The Bonapartes: The History of a Dynasty

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This biography offers not just the story of Napoleon Bonaparte himself, but the history of his entire family during their time of rule. Although Napoleon I began life in an impoverished noble family, through his astonishing military career he was crowned Emperor of France. Three of his brothers became kings of French satellite territories, and Napoleon himself tried to earn the acceptance of other monarchs of Europe by marrying Marie-Louise, the daughter of the Austrian emperor. Although his only son, Napoleon II, died young and in exile, the dynasty sprang back to power under his nephew, Louis Napoleon, who became Napoleon III. His son, the Prince Imperial, was killed in the Zulu War. The Bonapartes shows the importance of the entire Napoleonic dynasty in French history and traces the often difficult relationships between the members of the family.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Here is the saga of the Bonaparte family, told by a gifted author. Smith's clear writing and familiarity with the contentious Corsican clan make for a compelling narrative. Family feuds were an integral part of the dynasty that Napoleon created, yet the sibling bonds were even stronger, providing the basis for a legacy that still haunts French politics. Smith (Napoleon III) notes that it was Napoleon's deliberate intention to create a dynasty in the traditional European mode. All of his brothers and sisters, except the recalcitrant Lucien, became connected with Europe's ruling elite. At the same time, Napoleon sought to legitimize his regime through popular mandate. His nephew Louis Napoleon sought to emulate his uncle when he skillfully established the Second Empire through a plebiscite. But at the core both Napoleon I and Napoleon III sought to sustain their empires through military might, and therein existed the seeds of their ultimate demise. While Smith addresses the dimensions of Bonapartism, it is the dynamic personalities of the Bonapartes themselves that he emphasizes. The fascinating history of this family has not been so thoroughly explored since Theo Aronson's The Golden Bees: The Story of the Bonapartes. This is a worthy addition to the "Dynasty" series from British history publisher Hambledon and is recommended for academic and public libraries.-Jim Doyle, Sara Hightower Regional Lib., Rome, GA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781852854621
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 12/27/2005
  • Series: Dynasties Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.86 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

William H.C. Smith is a leading expert on the Bonapartes, and is the author of a biography of Napoleon III.

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Table of Contents



1 The Founder
2 Towards a Dynasty
3 The Revolution Crowned
4 An Heir without a Throne

5 No Justice for Bonapartes in France

6 Hope Deferred

7 The Restoration

8 The Empire Restored

9 Thriumph and Catastrophe

10 The Debacle

11 'The Prince is Down!'




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