1859 in France
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Events from the year 1859 in France.
- 26 March - A French amateur astronomer claims to have noticed a planet closer to the Sun than Mercury - later named Vulcan.
- 23 April - Austria issues an ultimatum seeking the complete de-militarization of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
- 29 April - Second Italian War of Independence begins, when Austrian ultimatum is ignored.
- 14 May - Napoleon III arrives in Alessandria, taking command of the operations.
- 20 May - Battle of Montebello, Piedmontese cavalry and French infantry defeat Austrian troops.
- 30 May - Battle of Palestro, French-Sardinian victory.
- 4 June - Battle of Magenta, French-Sardinian victory under Napoleon III against the Austrians.
- 24 June - Battle of Solferino, French-Sardinian victory.
- 30 June - Charles Blondin crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope for the first time.
- 12 July - Armistice of Villafranca ends the Second Italian War of Independence.
- 24 November - The French Navy's La Gloire ("Glory"), the first ocean-going ironclad warship in history, is launched.
Arts and literature
- Sculptor, Aimé Millet, receives the Légion d'honneur.
- Faust is written by Charles Gounod
- Vasco de Gama is written by Georges Bizet and Louis Delâtre
- 15 May - Pierre Curie, physicist, shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics (died 1906)
- 3 September - Jean Jaurès, socialist and pacifist (assassinated) (died 1914)
- 9 October - Alfred Dreyfus, military officer (see: Dreyfus Affair) (died 1935)
- 18 October - Henri Bergson, philosopher (died 1941)
- 2 December - Georges-Pierre Seurat, painter (died 1891)
- 17 December - Paul César Helleu, artist (died 1927)
- 18 March - Jean Louis Lassaigne, chemist (born 1800)
- 16 April - Alexis de Tocqueville, political thinker and historian (born 1805)
- 5 July - Charles Cagniard de la Tour, engineer and physicist (born 1777)
- 23 July - Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, poet (born 1786)
- 7 November - Auguste Hilarion, comte de Kératry, poet, novelist, historian and politician (born 1769)
- 19 November - Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson, playwright and theatre director (born 1790)