wikipedia)

Empress Eugénie 1858. (Wikipedia)

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