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HIS103Y Lecture 21 November 30th. Bonaparte and the Demise of the Balance of Power: From Austerlitz to Tilsit

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Vasilis Dimitriadis

HIS103Y Lecture 21 November 30 . th Bonaparte and the Demise of the Balance of Power: From Austerlitz to Tilsit • In fall of 1799 French Revolutionary state needed a strong executive power, a man to stabilize the state, secure the Revolutionary gains and destroy all of Frances internal and external enemies • This position of power was offered to multiple French generals but they either declined the position or were already dead • Napoleon was offered the position and accepted it in October. ‘his accident changed the face of humanity’ • The ‘18 Brumaire’ or 10 November 1799 Napoleon seized power. Consolidating his own rule on the battlefield by engaging the Austrians in Northern Italy • In June 1800 at the battle of Marengo the French forces were losing the battle, but were saved when a separate French division joined the battle and defeated the Austrians • Another victory really consolidated Napoleon’s reign when Moreau defeated an Austrian force at the battle of Hohenlinden • This led to the treaty of Luneville and knocking Austria out of the war • Due to this victory even Britain recognized French continental dominance in March 1802 at Amiens • Amiens lasted only until May 1803 when British and French forces resumed fighting due to their conflicting views o Britain wanted a balanced, checked and divided Europe so they could rule the waves and peruse its imperial, colonial and commercial interest o So for Napoleon I made no sense to allow this to happen and war continued • The French established satellite Republics in Switzerland, Holland and Northern Italy • He also began publishing propaganda suggesting the invasion of Egypt to threaten the British trade with India as well as disrupt British trade within the Mediterranean • This forced Britain back into the war in 1803 • To really start fighting Britain had to wait to establish a coalition on mainland Europe • Napoleon on the other hand had to wait until his navy was rebuilt • The Grand Armee was amassed in ports of western France, but all of France’s attempts to sail over to Britain failed • Furthermore Alexander I in Russia felt threatened by French probing into central Europe • Alexander I in June 1805 on Napoleon’s aggression, ‘That man is insatiable, his ambition knows no bounds, he is the scourge of the world… well since he wants war he will get war and the sooner the better.’ • Russia was mobilized for war, through British subsidies • Also encouraged by same troubled, the same mentality developed in Austria on French ambition by breaking up the Holy Roman Empire and invasion of It
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