Treaty of Paris (1812)

Last updated

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". [1]

Contents

In East German historiography, the Franco-Prussian alliance strengthened the hand of the monarchy and nobility against social and national movements. In the end, however, the action of the masses—disarming retreating French troops; collecting money, food and clothes for Russian prisoners; clashing with French troops—were definitive in ending it. [2]

Background

By 1811 both France and Russia were preparing for war. Early in the year a Russian approach to Prussia for an alliance was rejected, but the prospect of French soldiers using Prussia as a launching point for an invasion of Russia changed Frederick William's mind. [3] In October, General Gerhard von Scharnhorst went to Saint Petersburg and informed the Russians that Prussia was in talks with France and asked for a military alliance. [4] A Russo-Prussian military convention was then signed in secret. Russia promised to come to Prussia's aid in the event of a French invasion, but Prussia was obliged not to defend most of her territory but to make a stand on the Vistula. Scharnhorst then approached the Austrians in Vienna for an alliance and was rebuffed. Tsar Alexander I then informed Frederick William that unless his generals received complete cooperation, Prussia would be abolished in the coming war. [3] The Prussian foreign minister, Karl August von Hardenberg, tried to convince the king to sign a public alliance with Russia, but the king refused, [4] remarking that, "all of this reminds me of 1805 and 1806, when the Tsar's court was seized with the same excitement. I am afraid that the final result will again be an ill-conceived war that brings misfortune to Russia's friends instead of delivering them from the yoke that oppresses them." [5] After the tsar's stern warning and the Austrian rejection, Hardenberg again proposed an alliance to France. [4] In January 1812, General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher resigned his commission, refusing to fight for France. [5]

Treaty and effect

The treaty of alliance was signed at Paris on 24 February 1812. [4] Prussia was to open its borders to French troops and to provide the Grande Armée with 20,842 auxiliary troops, plus provisions, including thousands of packhorses and wagons. [5] This was almost half of the Prussian Army, since the Convention of Paris of 8 September 1808—essentially a codicil to the Treaty of Tilsit of 9 July 1807—capped its strength at 42,000 men. [6] Prussia was also promised small territorial compensation at Russia's expense. [7] With French troops massing on the border, Frederick William ratified the treaty on 5 March. [5] Had he not, France would have certainly invaded Prussia. [4] The Franco-Austrian alliance signed March was much less demanding of the Austrians, who went behind Napoleon's back to inform the Russians that they intended to avoid combat as much as possible. [3]

Following the ratification, over 300 officers—a quarter of the Prussian officer corps—resigned their commissions, most going into exile in Russia, some to Spain or England. [3] [5] Scharnhorst, who had presided over the Prussian military reforms, resigned as Chief of the General Staff and moved to Silesia, remaining one of the king's military advisors. [4] His assistants Carl von Clausewitz, the military writer, and Hermann von Boyen left for Russia. General August Neidhardt von Gneisenau was scathing of the king: "We shall receive the fate we deserve. We shall go down in shame, for we dare not conceal from ourselves the truth that a nation is as bad as its government. The king stands ever by the throne on which he has never sat." [5] Gneisenau resigned and went to England. [4] The head of the Prussian police, Justus Gruner, joined the émigré Baron vom Stein in exile in Prague and was imprisoned by the Austrians for his own safety. He had been charged with stirring up anti-French sentiment in Prussia prior to the publication of the treaty. [8] Following the outbreak of war, Stein moved from Prague to Saint Petersburg. [8] All these officers pinned their hopes on the example of the successful Spanish uprising of 1808 and the prospects of a "sixth coalition" funded by Britain. [5]

Prussia in the Russian campaign

In the initial phase of the invasion of Russia, the Prussian contingent was led by Julius von Grawert, an admirer of Napoleon. He covered the French north flank along the Baltic coast, but soon fell ill. His replacement, Hans David von Yorck, was unenthusiastic for the French alliance. When his superior, Marshal Jacques MacDonald, ordered him to fortify the city of Memel, he refused on the grounds that such an action was not covered by the treaty. During the Siege of Riga, Yorck tried to exchange prisoners with Russia only to find that most of his captured men had joined the German Legion, a unit in Russian service patronised by Gneisenau and Stein. Throughout October and November Yorck was received letters from Russia beseeching him to change sides. [9] In October, the Austrian foreign minister, Klemens von Metternich, proposed an Austro-Prussian agreement to force the French back behind the Rhine, but the Prussian government was still committed to the French alliance at that time. [10]

