The Second French Republic followed the ill-fated Bourbon Restoration of 1814-1830, and the July Revolution of 1830, which enthroned Louis Phillipe. Louis Phillipe was then overthrown by the February Revolution of 1848, and the Second Republic was born.
This period is considered to be the emergence of France as a uniform, bureaucratic state. It was dominated by the Bourgeoisie, or middle class, made up of merchants, craftsmen, bankers and industrialists. This group eventually split itself into two factors; the high Bourgeoisie, consisting of the industrialists and bankers, and the remainder being considered the Petty Bourgeoisie.
The Second Republic was headed by Louis Napoleon, who, like his ancestors, began his reign with high ideals, then fell victim to the plague of omnipotence and declared himself emperor in 1852. Ruling as Napoleon III, he took France to war with Prussia, which led to his defeat and downfall in 1871. He was, in fact, the last French emperor.