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Projecting Imperial Power : New Nineteenth Century Emperors and the Public Sphere

Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly

WATANABE-O’KELLY Helen, Projecting Imperial Power : New Nineteenth Century Emperors and the Public Sphere, Oxford University Press, 2021.
ISBN-13 : 9780198802471

The nineteenth century is notable for its newly proclaimed emperors, from Franz I of Austria and Napoleon I in 1804, through Agustín and Pedro, the emperors of Mexico and Brazil, in 1822, to Napoleon III in 1852, Maximilian of Mexico in 1864, Wilhelm I, German emperor, in 1871, and Victoria, empress of India in 1876. These monarchs projected an imperial aura by means of coronations and acclamations, courts, medals, and costumes, portraits and monuments, ceremonial and religion, international exhibitions and museums, festivals and pageants, architecture and town planning. They relied on ancient history for legitimacy while partially espousing modernity. The empress consorts had to find a meaningful role for themselves in a changing world. The first emperors’ successors—Pedro II of Brazil, Franz Joseph of Austria, and Wilhelm II of Germany—expanded their panoply of power, until Pedro was forced to abdicate in 1889 and the First World War brought the Austrian and German empires to an end. Britain invented an imperial myth for its Indian empire in the twentieth century, until George VI relinquished the title of emperor in 1947. The imperial cities of Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and New Delhi bear witness to these vanished empires, as does Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City and the town of Petrópolis in Brazil. How the empires came to an end and how imperial cities and statues are treated nowadays demonstrates the contested place of the emperors in national cultural memory.