A Great War Imperial German Ersatz Bayern Filzhelm, typical one piece construction, (the rear visor split) with gilt brass fittings, including helmet plate, visor trim and fixed spike, complete with liner
In Aug 1914 the declaration of war resulted in the mobilization of the armies of the German-speaking contingents fighting together as the Imperial German Army. With mobilization for a modern war, the German Armies found themselves unable to quickly equip millions of soldiers. A shortage of cow hide from Argentina combined with the excessive draw upon German industry to outfit the massive army being mobilised, resulted in a severe shortage of leather for manufacturing Pickelhauben. To meet with this immediate shortage, the Germans began in 1914 manufacturing helmets from Ersatz (substitute) materials.
As the felt hat manufacturing industry was well established in Germany for hundreds of years, the hat industry stepped in to fill the void by producing Pickelhaube out of pressed and blocked felt manufactured from rabbit fur or shredded wool. One advantage to the Filzhelme (felt helmets) was that they were normally pressed from one-piece of felt which significantly reduced production time. Other industries met the challenge by producing helmets from Eisenblech (tin plate), Stahlblech (steel), Vulcanfibre (pressed fibre), cork, pressed paper, and other materials. Helmets can be found with brass or silver fittings and eventually M1915 grey steel fittings as the M1915 Pickelhaube was introduced. Surviving examples of Ersatz Pickelhauben can be found with or without front visor trims, rear spines, or Kokarden
The coup d’etat of December 1851 by which Louis Napoleon overthrew the French Second Republic and declared, a year later, himself emperor greatly alarmed the other European Powers. Had the menace of Bonapartism returned to stalk the continent?
Louis Napoleon, now Emperor Napoleon III, declared shortly thereafter that “the Empire means Peace,” engaging in a public relations blitz, even charming Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. However, his primary, overarching foreign policy goal was the redress and reversal of the Vienna Treaty of 1815 which had ended the reign of his illustrious uncle. Whatever his assurances of peace, French soldiers were soon fighting and dying in the Crimean War (1853-56). Napoleon used the crisis in Turkey to win British support and to disrupt the Holy Alliance of Russia, Prussia and Austria. This allowed him, in 1859, to help Piedmont secure the unification of Italy, securing Nice and Savoy for France in the process.
For all of his initial success he failed to understand the shifting nature of the politics of European diplomacy. Always a supporter of the establishment of liberal nation states, under French auspices, of course, he initially supported similar agitation for unification in Germany. He sat idly by as Prussia defeated Austria for leadership of the German Bund in 1866, not realizing the grave threat to French power and prestige inherent in strong, unified German Reich until it was too late and he was forced to surrender to Otto Von Bismarck at Sedan in 1870.
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord.
Representing the restored Bourbon monarchy of a defeated France at the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), Talleyrand, no stranger to the art of diplomatic maneuver, ingenuously insinuated himself into the inner councils of the victorious Allies. By first championing the cause of the smaller nations excluded by the secret clause of the Treaty of Paris and then gaining access to the critical Statistics Committee, he turned the Big Four (Great Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia) into the Big Five of the peace conference. Talleyrand, a former servant of the Revolution and then later Napoleon, believed in 1815 that France needed rest and peace more than anything and sought to create an equitable balance of power among the nations of Europe. He formed a powerful block along with Castlereigh of England and Metternich of Austria to resist the radical designs of Tsar Alexander of Russia, particularly on the important question of Poland.
Talleyrand would die in 1838 but as one of the principal architects of a peace that would last until the First World War, his influence would continue to be felt during the following two centuries.
The Taking of the Malakov Redoubt; A British Officer Salutes the French Flag by Vernet.
The Crimean War saw British and French soldiers fighting together for the first time in living memory and many hoped this would help erase the bitter memories on both sides of the Napoleonic Wars.
General Bonaparte’s nephew, the French Emperor Napoleon III, certainly hoped this was so as he aimed to obliterate the Vienna settlement of 1815 and reassert French prestige on the world stage. It was with this goal in mind that Napoleon welcomed the diplomatic crisis in Turkey between Catholic and Orthodox Christians over control of the Holy Places. He relished the chance to confront Russia and her overweeningly reactionary Tsar, Nicholas I; Russia after all was the senior partner in the Holy Alliance against revolutionary change on the continent and the keeper, by force of arms, as in the heady days of 1848-50, of the terms of the Vienna treaty. Napoleon’s ambitions not just for France but in Italy, Germany and, of course, Poland would necessitate an open break with Russia and he seized the opportunity to weaken and humiliate Tsarist regime.
France and Russia weren’t the only Western Powers to have an interest in the affairs if Ottoman Turkey. Britain, in addition to protestant religious sympathies for the Christians of the empire, held considerable economic interests in Turkey. The English had been supporting the Turks to against the Russians for the previous 20 years, sitting as they did astride the route eastwards to India. Napoleon knew that he would need British support whatever he decided to do and pursued an English alliance unswervingly, using the difficulties in Palestine as a pretext for concerted action.
Old rivalries don’t vanish overnight, of course. The primary reason the English cabinet sent their fleet to Constantinople after the Turkish declaration of war in October 1853 was that Aberdeen and Palmerston couldn’t abide the thought of the French, who had done the same some weeks earlier, being left unsupervised in that part of the world. And there would be disputes between the British and French armed forces over the conduct of the war itself, especially as the French took the lead in the campaign in the Crimea. However victory, even one as uninspiring as the one achieved during the Crimean War is an effective bonding agent and the alliance forged in 1853-1856 laid the foundation of a workable partnership that was to survive both the war and the overthrow of Napoleon III in 1870 and find its final expression in the Entente Cordiale of the early 20th century.
The famous meeting between Napoleon III and Otto Von Bismarck, whereby the Emperor of the French surrendered to the German Chancellor after France’s humiliating defeat at Sedan in September 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War. From the ashes of the Second Empire rose the glory and power of the Second Reich.
After pardoning a man for sodomizing his donkey, Friedrich II was reported to have remarked “In my lands a man can enjoy freedom of both conscience and penis.” While Friedrich’s sexual ambiguity and philosophical objection to torture and capitol punishment are both well documented, this anecdote comes to us from Voltaire, hardly a reliable source. The two men enjoyed a lifelong friendship and correspondence but suffered a contentious falling out in the 1750s and 1760s. The famous philosophe attacked Friedrich, making ugly insinuations about his private life along with his political criticisms. Despite the dubious authenticity of the episode, I think this is an amusing window into the thoughts and habits of one of the 18th centuries most brilliant minds.