In 1808 the Queen of Holland gave birth to a son. She was Hortense de beuaharnais, both step-daughter and sister-in-law of the Emporer Napoleon. Her son, Louis Napoleon, was born in Paris and during his entire life spent but a few days on Dutch soil. After living for many years in Germany, Switzerland and England, he bacame Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, and then returned to England to die in exile. He married Eugenie del Montijo, a Spanish Countess who was born in Spain twelve years after Wellington won the Peninsular War and died there sixteen years before Franco began the Civil War in 1936. Eugenia lived for eighteen years at The Tuileries as Empress of the French, and for fifty years in exile in England at Chislehurst and Farnborough.
Jasper Ridley here portrays the lives of two people of surpassing interest both as individuals and politically, who were at the centre of the European stage for more than twenty years, from Napoleon III's election as President of the Republic in 1848, until the defeat of France by Germany in the Franco Prussian War in 1870. The canvas is a vast one, but such is the suthor's grasp of the period that he is always in control of his narrative. His researches have unearthed a great deal of material that has not been used before.
In this magnificent double biography a whole period of history comes to life again, recreated by the pen of a major historian