Napoleon III and France’s colonial expansion
National grandeur, territorial conquests and colonial embellishment, 1852–70
in Crowns and colonies
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Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (1808–73), nephew of Napoleon I, came to power in 1851 after a coup d’état replacing the short-lived Second Republic (1848–51). His eighteen-year reign (1852–70) provided a respite to a series of internal political turmoil and changes in the French regime that had slowed France’s economic development. Under his leadership, economic prosperity and modernisation were promoted as a means to compete with France’s newly industrialised neighbours, while a desire to emulate past colonial glories and his determination to restore France to its rightful place in the world led to a significant overseas expansion that extended across Africa, Asia, the Americas and the South Pacific. The new colonial acquisitions also included a programme of colonial embellishment modelled on the modernisation of Paris that created proud French colonial cities reflecting personal prestige and national grandeur.

Crowns and colonies

European monarchies and overseas empires

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