Start Date

1-5-2019 9:00 AM

End Date

1-5-2019 10:15 AM

Disciplines

European History

Subjects

France -- History -- Second Empire (1852-1870) -- Historiography, Victor Hugo (1802-1885) -- Influence, Napoleon III (Emperor of the French : 1808-1873) -- History

Description

The lapping of waves, the soft calls of seabirds, and the cool breeze buffeting patches of wildflowers are sounds typically uncommon to the battlefield. Yet it was indeed a vicious war the famous author Victor Hugo waged from his exile on Guernsey Island against Napoléon III, the lesser-known nephew of the infamous Napoléon Bonaparte and emperor of the Second Empire. Throughout Napoléon’s reign and after, Hugo argued through his writings that the emperor was the antithesis of republican virtues. What would be Napoléon’s counterattack? Despite making largely successful efforts to influence his image with the working class, Napoléon never offered a specific response to Hugo’s assertions, and his tactics of censorship and repression only provided the skilled author with more evidence to support his claims. This paper argues that this led later republican writers to reiterate Hugo’s historical interpretation, forever defining Napoléon III as “Napoléon le Petit.”

Description

Winner of the Karen E. Hoppes Young Historians Award for Outstanding Research and Writing.

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/28631

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May 1st, 9:00 AM May 1st, 10:15 AM

“I Should Like to Say a Word or Two About Your Empire”: Victor Hugo le Grand, Napoléon III le Petit, and the Historiographical Battlefield of the French Second Empire

The lapping of waves, the soft calls of seabirds, and the cool breeze buffeting patches of wildflowers are sounds typically uncommon to the battlefield. Yet it was indeed a vicious war the famous author Victor Hugo waged from his exile on Guernsey Island against Napoléon III, the lesser-known nephew of the infamous Napoléon Bonaparte and emperor of the Second Empire. Throughout Napoléon’s reign and after, Hugo argued through his writings that the emperor was the antithesis of republican virtues. What would be Napoléon’s counterattack? Despite making largely successful efforts to influence his image with the working class, Napoléon never offered a specific response to Hugo’s assertions, and his tactics of censorship and repression only provided the skilled author with more evidence to support his claims. This paper argues that this led later republican writers to reiterate Hugo’s historical interpretation, forever defining Napoléon III as “Napoléon le Petit.”