The Collapse of Prussia and the Reorganization of Europe: A Q&A
The article discusses the collapse of Prussia in 1806 due to Napoleon’s military conquests and the subsequent reorganisation of Europe as a result of the French Empire’s expansion. The article also highlights the impact of religion on the mobilisation of resistance against the French, and how local insurrections and uprisings ultimately proved to be a serious drain on Napoleon’s resources.
Table of Contents
- The Formation of the Grand Coalition
- The French Revolutionaries’ Difficulty in Maintaining a Firm Grip on their Conquests
- The Directory’s Loss of Legitimacy and Bonaparte’s Coup d’etat
- The War of the Second Coalition and the Peace of Lunéville
- The End of the Revolutionary Wars and the Establishment of a Balance-of-Power System
- Prussia’s Defeat by Napoleon in 1806 and the Reorganization of Europe
Q: What led to the formation of the grand coalition?
A: Paul’s seizure of Malta in 1798 solidified his beliefs that Bonaparte’s eastern expedition was diabolical, and his beliefs were confirmed when Bonaparte seized the island. This resulted in the formation of a grand new coalition comprising Great Britain, Austria, Russia, Turkey, Portugal, and Naples.
Q: Why did the French revolutionaries have difficulty in maintaining a firm grip on their conquests?
A: Although they went to war with the slogan “war to the chateaux, peace to the cottages,” they could not afford to liberate oppressed peoples, so they were obliged to live off the land they liberated. This created a gap between their rhetoric and practice, which made it difficult for them to maintain a firm grip on their conquests.
Q: What led to the Directory’s loss of legitimacy?
A: By 1799, the Directory had lost its last shreds of legitimacy by repeatedly intervening to overrule the verdict of the electorate. This paved the way for Bonaparte’s coup d’etat, which brought him to power in November 1799.
Q: What was the outcome of the War of the Second Coalition, and how was it resolved?
A: The War of the Second Coalition did not come to an end until Moreau defeated the Austrians at Hohenlinden on 3 December 1800. The Peace of Lunéville confirmed and extended the gains France had made at Campo Formio and began the destruction of the Holy Roman Empire. After Lunéville, only Britain remained at war as their failure to prevent French hegemony on the continent was dramatized when the Spanish invaded Portugal in April 1801, forcing it into the French orbit.
Q: What was the outcome of the Revolutionary Wars, and what system was established as a result?
A: The Revolutionary Wars came to an end in 1802, and a balance-of-power system was established through wars that began in 1787 with the Turkish declaration of war on Russia. British domination over the world overseas, French domination over western and southern Europe, and Russian domination over the east were confirmed.
Q: What happened as a result of Prussia’s defeat by Napoleon in 1806?
A: Despite having a large army, Prussia suffered a swift and total collapse, surrendering forts and territory with little resistance. Prussia lost over a third of its territory, half of its population, and was required to pay a huge financial indemnity and maintain a large French army of occupation. Napoleon’s imposition of his brothers and allies as rulers of various European states led to local insurrections and uprisings, including in Spain, which ultimately proved to be a serious drain on his resources.
Q: How did religion play a role in mobilising resistance against the French?
A: Religion played a key role in mobilising resistance against the French, as many believed they were defending national and religious identity against a foreign, atheist threat. This was particularly evident in Spain, where Wellington’s Spanish campaign, with the support of guerrilla movements, slowly eroded the French occupation.
The collapse of Prussia in 1806 due to Napoleon’s military conquests marked a turning point in the reorganisation of Europe. Napoleon’s imposition of his brothers and allies as rulers of various European states led to local insurrections and uprisings, which ultimately proved to be a serious drain on his resources. Religion played a key role in mobilising resistance against the French, particularly in Spain, where the guerrilla movements slowly eroded the French occupation.