Napoleon III changed his policies in an attempt to preserve the second French Empire when his foreign interventions and public expenditures made him unpopular.
Napoleon III had participated in the Crimean War against Russia, had assisted in the unification of Italy during the Franco-Austrian War, and expanded French influence in China. He attempted to set up a puppet empire in Mexico under the Hapsburg Maxilian I; but this attempt failed miserably. These wars were expensive, however, and caused his popularity with the French people to decline. He had complete control of the government's budget, and had handled it poorly, resulting in a massive debt. To quiet the liberals who criticized him, he allowed limited freedom of the press, appointed a liberal Prime Minister, and allowed free and open debate in Parliament. He agreed that he would not borrow money when Parliament was out of session; but covered himself by retaining the right to change sections of the budget. This and increasing failures in foreign policy (he was captured by the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War) led to his removal from office and the proclamation of the Third Republic.