Military Review

The collapse of Napoleon's empire

31 March 1814, the Allied armies led by the Russian Emperor Alexander I entered Paris. Riding a white horse, along with the Prussian king and Field Marshal Schwarzenberg, who represented the Austrian Empire, ahead of the brilliant retinue of the Allied generals, at the head of the Russian-Prussian Guard, the sovereign Alexander Pavlovich entered the French capital.

On March 30, French troops were defeated in the Battle of Paris, and Marshal Marmont surrendered the city. Napoleon, who concentrated his small army beyond Marna, learned too late about the movement of the Allied forces to Paris and did not manage to rescue the capital. In 1814, he reaped the fruits of his past mistakes and mistakes. The Napoleonic empire, when in 1812, attacked Russia, having included almost all the peoples of Europe in the ranks of the Great Army, finally lost its progressive elements typical of it before. France waged unjust, wars of conquest, trying to subjugate the European peoples. And the French people themselves were bled in these wars. France spent all its resources and power on seizing new and retaining old territories, and not on development. As a result, France has degraded, thousands of young men broke away from agriculture, industry and died in foreign lands. The country was in desolation. The defeat in the Russian 1812 campaign of the year naturally led to the 1814 disaster of the year.

During the 1813 campaign of the year, Napoleon won a number of brilliant victories and could not only make peace on fairly good conditions. But he wanted more. During the 1814 campaign of the year, Napoleon was also able to commit to give a series of successful battles and was able to retain at least France, but he refused. In the end, I lost everything.

Talleyrand betrayed Napoleon and was elected head of the provisional government. Kolenkur tried to protect the interests of Napoleon, reminded senators and other influential persons of the favors with which the emperor showered them, but his card was beaten. The political situation has changed. Senators felt that it was time to “fit in” with the new political reality. Kolenkur failed to raise the question of the regency of Marie-Louise under Napoleon’s son. 2 On April, the Senate declared Napoleon and his family members deprived of the throne. True, less than half of the 140 senators were present. Some were with Napoleon, others with Louise-Mary in Blois, others did not come.

Kolenkur met with Alexander and tried to convince him to begin negotiations with Napoleon. But the Russian emperor did not want any negotiations with Napoleon, since “France, Europe has a need for peace and cannot have it under Napoleon,” demanded his renunciation. At the same time, Aleksandr Pavlovich promised to forget all the evil that Napoleon brought to Russia, and expressed his willingness to give him any honorable refuge, including in Russia.

At this time, Napoleon in Fontainebleau near Paris was engaged in building an army, upset by the recent battles, forced marches and desertion. All marching regiments were aimed at the formation of linear. Corps Mortier was reinforced by the division of Boje de Rebeval; Marmont corps - divisions Kompana and Ledru, two battalions of veterans and the remnants of the Paris garrison. Both corps, which lost almost all the artillery in the battles of Fere-Champenoise and Paris, received 30 guns with full ammunition. The foot gendarmes from the three departments: the Seine, the Seine and the Marne, the Seine and the Oise, were consolidated into battalions, and together with the gendarmes from the Friant division, formed a special brigade. Horse gendarmes and selected squadrons were one of the regiments of the division Lefebvre-Denouetta. Of all the remaining regiments formed a division under the command of Krasinsky. Napoleon planned to continue the acquisition of equestrian and infantry reserves. Under Napoleon, there were about 60 thousand soldiers (according to other sources, 36 thousand). In addition, in France there were also groups of Ogereau and Soult.

The arrival of Kolenkur took away Napoleon’s last hope of resolving the matter through negotiations. He decided to continue the war. The soldiers and officers, despite the fall of Paris, and the royalist attempts to lure them to their side, loved the emperor and were devoted to him. However, his closest associates were tired, they believed that further sacrifices were meaningless and longed for peace.

Napoleon planned to go to Paris and April 3-4 concentrated troops. 3 April guard was built on the castle square. The French emperor drove along the front of the troops and, stopping in the middle of the square, addressed the officers and soldiers with a speech: “Soldiers! The enemy, having outstripped us by three transitions, seized Paris; we must cast him out. Unworthy French immigrants, spared us, hoisted the white flag and joined our enemies. Fainthearted! They will be punished for this new crime. Let us pledge to conquer or die, and make us respect the tricolor cockade for twenty years we have been carrying out in the field of glory and honor, ”the Guard replied to the emperor:“ We swear to that! ”The infantry and cavalry passed by Napoleon. The soldiers greeted their leader: “Long live the emperor! In Paris! To Paris! ”The troops began to push in the direction of Paris.

