(The Ministry of Pomp: the Household of Emperor Napoleon III)
Laundry maids, ladies-in-waiting, footmen, aides-de-camp, there were thousands of people in the employ of Napoléon III and Empress Eugénie between 1852 and 1870. With ages ranging from 10 to 80, these men and women of the Emperor’s household all worked hard to maintain the splendour of the regime. Out of this was born the Imperial Festival. Chamberlains darted around the crinolines of the Ladies of the palace, under the awestruck gaze of the crowd, while some jeered and others criticised.
Rivalries, petty crimes, career moves, gratuities, dress code, Xavier Mauduit paints a rich and vibrant social portrait of this Imperial Household, accompanied by illustrations. In a new study that reaches to the very heart of the Palaces of the man who was the first President of the First Republic and the last sovereign of France, he traces the way in which a real policy was established to promote a certain public image, a policy which still persists today, under the Republic.
Xavier Mauduit has an Agrégation and a PhD in history and is a journalist with France Inter and Arte. His publications include L’Homme qui voulait tout. Napoléon, le faste et la propagande (The Man who wanted it all. Napoléon, splendour and propaganda) (Autrement, 2015). His doctoral thesis, on which this book is based, received the Mérimée prize in 2013.