210 years ago, 14 on October 1806, in the decisive battle of Jena and Auerstedt, Napoleon Bonaparte's army crushed the Prussian army under the general command of the Duke Karl of Brunswick. As a result of this military disaster, the Prussian kingdom was demoralized and lost the will to resist. On October 27, that is, less than two weeks after the Jena catastrophe, the French emperor drove to Berlin in triumph. Soon Prussia fell.
The defeat and capitulation of Prussia, caused by the stupidity, arrogance and lack of talent of the Prussian high command, predetermined the defeat of the IV anti-French coalition (Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, Saxony, Sweden). Russia is once again alone in the face of the victorious French army. The military-political situation was very difficult - at the same time the Russian Empire was at war with the Ottoman Empire and Persia. The Russian army alone could not resist the enemy and, after a series of battles, retreated over the Neman. Russia was forced in June 1807 to sign the Tilzit Agreement.
The Russian-Austro-French War of 1805 (The War of the Third Coalition) ended in complete defeat of the anti-French coalition. Because of the mistakes of Austria, which overestimated its strength, did not wait for the arrival of the Russian army and the first to launch an offensive against France, the coalition suffered a complete defeat.
Napoleon, acting energetically and offensively, surrounded the Austrian army of Makka near the city of Ulm on the r. Lech and forced her to capitulate to the approach of the Russian troops. Thus, the French army seized the strategic initiative, having also a considerable superiority in forces over the defeated and demoralized Austrians and the Russian army under the command of M.I. Kutuzov.
However, Kutuzov, hiding behind strong rear-guard, made a brilliant march and saved the army from encirclement and destruction (or surrender). Thus, Kutuzov gave the high command of Austria and Russia (Prussia should have joined them) a chance to turn the tide and win the war. However, the Austrian and Russian emperors, who were supported by many generals and advisers, contrary to Kutuzov’s opinion, decided to give a decisive battle to the "Corsican monster." 20 November (2 December) 1805 was the battle of Austerlitz, which Napoleon Bonaparte later called the biggest star in the constellation of his numerous victories on the battlefields. Napoleon brilliantly took advantage of the opponents' blunders and defeated the Allied army.
The war was lost. The third anti-French coalition collapsed. The vacillating Prussia did not dare to oppose Napoleon, and even went to an alliance with him. Austria was forced to conclude a difficult peace treaty with France in Pressburg (Bratislava). Russia has withdrawn troops into its territory. This allowed Napoleon to tailor the map of Europe. Thus, according to the Presburg Peace Treaty, the emperor of France took away from Venice Venice, Istria, Dalmatia, Cattaro and Friul. With the loss of these territories, Austria lost a sixth of the entire population of the empire. In July, 1806. Napoleon created under his protectorate in the territory of Western Europe a new state entity - the Rhine Union. It includes Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg and 13 of other, smaller, German principalities. By this act, the Holy Roman Empire was abolished. Her emperor Franz II assumed the title of Emperor of Austria - Franz I. In the spring of 1806, Napoleon I stripped power of the Bourbons in Naples, where his brother Joseph was proclaimed king.
Prussia was forced to yield to the pressure of France. Napoleon demanded the conclusion of a defensive alliance signed in December 1805. Napoleon promised to pay Prussia Hannover, the French occupation of the English crown, for this. Thus Prussia was transformed from a potential ally of England into its enemy. In the spring of 1806, England declared war on Prussia, and Sweden (an ally of Britain) imposed a naval blockade on the Prussian Baltic ports. All this caused irritation of Prussia, which in the end decided in alliance with Russia and Britain to oppose France.
Russia and France
After the defeat and the collapse of the Third Anti-French Coalition, the state of war between Russia and France was formally preserved, but, given the lack of a common border, real hostilities were not conducted. St. Petersburg did not take the lesson of the Austerlitz disaster. The Russian government decided to continue the struggle with Napoleon, although Russia had no fundamental contradictions with France, a common border with territorial disputes and the opposition of the Russians with the French was extremely advantageous to London, Vienna and Berlin.
