The Importance of Napoleon the III and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870
France in the 19th century was a country that was in trouble. In the beginning of the century its people were picking up the pieces from overthrowing a powerful and well established monarch. The people had to weather a failed first republic and the Napoleonic Wars. French people then had to deal with a restoration of the monarchy and a return of the power to the Bourgeoisie. Living as a common person in France was no easy task. While slavery no longer existed legally, its basic principles were still practiced over the peasants by the powerful Bourgeoisie. In the novel The Life of a Simple Man the protagonist is a peasant man named Tiennon. The story is a fictional account of life of a peasant in 19th century France. Tiennon lives through most of these historical events but most of them had no real effect on his day to day life. The one event that truly affected all peasants was the second empire of Napoleon III and his war against Prussia in 1870. France’s declaration of war meant that all military aged men would be conscripted and forced to serve. Before the war families were able to buy their son’s service out of the military for 500 francs. Tiennon had paid this amount, but with Napoleon’s declaration of war no amount could save his son Jean. “1870 came, and the great war, again one of those years on never forgets (Guillemin 154)”. “Monsieur Lavallee came to tell us that the government of Badinguet had declared war against Prussia. He took me aside to tell me that Jean would be called up before long (Guillemin 154)”. These quotes show not only what life would have been like for Tiennon and his family but also for all the peasant families. Tiennon had lost 500 francs which is an incredible amount of money for a peasant and he got nothing in return. This could be devastating to a peasant family not only because they are losing their loved one, but now they have one...
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