War of the First Coalition

Last updated
War of the First Coalition
Part of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Coalition Wars
Valmy Battle painting.jpg
The Battle of Valmy was a decisive victory for the French revolutionary army.
Date20 April 1792 – 18 October 1797
(5 years, 5 months and 4 weeks)
Location
France, Central Europe, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, West Indies
Result

French victory; Treaty of Paris, Peace of Basel, Treaty of Campo Formio

Contents

Territorial
changes
Belligerents

First Coalition:
Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg  Holy Roman Empire (until 1797) [1]

Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg  Great Britain
Royal Standard of the King of France.svg Army of Condé
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg Spain (until 1795) [4]
Statenvlag.svg  Dutch Republic (until 1795)
Flag of Portugal (1750).svg  Portugal
Flag of the Kingdom of Sardinia.svg  Sardinia (until 1796) [5]
Flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1738).svg  Naples (until 1796)

Other Italian states [6]

French satellites and subdued former enemies:

Commanders and leaders

The War of the First Coalition (French : Guerre de la Première Coalition) is the traditional name of the wars that several European powers fought between 1792 and 1797 against the French First Republic. [10] Despite the collective strength of these nations compared with France, they were not really allied and fought without much apparent coordination or agreement. Each power had its eye on a different part of France it wanted to appropriate after a French defeat, which never occurred. [11]

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

French First Republic republic governing France, 1792-1804

In the history of France, the First Republic, officially the French Republic, was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.

France declared war on the Habsburg Monarchy (cf. the Holy Roman Empire, Austrian Empire etc.) on 20 April 1792. In July 1792, an army under the Duke of Brunswick and composed mostly of Prussians joined the Austrian side and invaded France, only to be rebuffed at the Battle of Valmy in September.

Habsburg Monarchy former Central European empire (1526–1804)

The Habsburg Monarchy – also Habsburg Empire, Austrian Monarchy or Danube Monarchy – is an unofficial umbrella term among historians for the countries and provinces that were ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg between 1526 and 1780 and then by the successor branch of Habsburg-Lorraine until 1918. The Monarchy was a typical composite state composed of territories within and outside the Holy Roman Empire, united only in the person of the monarch. The dynastic capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg Monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Holy Roman Empire Varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

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.

Subsequently these powers made several invasions of France by land and sea, with Prussia and Austria attacking from the Austrian Netherlands and the Rhine, and the Kingdom of Great Britain supporting revolts in provincial France and laying siege to Toulon in October 1793. France suffered reverses (Battle of Neerwinden, 18 March 1793) and internal strife (War in the Vendée) and responded with draconian measures. The Committee of Public Safety formed (6 April 1793) and the levée en masse drafted all potential soldiers aged 18 to 25 (August 1793). The new French armies counterattacked, repelled the invaders, and advanced beyond France.

Austrian Netherlands

The Austrian Netherlands was the larger part of the Southern Netherlands between 1714 and 1797. The period began with the acquisition of the former Spanish Netherlands under the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714 and lasted until its annexation during the aftermath of the Battle of Sprimont in 1794 and the Peace of Basel in 1795. Austria, however, did not relinquish its claim over the province until 1797 in the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Austrian Netherlands was a noncontiguous territory that consisted of what is now western Belgium as well as greater Luxembourg, bisected by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The dominant languages were German, Dutch (Flemish), and French, along with Picard and Walloon.

Rhine river in Western Europe

The Rhine is one of the major European rivers, which has its sources in Switzerland and flows in an mostly northerly direction through Germany and The Netherlands, emptying into the North Sea. The river begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps, forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, Swiss-German and then the Franco-German border, then flows through the German Rhineland and the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea.

