War of the Fourth Coalition

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War of the Fourth Coalition
Part of the Napoleonic Wars and the Coalition Wars
Charles Meynier - Napoleon in Berlin.png
The French Army entering Berlin in 1806
DateOctober 1806 – July 1807
Result Decisive French victory:

Fourth Coalition:

Flag of France (1794-1815).svg  France

Commanders and leaders

Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Frederick William III
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Queen Louise
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Charles William  
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Fredrick Louis
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Prince Ferdinand  
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Eugene Fredrick
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Ernst von Rüchel
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Von Blücher
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Count Tauentzien
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Ludwig
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Kalckreuth
Flag of the Kingdom of Prussia (1803-1892).svg Anton Wilhelm
Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg Alexander I
Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg Bennigsen
Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg Dmitry Golitsyn
Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg Mikhail Kutuzov
Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg Pyotr Bagration
Flag of Sweden.svg Gustav IV Adolf
Flag of Sweden.svg Hans von Essen
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Lord Grenville


Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Duke of Portland
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Napoleon I
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Berthier
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Davout
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Jean Lannes
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Joachim Murat
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Nicholas Soult
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Michel Ney
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Pierre Augereau
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Edouard Mortier
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Jérôme Bonaparte
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Guillaume Brune
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg Bernadotte
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Louis Bonaparte
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg Beauharnais
Flag of Poland.svg Józef Poniatowski
Flag of Poland.svg Jan Henryk Dąbrowski

Flag of Prussia (1892-1918).svg 200,000
Flag of The Russian Empire 1883.svg 140,000
Flag of Saxony.svg 20,000
Flag of Sweden.svg 20,000
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg 10,000

Total: 390,000

Flag of France (1794-1815).svg 200,000
Flag of Bavaria (lozengy).svg 24,000
Flagge Konigreich Wurttemberg.svg 10,000
Flag of Saxony.svg 6,000
Flag of Poland.svg 30,000
Flag of the Netherlands.svg 12,000–20,000
Flag of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.svg 20,000–40,000
Flag of Spain (1785-1873, 1875-1931).svg 6,000

Total: 310,000
Casualties and losses
700,000 dead [1]

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.

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.

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.

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.

Napoleon decisively defeated the Prussians in an expeditious campaign that culminated at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt on 14 October 1806. French forces under Napoleon occupied Prussia, pursued the remnants of the shattered Prussian Army, and captured Berlin. They then advanced all the way to East Prussia, Poland and the Russian frontier, where they fought an inconclusive battle against the Russians at the Battle of Eylau on 7–8 February 1807. Napoleon's advance on the Russian frontier was briefly checked during the spring as he revitalized his army with fresh supplies. Russian forces were finally crushed by the French at the Battle of Friedland on 14 June 1807, and three days later Russia asked for a truce.

Battle of Jena–Auerstedt decisive battle of the Napoleonic Wars, allowing the French Grande Armée to occupy Prussia

The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia. The decisive defeat suffered by the Prussian Army subjugated the Kingdom of Prussia to the French Empire until the Sixth Coalition was formed in 1812.

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.

East Prussia province of Prussia

East Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 ; following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945. Its capital city was Königsberg. East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast.

By the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, France made peace with Russia, which agreed to join the Continental System. The treaty was particularly harsh on Prussia, however, as Napoleon demanded much of the Prussian territory along the lower Rhine west of the Elbe and in what was part of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Respectively, these acquisitions were incorporated into the new Kingdom of Westphalia, led by his brother Jérôme Bonaparte, and established the Duchy of Warsaw, ruled by his new ally the king of Saxony. At the end of the war Napoleon was master of almost all of western and central continental Europe, except for Spain, Portugal, Austria and several other smaller states.

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.

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.

Rhine River in Western Europe

The Rhine is one of the major European rivers, which has its sources in Switzerland and flows in a 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.