The Allies, having received news of the movement of the French troops, also began to push troops to positions near Paris. In the forefront was the Raevsky corps, in the first line were also the Giulai Austrian corps, the Württemberg corps and the Wrede corps. Guard and reserves with the main headquarters remained in Paris. The corps of the Silesian army was also located in the Paris region. In total, the Allies had in Paris and its environs to 180 thousand soldiers. Chernyshev's 4 squad on April on the Orleans road captured a French artillery park, which moved under the cover of an 800 soldier. The regiments of Zhirov, Sysoyev and Vlasov were struck suddenly from an ambush. The French fled. Russian troops captured 22 guns and many prisoners. General Chernyshov, having learned from the prisoners that another artillery park had passed here before, set off in pursuit. In the evening, Russian troops stormed the city of Pitivier, which the French rangers defended to 200. However, the artillery park could not be overtaken.

The preparation of the Allied Command for a new battle was unnecessary. The French marshals did not want to participate in a desperate and suicidal attack on Paris. The royalists exerted pressure on them, forcing them to revolt and go over to the side of the Bourbons. Some had families in Paris and feared for the lives of their families. As a result, the marshals decided to oppose Napoleon.

4 April in the emperor's chambers entered the famous marshals Ney, Udino, Lefevre, MacDonald, Monsey. Berthier, Mare, Kolenkur and other high dignitaries of the French Empire were already in Napoleon's office. The marshals were sad and did not dare to start a difficult conversation, and Napoleon, knowing their intentions, asked if there was any news from Paris. Ney replied: "We have, and very bad." Napoleon tried to cheer the commanders, convincing them of the opportunity to take advantage of the scattered position of the Allied corps, which were located on both sides of the Seine. He spoke about the possibility of promoting the Parisians, which facilitated the expulsion of the enemy from Paris. There were other troops: Eugene had up to 36 thousand soldiers, a Augereau - 30 thousand, Suchet - 20 thousand, Soult - 40 thousand people. By combining these forces it was possible to drop the Allies to the Rhine, save France and make peace.

However, the marshals did not share his hopes. They clearly expressed their desire - the abdication of Napoleon from the throne. MacDonald said that they are not ready to "fight on the ruins of our capital covered with the corpses of our children." True, he did not dare to say that he would refuse to execute the order, saying that "it is unlikely that the troops will execute such an order." At the same time, the marshals spoke out against the Bourbons and expressed their readiness to support the candidacy of Napoleon’s son.

Napoleon decided to try again to negotiate and send Kolenkura, Ney and Macdonald to Paris. He expressed his willingness to abdicate in favor of the son of Napoleon II (King of Rome) under the regency of the empress. The commissioners arrived at Essonne and met Marmon there. He was offered to join the delegation. However, the marshal coldly accepted this offer. He, considering the disastrous further war, has already entered into relations with the interim government and Prince Schwarzenberg. Initially, Marmont, under various pretexts, refused to join Kolenkur. Then Marmon admitted that he, having discussed the situation with his subordinate generals, decided to recognize the provisional government. Marshal promised with his troops to go to Versailles, on the road leading to Normandy and obey the orders of the interim government. Thus, Marmont betrayed the emperor, weakened his army on 8 thousand soldiers and opened the way to Fontainebleau. From this time on, the word “Ragusa” (the marshal was the duke of Ragusa) became synonymous with the word “traitor” in France, and the verb “raguser” appeared in French, which means “mean betrayer”.

Marmont did not have a strong character and under the pressure of his associates agreed to abandon the promise given to Schwarzenberg and go to Paris. Subordinate troops were to remain in their previous positions. However, the deal has already been done. Schwarzenberg agreed to cancel the previously concluded condition, but it was already announced. As a result, Napoleon lost much as a contracting party, the allies now knew that there was discord in the French camp and that you could push through your conditions.

During negotiations with the interim government and the allied command, Napoleon’s marshals stood for the rights of the King of Rome, refusing to recognize the Bourbons. They sought to show that this concession should be made to the troops that are loyal to the emperor and will yield only if the rights of Napoleon’s son are preserved. Senate decision Ney and McDonald considered illegal. Alexander the envoys of Napoleon listened carefully and gave them hope. He promised to discuss the matter with the Prussian king. The next day, negotiations were going to continue.

At this time, Marmon's corps went over to the Allies, which decided the outcome of the negotiations. Napoleon sent an officer to accompany Marmont or his general to replace him at Fontainebleau to discuss a possible operation to attack Paris. General Sugam (Suam), who led the corps in the absence of Marmon, decided that Napoleon had learned about the secret agreement of the corps command with the allies, and he wanted to arrest or shoot the traitors. The generals decided to cross the Essonne River and enter at the disposal of the provisional government. 5 April Corps changed its location. The soldiers and officers did not know about the betrayal, they thought that they were approaching enemy troops to attack them. In addition, there were rumors about the abdication of the emperor. Only one Lugotta division refused to execute the order of Sugam and go to Versailles. Marmont found out what had happened, cried out: “I died! I am dishonored for ever! ”However, later, when Talleyrand and his like-minded people surrounded him with flattery, Marmont tried to forget about his act, which forced Napoleon to sign the act of renunciation. He even went to the corps and calmed the soldiers who wanted to revolt and kill the traitor generals.

