Congress of Erfurt

Last updated

Congress of Erfurt
Fürstenkongress Erfurt  (German)
Entrevue Erfurt by Nicolas Grosse.jpg
L'entrevue d'Erfurt, oil on canvas by Nicolas Gosse
Host country First French Empire
Date 27 September – 14 October 1808 (1808-09-27 1808-10-14)
Venue(s) Kurmainzische Statthalterei , Principality of Erfurt
Participants
Follows Treaties of Tilsit

The Congress of Erfurt was the meeting between Napoleon, Emperor of the French, and Alexander I, Emperor of All Russia, from 27 September to 14 October 1808 intended to reaffirm the alliance concluded the previous year with the Treaties of Tilsit which followed the end of the War of the Fourth Coalition. [1]

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.

Emperor of the French title used by the House of Bonaparte

Emperor of the French was the monarch of the First French Empire and the Second French Empire.

Alexander I of Russia Emperor of Russia

Alexander I reigned as Emperor of Russia between 1801 and 1825. He was the eldest son of Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. Alexander was the first Russian King of "Congress" Poland, reigning from 1815 to 1825, as well as the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland, reigning from 1809 to 1825.

Contents

Background

At Tilsit, Napoleon had made an admirer of Alexander, but by the time of the meeting at Erfurt anti-French sentiment at the Russian court was beginning to threaten the newly forged alliance. Napoleon and his foreign minister Jean-Baptiste Nompère de Champagny sought to strengthen the alliance once more in order to settle affairs in Spain and prepare for the expected war with Austria. Working at cross-purposes to Napoleon was Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord who had by this time come to the conclusion that Napoleon was leading France to destruction, and who secretly advised Alexander to resist Napoleon's demands.

Erfurt Place in Thuringia, Germany

Erfurt is the capital and largest city in the state of Thuringia, central Germany.

Peninsular War War by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the French Empire (1807–1814)

The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

Austrian Empire monarchy in Central Europe between 1804 and 1867

The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

Conference

Reenactment of military camp at Petersberg Citadel, 200th anniversary of Congress of Erfurt, September 2008. EF Furstenkongress Biwaklager.jpg
Reenactment of military camp at Petersberg Citadel, 200th anniversary of Congress of Erfurt, September 2008.

The city of Erfurt was under the direct control of the Emperor of the French at this time as Principality of Erfurt. Napoleon attempted to awe Alexander with the glories of the French Empire. The meeting became a great conference involving an array of kings, princes, dukes, barons and notables from all over Europe. Among the attendees was Talma and the entire Comedie Française, who presented sixteen French tragedies over the course of the Congress. Goethe was courted by Napoleon himself and the twenty-year-old Arthur Schopenhauer arrived in Goethe's train and cast a cynical eye over the proceedings.

Principality of Erfurt Napoleonic fief in Germany, 1807–1814

The Principality of Erfurt was a small state in modern Thuringia, Germany, that existed from 1807 to 1814, comprising the modern city of Erfurt and the surrounding land. It was subordinate directly to Napoleon, the Emperor of the French, rather than being a part of the Confederation of the Rhine. After nearly 3 months of siege, the city fell to Prussian, Austrian and Russian forces. Having mainly been Prussian territory before the Napoleonic Wars, most of the lands were restored to Prussia by the Congress of Vienna.

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.

François-Joseph Talma French actor

François Joseph Talma was a French actor.

Out of the meetings came an agreement, the Erfurt Convention, in fourteen articles, calling upon Britain to cease its war against France, recognizing the Russian conquest of Finland from Sweden, and stating that in case of war with Austria, Russia should aid France "to the best of its ability." The two emperors departed for their homelands on 14 October. Six months later the expected war with Austria began, and Alexander barely lived up to his agreement, aiding France as little as possible. By 1810 both emperors were considering war with one another. Erfurt was the last meeting between the two leaders.

Grand Duchy of Finland predecessor state of modern Finland

The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire.

By 1812 Russia no longer complied with Napoleon's Continental System of economic warfare against the United Kingdom and anti-French sentiment in the Russian court had reached a new height. Russian defence spending had increased and troops were deployed to the border in preparation for an invasion of Poland. Napoleon pre-empted this by attacking first and with greater force.

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.

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.

Duchy of Warsaw client Napoleonic state from 1807 to 1815

The Duchy of Warsaw was a Polish state established by Napoleon I in 1807 from the Polish lands ceded by the Kingdom of Prussia under the terms of the Treaties of Tilsit. The duchy was held in personal union by one of Napoleon's allies, King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony. Following Napoleon's failed invasion of Russia, the duchy was occupied by Prussian and Russian troops until 1815, when it was formally partitioned between the two countries at the Congress of Vienna. It covered the central and eastern part of present Poland and minor parts of present Lithuania and Belarus.

From the beginning at Tilsit few onlookers believed these two European powers could peacefully exist side by side, with the Grand Duchy of Warsaw a French satellite state neighbouring Russia. Erfurt may have delayed the eventual outbreak of war, but it was likely the two powers would ultimately come into conflict.[ citation needed ]

A satellite state is a country that is formally independent in the world, but under heavy political, economic and military influence or control from another country. The term was coined by analogy to planetary objects orbiting a larger object, such as smaller moons revolving around larger planets, and is used mainly to refer to Central and Eastern European countries of the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War or to Mongolia or Tannu Tuva between 1924 and 1990, for example. As used for Central and Eastern European countries it implies that the countries in question were "satellites" under the hegemony of the Soviet Union. In some contexts it also refers to other countries in the Soviet sphere of influence during the Cold War—such as North Korea and Cuba. In Western usage, the term has seldom been applied to states other than those in the Soviet orbit. In Soviet usage, the term applied to the states in the orbit of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan.

