History Prizes 1995
FIRST EMPIRE PRIZE
Madeleine DESCHAMPS, Empire, Éditions Abbeville
In this book, Madeleine Deschamps analyses the ‘imperial style’, looking at art, music, literature, gardening, architecture and other cultural products, all firmly placed in the political and economic context which helped to popularise it. Napoleon’s political hegemony may have ended a long time ago, but the imperial style continues to interest architects and designers today. This thorough work, illustrated with a superb collection of drawings, watercolours and 150 colour photographs of projects from around the world, from Sweden to the USA, is indispensable for architects, art historians and anyone interested in the extravagant style of the Napoleonic empire.
SECOND EMPIRE PRIZE
Alain GOUTTMAN, La guerre de Crimée, 1853-1856, Paris, Éditions S.P.M., coll. Kronos
In 1852, Napoleon III had declared: ‘The Empire means peace’. Indeed, but how could the call to arms be resisted when Nicolas I of Russia was coveting the Ottoman Empire, the Black Sea and the Balkans, and even threatening holy places? France had been the ally of the Sublime Porte, protector of the Eastern Catholics and supporter of free movement in the Eastern Mediterranean for so long – how could she leave England in the lurch to combat Tsarist expansionism? On 25 March 1854, the two countries declared war on Russia. Thus began two hard years of campaign. There came one misunderstanding after another, changeover of chiefs from Saint-Arnaud to Pellissier, wild episodes such as the Charge of the Light Brigade, then glorious ones, culminating in the seize of Sebastopol in September 1856 and in victory, ratified at the Congress of Paris. France had finally overcome the humiliations of the Congress of Vienna and the treaties of 1815. Alongside England, she was the foremost world power. Nevertheless, despite the familiar names of Alma, Malakoff and Sebastopol, the heroes of the Crimea have been treated rather ill by history. To the outrage of their enemies, 100,000 French soldiers in Crimean cemeteries have been left to weeds and to oblivion. This book is the first since 1887 to mourn and celebrate this great war and its unknown soldiers.