France 1799-1804
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France 1804-1813
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France 1804-1813 : Foreign Policy

In 1804 NAPOLEON BONAPARTE crowned himself Emperor of France. The THIRD WAR OF THE COALITION was fought in 1805; the naval battle of TRAFALGAR ended in a decisive British victory over a combined Franco-Spanish fleet; the BATTLE OF AUSTERLITZ saw a decisive French victory over a combined Austro-Russian force.
France now undisputedly held the HEGEMONY in continental Europe. In 1805 Napoleon continued with the restructuring of Europe; he transformed the Italian Republic into the KINGDOM OF ITALY (with himself as king), to which VENICE was annexed; LIGURIA was annexed to France, as was PARMA. In 1806 the map of Germany underwent another major restructuring; the CONFEDERATION OF THE RHINE Rheinbund) was founded with Napoleon at the helm. The Batavian Republic was transformed into the KINGDOM OF HOLLAND (Napoleon's brother Louis as king), brother Joseph was made King of NAPLES (i.e. the mainland part of the Kingdom of the two Sicilies, just occupied by French troops).
In 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte established the CONTINENTAL BLOCKADE, intended to significantly harm British exports.
In 1806, Napoleon's troops fought the PRUSSIAN CAMPAIGN (War of the Fourth Coalition); Prussian and Russian troops were defeated in the BATTLE OF JENA AND AUERSTAEDT (Oct. 1806), EYLAU (Feb.1807), FRIEDLAND (June 1807); in the PEACE OF TILSIT Prussia ceded all lands west of the Elbe, which were to form part of the newly created KINGDOM OF WESTPHALIA, brother Jerome being king. Russia turned into a French ally.Prussia also had to cede her gains from the second and third Polish Partition; they were urned into the GRAND DUCHY OF WARSAW - the nucleus of a Polish state.

In 1808 Napoleon compelled his ally, King Ferdinand VII. of Spain and his heir to abdicate in favour of his brother Joseph. The Spanish people tose in revolt (POPULAR WAR, 1808-1813). ETRURIA was annexed to France.
In 1809 Emperor Francis I. of Austria called upon the Germans to rise against the French and took the field, defeating Napoleon in the BATTLE OF ASPERN - only to suffer defeat in the BATTLE OF WAGRAM two weeks later. According to the PEACE OF SCHOENBRUNN, Austria had to cede her gains from the Third Polish Partition (to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw), what was to become the ILLYRIAN PROVINCES to France, and had to agree in a marriage of a Habsburg princess, Marie Louise (in 1810), to Napoleon himself (who for that purpose divorced Josephine). What was left of the papal state was annexed to France.
In 1810 France annexed the Kingdom of Holland and a stretch of land along the German coast up to Luebeck. The TYROLIAN INSURRECTION was suppressed.
In 1811, Marie Louise gave birth to Napoleon's son, titled THE KING OF ROME.
In 1812 France annexed Catalonia. Dissatisfied with Russian's open violation of the Continental Blockade, Napoleon, at the head of LA GRANDE ARMEE of 600,000 men, invaded Russia in June. When he entered Moscow in September, only 110,000 were left. His expectation of a Russian surrender did not materialize; facing Russian winter and famine, Napoleon began the retreat on Oct. 19th; on Nov. 28th what was left of his army was destroyed at the Berezina River.
In 1813 Austria, Prussia and Sweden joined the Russians and British. The decisive battle was fought, under the command of General BERNADOTTE, crown prince of Sweden, at LEIPZIG (Oct. 1813). Europe's diplomats met at the VIENNA CONGRESS to debate Europe's political future.

Napoleon brought many political reforms to the countries he 'liberated'. On the other hand, his constant warfare had to be paid for - to a large extent by plundering and harshly taxing the occupied countries; which also had to supply soldiers for Napoleon's armies (the Grande Armee was largely German). This treatment caused many rebellions. Napoleon's NEPOTISM unnecessarily turned an ally (Spain) into an enemy.
Yet France had reliable allies - the Poles who fought for the French cause as if it were their own, SAXONY (the Duke-elect had been made Grand Duke of Warsaw), DENMARK (which had suffered two British naval attacks in 1801, 1807). Saxony and Denmark both had to pay dearly for having remained loyal to France until the end.
Even the UNITED STATES, by the British, was regarded a French ally, and fought in the short WAR OF 1812.

Table : Napoleon's Wars and Military Campaigns, 1804-1813
3rd Coalition War
4th Coalition War
Spanish Campaign
War with Austria
Russian Campaign
Wars of Liberation
Austria, Russia, Britain
Prussia, Russia
England, Spanish rebels
Russia, Britain, Sweden, Austria, Prussia

The Napoleon Bonaparte Internet Guide, from Univ. Doetinchem, NL
Homepage from La Fondation Napoleon Bonaparte, in French and English
Timetable : France during the French Revolution and under Napoleon Bonaparte. An annotated Chronology of Civil and Military Events, by Richard Orsinger, 1997
Links on Napoleon Bonaparte from looksmart
Timeline French Foreign Policy, Consulate and Empire, 1799-1815, from France Diplomatie
DOCUMENTS Napoleonic Medals. A Medallic History, from Fortiter, illustrated, 1797-1815; another site : Napoleonic Medals
Documents upon the Peace of Tilsit, 1807, from
Documents upon the annexations 1809-1810, from
Medals on the Treaty of Luneville, from Fortiter (Medals in French, German and Latin)
REFERENCE P.P. Segur, Histoire de Napoleon et le Grande Armee pendant l'annee 1812, Vol.1, Vol.2 (1825), posted by Gutenberg Library Online, in French
VIDEOS Napoleon, 1955, director Sacha Guitry, bw, 123 min., unfinished. Extensive on Napoleon's early years
War and Peace, 1956, cc, directed by King Vidor, impressive scenes of the Battles of Borodino and on the Berezina
The Battle of Austerlitz , 1999, documentary, nc
Napoleon 1812 Moscow, Austerlitz, Waterloo, 55 min. documentaries from Cromwell Productions

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on October 22nd 2007

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