As no other world exposition before it, the Exposition universelle attracted the regents of the world to the world capital of the 19th century. The list of potentates extended from the brother of the Japanese emperor to the Viceroy of Egypt. For the first time, even a Turkish sultan left his country to take part in the meeting of nations´ representatives. This unbroken parade of princely visits went on for six months, a parade which was popularly known as the "Nations´ Ballet". And even the rulers of the three continental powers who had fought against Napoleon I up until the year 1814 returned for the first time to Paris and to the emperor´s realm: the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I, the Prussian King Wilhelm I and the Russian Tsar Alexander II.
And Alexander would retain the worst possible memory of this visit. During the official welcoming ceremony he was received with calls from the crowd of "Long live Poland!". A few days later in the Bois de Boulogne, he escaped an assassination attempt with a pistol by the Polish patriot Antoni Berezowski only by chance. Victor Emmanuel II of Italy was the only European King who did not attend, thereby protesting against French intervention in the Italian war of liberation. The execution in 1867 by rebels under the leadership of Benito Juarez of Emperor Maximilian – the brother of Franz Joseph of Austria – who had been put in charge in Mexico by Napoleon III, was to put a lasting cloud over relationships between France and Austria. Criticism of Napoleon´s domestic and foreign policies became stronger and stronger during the course of the year. These diplomatic machinations and crises were bound to dim the brilliance of the great festival.
King Wilhelm I visited the exposition with his chancellor Bismarck and chief of general staff von Moltke in June. Although Prussia had achieved hegemony over northern Germany with victory at Koniggrätz in the previous year in spite of French protests, a peaceful relationship still existed between France and Prussia. The Prussian cannons attracted both the admiration of visitors and the scorn of the comic magazines. Was it only the pessimists at this weapons show who sensed rumblings of the imminent war between France and Germany, a war which would end with the siege of Paris, the capitulation of the French and the imprisonment of Napoleon? Blinded by the brilliance of the Exposition universelle, one wanted to forget the ancient rivalry between the nations, a rivalry, however, which was not to be dispersed despite all of the peaceful speeches.
|Year: 1867||City: Paris||Country: France|
|Duration: 1st April - 3rd November 1867|