Related Research Articles

Frederick Augustus I of Saxony king of Saxony

Frederick Augustus I was a member of the House of Wettin who reigned as Elector of Saxony from 1763 to 1806 and as King of Saxony from 1806 to 1827. He also served as Duke of Warsaw from 1807 to 1813.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord French diplomat

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, 1st Prince of Benevento, then 1st Prince of Talleyrand, was a laicized French bishop, politician, and diplomat. After theology studies, he became in 1780 Agent-General of the Clergy and represented the Catholic Church to the French Crown. He worked at the highest levels of successive French governments, most commonly as foreign minister or in some other diplomatic capacity. His career spanned the regimes of Louis XVI, the years of the French Revolution, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. Those he served often distrusted Talleyrand but, like Napoleon, found him extremely useful. The name "Talleyrand" has become a byword for crafty, cynical diplomacy.

Klemens von Metternich Austrian diplomat

Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Prince von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein, KOGF was an Austrian diplomat who was at the center of European affairs for four decades as the Austrian Empire's foreign minister from 1809 and Chancellor from 1821 until the liberal Revolutions of 1848 forced his resignation.

Hundred Days period from Napoleons escape from Elba to the second restoration of King Louis XVIII

The Hundred Days marked the period between Napoleon's return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815. This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the Neapolitan War as well as several other minor campaigns. The phrase les Cent Jours was first used by the prefect of Paris, Gaspard, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July.

Concert of Europe

The Concert of Europe represented the European balance of power from 1815 to 1848 and from 1871 to 1914.

Holy Alliance military alliance

The Holy Alliance was a coalition created by the monarchist great powers of Russia, Austria and Prussia. It was created after the ultimate defeat of Napoleon at the behest of Tsar Alexander I of Russia and signed in Paris on 26 September 1815. The intention of the alliance was to restrain liberalism and secularism in Europe in the wake of the devastating French Revolutionary Wars, and the alliance nominally succeeded in this until the Crimean War (1853–1856). Otto von Bismarck managed to reunite the Holy Alliance after the unification of Germany but the alliance again faltered by the 1880s over Austrian and Russian conflicts of interest with regard to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire.

War of the Sixth Coalition Part of the Napoleonic Wars

In the War of the Sixth Coalition, sometimes known in Germany as the War of Liberation, a coalition of Austria, Prussia, Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and a number of German States defeated France and drove Napoleon into exile on Elba. After the disastrous French invasion of Russia of 1812, the continental powers joined Russia, the United Kingdom, Portugal and the rebels in Spain who were already at war with France.

Treaties of Tilsit peace treaties between Napoleonic France and (a) Russia and (b) Prussia

The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I of France in the town of Tilsit in July 1807 in the aftermath of his victory at Friedland. The first was signed on 7 July, between Emperor Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France, when they met on a raft in the middle of the Neman River. The second was signed with Prussia on 9 July. The treaties were made at the expense of the Prussian king, who had already agreed to a truce on 25 June after the Grande Armée had captured Berlin and pursued him to the easternmost frontier of his realm. In Tilsit, he ceded about half of his pre-war territories.

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.

War of the Fifth Coalition conflict

The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent another expedition, the Walcheren Campaign, to the Netherlands in order to relieve the Austrians, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July.

In diplomatic history, the "Eastern Question" refers to the strategic competition and political considerations of the European Great Powers in light of the political and economic instability in the Ottoman Empire from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. Characterized as the "sick man of Europe", the relative weakening of the empire's military strength in the second half of the eighteenth century threatened to undermine the fragile balance of power system largely shaped by the Concert of Europe. The Eastern Question encompassed myriad interrelated elements: Ottoman military defeats, Ottoman institutional insolvency, the ongoing Ottoman political and economic modernization programme, the rise of ethno-religious nationalism in its provinces, and Great Power rivalries.

Pyotr Aleksandrovich Tolstoy Russian general

Count Pyotr Aleksandrovich Tolstoy was a Russian general and statesman.

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.

France–Poland relations Diplomatic relations between the French Republic and the Republic of Poland

Polish–French relations date back several centuries, although they really only became relevant in the times of the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon I. Poles were allies of Napoleon; a large Polish community settled in France in the 19th century, and Poles and French were also allies during the interwar period. Never in history has a Polish army fought against its French counterpart or otherwise. Official relations, having cooled during the Cold War, have improved since the fall of communism. Currently both countries are part of the European Union and NATO. Poland is also an observer in the Organisation internationale de la francophonie.

The Treaty of Paris of 5 March 1812 between Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia established a Franco-Prussian alliance directed against Russia. On 24 June, Prussia joined the French invasion of Russia. The unpopular alliance broke down when the Prussian contingent in French service signed a separate armistice, the Convention of Tauroggen, with Russia on 30 December 1812. On 17 March 1813, Frederick William declared war on France and issued his famous proclamation "To My People".

The Protocol of St Petersburg was an 1826 Anglo-Russian agreement for the settlement of the Greek War of Independence.

References

  1. Steffen Raßloff (2012). Geschichte der Stadt Erfurt. Erfurt: Sutton Verlag.