Discussion in 'World History' started by carmen510, Jan 27, 2008.
Don't you talk bad things about dead people.
Dachspmg, a good summary of Boney III. However there are several flaws he did nevertheless.
Indeed he felt he had to defend the Papal State because of the Catholic church in his country. That's why he lost Italy. His diplomacy of the 1860s was a series of defeats though.
At first his defeat in Mexico, where the French finally had to retreat. In Italy won the war of 1859, but on the second view not that impressing. Nevertheless the French soldier was recognized as the best in the world and the population was full of nationalistic dreams. So a strong German state was a nightmare to them.
Bismarck had managed to make treaties with Britain and Russia. Nappy III. couldn't prevent that. In the German War of 1866 he believed in a new 7 years war and even offered Bismarck help, if he was able to get the Rhine as border. He assumed he needed his help. But Königgrätz was the turning point. Austria was defeated in 7 weeks! But with a chancellor von Beust Austria wanted revenge.
In the mean time he tried to gain the Rhine as border and in the first step tried to annex Luxemburg and Belgium. That lead to yet another defeat. Although he thought he did with Bismarck's authorisation, he was wrong when Bismarck strongly opposed that. He outmanoeuvred Nappy III! So the French emperor had to suffer this defeat.
In the next time the North German Confederation was founded. This state did not include the South German states. However in secret treaties with them Bismarck managed to form an alliance against any attacker of Germany. The hatred against the French was higher than the hatred against the Prussians. Only Ludwig II. of Bavaria was a keen supporter of France. However, Bavaria also signed the treaty with North Germany. That he didn't see.
Bismarck however, knew he needed a war against France to fulfill the unification of Germany. That he prepared. And the next chance was an outstanding one: The Spanish throne was empty and a distant relative of Wilhelm I. was asked to become king. However this time Napoleon achieved a diplomatic victory- at first, when Wilhelm aborted this plan.
In 1870 Napoleon had many crises in France. He needed soon a thing to push up his popularity. And one good thing is bashing the Germans. So the French ambassador went to Bad Ems, where Wilhelm made holidays. So out of a victory you can make a stunning defeat! His behaviour lead to the so called Emser Depesche. This made public a day later, although slightly shortened to make it sound harsher than it was, provoked a French declaration of war against North Germany. Napoleon III. had hoped to silence this affront, but now he could not do this any more. He had to declare war on North Germany. Otherwise he would have lost his throne. Nevertheless he thought still to have the best army of the world. But indeed that was a mistake.
However even before the French invaded Germany, and they only planned for a war in Germany, even the families of the soldiers were allowed to accompany the soldiers (!), the diplomacy of Nappy III. got one defeat after another. Denmark got twice a bloody nose and only a fleet with an expeditionary corps would have changed that. In contrast of 1864 the North German fleet was able to break the Danish at once. And so the needed more than the fleet the French send. Although the German fleet was much smaller the fighting power of the world's biggest warship, SMS König Wilhelm, was frightening the whole French fleet. And as the expeditionary corps was needed in France, Denmark stayed neutral. Britain and Russia were also neutral and not willing to help the French. And Austria was keen to declare war on North Germany, but again wanted to prevent a 2 fronts war with Italy and insisted on Italian DoW on Germany! The Italians agreed, but only for the price of the Papal State! That, however, was not possible, as Napoleon III. feared for his throne if he did so. And the catholics were the last bastion of his power in France. At last the South German states declared war on France honouring the treaties with North Germany.
A diplomatic utter defeat for France. And the war itself lead to the end of Napoleon's rule. After the first invasion of German soil was beat the German forces invaded in full strength the Alsace. Weißenburg and Wörth were defeats for the French army of the Rhine. The whole French army was still in mobilising when these battles happened. Soon the Alsace was lost, and the incompetent Marshal Bazaine, a darling of the left as he started as private, was unable to retreat to MacMahon and the main forces of the French trying to build up a line to hold up the German juggernaut. But Bazaine only got to Vionville, a few km near to Metz, his HQ. There a single German corps was able to hold the lines and finally even to let the whole French army retreat. A few days later the enclosed army was beaten and had to surrender in the battle of Metz. Without these forces the French army marched east to the Belgish border, where at Sedan they were finally cought and after a battle had to surrender, too.
Napoleon became a PoW. And the next day he lost his throne. Although the French decided to fight on, soon Paris was enclosed and sieged, surrendering finally in January 1871 and thus ending the war.
I would argue that Mao shouldn't be on the list. Because no matter what the destruction and death toll to his own people, his nation was stronger at his death than it was when he took over.
