November 24th 2010
Bonaparte and the Demise of the balance of power.
The internal political situation in France, after effects of the revolution, alm
ost inevitable that the french revolutionairy elite would turn to military stron
gman to consolidate the revolutionary gains and to fend off their counter revolu
tionary enemies. But the conspiracy they had in mind was a temporary military di
ctatorship, breathing space within which to put things in order and then see off
their external enemies.
What was accidental, was that the choice for the notionally 'temporary' military
strong man fell about Napoleon Bonaparte. He was the fourth choice of the polit
ical conspirators, Joubert had been killed, Jourdain was simply too republican/j
acobin/radical, Moreau could have had it all...but he doubted his own suitabilit
y for the role and recommeded Bonaparte.
18th Brumaire (November) 1799 - Coup D'etat. Conspirators backed Napoleon to di
solve the convention, Napoleon appointed First Council. Showed great political t
alent, and obtained dictorial power...His reputation depended on his ability as
a soldier, only on the battlefield could he concentrate and consolidate the poli
tical power that had been handed to him. He rapidly moved to engage the French R
epublic's enemies. Britain hard to get too through the English Channel /Manche.
Russians withdrew from the war because of lack of assistance from Austria.
Moreau thrust into southern Germany to get into Vienna. Napoleon doubted the suc
cess of a full frontal invasion. Napoleon went to northern Italy, battle against
April 1800, crossed the alps from switzerland, confronted the Austrians in Maren
go, 14th June 1800.Napoleon was so anxious that he had rushed into battle. Outn
umbered, starting to lose.
However a nearby french troupe, led by Dessais, aided them, stabilizing the fren
ch line, giving Napoleon the victor. Enough to encourage Moreau to swoop across
the Rhine in Hohenlinden, near Bavaria, 3rd December 1800, routed the Austrians.
Had no choice but to surrender, peace of Luneville, 9th feb 1801. Forcing Austr
ian's to accept the legitimacy of the french territories on the left bank of the
Rhine. Austrian Netherlands, gone.
Once more annexed and absorbed by France.
In Italy, Venice still Austrian, but lost posessions in Tuscany.
February 1801, Anti French Will Pitt the younger resigned. Negociations were sta
rted, Peace of Amiens 25th March 1802. French Revolution triumphed at home and a
broad. Balance of Power was in jeopardy from this now irresistably dominant bloc
of french power, with now satelite regimes...belgium, switzerland...etc. Seemed
like there was no potential source of resistance.
Remarkably however, despite english financial exhaustion and popular disenchantm
ent to continue this unfair war against the French, They were at war once more.
Pitt put back in power, ruling class gathered around the project of confronted t
he french empire threat.
Why so soon after the peace of amiens? In part, fundamental divergence of purpos
e. For Britain, a balanced and divided europe was the precondition of its contin
ued global maritime commercial domincance. If Britain was safe in it's backyard
, it was at liberty to spread across the world with it's fleet for trade and col
onialism. It dawned on Napoleon that the peace of amiens was better suited to br
itain than france because it allowed them carte blanche over the world = power +
profit. Even in Europe, the french felt contained by the 'threat' of the power
of the british navy. Therefore, it was no surprise that the french controlled pr
ess began to publish articles suggesting another invasion of Egypt...clear provo
cation to Britain. But mostly a clue that the emperor was not pleased. Napoleon
breached the terms by invading some land in Italy. His subversion of the indepen
dance of the italian states provocated England and Russia.
18th may 1803, Britain formally declares war on France. Problem of the french no
Napoleon puts together the Grande Armee. Britain maintained a constant naval pat
rol (30 men) in the Channel, that scattered any french effort. This wooden wall along the channel, frustrated Napoleon's great invasion plan, but also gave hope
and inspiration to the other european powers that they might once more, take up
the napoleonic challenge and fight back.
Russia: Alexander the first. Had to deal with the napoleonic threat and it's cle