In addition, Napoleon’s policy toward Russia remained markedly benevolent, almost friendly, although there was a formal war between the two great powers. After Austerlitz, Napoleon actually ceased hostilities against the Russian army, and he let it go quietly. Moreover, he returned to Russia prisoners of soldiers (with the same friendly gesture, Napoleon’s friendship with Emperor Paul began).
Thus, Napoleon remained true to his 1800 foreign policy strategy of the year. That is a strategic course for an alliance with Russia. Two weeks after the “Battle of the Three Emperors” in a conversation with Gaugwitz, Napoleon said: “As for Russia, it will be with me - not now, but in a year, after two, three. Time smoothes all memories, and this union, perhaps, would be the most suitable for me. ” Napoleon cherished the old plan of the tripartite alliance - France, Prussia and Russia, which was to maintain peace in Europe and eliminate the influence of England on the continent. At the same time, Napoleon considered the alliance with Russia to be the main one.
However, Alexander Pavlovich did not appreciate the friendly gestures of Napoleon. The policy of confrontation, to the complete satisfaction of the British, was maintained. Moreover, in the public opinion of St. Petersburg high society, where Austerlitz was initially perceived with confusion and anxiety, the “hurray-patriotic” mood again prevailed. Austerlitz was now regarded as an accident; the Austrians, the British, were to blame, but not the supreme commander-in-chief, who got involved in the unnecessary war for the Russian people.
Therefore, the Russian government tried to solve several important problems. First, use the respite to find new partners to continue the war - find out the positions of Austria and Turkey, decide on Prussia. Secondly, to strengthen the alliance with the only remaining "partner" - England. Third, Russia's attention was now focused not on the Baltic and Northern Germany (due to the capture of Hanover by the French), but on the Balkans, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The French continued to increase their presence in the Mediterranean, and this process took on a threatening character.
Adam Chartoryisky in his note addressed to the emperor said that Russia urgently needed to strengthen its troops on the Ionian Islands - in 1798-1799 the Russian Mediterranean squadron and Turkish forces under the general command of Fyodor Ushakov freed the Ionian Islands from the French, Paul I formed the Seven Republic from them Islands under the auspices of St. Petersburg and Istanbul, and strengthen the Mediterranean squadron. In addition, he believed that Russia should strengthen its military presence in the Balkan Peninsula and concentrate troops on the borders of the Moldavian principality. Thus, the course for a full-scale confrontation with France was maintained.
The situation in southern Europe was really tense. France significantly strengthened its position in the region. Under the terms of the 26 prisoner of December 1805 in the Presburg (Bratislava) of the Austro-French world, Vienna gave Napoleon as the Italian king the Venetian region, Istria (except Trieste) and Dalmatia and recognized all French conquests in Italy. Thus, the French sharply strengthened their positions in the Mediterranean, having received most of the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, and reached the line of the Balkans - the Eastern Mediterranean.
As a result, the French were able to seize the Ionian Islands, completely pushing Russia out of the Mediterranean Sea. The situation of Russia has worsened because of the reorientation of Istanbul to Paris. After the battle of Austerlitz, the Turkish sultan Selim III (1789 - 1807) reigned in charge of the imperial title of Napoleon Bonaparte and welcomed the “oldest, most faithful and necessary ally” of the Ottoman Empire. In August, the French envoy General Sebastiani arrived in Istanbul 1806, who, with the support of the Turkish Sultan, tried to modernize the Ottoman Empire in a European way, he began to carry out reforms. Among these reforms were reforms aimed at creating a regular army according to Western standards (reforms of Nizam-i Djedid). Istanbul planned to restore military power: to create a conscription system and a mobilization reserve, to replace the territorial militias with army-division divisions, to create a military industry, to purchase modern weapon and ships, use the help of Western military advisers.
Sebastiani instructed to spoil relations between Russia and Turkey, so that the Turks closed to the Russian fleet straits and regained their influence in the Danube principalities (Moldova and Wallachia). In addition, the French established contacts with Persia and hinted to the Turks that if they think for a long time, then France will focus on Tehran (the Persians were the traditional enemies of the Ottomans).