Despite the end of the Fourth Coalition, Britain remained at war with France. Hostilities on land resumed later in 1807, when a Franco-Spanish force invaded Britain's ally Portugal, beginning the Peninsular War. A further Fifth Coalition would be assembled when Austria re-joined the conflict in 1809.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

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.


The Fourth Coalition (1806–1807) of Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden and Britain formed against France within months of the collapse of the previous coalition. Following his triumph at the Battle of Austerlitz and the subsequent demise of the Third Coalition, Napoleon looked forward to achieving a general peace in Europe, especially with his two main remaining antagonists, Britain and Russia. Meanwhile, he sought to isolate Prussia from the influence of these two powers by offering a tentative alliance, while also seeking to curb Prussia's political and military influence among the German states.

Battle of Austerlitz A battle of the Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of the most important and decisive engagements of the Napoleonic Wars. In what is widely regarded as the greatest victory achieved by Napoleon, the Grande Armée of France defeated a larger Russian and Austrian army led by Emperor Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II. The battle occurred near the town of Austerlitz in the Austrian Empire. Austerlitz brought the War of the Third Coalition to a rapid end, with the Treaty of Pressburg signed by the Austrians later in the month. The battle is often cited as a tactical masterpiece, in the same league as other historic engagements like Cannae or Gaugamela.

War of the Third Coalition war

The War of the Third Coalition was a European conflict spanning the years 1803 to 1806. During the war, France and its client states under Napoleon I defeated an alliance, the Third Coalition, made up of the Holy Roman Empire, Russia, Britain and others.

Despite the death of William Pitt in January 1806, Britain and the new Whig administration remained committed to checking the growing power of France. Peace overtures between the two nations early in the new year proved ineffectual due to the still unresolved issues that had led to the breakdown of the Peace of Amiens. One point of contention was the fate of Hanover, a German electorate in personal union with the British monarchy that had been occupied by France since 1803. Dispute over this state would eventually become a casus belli for both Britain and Prussia against France. This issue also dragged Sweden into the war, whose forces had been deployed there as part of the effort to liberate Hanover during the war of the previous coalition. The path to war seemed inevitable after French forces ejected the Swedish troops in April 1806.

William Pitt the Younger 18th/19th-century British statesman

William Pitt the Younger was a prominent British Tory statesman of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. He became the youngest Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1783 at the age of 24 and the first UK Prime Minister in January 1801. He left office in March 1801, but served as Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806. He was Chancellor of the Exchequer for all of his time as Prime Minister.

Treaty of Amiens peace treaty

The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between France and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace." The consequent peace lasted only one year and was the only period of general peace in Europe between 1793 and 1814.

Hanover City in Lower Saxony, Germany

Hanover or Hannover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony. Its 535,061 (2017) inhabitants make it the thirteenth-largest city of Germany, as well as the third-largest city of Northern Germany after Hamburg and Bremen. The city lies at the confluence of the River Leine and its tributary Ihme, in the south of the North German Plain, and is the largest city of the Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region. It is the fifth-largest city in the Low German dialect area after Hamburg, Dortmund, Essen, and Bremen.

Officers of the elite Prussian Gardes du Corps, wishing to provoke war, ostentatiously sharpen their swords on the steps of the French embassy in Berlin in the autumn of 1805 Myrbach-Prussian Garde du Corps.jpg
Officers of the élite Prussian Gardes du Corps, wishing to provoke war, ostentatiously sharpen their swords on the steps of the French embassy in Berlin in the autumn of 1805

Apart from some naval clashes and the peripheral Battle of Maida in southern Italy in July 1806 (though these actions are considered part of the tail end of the War of the Third Coalition), the main conflicts between Britain and France during the Fourth Coalition would involve no direct general military confrontation. Rather, there was an escalation in the ongoing economic warfare between the two powers. With Britain still retaining its dominance of the seas, Napoleon looked to break this dominance (after his defeat of Prussia) with his issuance of the Berlin Decree and the beginnings of his Continental System. Britain retaliated with its Orders in Council several months later.

