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France: Second Empire (1852-1870)

Last modified: 2003-09-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: napoleon iii | second empire (france) | bee (yellow) | eagle (yellow) | prince imperial |
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[Flag of France]by Zeljko Heimer

See also:

National flag

On 2 December 1851, the President of the French Republic, Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, dissolved the National Assembly and established a centralized and authoritarian regime.
On 2 December 1852, the Prince was proclaimed Emperor of the French as Napoléon III.
In July 1870, France declared war to Prussia. During the battle of Sedan (2 September 1970), the Emperor was captured by the Prussians and dethroned on 4 September.
On 19 March 1871, the dethroned Emperor left Germany for England, where he died in 1873.

The national flag used during the Second Empire was the blue-white-red Tricolore flag.

Ivan Sache, 16 December 2001

Imperial standard

[Napoleon III's standard]by Santiago Dotor

Smith [smi75c] illustrates twice the personal standard of Emperor Napoléon III. Firstly in a picture showing the Bretagne fully dressed-up to welcome Queen Victoria, flying the Emperor's flag at the mizzenmast , in place of the commissioning pennant (page 18), and secondly, in page 136, in a much clearer illustration.
The standard was the Tricolour for use at sea (stripes 30:33:37), semé of golden bees and with the Imperial Arms rendered in gold in the middle stripe.

It must be noted that:

  • The flag depicted p.18 shows an even number of bees' rows, whereas that in p.136 shows an odd number of rows.
  • The Imperial Arms shown in both illustrations have a round (or oval) escutcheon (shield) rather than a rectangular one.
  • The Imperial Arms shown p.136 have a smaller height:width ratio, so that two more bees fit, one each on top and below the Arms.

Santiago Dotor, 11 January 2000

Standard of the Imperial Princes

[Standard of the imperial Princes]by Santiago Dotor

Napoléon III married in 1853 Countess Eugenia Maria de Montijo de Guzmàn (1826-1920), better known in France as l'impératrice Eugénie.

In 1838, Eugènie came for the first time with her mother in the small village of Biarritz, in the French Pays Basque. When Empress, Eugénie convinced Napoléon III to visit Biarritz in 1854. Next year, the Emperor built in Biarritz the Villa Eugénie, now the Hôtel du Palais, and Biarritz became a reputed sea resort. In 1861, Eugénie gave her name to the newly incorporated municipality of Eugénie-les-Bains, in the department of Landes. The main thermal source there was named L'Impératrice.

The Prince Impérial was Eugène Louis Napoléon (1856-1879), better known as le prince Napoléon, who was killed by the Zulus during an expedition in Zululand (now South Africa).

Ivan Sache, 5 March 2003

The Imperial Princes had the same standard as the Emperor but without the Imperial arms.

Source: Siebmachers Wappenbuch, Die Flaggen und Banner der Herrscher und Staaten der Welt [gri78]

Theo van der Zalm, 22 July 2000