Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

Dictatorship in history and theory : Bonapartism, Caesarism, and totalitarianism

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Cambridge University Press


This book was occasioned by a conference noting the bicentenary of Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état of the Eighteenth Brumaire (November 9), 1799. At that time no one could have imagined that this nearly botched seizure of power would put an end to the First Republic, lead to the Consulate and First Empire, and thus alter the course of European and world history. Often taken to be the squalid end to the great revolution begun in 1789, this first coup of Napoleon Bonaparte's served as the precedent for a second in December 1851 by his nephew, Louis Napoleon. Then another Bonaparte terminated another great revolution, that of 1848, by replacing the Second Republic with his own empire. What was the significance of these ostensibly repetitive sequences: a major revolution against a relatively mild monarchy, overthrow by force of the successor republican government, and the creation of an empire much more repressive than the monarchy prior to its republican predecessor? After 1851, many acute analysts of European politics concurred in the judgment that, taken together, these events constituted a qualitatively new phenomenon, a type of rule at once growing out of the French revolutions and a reaction against them.



Publisher Statement

Copyright © German Historical Institute 2004. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9781139052429

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version



Recommended Citation

Baehr, P., & Richter, M. (2009). Introduction. In P. Baehr & M. Richter (Eds.), Dictatorship in history and theory: Bonapartism, Caesarism, and totalitarianism (pp. 1-26). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139052429.001