Berlin Decree

Last updated

The Berlin Decree was issued in Berlin by Napoleon on November 21, 1806, [1] following the French success against Prussia at the Battle of Jena leading to the Fall of Berlin. It was issued in response to the British Order-in-Council of 16 May 1806, by which the Royal Navy instituted a blockade of all ports from Brest to the Elbe. [2]

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

Prussia state in Central Europe between 1525–1947

Prussia was a historically prominent German state that originated in 1525 with a duchy centred on the region of Prussia on the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. It was de facto dissolved by an emergency decree transferring powers of the Prussian government to German Chancellor Franz von Papen in 1932 and de jure by an Allied decree in 1947. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organised and effective army. Prussia, with its capital in Königsberg and from 1701 in Berlin, decisively shaped the history of Germany.

The decree proclaimed that "the British Isles are declared to be in a state of blockade", and forbade all correspondence or commerce with Great Britain. [3] All British subjects found in French territory or that of France's allies were to be arrested as prisoners of war, and all British goods or merchandise seized. Any vessel found contravening the decree and landing in a continental port from a British or British-colonial port was to be treated as if it were British property and therefore liable to confiscation along with all its cargo. [4]

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Historical sovereign state from 1801 to 1927

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland.

The goal of this so-called Continental System was to force Britain to the peace table by starving her of trade with Europe and thereby wrecking her economy. However, the Napoleonic blockade's effectiveness was difficult to enforce over so vast an area and was generally unpopular among French subjects and allies. Historian Paul Schroeder considers it to have proved an ineffective method of economic warfare. [5]

Continental System

The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France against the United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. As a response to the naval blockade of the French coasts enacted by the British government on 16 May 1806, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree on 21 November 1806, which brought into effect a large-scale embargo against British trade. The embargo was applied intermittently, ending on 11 April 1814 after Napoleon's first abdication. The blockade caused little economic damage to the UK, although British exports to the continent dropped from 55% to 25% between 1802 and 1806. As Napoleon realized that extensive trade was going through Spain and Russia, he invaded those two countries. His forces were tied down in Spain—in which the Spanish War of Independence was occurring simultaneously—and suffered severely in, and ultimately retreated from, Russia in 1812.

The Continental System eventually led to economic ruin for France and its allies. Less damage was done to the economy of Britain, which had control of the Atlantic Ocean trade. [6] Other European nations removed themselves from the Continental System, which led in part to the downfall of Napoleon. [7]

The Milan decree for the same purpose was issued the following year.

Related Research Articles

William I of the Netherlands King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg 1815 - 1840

William I was a Prince of Orange and the first King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

Congress of Vienna conference of ambassadors of European states

The Congress of Vienna, also called Vienna Congress, was a meeting of ambassadors of European states chaired by Austrian statesman Klemens von Metternich, and held in Vienna from November 1814 to June 1815, though the delegates had arrived and were already negotiating by late September 1814. The objective of the Congress was to provide a long-term peace plan for Europe by settling critical issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The goal was not simply to restore old boundaries but to resize the main powers so they could balance each other and remain at peace. The leaders were conservatives with little use for republicanism or revolution, both of which threatened to upset the status quo in Europe. France lost all its recent conquests while Prussia, Austria and Russia made major territorial gains. Prussia added smaller German states in the west, Swedish Pomerania and 60% of the Kingdom of Saxony; Austria gained Venice and much of northern Italy. Russia gained parts of Poland. The new Kingdom of the Netherlands had been created just months before, and included formerly Austrian territory that in 1830 became Belgium.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted the French Republic against Great Britain, Austria and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.

Napoleonic era Wikimedia disambiguation page

The Napoleonic era is a period in the history of France and Europe. It is generally classified as including the fourth and final stage of the French Revolution, the first being the National Assembly, the second being the Legislative Assembly, and the third being the Directory. The Napoleonic era begins roughly with Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état, overthrowing the Directory, establishing the French Consulate, and ends during the Hundred Days and his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. The Congress of Vienna soon set out to restore Europe to pre-French Revolution days. Napoleon brought political stability to a land torn by revolution and war. He made peace with the Roman Catholic Church and reversed the most radical religious policies of the Convention. In 1804 Napoleon promulgated the Civil Code, a revised body of civil law, which also helped stabilize French society. The Civil Code affirmed the political and legal equality of all adult men and established a merit-based society in which individuals advanced in education and employment because of talent rather than birth or social standing. The Civil Code confirmed many of the moderate revolutionary policies of the National Assembly but retracted measures passed by the more radical Convention. The code restored patriarchal authority in the family, for example, by making women and children subservient to male heads of households.

War of the Second Coalition attempt to contain or eliminate Revolutionary France

The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) was the second war on revolutionary France by the European monarchies, led by Britain, Austria and Russia, and including the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, various German monarchies and Sweden. Their goal was to contain the expansion of the French Republic and to restore the monarchy in France. They failed to overthrow the revolutionary regime and French territorial gains since 1793 were confirmed. In the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, France held all of its previous gains and obtained new lands in Tuscany, Italy, while Austria was granted Venetia and the Dalmatian coast. Britain and France signed the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802, bringing an interval of peace in Europe that lasted for 14 months. By May 1803 Britain and France were again at war and in 1805 Britain assembled the Third Coalition to resume the war against France.