In the meantime, Russia spent most of 1806 still licking its wounds from the previous year's campaign. Napoleon had hoped to establish peace with Russia and a tentative peace treaty was signed in July 1806, but this was vetoed by Tsar Alexander I and the two powers remained at war. Though nominally an ally in the coalition, Russia remained a dormant entity for much of the year (giving virtually no military aid to Prussia in the main battles that October, as Russian armies were still mobilising). Russian forces would not fully come into play in the war until late 1806 when Napoleon entered Poland.

The participants of the War of the Fourth Coalition. Blue: The Coalition and their colonies and allies. Green: The First French Empire, its protectorates, colonies and allies. Napoleonic Wars War of the Fourth Coalition.png
The participants of the War of the Fourth Coalition. Blue: The Coalition and their colonies and allies. Green: The First French Empire, its protectorates, colonies and allies.

Finally, Prussia had remained at peace with France the previous year, though it did come close to joining the Allies in the Third Coalition. A French corps led by Marshal Bernadotte had illegally violated the neutrality of Ansbach in Prussian territory on their march to face the Austrians and Russians. Anger by Prussia at this trespass was quickly tempered by the results of Austerlitz, and a convention of continued peace with France was signed two weeks after that battle at Schönbrunn. This convention was modified in a formal treaty two months later, with one clause in effect promising to give Hanover to Prussia in exchange for Ansbach's being awarded to France's ally Bavaria. In addition, on 15 March 1806 Napoleon elevated his brother-in-law Marshal Joachim Murat to become ruler of the Grand Duchy of Berg and Cleves (acquired from Bavaria in return for its receiving Ansbach). Murat exacerbated Prussian enmity by tactlessly ejecting a Prussian garrison that was stationed in his newly acquired realm, prompting a stern rebuke from Napoleon. Relations between France and Prussia quickly soured when Prussia eventually discovered that Napoleon had secretly promised to return sovereignty of Hanover back to Britain during his abortive peace negotiations with the British. This duplicity by the French would be one of the main causes for Prussia declaring war that autumn.

Another cause was Napoleon's formation in July 1806 of the Confederation of the Rhine out of the various German states which constituted the Rhineland and other parts of western Germany. A virtual satellite of the French Empire with Napoleon as its "Protector", the Confederation was intended to act as a buffer state from any future aggressions from Austria, Russia or Prussia against France (a policy that was an heir of the French revolutionary doctrine of maintaining France's "natural frontiers"). The formation of the Confederation was the final nail in the coffin of the moribund Holy Roman Empire and subsequently its last Habsburg emperor, Francis II, changed his title to simply Francis I, Emperor of Austria. Napoleon consolidated the various smaller states of the former Holy Roman Empire which had allied with France into larger electorates, duchies and kingdoms to make the governance of non-Prussian and Austrian Germany more efficient. He also elevated the electors of the two largest Confederation states, his allies Württemberg and Bavaria, to the status of kings. The Confederation was above all a military alliance: in return for continued French protection, member states were compelled to supply France with large numbers of their own military personnel (mainly to serve as auxiliaries to the Grande Armée), as well as contribute much of the resources needed to support the French armies still occupying western and southern Germany. Understandably, Prussia was indignant at this increasing French meddling in the affairs of Germany (without its involvement or even consultation) and viewed it as a threat. Napoleon had previously attempted to ameliorate Prussian anxieties by assuring Prussia he was not adverse to its heading a North German Confederation, but his duplicity regarding Hanover dashed this. A final spark leading to war was the summary arrest and execution of German nationalist Johann Philipp Palm in August 1806 for publishing a pamphlet which strongly attacked Napoleon and the conduct of his army occupying Germany. After giving Napoleon an ultimatum on 1 October 1806, Prussia (supported by Saxony) finally decided to contend militarily with the French Emperor.[ citation needed ]

Prussian campaign

Queen Louise Grassi, Josef Mathias - Luise von Mecklenburg-Strelitz.jpg
Queen Louise

