DescriptionFrench Double Barrel Percussion Shotgun of Napoleon III by Gastinne-Renette, Makers of Firearms for the Emperor of France, Napoleon III.
16 gauge, 29 1/8-inch browned Damascus barrels with concave rib having a panel with illegible address. Gold-inlaid herringbone band at breech. Gold-washed letter L at base of barrel. Bottom of barrels marked with crown over GR [Gastinne-Renette] cartouches. Rear bottom of barrels marked with numeral 7. Hammers engraved with dolphin motifs. Shrouded nipples. Upper tang, hammers and rear portions of lockplates are scroll-engraved and reblued. Sides of lockplates engraved with woodland hunting scenes of a hound on left and reclining stag on right. Engraved and reblued furniture. Lockplates marked: Gastinne-Renette in gilt. Fore-end cap device and lower tang scroll-engraved and mounted with a gold coat-of-arms thought to be the personal marking of Napoleon III. Varnished walnut stock with finely checkered wrist and fore-end, the wrist inlaid with a gold, shield-shaped escutcheon with the seal of Napoleon III. Engraved gold oval escutcheon on bottom of buttstock bearing the engraved letter L. Varnished hardwood ramrod with brass tip. Sling ring on second thimble. Barrels with wooden tompions. This shotgun is believed to have been the actual property of French Emperor, Napoleon III, based on the gold escutcheons and the fact that other examples of firearms made by Gastinne-Renette do not bear the gold escutcheons of the Emperor. Condition: Good as refinished. Barrels have been browned and show light wear overall, the barrel rib address appears to have been obliterated at the time of refurbishment. Stock showing scattered wear and professional period wrist crack repair.
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was the first President of the French Republic and, as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I. Elected President by [popular vote in 1848, he initiated a coup d'etat in 1851, before ascending the throne as Napoleon III on 2 December 1852, the forty-eighth anniversary of Napoleon I''s coronation. He ruled as Emperor of the French until 4 September 1870. He holds the distinction of being both the first titular president and the last monarch of France.
Napoleon III is primarily remembered for an energetic foreign policy which aimed to jettison the limitations imposed on France since 1815 by the Concert of Europe and reassert French influence in Europe and the French colonial empire. Napoleon stood opposed to the reactionary policies imposed at Vienna in 1815 and instead was an exponent of popular sovereignty, and a supporter of nationalism. In the Near East, Napoleon III spearheaded allied action against Russia in the Crimean War and restored French presence in the Levant claiming for France the role of protector of the Maronite Chistians. A French garrison in Rome likewise secured the Papal States against annexation by Italy, defeating the Italians at Mentana and winning the support of French Catholics for Napoleon's regime.
In the Far East, Napoleon III established French rule in Cochinchina and New Caledonia. French interests in China were upheld in the Second Opium War and the Taiping Rebellion an abortive campaign against Korea was launched in 1866 while a military mission to Japan failed to prevent the restoration of Imperial rule. French intervention in Mexico was also unsuccessful, and was terminated in 1867 due to mounting Mexican resistance and American diplomatic pressure.
Domestically, Napoleon was balanced between the conservatives and liberals of the French establishment, but he gradually moved toward the liberal element. His reign was an era of prosperity and industrialization in France, facilitating a major renovation of Paris under Haussmann that created the outline of the modern city. The Second French Empire was overthrown three days after Napoleon's disastrous surrender at the Battle of Sedan in 1870, which resulted in the proclamation of the French Third Republic and his exile in England, where he died in 1873.
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