Under the influence of the French, the Ottoman sultan dismissed the pro-Russian rulers of Moldavia (Alexander Muzuri) and Wallachia (Constantin Ypsilanti). According to the Russian-Turkish agreements, the appointment and removal of the rulers of these principalities was to take place with the consent of St. Petersburg. Thus, there was a pretext for war.
11 November 1806, the Russian 40 thousand army under the command of Ivan Michelson began to cross the Dniester and without a fight took a number of fortresses. These actions did not contradict the terms of the Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhinskogo world 1774 year. December 18 Istanbul declared war on Russia, a new long Russian-Turkish war 1806-1812 began. The British tried to stop this conflict, their squadron even broke through the Dardanelles and stood at the Sultan's palace. London presented an ultimatum to Porte to expel the French mission, declare war on France, hand over the Danube principalities of Russia, give the British the fortifications of the Dardanelles and the ships of the Turkish Navy. The Turks, on the advice of the French, began to delay the negotiations, and at that time, with the help of French engineers, they strengthened the Dardanelles in order to block British ships. Admiral John Duckworth understood the danger of the situation and retreated - the British squadron with a battle broke into the open sea. As a result, the Ottoman Empire moved to the side of France, starting a war with Russia and England.
At the beginning of 1806, Tsar Alexander I, in a rescript Russian ambassador to Britain, S. R. Vorontsov, formulated the main tasks of St. Petersburg’s foreign policy at this stage. Russia was going to continue the struggle with the French, to preserve an alliance with Britain, to keep Austria from complete submission to Napoleon, to prevent Prussia and France from strengthening the alliance and to try to involve Berlin in an alliance with St. Petersburg. Special attention was paid to the strengthening and preservation of the union with England. The world between London and Paris was highly undesirable. Without the support of the British fleet in the Mediterranean, the situation changed dramatically in favor of France. The Russian Mediterranean squadron could not resist the more powerful French fleet and prevent the transfer of French troops from Italy to the Balkans, to Dalmatia.
During this period, London led negotiations with Paris, not to wage war alone. But as soon as it became clear that Prussia and Russia would come out against France, London immediately turned off negotiations with Paris. The British ministers were again ready to wage war against France until the last Prussian and Russian soldier.
At the same time, Petersburg was testing the ground in Paris. Peter Ubri was sent to France, officially he had to decide on the exchange of prisoners, and unofficially find out about the possibility of concluding a long-term truce between Russia and France, or even universal peace, which guarantees stability in Europe. The agreement was to stop the French expansion in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Negotiations were difficult. Russia did not consider itself defeated; new controversial issues arose in Europe. In the words of everyone they were talking about readiness to make concessions, but as soon as it came to practice, everything had to start all over again. Still, Ubry decided at his own risk to sign the 20 of July 1806 of the year with General Clark of the Franco-Russian peace treaty. He was a compromise. France recognized Russia's rights to the Ionian archipelago and pledged not to send its troops to Turkey. France retained Dalmatia and pledged to withdraw its troops from northern Germany, subject to the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Adriatic. Between the two great powers established peace forever.
Thus, with all its flaws, the July 20 treaty could become the foundation for peace between France and Russia. The vital interests of none of the powers were not infringed, it was possible to find points of common interests, and the most important thing was to stop the war, which was very beneficial for England.
However, by the time the treaty Ubri - Clark went to Alexander for ratification, the king had already gone too far in the direction of creating a new anti-French coalition. Petersburg and Berlin at that time concluded an alliance directed against France. In a secret declaration signed by 1 (13) in July 1806 in Berlin, the Prussian king Frederick William III declared himself loyal to Russia and assured that he would never "join France." In late July, Alexander I signed a similar declaration.
In August, Alexander Pavlovich convened a closed meeting of the State Council on the ratification of the peace treaty of July 20 with France. M. I. Kutuzov, A. B. Kurakin, N. P. Rumyantsev spoke in favor of approving the contract. They believed that this would provide an opportunity, with honor and without prejudice, to get rid of the new war with France. But Budberg and other ministers from the Tsar's inner circle, who knew Alexander’s belligerent and anti-French sentiments, and skillfully adapting to them, opposed ratification of the agreement. That is, for the war with France. Alexander decided on a new war with France, which in the end will bring more blood to Russia itself and signed the manifesto "On the forthcoming war with France."