War of the Fourth Coalition part of the Napoleonic Wars

The Fourth Coalition fought against Napoleon's French Empire and was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and Great Britain. Several members of the coalition had previously been fighting France as part of the Third Coalition, and there was no intervening period of general peace. On 9 October 1806, Prussia joined a renewed coalition, fearing the rise in French power after the defeat of Austria and establishment of the French-sponsored Confederation of the Rhine. Prussia and Russia mobilized for a fresh campaign, and Prussian troops massed in Saxony.

Napoleon I of France issued the Milan Decree on 17 December 1807 to enforce the Berlin Decree of 1806, which had initiated the Continental System. This system was the basis for his plan to defeat the British by waging economic warfare. The Milan Decree stated that no European country was to trade with the United Kingdom.

These Orders in Council were a series of decrees, in the form of Orders in Council, made by the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in the course of the wars with Napoleonic France which instituted its policy of commercial warfare. The Orders are important for the role they played in shaping the British war effort against France, but they are also significant for the strained relations—and sometimes military conflict—they caused between the United Kingdom and neutral countries, whose trade was affected by them.

The Treaty of Chaumont was a series of separately signed but identically worded agreements between the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom dated 1 March 1814, although the actual signings took place on 9 or 19 March. The treaty was intended to draw the powers of the Sixth Coalition into a closer alliance in the event that France rejected the peace terms they had recently offered. Each agreed to put 150,000 soldiers in the field against France and to guarantee the European peace against French aggression for twenty years.

Second Hundred Years War series of military conflicts between Great Britain and France that occurred from 1689 to 1815

The Second Hundred Years' War is a periodization or historical era term used by some historians to describe the series of military conflicts between Great Britain and France that occurred from about 1689 to 1815. For the context see International relations, 1648–1814.

First French Empire Empire of Napoleon I of France between 1804–1815

The First French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Although France had already established an overseas colonial empire beginning in the 17th century, the French state had remained a kingdom under the Bourbons and a republic after the Revolution. Historians refer to Napoleon's regime as the First Empire to distinguish it from the restorationist Second Empire (1852–1870) ruled by his nephew as Napoleon III.

For his life and a basic reading list see Napoleon I of France

Siege of Stralsund (1807) 1807 War of the Fourth Coalition incident

The Siege of Stralsund lasted from 30 January to 24 August 1807 and saw troops from the First French Empire twice attempt to capture the port city from Lieutenant General Hans Henric von Essen's 15,000-man Swedish garrison. On the first try, Marshal Édouard Adolphe Casimir Joseph Mortier blockaded the city for two months before he was called elsewhere. In his absence, the Swedes drove back the inferior blockading force. After Mortier returned and pushed Essen's troops back in turn, the two sides quickly concluded an armistice. The truce was later repudiated by King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden, whereupon Marshal Guillaume Marie Anne Brune led 40,000 French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch soldiers against the fortress. Fearfully outnumbered, the Swedes abandoned the Baltic Sea port of Stralsund to the Franco-Allies in this action during the War of the Fourth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. As a consequence, Sweden also lost the nearby island of Rügen.

François-Xavier Donzelot French general

Baron François-Xavier Donzelot was a French general and a Governor of the Ionian Islands and Martinique. He was the son of François Donzelot and Jeanne–Baptiste Maire and had a brother named Joseph. He became a general of the French army in March 1801. Months later, he signed the surrender of Egypt to British forces. He then returned to France where he served in various high-echelon positions in Napoleon's army. Subsequently, he was appointed to serve as the head of the French garrison in Corfu and the Ionian Islands from 1807 to 1814. As governor, he resided in Corfu, where his gentle demeanour and mild manners made him popular with the Corfiotes. In 1808, he was named Baron of the Empire. In 1815, he was a divisional commander of Napoleon's forces at the Battle of Waterloo, during the 100-day return of Napoleon. After the defeat at Waterloo, he lost his position and did not work until 1817 when he was appointed governor of Martinique.

The French Revolution had a major impact on Europe and the New World. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history. In the short-term, France lost thousands of her countrymen in the form of émigrés, or emigrants who wished to escape political tensions and save their lives. A number of individuals settled in the neighboring countries, however quite a few also went to the United States. The displacement of these Frenchmen led to a spread of French culture, policies regulating immigration, and a safe haven for Royalists and other counterrevolutionaries to outlast the violence of the French Revolution. The long-term impact on France was profound, shaping politics, society, religion and ideas, and polarizing politics for more than a century. The closer other countries were, the greater and deeper was the French impact, bringing liberalism and the end of many feudal or traditional laws and practices. However, there was also a conservative counter-reaction that defeated Napoleon, reinstalled the Bourbon kings, and in some ways reversed the new reforms.

United Kingdom in the Napoleonic Wars

Between 1793 and 1815, Great Britain was the most constant of Napoleon's enemies. Through its command of the sea, financial subsidies to allies on the European mainland, and active military intervention in the Peninsular War, Britain played the central role in Napoleon's downfall even as all the other major powers switched back and forth.

References

  1. "Berlin Decree". Napoleon. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
  2. https://www.napoleon-series.org/research/government/diplomatic/c_continental.html
  3. https://www.napoleon-series.org/research/government/diplomatic/c_continental.html
  4. https://www.napoleon-series.org/research/government/diplomatic/c continental.html
  5. Paul W. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (1994) pp 305-10
  6. Alexander Grab, Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe (2003) pp 29-33
  7. Francois Crouzet, "Wars, blockade, and economic change in Europe, 1792-1815." Journal of Economic History (1964) 24#4 pp 567-588.

Further reading

François Crouzet French historian and teacher

François Crouzet was a French historian. Considered the greatest French historian of Britain of his generation, he was Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne at the time of his death.