In East Prussia, General Friedrich Wilhelm von Bülow began forming a force in reserve and preventing troops and supplies from reinforcing the front. Recruits and horses were congregated in Königsberg, the capital of East Prussia, while supplies were sent to Graudenz. All reservists and soldiers on furlough in East and West Prussia were recalled and formed into reserve battalions under Colonel August von Thümen. [11] On 14 December the Grande Armée abandoned Russian territory, but many in Berlin, including Frederick William, did not believe that Napoleon's defeat could be as bad as it was. On 15 December the king received a letter from Napoleon requesting him to raise further troops for the front. The Prussian government complied. [12] On 19 December King Joachim Murat of Naples, recently appointed commander of the Grande Armée, set up his headquarters in Königsberg. On 24 December Frederick William authorised Bülow to create a reserve corps on the Vistula, since Yorck could take over East and West Prussia on his return from Russia. Bülow succeeded in keeping his troops and his supplies out of Murat's command, but the intendant-général Comte Daru, charged with provisioning the Grande Armée, noted that all of Prussia's recent actions did no benefit to France. [11] On 30 December, without permission from the king and surrounded by the Russians, Yorck signed the armistice of Tauroggen. [13] Although his capitulation has often been regarded as the start of Germany's "war of liberation" from Napoleon, Yorck was initially disavowed by his government. [14] As Russian troops poured into East Prussia, Berlin demanded the restoration of territories lost at Tilsit in 1807 and the payment of 90 million francs owed for supplies to continue the alliance. France rejected the demand, and Prussia was in no position to fight France. [15] France occupied all of Prussia's great fortresses and had 25,000 troops in Berlin under Marshal Pierre Augereau at the time. [14]

On 6 January 1813, the king informed Bülow, who had withdrawn his men from Königsberg towards Neuenburg and Schwetz, of Yorck's dismissal and ordered him not to have contact with him or to link up with him. On 8–9 January, Murat sent letters to Bülow demanding that he attach his reserve corps to the French in accordance with the treaty. On 10 January, Bülow claimed that his recruits were not capable of offering battle and that his government had ordered him to move westward. The next day, a force of reservists organised by Thümen at Graudenz joined Bülow's force and together they move west towards Neu-Stettin, there to join a corps of 6,000 being formed by General Ludwig von Borstell. On 12 January, Bülow's rearguard was surrounded at Neuenburg by Cossacks under General Alexander Chernyshov. The Russians merely arrested three officers and let the rest go. By the time Bülow learned of the incident on 14 January, the Cossacks were camped in the streets of Osche in a tense standoff with the Prussians, who were in the barns and stables. When Bülow threatened to attack, Chernyshov released the Prussians, who arrived at Neu-Stettin on 17 January. [16]

As knowledge of the magnitude of Napoleon's defeat grew, Berlin sought to revive Metternich's proposal of October. On 12 January, Karl Friedrich von dem Knesebeck arrived in Vienna to negotiate an Austro-Prussian neutrality agreement that was designed to force a Franco-Russian peace. Knesebeck was instructed to get Austrian approval for a Russo-Prussian agreement and a Prussian exit from the war in the event that the Austrians were unwilling at that moment to abandon Napoleon. [10] Metternich was unwilling to sign anything, but he gave his word that Austria approved of a Russo-Prussian truce. [15] On 4 February, in a sign of the desperation felt in Berlin, Friedrich Ancillon, Frederick William's counsellor, proposed that Prussia mediate between France and Russia, in return for which the former would receive control of the Confederation of the Rhine and the latter would be ceded East Prussia. [17]

On 21 January, Frederick William fled Berlin for Breslau, arriving four days later. This did not dampen Napoleon's hopes that the Prussians would uphold their treaty and defend their border from Russia, although there were signs that the Prussian army was increasingly controlled by rebels. On 29 January, Hardenberg promised Napoleon that a new Prussian corps would be formed immediately under the command of Bülow. [18]

Notes

  1. Rowe 2013, pp. 140–41.
  2. Dorpalen 1969, p. 506.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Adams, pp. 271–72.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Koch 2014, p. 193.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Leggiere 2002, pp. 24–25.
  6. Schmidt 2003, p. 5.
  7. Dorpalen 1969, p. 504.
  8. 1 2 Rowe 2003, p. 226.
  9. Koch 2014, p. 194.
  10. 1 2 Leggiere 2002, p. 31.
  11. 1 2 Leggiere 2002, pp. 28–29.
  12. Leggiere 2002, p. 27.
  13. Koch 2014, p. 196.
  14. 1 2 Leggiere 2002, pp. 33–34.
  15. 1 2 Leggiere 2002, p. 32.
  16. Leggiere 2002, pp. 35–36.
  17. Leggiere 2002, p. 30.
  18. Leggiere 2002, pp. 39–40.

Sources

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.

Frederick the Great King of Prussia

Frederick II ruled the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king, at 46 years. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years' War. Frederick was the last Hohenzollern monarch titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving sovereignty over most historically Prussian lands in 1772. Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great and was nicknamed Der Alte Fritz by the Prussian people and eventually the rest of Germany.

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher Prussian field marshal

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Fürst von Wahlstatt, Graf (count), later elevated to Fürst von Wahlstatt, was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall. He earned his greatest recognition after leading his army against Napoleon I at the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Karl August von Hardenberg Chancellor of Prussia

Karl August Fürst von Hardenberg was a Prussian statesman and Prime Minister of Prussia. While during his late career he acquiesced to reactionary policies, earlier in his career he implemented a variety of Liberal reforms. To him and Baron vom Stein, Prussia was indebted for improvements in its army system, the abolition of serfdom and feudal burdens, the throwing open of the civil service to all classes, and the complete reform of the educational system.