Napoleon, to the last, believed that common sense would win in Petersburg. He attached great importance to the peace treaty and waited for good news from Russia to return the army to France, the relevant order had already been given to the Chief of Staff Berthier. In a letter to Joseph 27 August 1806, he writes that “they wanted to raise doubts about his ratification,” but this should not be believed. When 3 of September Napoleon found out about Alexander’s refusal to approve the contract, he immediately gave the order to return the army. At the same time, Napoleon believed to the last that the crisis could be overcome. However, wrong.
Russia also tried to support Vienna, prompting Austria to resist the pressure of Napoleon, who wanted to achieve the transit of French troops to Dalmatia through Austrian territory. As a result, Vienna gave way to the pressure of Paris, but retained diplomatic support for Russia.
Great efforts were made to create an alliance with Prussia. At the beginning of 1806, the Prussian direction of foreign policy became central for both France and Russia. For Napoleon, the subordination of Prussia to the will of France meant complete control over Germany, over the North German coast, which strengthened the possibilities for fighting England. In addition, the alliance with Prussia dealt the strongest blow to Austria, which, although submitted to the will of Napoleon, hid the hatred of France and the revolutionary changes in Europe. For St. Petersburg, a strategic alliance with Prussia meant the ability to contain the onslaught of France at the turn of Germany or even inflict a military defeat on France in Central Europe (the Prussian army was considered one of the most powerful in Europe), plus maintaining its influence in Germany. Berlin was going to take advantage of this situation, becoming a mediator between Russia and France. At the same time, King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm III wanted to be an equal partner, raising the status of Berlin.
A. Chartoryisky in negotiations with the authorized Prussian king by the Duke of Braunschweig rejected the idea of a tripartite union of France, Prussia and Russia, as well as plans for the mediation of Berlin. The Russian Foreign Ministry argued that the contradictions between France and Prussia are irreconcilable in nature and sooner or later a conflict will arise between them, so Berlin is better to join an anti-French alliance. But Friedrich Wilhelm III at first preferred to continue the line on an alliance with France. 5 March 1806 of the year Prussia ratified the new treaty with France. According to it, France handed over the Prussian crown to Hanover, and Berlin closed the North German ports for British ships, joining the naval blockade of England. London, in response, declared war on Prussia. This war was not beneficial to St. Petersburg not only from the point of view of military-political interests, but also economic ones - the conflict brought huge losses to the Baltic trade. In addition, the situation has become even more aggravated by the inclusion of Sweden, a longtime ally of London, into the conflict.
At the same time, King Frederick William sent Alexander a letter in which he again swore allegiance to his friendship. Thus, Prussia led a double game. On the one hand, Berlin officially became an ally of Paris, on the other - it was looking for an opportunity to maintain special relations with Russia and Britain. So, March 20 secret declaration established a secret union of the Hohenzollern and Romanovs.
King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm III
In June, Alexander 1806 dismissed the head of the Foreign Ministry, Chartoryi, who in his work focused on London, trying to focus Russia's attention on the affairs of the Middle East and the Balkan Peninsula. At the same time, Adam Czartoryski was an opponent of the union of Russia with Prussia, believing that this would worsen the possibilities for restoring Poland’s statehood. Alexander was negative about the plans for the restoration of Poland, realizing that this would dramatically worsen relations with Austria and Prussia, and would lead to the isolation of Russia.
12 July 1806 in Paris was concluded the Rhine Union. In addition, Napoleon informed the English representative of his decision to return England Hanover, if she finally agrees to sign the peace. British diplomacy immediately informed the Prussian king of Napoleon's "perfidy". This finally outraged Berlin, the patriots demanded a war with France. Royal diplomacy began an energetic search for allies. And Prussia went to the union with Russia.
Thus, using the situation, London made the fourth anti-French coalition, which was finally formed by September 1806. It includes England, Prussia, Russia and Sweden. England, as always, assumed the responsibility of the money question (to subsidize the war, using the Prussian and Russian "cannon fodder"), and the other participants - to give their troops. Regardless, Prussia formed an alliance with Saxony.
To be continued ...