Influenced by his wife Queen Louise and the war party in Berlin, in August 1806 the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III made the decision to go to war independently of any other great power, save the distant Russia. Another course of action might have involved openly declaring war the previous year and joining Austria and Russia in the Third Coalition. In fact, the Tsar had visited the Prussian king and queen at the tomb of Frederick the Great in Potsdam that very autumn, and the monarchs secretly swore to make common cause against Napoleon. Had Prussian forces been engaged against the French in 1805, this might have contained Napoleon and prevented the eventual Allied disaster at Austerlitz. In any event, Prussia vacillated in the face of the swift French invasion of Austria and then hastily professed neutrality once the Third Coalition was crushed. When Prussia did eventually declare war against France in 1806, its main ally the Russians still remained far away remobilising. The electorate of Saxony would be Prussia's sole German ally.

Napoleon could scarcely believe Prussia would be so foolish to take him on in a straight fight with hardly any allies at hand on its side, especially since most of his Grande Armée was still in the heart of Germany close to the Prussian border. He drummed up support from his soldiers by declaring that Prussia's bellicose actions had delayed their phased withdrawal back home to France to enjoy praise for the previous year's victories. Once hostilities seemed inevitable in September 1806, Napoleon unleashed all French forces east of the Rhine, deploying the corps of the Grande Armée along the frontier of southern Saxony. In a preemptive strike to catch the Prussians unaware, the Emperor had the Grande Armée march as a massive bataillon carré (battalion square) in three parallel columns through the Franconian Forest in southern Thuringia. Each corps would be in mutual supporting distance of each other, both within the column and laterally to the other columns (once through the difficult passage of the forest), thus allowing the Grand Armée to meet the enemy at any contingency. This strategy was adopted due to Napoleon's lack of intelligence regarding the Prussian main army's whereabouts and uncertainty over his enemy's puzzling manoeuvres in their march to face him. The reason for this stemmed mainly from the mutual mistrust within the Prussian high command that had resulted in division among the Prussian commanders over which plan of action for the war would be adopted. Despite the deficiency in pinpointing the main Prussian army's exact position, Napoleon correctly surmised their probable concentration in the vicinity of Erfurt and formulated a general plan of a thrust down the Saale valley, enveloping the left flank of where he believed the Prussians were located and thus cutting off their communications and line of retreat to Berlin.

Jena-Auerstedt Campaign, October 1806 Jena-Auerstedt 1806 Campaign Map.JPG
Jena-Auerstedt Campaign, October 1806

In the first clash on 9 October 1806, a Prussian division was brushed aside in the Battle of Schleiz. The following day, Marshal Lannes crushed a Prussian division at Saalfeld, where the popular Prince Louis Ferdinand was killed. At the double Battle of Jena-Auerstedt on 14 October, Napoleon smashed a Prussian army led by Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen and Ernst von Rüchel at Jena, while his Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout routed Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick's main army at Auerstedt. At Jena, Napoleon fought only a contingent of the Prussian army. At Auerstedt a single French corps defeated the bulk of the Prussian army, despite being heavily outnumbered. Victory at Auerstedt was all but secured once the Duke of Brunswick (as well as fellow commander Friedrich Wilhelm Carl von Schmettau) were mortally wounded, and the Prussian command devolved to the less able King. Matters were worsened once the vanquished remnants of the Prussian army from Jena stumbled onto the clash at Auerstedt, further plunging the Prussians' morale and triggering their precipitous retreat. For this conspicuous victory, Marshal Davout was later created the Duke of Auerstedt by Napoleon. On 17 October, Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte (redeeming himself somewhat for his inexplicable absence from either battle on the 14th) mauled Eugene Frederick Henry, Duke of Württemberg's previously untouched Reserve corps at the Battle of Halle and chased it across the Elbe River.