Kingdom of Great Britain constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707–1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

The French established the Batavian Republic as a sister republic (May 1795) and gained Prussian recognition of French control of the Left Bank of the Rhine by the first Peace of Basel. With the Treaty of Campo Formio, the Holy Roman Empire ceded the Austrian Netherlands to France and Northern Italy was turned into several French sister republics. Spain made a separate peace accord with France (Second Treaty of Basel) and the French Directory carried out plans to conquer more of the Holy Roman Empire (German States, and Austria under the same rule).

Batavian Republic Former country (1795-1806)

The Batavian Republic was the successor of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. It was proclaimed on 19 January 1795 and ended on 5 June 1806, with the accession of Louis I to the throne of Holland. From October 1801 onward, it was known as the Batavian Commonwealth. Both names refer to the Germanic tribe of the Batavi, representing both the Dutch ancestry and their ancient quest for liberty in their nationalistic lore.

Sister republic client state of France during the French Revolutionary Wars with republic as form of government

A sister republic was a republic established by French armies or by local revolutionaries and assisted by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Left Bank of the Rhine

The Left Bank of the Rhine was the region north of Lauterbourg, in present-day western Germany, that was conquered during the War of the First Coalition and annexed by France. Because the attempt to create a Cisrhenian Republic foundered, the territories west of the Rhine were reorganized into several départements among the French first republic. After the allied victory over Napoleon in 1814 these territories were provisionally administered by the Central Administrative Departement (Zentralverwaltungsdepartement). The Sarre province and the district of Landau in der Pfalz previously French before the Napoleonic wars were under the definitive act of the congress of Vienna ceded to the members of the coalition. The recent annexations done under the first republic were restituted. From these territories the Bavarian Circle of the Rhine (Rheinkreis) and the Hessian province of Rhenish Hesse (Rheinhessen) were formed in 1816. The regions to the north went to Prussia and were initially part of the two provinces of Jülich-Cleves-Berg and the Grand Duchy of the Lower Rhine, from which the Rhine Province emerged in 1822. The southern left Rhine territories, which had for centuries been under imperial rule in the Holy Roman Empire had been seized by France, mostly in the 17th century, were annexed to the new German empire in 1871, following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. The region was consolidated as the Imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine for a period of 48 years (1871-1919), before being restituted to France in the wake of the First World War.

North of the Alps, Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen redressed the situation in 1796, but Napoleon carried all before him against Sardinia and Austria in northern Italy (1796–1797) near the Po Valley, culminating in the Treaty of Leoben and the Treaty of Campo Formio (October 1797). The First Coalition collapsed, leaving only Britain in the field fighting against France.

Alps Major mountain range system in Central Europe

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries : France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen Archduke of Austria

Archduke Charles Louis John Joseph Laurentius of Austria, Duke of Teschen was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of Emperor Leopold II and his wife, Maria Luisa of Spain. He was also the younger brother of Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor. Despite being epileptic, Charles achieved respect both as a commander and as a reformer of the Austrian army. He was considered one of Napoleon's more formidable opponents.

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.

Background

Revolution in France

As early as 1791, other monarchies in Europe were watching the developments in France with alarm, and considered intervening, either in support of Louis XVI or to take advantage of the chaos in France. The key figure, the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, brother of the French Queen Marie Antoinette, had initially looked on the Revolution calmly. He became increasingly concerned as the Revolution grew more radical, although he still hoped to avoid war.

Louis XVI of France King of France and Navarre

Louis XVI, born Louis-Auguste, was the last King of France before the fall of the monarchy during the French Revolution. He was referred to as Citizen Louis Capet during the four months before he was guillotined. In 1765, at the death of his father, Louis, son and heir apparent of Louis XV, Louis-Auguste became the new Dauphin of France. Upon his grandfather's death on 10 May 1774, he assumed the title "King of France and Navarre", which he used until 4 September 1791, when he received the title of "King of the French" until the monarchy was abolished on 21 September 1792.

Holy Roman Emperor emperor of the Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The title was, almost without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany throughout the 12th to 18th centuries.

Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor Austrian king

Leopold II was Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, and Bohemia from 1790 to 1792, and Archduke of Austria and Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1765 to 1790. He was the earliest opponent of capital punishment in modern history. He was a son of Emperor Francis I and his wife, Empress Maria Theresa, and the brother of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. Leopold was a moderate proponent of enlightened absolutism. He granted the Academy of Georgofili his protection.

On 27 August 1791, Leopold and King Frederick William II of Prussia, in consultation with émigré French nobles, issued the Declaration of Pillnitz, which declared the concern of the monarchs of Europe for the well-being of Louis and his family, and threatened vague but severe consequences if anything should befall them. Although Leopold saw the Pillnitz Declaration as a way of taking action that would enable him to avoid actually doing anything about France, at least for the moment, Paris saw the Declaration as a serious threat and the revolutionary leaders denounced it. [12]

In addition to the ideological differences between France and the monarchical powers of Europe, disputes continued over the status of Imperial estates in Alsace, [12] and the French authorities became concerned about the agitation of émigré nobles abroad, especially in the Austrian Netherlands and in the minor states of Germany. In the end, France declared war on Austria first, with the Assembly voting for war on 20 April 1792, after the presentation of a long list of grievances by the newly appointed foreign minister Charles François Dumouriez. [13]

1792

Dumouriez prepared an invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, where he expected the local population to rise against Austrian rule. However, the revolution had thoroughly disorganized the French army, which had insufficient forces for the invasion. Its soldiers fled at the first sign of battle, deserting en masse, in one case murdering General Théobald Dillon. [13]

While the revolutionary government frantically raised fresh troops and reorganized its armies, an allied army under Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick assembled at Koblenz on the Rhine. The invasion commenced in July 1792. Brunswick's army, composed mostly of Prussian veterans, took the fortresses of Longwy and Verdun. [14] The Duke then issued a declaration on 25 July 1792, which had been written by the brothers of Louis XVI, that declared his [Brunswick's] intent to restore the French King to his full powers, and to treat any person or town who opposed him as rebels to be condemned to death by martial law. [13] This motivated the revolutionary army and government to oppose the Prussian invaders by any means necessary, [13] and led almost immediately to the overthrow of the King by a crowd which stormed the Tuileries Palace. [15]

The invaders continued on, but at the Battle of Valmy on 20 September 1792 they came to a stalemate against Dumouriez and Kellermann in which the highly professional French artillery distinguished itself. Although the battle was a tactical draw, it bought time for the revolutionaries and gave a great boost to French morale. Furthermore, the Prussians, facing a campaign longer and more costly than predicted, decided against the cost and risk of continued fighting, and determined to retreat from France to preserve their army. [10]

Meanwhile, the French had been successful on several other fronts, occupying Savoy and Nice in Italy, while General Custine invaded Germany, capturing Speyer, Worms and Mainz along the Rhine, and reaching as far as Frankfurt. Dumouriez went on the offensive in Belgium once again, winning a great victory over the Austrians at Jemappes on 6 November 1792, and occupying the entire country by the beginning of winter. [10]

1793

The British evacuation of Toulon in December 1793 Les coalises evacuent Toulon en decembre 1793.jpg
The British evacuation of Toulon in December 1793

On 21 January the revolutionary government executed Louis XVI after a trial. [16] This united all European governments, including Spain, Naples, and the Netherlands against the Revolution. France declared war against Britain and the Netherlands on 1 February 1793 and soon afterwards against Spain. In the course of the year 1793 the Holy Roman Empire (on 23 March), the kings of Portugal and Naples, and the Grand-Duke of Tuscany declared war against France. Thus the First Coalition was formed. [10]

France introduced a new levy of hundreds of thousands of men, beginning a French policy of using mass conscription to deploy more of its manpower than the other states could, [10] and remaining on the offensive so that these mass armies could commandeer war material from the territory of their enemies. The French government sent Citizen Genet to the United States to encourage them into entering the war on France's side. The newly formed nation refused and remained neutral throughout the conflict.

