Empress Eugenie

(Eugenie de Monijo)


Eugenie de Montijo was the Marchioness of Ardales, the Marchioness of Moya, and the Countess of Teba, Montijo, and Ablitas. She also became the wife of Napoleon III and therefore the last Empress Consort of the French. Eugenie was educated at a fashionable Parisian convent, and she caught the interest of Napoleon at one of the several balls that were being held in celebration of the Second Republic. After his coup d’état, the newly-crowned monarch began looking for a spouse to produce an heir, and, having already been rebuffed in his attempts to marry both a Swedish princess and Queen Victoria's niece, Napoleon settled on the beautiful Spanish countess. The couple declared their marriage a love match, to which newspapers responded with sarcastic comments and Court ministers gave their utmost contempt. Eugenie gave birth to her only son in March 1856.

Eugenie was important both in the fashion world and in the political scheme. When she displayed the first cage crinolines in 1855, European fashion followed her lead, and she again affected the design world when she later abandoned vast skirts in favor of a more fitting silhouette. She also acted as Regent during her husband's several absences, and he consulted her on important issues of the State. As a conservative Catholic, she balanced Napoleon's liberal tendencies, and she was a staunch supporter of papal powers. Eugenie was not without her faults, however; for one, she is largely blamed for being a conspirator in the Franco Mexican War, in which the French attempted to establish a Mexican Empire and reap the financial rewards. The operation was largely unsuccessful, and in 1866 Napoleon was forced to redraw his troops. After the deaths of her husband and son, both closely following the French defeat in the Franco Prussian War, her health began to deteriorate, and she retired to her villa at Cape Martin, far from all interference in French politics. She died at the age of 94 during a visit to her relatives, the Dukes of Alba in Madrid.

Key events during the life of Eugenie de Montijo:

Born in Granada, Spain
Married Napoleon III and became Empress of France
Gave birth to only son, Napoléon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph Bonaparte
Introduced cage crinolines to be worn under skirts
1859, 1865, 1870
Acted as Regent during her husband's military ventures
Start of Franco-Mexican War
Napoleon III died
Death of her son
Passed away while visting the Duke of Alba

Book Links
Eugenie - Empress of the French  by  George Upton

Image Links

Eugenie, Empress of the French.
 in Eugenie, Empress of the French

Empress Eugenie
 in Eugenie, Empress of the French

The Empress-Widow
 in Eugenie, Empress of the French

Short Biography
Napoleon III Nephew of Napoleon, elected emperor of France after revolution of 1848. Deposed after disastrous Franco-Prussian War.
Maximilian of Austria Archduke who was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico. Overthrown and executed by Liberal republicans.
Otto von Bismarck Prussian statesman and mastermind of German Unification. Strategically provoked wars against Austria and France.