The Siege of Danzig, 1807 Siege of Danzig 1807.PNG
The Siege of Danzig, 1807

Some 160,000 French soldiers fought against Prussia (increasing in number as the campaign went on, with reinforcements arriving across the Wesel bridgehead from the peripheral theatre surrounding the recently formed Kingdom of Holland) advancing with such speed that Napoleon was able to destroy as an effective military force the entire quarter of a million-strong Prussian army. The Prussians sustained 65,000 casualties (including the deaths of two members of the royal family) lost a further 150,000 prisoners, over 4,000 artillery pieces, and over 100,000 muskets stockpiled in Berlin. The French suffered around 15,000 casualties for the whole campaign. Napoleon entered Berlin on 27 October 1806 and visited the tomb of Frederick the Great, telling his marshals to show their respect, saying, "If he were alive we wouldn't be here today". [2]

In total, Napoleon and the Grande Armée had taken only 19 days from the commencement of the invasion of Prussia until essentially knocking it out of the war with the capture of Berlin and the destruction of its principal armies at Jena and Auerstedt. Most of the shattered remnants of the Prussian army (and the displaced royal family) escaped to refuge in Eastern Prussia near Königsberg, eventually to link up with the approaching Russians and continue the fight. Meanwhile, Saxony was elevated to a kingdom on 11 December 1806 upon allying with France and joining the Confederation of the Rhine, thereby leaving the Allied Coalition.

In Berlin, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree on 21 November 1806 to bring into effect the Continental System. This policy aimed to control the trade of all European countries (without consulting their governments). The ostensible goal was to weaken the British economy by closing French-controlled territory to its trade, but British merchants smuggled in many goods and the Continental System was not a powerful weapon of economic war. [3]

Polish, Russian and Swedish campaigns

Aftermath of the Battle of Eylau Gros, Napoleon at Eylau.jpg
Aftermath of the Battle of Eylau

Towards the end of 1806, the French entered Poland and Napoleon created a new Duchy of Warsaw, to be ruled by his new ally Frederick Augustus I of Saxony. The area of the duchy had already been liberated by a popular uprising that had escalated from anti-conscription rioting. Napoleon then turned north to confront the approaching Russian armies [4] and to attempt to capture the temporary Prussian capital at Königsberg. A tactical draw at Eylau (7–8 February) forced the Russians to withdraw further north. Napoleon then routed the Russian army at Friedland (14 June). Following this defeat, Alexander sued for peace with Napoleon at Tilsit (7 July 1807).

Meanwhile, Swedish involvement was primarily concerned with protecting Swedish Pomerania. Despite being defeated at Lübeck, the Swedes successfully defended the fort of Stralsund during its first siege in early 1807. On 18 April, France and Sweden agreed to a ceasefire, which led to the withdrawal of all French troops. However, Swedish refusal to join the Continental System led to a second invasion of Swedish Pomerania led by Marshal Brune. Stralsund fell on 24 August after a second siege and the Swedish army surrendered at Rügen, completing the occupation of Swedish Pomerania. The resulting peace treaty agreed by Marshal Brune and Swedish general Johan Christopher Toll, however, allowed the Swedish army to withdraw with all its munitions of war.


Prussia (orange) and its territories lost at Tilsit (other colours) Preussen-1806.jpg
Prussia (orange) and its territories lost at Tilsit (other colours)

Following the Treaties of Tilsit, Britain and Sweden remained the only two major coalition members still at war with France. Russia soon declared war against Britain and after a British attack on Copenhagen, Denmark–Norway joined the war on the side of Napoleon ( Gunboat War ), opening a second front against Sweden. A short British expedition under Sir John Moore was sent to Sweden (May 1808) to protect against any possible Franco-Danish invasion.

At the Congress of Erfurt (September–October 1808) Napoleon and Alexander agreed that Russia should force Sweden to join the Continental System, which led to the Finnish War of 1808–1809 (meaning Sweden played no role in the next coalition against Napoleon) and to the division of Sweden into two parts separated by the Gulf of Bothnia. The eastern part became the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. Due to the Continental System, Britain was yet again still at war with Napoleon and was not affected by the peace treaty.