After a victory in the Battle of Neerwinden in March, the Austrians suffered twin defeats at the battles of Wattignies and Wissembourg. [17] British land forces were defeated at the Battle of Hondschoote in September. [17]

1794

The Glorious First of June, 1 June 1794 Loutherbourg-La Victoire de Lord Howe.jpg
The Glorious First of June, 1 June 1794

1794 brought increased success to the revolutionary armies. A major victory against combined coalition forces at the Battle of Fleurus gained all of Belgium and the Rhineland for France. [17] Although the British navy maintained its supremacy at sea, it was unable to support effectively any land operations after the fall of the Belgian provinces. [18] The Prussians were slowly driven out of the eastern departments [17] and by the end of the year they had retired from any active part in the war. [18] Against Spain, the French made successful incursions in both Catalonia and Navarre. [18]

Action extended into the French colonies in the West Indies. A British fleet successfully captured Martinique, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe, although a French fleet arrived later in the year and recovered the latter. [19]

1795

After seizing the Low Countries in a surprise winter attack, France established the Batavian Republic as a puppet state. Even before the close of 1794 the king of Prussia retired from any active part in the war, and on 5 April 1795 he concluded with France the Peace of Basel, which recognized France's occupation of the left bank of the Rhine. The new French-dominated Dutch government bought peace by surrendering Dutch territory to the south of that river. A treaty of peace between France and Spain followed in July. The grand duke of Tuscany had been admitted to terms in February. The coalition thus fell into ruin and France proper would be free from invasion for many years. [20]

Britain attempted to reinforce the rebels in the Vendée by landing French Royalist troops at Quiberon, but failed, [21] and attempts to overthrow the government at Paris by force were foiled by the military garrison led by Napoleon Bonaparte, leading to the establishment of the Directory. [22] [23]

On the Rhine frontier, General Pichegru, negotiating with the exiled Royalists, betrayed his army and forced the evacuation of Mannheim and the failure of the siege of Mainz by Jourdan. [24]

1796

Strategic situation in Europe in 1796 Strategic Situation of Europe 1796.jpg
Strategic situation in Europe in 1796

The French prepared a great advance on three fronts, with Jourdan and Jean Victor Marie Moreau on the Rhine and the newly promoted Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy. The three armies were to link up in Tyrol and march on Vienna.

In the Rhine Campaign of 1796, Jourdan and Moreau crossed the Rhine River and advanced into Germany. Jourdan advanced as far as Amberg in late August while Moreau reached Bavaria and the edge of Tyrol by September. However Jourdan was defeated by Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen and both armies were forced to retreat back across the Rhine. [24] [25]

Napoleon, on the other hand, was successful in a daring invasion of Italy. In the Montenotte Campaign, he separated the armies of Sardinia and Austria, defeating each one in turn, and then forced a peace on Sardinia. Following this, his army captured Milan and started the Siege of Mantua. Bonaparte defeated successive Austrian armies sent against him under Johann Peter Beaulieu, Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser and József Alvinczi while continuing the siege. [25] [24]

The rebellion in the Vendée was also crushed in 1796 by Louis Lazare Hoche. [25] Hoche's subsequent attempt to land a large invasion force in Munster to aid the United Irishmen was unsuccessful. [19]

1797

Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli, 14 January 1797 Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli.jpg
Napoleon at the Battle of Rivoli, 14 January 1797

On 2 February Napoleon finally captured Mantua, [26] with the Austrians surrendering 18,000 men. Archduke Charles of Austria was unable to stop Napoleon from invading the Tyrol, and the Austrian government sued for peace in April. At the same time there was a new French invasion of Germany under Moreau and Hoche. [26]

On 22 February, a French invasion force consisting of 1,400 troops from the La Legion Noire (The Black Legion) under the command of Irish American Colonel William Tate landed near Fishguard in Wales. They were met by a quickly assembled group of around 500 British reservists, militia and sailors under the command of John Campbell, 1st Baron Cawdor. After brief clashes with the local civilian population and Lord Cawdor's forces on 23 February, Tate was forced into an unconditional surrender by 24 February. This would be the only battle fought on British soil during the Revolutionary Wars.