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

The Hundred Days War, also known as the War of the Seventh Coalition, 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.

Kingdom of Prussia Former German state (1701–1918)

The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom that constituted the state of Prussia between 1701 and 1918. It was the driving force behind the unification of Germany in 1871 and was the leading state of the German Empire until its dissolution in 1918. Although it took its name from the region called Prussia, it was based in the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where its capital was Berlin.

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 in which they had been forced to support France, Prussia and Austria joined Russia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Portugal and the rebels in Spain who were already at war with France.

Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg Prussian Field Marshal

Johann David Ludwig Graf Yorck von Wartenburg was a Prussian Generalfeldmarschall instrumental in the switching of the Kingdom of Prussia from a French alliance to a Russian alliance during the War of the Sixth Coalition. Ludwig van Beethoven's "Yorckscher Marsch" is named in his honor.

War of the Fourth Coalition part of the Napoleonic Wars

The Fourth Coalition fought against Napoleon's French Empire and were defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. The main coalition partners were Prussia and Russia with Saxony, Sweden, and Great Britain also contributing. Excluding Prussia, some 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 with Prussian massing troops in Saxony.

Heinrich Friedrich Karl vom und zum Stein Prussian and German politician

Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherrvom und zum Stein, commonly known as Baron vom Stein, was a Prussian statesman who introduced the Prussian reforms, which paved the way for the unification of Germany. He promoted the abolition of serfdom, with indemnification to territorial lords; subjection of the nobles to manorial imposts; and the establishment of a modern municipal system.

Convention of Tauroggen Armistice during the Napoleonic Wars

The Convention of Tauroggen was an armistice signed 30 December 1812 at Tauroggen between General Ludwig Yorck on behalf of his Prussian troops and General Hans Karl von Diebitsch of the Imperial Russian Army. Yorck's act is traditionally considered a turning point of Prussian history, triggering an insurgency against Napoleon in the Rheinbund. At the time of the armistice, Tauroggen was situated in Russia, 40 kilometres (25 mi) east of the Prussian border.

Prussian Army 1701-1871 land warfare branch of Prussias military, primary component and predecessor of the German Army to 1919

The Royal Prussian Army served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.

The Treaty of Kalisz was signed in Kalisz on 28 February 1813, between Russia and Prussia against Napoleon I. It marked the final changeover of Prussia onto the side against Napoleon.

Royal Prussian Army of the Napoleonic Wars

The Royal Prussian Army was the principal armed force of the Kingdom of Prussia during its participation in the Napoleonic Wars.

Third Silesian War 18th-century war between Prussia and Austria

The Third Silesian War was a conflict between Prussia and Austria that lasted from 1756 to 1763 and confirmed Prussia's control of the region of Silesia. The war was fought mainly in Silesia, Bohemia and Upper Saxony and formed one theatre of the Seven Years' War. It was the last of three Silesian Wars fought between Frederick the Great's Prussia and Maria Theresa's Austria in the mid-18th century, all three of which ended in Prussian control of Silesia.

Prussian Reform Movement

The Prussian Reform Movement was a series of constitutional, administrative, social and economic reforms early in the nineteenth-century Kingdom of Prussia. They are sometimes known as the Stein-Hardenberg Reforms, for Karl Freiherr vom Stein and Karl August von Hardenberg, their main initiators. Before the Second World War, German historians, such as Heinrich von Treitschke, saw the reforms as the first steps towards the unification of Germany and the foundation of the German Empire.

Battle of Arnhem (1813) battle of the War of the Sixth Coalition

The Battle of Arnhem saw Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow's Prussian corps fight an Imperial French division under Henri François Marie Charpentier at Arnhem. Attacking under the cover of fog, the Prussians broke into the city at several points and forced the French to retreat to Nijmegen after hard fighting in this War of the Sixth Coalition clash. Arnhem is a city in the Netherlands located on the Rhine River 100 kilometres (62 mi) southeast of Amsterdam.

The Treaty of Potsdam was a treaty signed during the War of the Third Coalition on 3 November 1805 between Alexander I of the Russian Empire and Frederick William III of Prussia. It required Prussia to mediate negotiations between Napoleon's French Empire and Russia, and if the negotiations failed, join the Third Coalition.

Fall of Berlin (1806)

The Fall of Berlin took place on 27 October 1806 when the Prussian capital of Berlin was captured by French forces in the aftermath of the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt. The Emperor of the French Napoleon entered the city, from which he issued his Berlin Decree implementing his Continental System. Large-scale plundering of Berlin took place.

The Treaty of Troyes was an agreement of 22 February 1814 by Austria, Russia and Prussia following a council of war with senior generals, Tsar Alexander I of Russia and King Frederick William III of Prussia. The treaty determined the movements of the Austrian and Prussian-Russian armies following a series of defeats during the invasion of north-east France. Despite dissent from the Russian and Prussian leaders, Austrian General Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg secured support for a withdrawal ahead of the French forces of Emperor Napoleon I who was seeking to bring the allies to battle.