The Russian emperor, having conducted negotiations with the Prussian king and Schwarzenberg, showed some compliance with the regency of Marie-Louise. The French delegation had hope. At that time, he was informed of the transition to the side of the provisional government of the 6 corps. As a result, the Allies declared that only the Bourbons could occupy the French throne. They promised to act respectfully with Napoleon and his family. Alexander told Kolenkuru that Napoleon will get the island of Elba. In addition, he will try to give Marie-Louise and her son ownership in Italy.

5 April Napoleon's envoys returned to Fontainebleau. The emperor knew about the deposition of the 6 corps, therefore he perceived bad news calmly 6 April Napoleon wrote an act of renunciation for himself and his heirs. On the same day, the Senate proclaimed Louis XVIII as French king. The Palace of Fontainebleau quickly became empty. Former associates of Napoleon hurried to take a worthy place in the new court. Of the closest associates of the emperor, he remained loyal to the last generals Drouot and Bertrand, the dukes of Bassano (Mare) and Vicenza (Kolenkur). Many people, not only being secret enemies, but showing loyalty, began to water the former lord with mud. Among the fair censures were many false.

Only ordinary soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers who suffered the most from Napoleon’s conquest, went through fire and water, and had the most right to hate the emperor for the hardships he brought to them, he was not betrayed. His warriors were still ready to give the last drops of blood for the emperor. As soon as Napoleon appeared in the courtyard of the castle, the soldiers and officers greeted him and asked him to lead on the enemy for the final battle. The Jäger and the grenadiers of the Old Guard on the night of 7 on 8 of April passed through the streets of Fontainebleau, with exclamations: “Long live the emperor! Down with the traitors! ”Napoleon, realizing that the slaughter will not change anything, the Empire’s military vehicle collapsed and instructed the remaining comrades to calm the soldiers.

Napoleon Bonaparte almost wandered around the deserted halls of the palace, pondering, sharing his thoughts with Kolenkur. Carefully read the newspapers, learned of the accession to the new government of many of his marshals. Sad that he did not die on the battlefield. On April 12, he took poison - potassium cyanide, which from the time of the campaign to Russia (near the Maloyaroslavets, the Cossacks almost intercepted him) he carried with him. However, the poison for two years, apparently exhausted. Napoleon suffered, but in the morning the body took up over the poison.

On the same day Napoleon confirmed the act of his abdication. He was granted life in the possession of Elba Island and retained the honorary title of emperor. 20 April 1814, Napoleon left Fontainebleau and went into exile. He was accompanied by a guard battalion. Before leaving, the emperor said goodbye to his soldiers: “Soldiers of my Old Guard! Farewell! For twenty years, you accompanied me in the field of honor and glory. ... you have not ceased to set an example of courage and loyalty. With people like you, our business has not yet been lost, but I did not want to continue the endless war, perhaps - to initiate an internecine war that could aggravate the disasters of France. I sacrificed myself to my fatherland, you, my friends, continue to serve him. ... Goodbye my children! ... I would like to press all of you to my heart, so let me embrace your banner! ”Napoleon approached General Petit, who held the banner of the Old Guard, hugged him and kissed the banner. With loud cries and sobs of many experienced soldiers, the emperor got into the carriage.

On the way, part of Napoleon’s path was greeted with exclamations: “Long live the emperor! Death to strangers! ”But in the south, where the positions of the royalists were strong, he was already haunted by death screams. In one place, the mobile almost broke Napoleon (he himself was afraid of this, saying that it was better to fall in battle than to fall into the hands of the crowd who hated him). But he was saved by Count Shuvalov, who accompanied the emperor. 28 April Napoleon boarded a British frigate Fearless and was on the Elbe a few days later.

The collapse of Napoleon's empire

Napoleon Bonaparte after the abdication in the palace of Fontainebleau. French painter Paul Delaroche
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  1. drop
    drop April 7 2014 08: 53
    I wrote the story "The Forgotten Governor-General" - this story about M. Miloradovich. It was published in the Yunost magazine. While preparing the material, I looked through the archives. I found documents about the participation of my great-great grandfather in this war. Napoleon, according to my conclusions, is a demon, the same as Hitler. Such non-humans appear in history and bring only grief to everyone. And that the soldiers of the "old guard" who greeted him, they did not know how to do anything except kill and plunder. Honor to the soldiers of Russia, who broke his neck. I have the honor.
    1. anip
      anip April 7 2014 09: 36
      Quote: Drop
      Napoleon, in my opinion, is a demon, the same as Hitler.

