Louis Bonaparte, nephew of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte,
founded the Second Empire in France in 1852.
The restored empire was never quite as successful as its
predecessor, however, and by 1870 Louis Bonaparte had fallen for
Otto von Bismark's bait and had declared war on Prussia.
Unfortunately for the French, while they were still living off
the glory of victories gained over half a century before, Prussia
had built itself the most modern and powerful army in Europe.
Louis Bonaparte was soundly defeated in the Franco-Prussian War.
Paris was occupied and von Bismarck declared the establishment of
Imperial Germany in the Versailles Palace. Moreover, the Paris
Commune was formed in the aftermath of the humiliating defeat and
the declaration of the Third Republic quickly followed.
The Paris Commune was quickly crushed and the republic was about
to be turned into a kingdom again, in line with the wishes of the
majority of deputies.
A compromise was required, so two opposing groups of
pro-monarchy deputies first endorsed a constitution (in 1871) and
then elected Adolphe Thiers, the defeater of the Paris Commune, to
become the president of the republic.
Two years later, General Mac Mahon became the new president of
France. The re-establishment of the kingdom, however, was always
pushed to the background. In fact, pro-monarchy groups even agreed
on the identity of the next king, Henri Dieudonné, the Count of
When this gentleman refuted the blue-white-red flag of
revolutionaries as the flag of French Kingdom, his kingship came to
nothing. From then on, the assembly extended the duration of Mac
Mahon's term of office to seven years, in order to gain sufficient
time for the spoilsport count to pass away so that they could
eventually find another adequate candidate.
The system, however, settled down in the meantime; there was no
return to kingdom and the seven year formula lasted exactly 127
years. In fact the system proved so enduring that the Turkish
Republic copied it.
While Turkey continues to use it today, former French President
Jacques Chirac reduced it to five plus five years in 2000.