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Paris Between Empires 1814 -1852

London, John Murray, 21 June 2001, 559 pages, ISBN 0719556279
Paperback: London, Orion, 13 March 2003, 562 pages, ISBN 1842126563
New York, St Martin’s Press, 1 April 2003, 559 pages, ISBN 0312308574
[as Paris, Capitale de l’Europe 1814-1852] Paris, Perrin, October 2003, 639 pages, ISBN 2262019134

Paris between 1814 and 1852 was the capital of Europe, a city of power and pleasure, a magnet for people of all nationalities that exerted an influence far beyond the reaches of France. Paris was the stage where the great conflicts of the age – between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, revolution and royalism, socialism and capitalism, atheism and Catholicism – were fought out before the audience of Europe. As Prince Metternich said: ‘When Paris sneezes, Europe catches cold.’ Not since imperial Rome had one city so dominated European life.

Paris Between Empires tells the story of this golden age, from the entry of the allies into Paris on March 31, 1814, after the defeat of Napoleon I, to the proclamation of his nephew Louis-Napoleon as Napoleon III in the Hôtel de Ville on December 2, 1852. During those years, Paris, the seat of a new parliamentary government, was a truly cosmopolitan capital, home to Rossini, Heine, and Princess Lieven, as well as Berlioz, Chateaubriand, and Madame Recamier. Artisans and aristocrats from across Europe crowded its salons, attracted by the freedom from the political, social and sexual restrictions that they endured at home.

This was a time, too, of political turbulence and dynastic intrigue, of violence on the streets, and women manipulating men and events from their salons. In describing it Philip Mansel draws on the unpublished letters and diaries of some of the city’s leading figures and of the foreigners who flocked there, among them Lady Holland, two British ambassadors, Lords Stuart de Rothesay and Normanby, and Charles de Flahaut, lover of Napoleon’s step-daughter Queen Hortense. This book shows that the European ideal was as alive in the nineteenth century as it is today.

‘just the kind of book I like’ Paul Johnson (Books of the Year, Sunday Telegraph).

‘lovingly written and a rich, satisfying read’ Simon Sebag Montefiore (Books of the Year, BBC History Magazine).

‘absorbing and admirable…an excellent, entertaining history’ Philip Hensher (The Spectator).

‘wonderfully lucid and learned’ Rupert Christiansen (Sunday Telegraph).

‘the best English account of pre-modern Paris for a generation’ Timothy Wilson-Smith (The Tablet).

‘deep scholarship, elegant prose, narrative pace and cohesion’ Shusha Guppy (Times Higher Education Supplement).

‘a book which deserves nothing but praise for its readability, its erudition and its entertainment’ Robert O’Byrne (The Irish Times).

‘The author captures the dazzling animation of Paris with its shifting political allegiances, its clash of ideologies, its cultural vitality... The erudition is impressive with more than eighty pages of notes on sources but it is never vaunted in this enlightening, entertaining and thoroughly readable account.’ David Baguley (French Studies)

‘Has the appeal of popular history at its best, but the level of scholarship is more typical of academic writing … great insights … a fine study.’ R. S. Alexander (Historical Journal)

‘This excellent book is full of insight and revealing detail.’ (Financial Times)

‘Gripping and delightful … Philip Mansel has excelled himself … Never have the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 been so vividly conveyed in accounts that combine high life and low life, blood in the streets and fear in the salons.’ (The Sunday Times)

‘Fascinating … No-one seriously interested in nineteenth-century France can fail to learn something from this learned and detailed book.’ (Daily Telegraph)

‘A superb evocation.’ Andrew Roberts