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France: Second Empire (1852-1870)

Last modified: 2015-04-06 by ivan sache
Keywords: second empire |
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[Flag of France]

Flag of the French Empire - Image by Željko Heimer, 23 September 2001

See also:

Historical outline

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. Captured during the battle of Sedan (2 September 1970), the Emperor was dethroned on 4 September. On 19 March 1871, the dethroned Emperor left Germany for England, where he died in 1873.

Ivan Sache, 16 December 2001

National flag

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

Ivan Sache, 16 December 2001

Imperial standard

[Standard]         [Arms]

Imperial standard and detail of the arms - Images by Željko Heimer, 16 June 2014

The Imperial standard was the French ensign - a blue-white-red tricolor flag with stripes in proportions 30:33:37- semé of golden bees and charged in the middle with the Imperial Arms rendered in gold.
Le Gras' Album des Pavillons [leg58] gives the standard's overall proportions as c. 1:1.17, which would translate in a size of c. 3 m x 3.5 m.

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 (p. 18), and secondly, p. 136, in a much clearer illustration, most probably originating in Le Gras.

Željko Heimer & Santiago Dotor, 11 January 2000

Standard of the Imperial Prince


Standard of the Imperial Prince - Image by Željko Heimer, 16 June 2014

Napoléon III married in 1853 Countess Eugenia Maria de Montijo de Guzmàn (1826-1920). Their only son, Napoléon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph Bonaparte (1856-1879), aka Louis-Napoléon, was killed during the British military expedition in Zululand.
Le Gras' Album des Pavillons shows for Imperial Princes the same standard as for the Emperor, but without the Imperial arms.

Željko Heimer & Ivan Sache, 16 June 2014