The Second French Empire (French: Second Empire), officially the French Empire (French: Empire français), was the regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France. Historians in the 1930s and 1940s often disparaged the Second Empire as a precursor of fascism. That interpretation is no longer promulgated and by the late 20th century they were celebrating it as leading example of a modernising regime. Historians have generally given the Empire negative evaluations on its foreign-policy, and somewhat more positive evaluations of domestic policies, especially after Napoleon III liberalised his rule after 1858. He promoted French business and exports. The greatest achievements came in material improvements, in the form of a grand railway network that facilitated commerce and tied the nation together and centered it on Paris. It had the effect of stimulating economic growth, and bringing prosperity to most regions of the country. The Second Empire is given high credit for the rebuilding of Paris with broad boulevards, striking public buildings, and very attractive residential districts for upscale Parisians. In international policy, Napoleon III tried to emulate his uncle, engaging in numerous imperial ventures around the world as well as several wars in Europe. Using very harsh methods, he built up the French Empire in North Africa and in Southeast Asia. Napoleon III also sought to modernise the Mexican economy and bring it into the French orbit, but this ended in a fiasco. He badly mishandled the threat from Prussia, and by the end of his reign, Napoleon III found himself without allies in the face of overwhelming German force.