France History: 1852–1879

The Second Empire (1852–1870)

In the struggle to curb socialist demands, the plebiscitary-Caesarist technique of Bonapartism, as practiced by Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, soon prevailed. He used the security needs of the property bourgeoisie, the peasants’ fears of being downgraded and the growing hardship of the urban lower classes to establish an authoritarian form of government. The new republican constitution of November 4, 1848 had already restricted workers’ rights again and placed a president at the head of the executive branch – but with a four-year term of office only elected once and directly by the people. When he was elected in December 1850, the one supported by the Orléanists and the Church won Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte surprisingly clear. With skillful exploitation of the Napoleonic myth and the hopes for a “strong man”, the “Prince-President” increased his popularity and, when the conservative parliamentary majority restricted universal suffrage in 1850, tried to restore it, as did v. a. to enforce his re-eligibility. Since this failed, he dissolved the National Assembly on December 2, 1851, had its leading opposition politicians arrested, suspended the constitution and declared himself emperor on December 2, 1852, securing both coups through referendums.

Supported by the army and the church, which with the conservative school legislation in 1850 had regained its traditional function of regulating power, Napoleon III set up the building. a plebiscitarian regime cloaked in pseudo-constitutional forms. Within this framework, the legislative bodies were still determined by general elections, but they were excluded from any effective government control, so that the emperor could claim an almost autocratic level of power. He used this to suppress the opposition by the police, to regulate the press and to enforce extensive building programs that were used to create jobs and thus also to prevent the revolution. In this context, the urban redevelopment took place (Baron G. E. Haussmann) from Paris, where France presented itself internationally as one of the leading industrial nations with the world exhibitions in 1855 and 1867. The successful foreign policy of Napoleon III corresponded to the prosperity manifested in an expanding large-scale industry, important bank establishments and growing capital exports . which aimed to revise the order of the Congress of Vienna and a new position of power for France. With its involvement on the side of Great Britain in the Crimean War of 1854–56, France broke through external isolation, undermined Russia’s supremacy and was able to act as a mediator at the Paris Peace Congress in 1856. In the Italian unification movement in the Sardinian-French-Austrian War of 1859, the victory over Austria and with it territorial gains. Not least against the background of the further expansion of the French colonies, the Second Empire was at its height around 1860. Check to see more about France and other countries in the world.

Domestically, however, the Empire was faced with a growing parliamentary opposition since 1863, which dealt with the protectionist criticism of the free trade principle of the Cobden Treaty concluded with Great Britain in 1860, with the failure of the military expedition to Mexico and the inability to resolve the Prussian-Austrian opposition to territorial gains on the Rhine or in Use of Belgium and Luxembourg increased. The Prussian victory at Königgrätz in 1866 and the successful policy of O. von Bismarck aimed at a small German unification were seen as a humiliation for France, especially since the attempt at a Franco-Austrian-Italian alliance failed because of the Roman question. To consolidate his reputation, Napoleon III came.therefore, following the domestic political reform demands, redesigned his regime into a constitutional »empire libéral«, allowed a strengthening of the parliament and constitutional guarantees and, after the elections in 1869, appointed a liberal reform cabinet under É. Ollivier. However, the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 with the capture of Napoleon III, which was deliberately accepted by the French side, violated the hegemonic claim . after the defeat of the French army at Sedan (September 2, 1870), the empire collapsed.

Third Republic: Beginnings and Consolidation (1870-1879)

On September 4, 1870, under the pressure of a workers’ uprising in Paris, L. Gambetta proclaimed the surrender of the Third Republic, whose government, initially led by the left, continued the war against Germany through a levée en masse (levée en masse) organized from the provinces the capital, which was enclosed by German troops, on January 28, 1871, however, could not prevent it.

The National Assembly, constituted on February 13th in Bordeaux, left the constitutional question open, since its monarchist majority was divided into Legitimists, Orléanists and Bonapartists. Thiers, who was appointed head of executive power (later president), agreed to the preliminary peace of Versailles (February 26) and with it the cession of Alsace and Lorraine as well as the payment of 5 billion francs in reparations to the German Reich. As a result, out of patriotic resistance to the armistice and out of social protest against the conservative republic, the Paris Commune revolted. The struggle between the National Assembly and the commune, led by a fragmented, extreme left, the character of which wavered between a socialist urban self-government model and a national counter-government, was decided in favor of the National Assembly’s forces of law after costly military conflicts. At the same time, this conflict separated the moderate and radical republicans under J. F. C. Ferry and Gambetta from the revolutionaries, let the moderate Orléanists become involved in the republic and founded a revolutionary myth that was not only important for the French labor movement. After Thiers By early payment of the reparations, the German occupation had been withdrawn in 1873, but in view of the still open constitutional question he had been overthrown by the monarchists due to his republican intentions and replaced by the legitimist General Mac-Mahon, the restoration of the monarchy seemed imminent. But Henri Charles de Bourbon, Count of Chambord, who as a Bourbon pretender already Henri V. refused to recognize a constitution drawn up by parliament and the tricolor, so that in 1875 the National Assembly passed the republican-parliamentary form of government with just one vote and in the same year enacted three constitutional laws that were valid until 1940 with amendments. It was not until Mac-Mahon’s premature resignation after repeated electoral successes of the Republicans and the presidency of J. Grévy, which ended the latent constitutional conflict in 1879, that its survival was secured. This was based on v. a. on the growing economic and political weight of the middle bourgeoisie, which replaced the old notable elite.

France History - 1852–1879