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The Mortal Napoleon III

The Mortal Napoleon III

Roger L. Williams
Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    The Mortal Napoleon III
    Book Description:

    A reappraisal of Napoleon the man. Roger Williams' biographical study shows how medical evidence can be used as historical data to refine our view of the past. For an accurate picture, he examines the medical evidence of the case, the emperor's psychological make-up, and the external pressures on him: the Crimean and Franco-Prussian wars, government reforms, the competence of his advisers, the political finagling of the empress, the assumptions and reactions of foreign governments.

    Originally published in 1972.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7182-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)
    Roger L. Williams

    This book is a biographical study, not a biography. Napoleon III himself is one of the major remaining mysteries in the history of the Second Empire, and his health in particular, never clearly understood, has traditionally been held to have been responsible for the defects of his governance. That he was ill from the earliest years of his reign was generally known both at home and abroad, just as it has always been known that he was physically unfit for the campaign against Prussia in 1870 and that he died in 1873 after a series of operations to crush an...

  4. 1 The Imperial Patient
    (pp. 9-47)

    Prince Louis-Napoleon was the third son of King Louis and Queen Hortense of Holland, the last child of an unfortunate dynastic marriage that had been forced in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul, six years after his own marriage to Josephine Beauharnais. Louis, then twenty-four, was Napoleon’s younger and favorite brother; Hortense, nineteen, was Josephine’s daughter by a first marriage. Whatever political cynicism may have induced the First Consul to insist upon the marriage, and whatever pleasure Josephine may have taken in seeing her own position ratified by the new alliance, both of them knew that Louis and Hortense...

  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  6. 2 The Curse of Love
    (pp. 48-73)

    Napoleon III had always been fond of women, beginning with his mother, and he had been a prince with a great name. Before he came to the presidency in 1848 at the age of forty, he had had love affairs, perhaps like any other man. Reaching power, he became the victim of pamphleteers and an immense amount of gossip, the fate of any man in political office, no doubt, especially in France. But as a single man with a mistress who was no secret, political and personal factors combined to guarantee him a reputation as a sexual monster. Any woman...

  7. 3 The Imperial Medical Service
    (pp. 74-90)

    The health service of the imperial household was created by the decree of December 31, 1852, but actually organized by Dr. Henri Conneau (1803-1877), the long-time friend of Napoleon III.¹ Conneau, who took the title of senior physician and chief of the health service, was born of French parents in Milan during the French occupation, his father being an officer in the commissariat.² Conneau took his medical training in the Medical College of Florence, supporting himself for a time while still a student by being secretary to King Louis Bonaparte, then in exile. He abandoned his position in order to...

  8. 4 Politics and Disease
    (pp. 91-129)

    The mysteries of Napoleon III’s mind and character were necessarily of interest to foreign governments in their concern to anticipate or interpret French policies, and because the emperor gave signs of physical distress from the earliest years of his reign the ambassadors’ reports and the memoirs of that era were full of speculation as to its cause. Perhaps inevitably, ambassadors heard too much court gossip, and some of them, whether abhorring his political principles or contemptuous of his lineage, were only too ready to believe the worst. Most of the hostile memoirs and biographies, even if based upon private papers...

  9. 5 War and Death
    (pp. 130-168)

    The coming of the Franco-Prussian War in July of 1870 has always been a troublesome historical problem, and both the origins and the outcome of the war have been linked traditionally to the health of Napoleon III. The year had begun propitiously. On January 2, a liberal regime had taken office dedicated to working out the format for a limited monarchy, and one of the conditions the liberals laid down in taking office was that the Prussian gains of 1866 be regarded as legitimate and not a cause for revenge despite the French failure to obtain the promised compensation. As...

  10. 6 The Case Revisited
    (pp. 169-194)

    The post-mortem examination took place on Friday afternoon, January 10, 1873, in the presence of Doctors Thompson, Gull, Conneau, and Corvisart. For the pathologist they chose the most distinguished specialist available, Professor John S. Burdon-Sanderson of University College, London. The results were published in the LondonTimesthe following day as well as inLancet:

    The kidneys were found to be involved in the inflammatory effects produced by the irritation of the vesical calculus (which must have been in the bladder several years) to a degree which was not suspected; and if it had been suspected could not have been...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-220)
  12. Index
    (pp. 221-226)