Congress of Erfurt

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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
Date27 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 19th century French military leader and politician

Napoleon 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 was the Emperor of Russia (Tsar) between 1801 and 1825. He was the eldest son of Paul I and Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg. Alexander was the first 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 Embargo of Napoleonic Europe against Britain

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 1921

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state 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.

The congress is an event referred to by Leo Tolstoy in his War and Peace . [2] :240,246

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References

  1. Steffen Raßloff (2012). Geschichte der Stadt Erfurt. Erfurt: Sutton Verlag.
  2. Tolstoy, Leo (1949). War and Peace. Garden City: International Collectors Library.