The invention of France

Two hours north east of Paris is a famous battlefield. The defeated French leader was called Napoleon, but the battle was not Waterloo. It was Sedan, and lining up against the French, the Prussians. The defeated French leader was Napoleon’s nephew, le petit Napoleon, otherwise known as the emperor Napoleon III. This battle, in 1870, set up the dynamic that led to two world wars. | Audio

In the final Invention of France, Misha Glenny explores a crucial year for all western Europe. France was invaded, Paris bombarded, and Alsace occupied. January 18th 1871, a humiliating event – the proclamation of a new German empire, announced not in Germany but in the Palace of Versailles. Europe would never be the same.

With contributions from Thomas Kielinger, Jonathan Fenby, ambassador Sylvie Bermann, Andrew Hussey, Jeremy Black and Agnew Poirier. Plus contrubutions from Emile Zola’s novel, Le Debacle.

The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde. LISTEN to the BCC program

Falconetti as Joan of Arc