Yes, the Rhineland annexation and the Luxemburg crisis were wrong foots. He waited too long. Napoleon could have seized Luxemburg after the Seven Weeks' War had he made von Bismarck make it part of the settlement ending the war, when he still had some diplomatic weight to throw around because the Prussians were busy in Bohemia and Franconia. He always did have a problem with hesitation.
Actually, Napoleon was near the height of his popularity in 1870 because of his "Liberal Empire" reforms. The plebiscite confirmed that. He really didn't have to push the Ems business, but Gramont convinced him to try to make Wilhelm I make the renunciation official. It wasn't German-bashing by any stretch; heck, nobody sane would want a revival of the Habsburg Empire of Carlos I/Karl V surrounding France, which is what the Hohenzollern Candidature would have given. The Ems Dispatch was almost entirely von Bismarck's creation and otherwise it would not have been a major issue. At that point, after the release of the doctored telegram, Napoleon, whose reign partially rested on these plebiscites and on public opinion, could not ignore the clamor for war.
No, Napoleon was in heavy waters as there were many people demanding reforms or even a republic. The only way he could continue with his way was to have victories in battle. Or a series of diplomatic victories. It is clear that a rebirth of the empire of Charles V. was not very popular in France. However the way Gramont went was a way of trying to humilate the neighbour. Instead of talking to Wilhelm at first discretely he went to the public. With harsh anti German words. He made an ultimatum as the first and not the last step! Although he was successful he made the impression Germany had to pay a satisfaction to France. That was believed in the public. But Gramont had already used nearly every means. Prussia, or better North Germany, was not directly hit by this success as only the Prince of Hohenzollern- Sigmaringen resigned. So Benedetti was ordered to talk to Wilhelm at Bad Ems, where he made holidays. He talked to him directly without asking for an audience. That was an affront. In contrast to the previous behaviour Wilhelm I. refused to accept the demands of the French, that never again a Hohenzoller shall seek the crown of Spain. He had no news about the resigning and after he got them, he refused another audience. Heinrich Abeken, an official of Bismarck who accompanied the king, was given the task to send a depeche to Bismarck. He wrote the whole story. That Emser Depesche arrived Bismarck while a lunch with Moltke and Roon. All were depressed as they felt the king resigned too early. But now Bismarck had an idea. He published a much shorter version. In that the French demand and the refusal of the audience were only mentioned, not more. Gramont, who had tried to hide this defeat, was now in a very bad situation. And Napoleon III., too. Not only, that the Prussian king, for the French public, refused that "justified" claim, he also refused to talk to the French ambassador! The German public got the impression that Benedetti was making an even greater affront as he did in reality. It was the red rag in the eyes of the Gaul bull, how Bismarck said. 5 days later the French declared war! Bismarck had his war to unify Germany completely.
I'm no historian, but I think there were poor people before the Reagan administration.
Hmm to this guy were praying all people in ee countries to rescue them from soviets. He clearly failed to prevent cold war. Of course roosevelt was worse but still...
Caligula (10 chars)
I don't understand why anyone is putting Napoleon III on here. He ruled for decades, maintained stability and prosperity, and did a lot of good things like rebuilding Paris. You can't blame him for losing a war against Bismarck and Von Moltke either -- few leaders would have won such a war.
I think to be one of the "Worst Leaders Ever", you need to do more than just be imperfect. In fact, you need to do more than just screw up -- pretty much every leader screws up. You need to do something so stupid that it hurts to read about it.
Here is my nomination: King Wladyslaw III of Poland, aka King Uslaszlo I of Hungary.
As a teenager, he became King of Poland. At the age of 20, he became King of Hungary. This was back when these were huge countries. Poland at this point would have included modern-day Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and most of the Ukraine. Hungary would have included modern-day Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, and 1/3 of Romania; it meant that he could walk from the Baltic to the Adriatic stepping only on land in which he was King; to the east, his lands nearly reached the Black Sea. And he still had a full life of ruling this huge personal empire ahead of him.
So what did he decide to do? Break a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire and declare war on them. This is dumb enough. What's worse is that he decided to meet the Ottoman Army in pitched battle -- while vastly outnumbered. And what did he do at this battle? He decided that he would charge directly into the most elite part of the Ottoman military, the Janissary corps.
So, at the age of 21, Wladyslaw III was killed in battle, unceremoniously beheaded by an anonymous Turkish infantryman. He had 1/3rd of Europe handed to him on a silver platter -- and lost it all because of his own stupidity. His soldiers abandoned his body on the field, and some locals were nice enough to bury it there later. It's in Varna in modern-day Bulgaria; as far as I know you can still go and visit him.
We couldn't have just incaded Russia. We would have lost or gotten in a stalemate or porvoked nuclear war, etc.
Also, Stalin wasn't going to give up his power there peacefully.
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