In negotiations with captured Swedes after the Battle of Lübeck, Marshal Bernadotte first came to the attention of the Swedish authorities. This would set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to him being elected heir to the Swedish throne, and later King Charles XIV John of Sweden.

As for the French, after the Treaty of Tilsit, the Empire was seemingly at its zenith. Flush with triumph and deeming France free from any immediate obligations in Central and Eastern Europe, Napoleon decided to capture the Iberian ports of Britain's long-time ally Portugal. His main aim was to close off another strip of the European coast and a major source for British trade.

On 27 October 1807, Spain's Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau with France, by which in return for the alliance and passage of French armies through its realm, Spain would receive Portuguese territory. In November 1807, after the refusal of Prince Regent John of Portugal to join the Continental System, Napoleon sent an army into Spain under General Jean-Andoche Junot with the aim of invading Portugal (as well as the secret task of being the vanguard for the eventual French occupation of Spain). Napoleon soon embroiled himself and France in Spain's internal power struggles within its royal family, eventually leading to the Spanish populace turning on the French occupiers and the beginning of the Peninsular War.

See also

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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.

Confederation of the Rhine confederation of client states of the First French Empire

The Confederation of the Rhine was a confederation of client states of the First French Empire. It was formed initially from sixteen German states by Napoleon after he defeated Austria and Russia at the Battle of Austerlitz. The Treaty of Pressburg, in effect, led to the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine, which lasted from 1806 to 1813.

Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg former Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire

The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg was an Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, located in northwestern Germany. It was colloquially known as the Electorate of Hanover, after its capital city of Hanover. For most of its existence, the electorate was ruled in personal union with Great Britain.

Free City of Danzig (Napoleonic) Napoleonic semi-independent city state

The Free City of Danzig, sometimes referred to as the Republic of Danzig, was a semi-independent city-state established by Napoleon on 9 September 1807, during the time of the Napoleonic Wars following the capture of the city in the Siege of Danzig in May. After the Congress of Vienna of 1814/5, Danzig was re-incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia.

Karl Friedrich von dem Knesebeck German general

Karl Friedrich von dem Knesebeck was a Prussian field marshal and military adviser in the Napoleonic Wars, notable for designing the campaign plan of the Battle of Leipzig and the subsequent invasion of France.

The Royal Saxon Army was the military force of the Electorate (1682—1807) and later the Kingdom of Saxony (1807—1918). A regular Saxon army was first established in 1682 and it continued to exist until the abolition of the German monarchies in 1918. With the formation of the Confederation of the Rhine by Napoleon the Royal Saxon Army joined the French "Grande Armée" along with 37 other German states.

Julius August Reinhold von Grawert (1746–1821) was a Prussian general. Julius was the son of Johann Benjamin of von Grawert (1709–1759) and his wife Christiane Sophie, née von Schollenstern (1717–1796). During the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt on 14 October 1806, he led a division under Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen at Jena.

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.

German Campaign of 1813 Conflict between France and an alliance

The German Campaign was fought in 1813. Members of the Sixth Coalition, including the German states of Austria and Prussia, plus Russia and Sweden, fought a series of battles in Germany against the French Emperor Napoleon and his Marshals, which liberated the other German states from the domination of the First French Empire.

Prussia and its predecessor, Brandenburg-Prussia, were involved in numerous conflicts during their existence as nation-states. During their military engagements they often fulfilled the role of a supporting power, especially in the 17th century. In the 18th century Prussia began to adopt an independent role in the conflicts of that time; at the latest by the time of the Silesian Wars.


  1. Clodfelter 2017, p. 170.
  2. Rodney Castleden. Conflicts that Changed the World. Canary Press eBooks. p. 264.
  3. Schroeder, The Transformation of European Politics 1763-1848 (1994) pp 305-10
  4. Maps of Napoleon's Campaign In Poland 1806–7.


Further reading