Friday, April 1, 2016

Etiquette of France's Imperial Court

Napoleon III — In 1866, Napoleon had to face mounting Prussian power, as Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, under Prussian leadership, sought German unification. In July 1870, with no allies and with inferior military forces, Napoleon entered the Franco-Prussian War. The French army was quickly defeated. Napoleon III was captured at the Battle of Sedan,  and the French Third Republic was proclaimed in Paris. Napoleon went into exile in England. He died there in 1873.

Letter from Paris
(From Our Resident Correspondent)

Paris — January 23, 1866

The French are a very elastic people. They lean to and accept any form of government that is offered to them with the greatest complacency. A few years back they had a Republic, in all its simplicity, and now they have an Empire, to which they appear to be perfectly devoted: at least, all exigencies are observed, if not relished by them. 

The first places at the Imperial Court are solicited by the oldest nobility; and inferior, and even high stations, are filled by those who were once staunch Republicans. There are no less than eleven Chambellans in full activity, and seventeen honorary ones, aspiring to become regular officials many of which are occupied by the first names of the Faubourg St. Germain, the old aristocratic quarter of Paris. 

To have an audience of His Majesty is a work of tact and time. It is generally of a Sunday that audiences are granted to those who solicit them, and the ceremony is performed with all due state decorum and etiquette, and you are ushered into the Imperial presence by silver chained ushers, (Huissiers) after having first been handed over to the Grand Chambellan, who at the present moment bears an Imperial name, that of Bassano, who is Duke and Senator. Such is the Imperial Franco risen out of the Republic of as short-lived a notoriety. —The Daily Alta California, 1866

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