      Fact. All the difference lies only in the capabilities of each particular time. Napoleon carried out punitive expeditions, and brutally suppressed the uprisings in the conquered territories, and there were analogues like concentration camps where prisoners were held and who also suffered from hunger and cold.
    2. Andrei from Chelyabinsk
      Andrei from Chelyabinsk April 7 2014 09: 39
      I would still strongly recommend reading "Napoleon" by Tarle - one of the best Russian historians.
      1. RoTTor
        RoTTor April 7 2014 14: 43
        and Manfred's book "Napoleon"
      2. The comment was deleted.
  2. Denis
    Denis April 7 2014 09: 18
    Among the fair censures there were many and false
    Oh yeah!
    Why what, and this is enough. Even a lie to put it mildly, frank nonsense. In the geyrop, they believe that Napoleon's defeat was near Waterlow and not before
  3. Standard Oil
    Standard Oil April 7 2014 11: 02
    Well, what kind of Napoleon-Hitler, well, at least such a comparison, is stupid, to put it very mildly, a man who broke through the knee this rotten feudal Europe, which, forgive me, got bogged down in the shit and arbitrariness of aristocrats, the disenfranchised population and the Inquisition (!!!) in Spain, Europe, which, like a maddened mad dog, over and over again rushed to revolutionary France. Napoleon only had time to fend off these filthy coalitions, hammered together with the money of Great Britain and overwhelming the French with their meat. Where is Hitler? Or maybe Hitler was a talented lawmaker? Napoleon's codex lies at the basis of the legislation of almost all European countries, and in France, with some changes, it is still valid. For it is distinguished by clarity of wording and does not allow for ambiguous interpretation. Well, there was also enshrined the right to inviolability of private property and equality before the law. Maybe that's why the French fought back so desperately from the "feudal hordes" climbing from all sides. Or maybe someone will deny Is it that Austria, Prussia or Russia are feudal countries? No Napoleon was the greatest man of his time, and far ahead of his time.
    1. smile
      smile April 7 2014 18: 53
      Standard Oil
      Yes, the greatest man ... he brought us freedom, apparently, having led, for our liberation, a horde of European revolutionary civilizational marauders upon us. And the attitude of this horde to our population did not differ much from the attitude of the Nazis ... all the same executions, all the same rampant total robbery ....
      Regarding the meat filling, it is worth recalling that the population of France itself at that time almost doubled that of the Republic of Ingushetia. And the number of Spaniards destroyed during the suppression of uprisings is perhaps not much less than what the really atrocious Inquisition did ...
      By the way, the most progressive invention of Comrade Bonaparte is total propaganda and the creation of an apparatus for its dissemination ... it is not for nothing that even among the French soldiers there was a saying - "He lies like a bulletin." :))) In many ways, his image of a genius was formed precisely under the influence of this device. Of course, excluding the military talents of this revolutionary and progressive, who drowned the whole of Europe in blood.
    2. Denis
      Denis April 7 2014 20: 18
      Quote: Standard Oil
      Europe, which, like a mad mad dog, rushed at revolutionary France over and over again
      Maybe on weakened by revolutions France?
      They still didn’t care deeply about the monarchy there, democracy or the primitive communal system. They just wanted to grab something for themselves
  4. parusnik
    parusnik April 7 2014 11: 35
    They clearly expressed their desire - the abdication of Napoleon from the throne.
    Marshals are tired of fighting .. and Napoleon essentially made people out of them ... But for Napoleon, war was the meaning of existence, but it’s a pity, a talented person ..
  5. RoTTor
    RoTTor April 7 2014 14: 49
    The situation, as in 1991 with us, only three of his marshals, were not traitors.
    But our "One Hundred Days" in 1993 did not take place, although the chances for the restoration of the USSR were immeasurably greater. This is also because traitors have climbed to power in the last 2-3 Soviet decades, dragging other traitors along with them.

    The paradox and mystery is that in Russia Napoleon was unusually popular in society, including among officers. Read Russian poetry by a poet, starting with Lermontov. Why? Love everything else?
  6. I think so
    I think so April 13 2014 00: 19
    From the described it is clear - Napoleon is a petty and pitiful poser (how can CYANIC POTASSIUM WATER OUT!) ... duplicitous like the whole Western world ... and why does the emperor of Russia metal beads before him ... "honorary emperor", "possession of the island of Elba "...