Second Empire in France; rule of Napoleon III

(1517 words)

Historical Context Essay

Louis Bonaparte became Emperor Napoleon III when he took control of France by a coup d'état in December 1851, after which he ruled the country as a dictator until 4 September 1870. Marx famously described him in his preface to the second edition of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1869) as a “grotesque mediocrity” whom the accidents of class struggle enabled to “play a hero's part”. Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire opens with the often repeated sentences, “Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Marx's essay, written as journalistic response to …

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Clark, Robert. "Second Empire in France; rule of Napoleon III". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 March 2008
[, accessed 01 July 2015.]