Frankfurt proposals

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France in its "natural borders" as of 1801. France Departement 1801.svg
France in its "natural borders" as of 1801.

The Frankfurt proposals or Frankfurt memorandum was a Coalition peace initiative designed by Austrian minister Metternich. It was offered to French Emperor Napoleon I in November 1813 after he had suffered a decisive military defeat at the Battle of Leipzig. The goal was a peaceful end to the War of the Sixth Coalition. The Allies had reconquered most of Germany up to the Rhine, but they had not decided on the next step. Metternich took the initiative. The Allies, meeting in Frankfurt, drafted the proposals under Metternich's close supervision. The British diplomat in attendance, Lord Aberdeen, misunderstood London's position and accepted the moderate terms. [1] [2]

Klemens von Metternich Austrian diplomatico

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.

Battle of Leipzig 1813 Napoleonic battle

The Battle of Leipzig or Battle of the Nations was fought from 16 to 19 October 1813, at Leipzig, Saxony. The coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden, led by Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg, decisively defeated the French army of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. Napoleon's army also contained Polish and Italian troops, as well as Germans from the Confederation of the Rhine. The battle was the culmination of the German campaign of 1813 and involved 600,000 soldiers, 2,200 artillery pieces, the expenditure of 200,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and 127,000 casualties, making it the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I.

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.

Contents

The proposal was that Napoleon would remain as Emperor of France, but France would be reduced to what the French revolutionaries claimed as France's "Natural borders." The natural borders were the Pyrenees mountains, the Alps mountains, and the Rhine River. France would retain control of Belgium, Savoy and the Rhineland (the west bank of the Rhine River), conquered and annexed during the early wars of the French Revolution, while giving up other conquests, including all of Spain, Poland and the Netherlands, and most of Italy and Germany east of the Rhine. [3]

Metternich and Napoleon, meeting privately at Dresden in June had already discussed the terms. [4] The final version was relayed to Napoleon by the Baron de Saint-Aignon in November. [5] Metternich told Napoleon these were the best terms the Allies were likely to offer; after further victories, the terms would become harsher and harsher. Metternich's motivation was to maintain France as a balance against Russian threats, while ending the highly destabilizing series of wars. [6] [7]

Napoleon, expecting to win the war, delayed too long and lost this opportunity. By December Austria had signed treaties with the Allies, and London rejected the terms because they might allow Belgium to become a base for the invasion of England. The offer was withdrawn. [8] When the Allies invaded France in late 1813 Napoleon was heavily outnumbered; he tried to reopen peace negotiations on the basis of accepting the Frankfurt proposals. [9] The Allies now had new, harsher terms that included the retreat of France to its 1791 boundaries, which meant the loss of Belgium. [10] Napoleon adamantly refused. He was finally forced to abdicate on April 6, 1814 and lost his throne.

See also

Notes

  1. Henry A. Kissinger, A World Restored; Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace 1812-1822 (1957) pp 97-103
  2. Leggiere, Michael V. (2007). The Fall of Napoleon: Volume 1, The Allied Invasion of France, 1813-1814. Cambridge UP. pp. 42–62.
  3. Ross (1969), p 342
  4. Munro Price, "Napoleon and Metternich in 1813: some new and some neglected evidence," French History (2012) 26#4 pp 482-503.
  5. Robert Andrews, Napoleon: A Life (2014), pp 656-59, 685
  6. J. P. Riley (2013). Napoleon and the World War of 1813: Lessons in Coalition Warfighting. Routledge. p. 206.
  7. Leggiere (2007). The Fall of Napoleon: Volume 1, The Allied Invasion of France, 1813-1814. p. 53.
  8. Andrews, Napoleon: A Life (2014), p 686
  9. Riley (2013). Napoleon and the World War of 1813: Lessons in Coalition Warfighting. p. 206.
  10. Andrews, Napoleon: A Life (2014), p 695

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