Power without glory (1864—70)
In the aftermath of the Danish war, French policy seemed to lack direction. Napoleon badly wanted to regain the diplomatic initiative, but he discovered that he was less than ever able to shape events to his will. In part, he was the victim of bad luck: the cards refused to fall in his favour, and he had to play against greater odds. But in part, too, he was let down by his own judgement. The gambler lost his winning touch, and entered on a losing streak. He remained an opportunist, but he no longer always knew how to take his chances.