Austria signed the Treaty of Campo Formio in October, [26] ceding Belgium to France and recognizing French control of the Rhineland and much of Italy. [25] The ancient Republic of Venice was partitioned between Austria and France. This ended the War of the First Coalition, although Great Britain and France remained at war.

See also

Notes

  1. Nominally the Holy Roman Empire, of which the Austrian Netherlands and the Duchy of Milan were under direct Austrian rule. Also encompassed many other Italian states, as well as other House of Habsburg states such as the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and Liechtenstein
  2. Left the war after signing the Peace of Leoben with France.
  3. Left the war after signing the Peace of Basel with France.
  4. Left the war after signing the Peace of Basel with France.
  5. Left the war after signing the Treaty of Paris with France.
  6. Virtually all of the Italian states, including the neutral Papal States and the Republic of Venice, were conquered following Napoleon's invasion in 1796 and became French satellite states.
  7. Re-entered the war as an ally of France after signing the Second Treaty of San Ildefonso.
  8. The French Revolutionary Army overthrew the Dutch Republic and established the Batavian Republic as a puppet state in its place.
  9. Formed in French-allied Italy in 1797, following the abolition of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth after the Third Partition in 1795.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Holland 1911, Battle of Valmy.
  11. (in Dutch) Noah Shusterman – De Franse Revolutie (The French Revolution). Veen Media, Amsterdam, 2015. (Translation of: The French Revolution. Faith, Desire, and Politics. Routledge, London/New York, 2014.) Chapter 7 (p. 271–312) : The federalist revolts, the Vendée and the beginning of the Terror (summer–fall 1793).
  12. 1 2 Holland 1911, The king and the nonjurors.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Holland 1911, War declared against Austria.
  14. Holland 1911, The revolutionary Commune of Paris.
  15. Holland 1911, Rising of the 10th of August.
  16. Holland 1911, Trial and execution of Louis XVI.
  17. 1 2 3 4 Holland 1911, The Revolutionary War. Republican successes..
  18. 1 2 3 Holland 1911, Progress of the war..
  19. 1 2 Hannay 1911, p. 204.
  20. One of more of the preceding sentences text from a publication now in the public domain: Holland 1911 , Progress of the war
  21. Holland 1911, Progress of the war.
  22. Holland 1911, Insurrection of 13 Vendémiaire.
  23. Holland 1911, Character of the Directory.
  24. 1 2 3 Hannay 1911, p. 182.
  25. 1 2 3 4 Holland 1911, Military triumphs under the Directory. Bonaparte.
  26. 1 2 3 Hannay 1911, p. 193.

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Rhine Campaign of 1796

In the Rhine Campaign of 1796, two First Coalition armies under the overall command of Archduke Charles outmaneuvered and defeated two French Republican armies. This was the last campaign of the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.

The Battle of Maudach occurred on June 15th 1796, between the French Revolutionary Army and the Army of the First Coalition. This was the opening action of the Rhine Campaign of 1796 on the Upper Rhine, slightly north of the town of Kehl. The Coalition, commanded by Franz Petrasch, lost 10 percent of its manpower missing, killed or wounded. It was fought at the village of Maudach, southwest of Ludwigshafen on the Rhine river opposite Mannheim. Maudach lies 10 km (6 mi) northwest of Speyer and today is a southwest suburb of Ludwigshafen; a principal town on the Rhine river in 1796.

In the Rhine Campaign of 1796, two First Coalition armies under the overall command of Archduke Charles outmaneuvered and defeated two Republican French armies. This was the last campaign of the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.

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