- Boulangism is a wave of political hysteria that swept over France, especially in Paris, during the years 1886-1889. Its purpose was to support General Georges Ernest Jean Marie Boulanger (1837-1891), a military leader who advocated revenge on Germany. As Minister of War (1886— 1887), he achieved some popularity for army reforms, but more particularly for his handsome military figure. When he was relieved of his command, his approval rating did not drop; it increased. Boulanger acquired the title Man on Horseback because he habitually appeared before the public mounted on a magnificent charger. He became a favorite with the royalists, and the movement called boulangism to punish the Germans for what they had done to France during the war of 1870 developed a long line of followers.When Boulanger was not reappointed to his cabinet post, his popularity was such that almost everyone believed that he could make himself dictator of France whenever he wanted. But the golden opportunity slipped by and disappeared when he was publicly proved a liar and a coward. When a warrant for his arrest was signed, Boulanger fled the country. His crimes against the Republic and subsequent flight lost him his supporters. Two years later the Man on Horseback, who might have been dictator, on a blustery day and all alone, went to the cemetery in which his mistress was buried in Brussels and there shot himself, falling dead over her grave.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.