Battle of Jena and Auerstedt

Article

October 18, 2021

The battle near Jena and Auerstedt (also double battle near Jena and Auerstedt; or Auerstädt in older sources) took place during the Fourth Coalition War on October 14, 1806 near the places Jena and Auerstedt. The Prussian army suffered a heavy defeat against the French troops. On October 14, 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte and his numerically superior main army defeated a Prussian-Saxon corps near Jena, while at the same time about 25 kilometers away Marshal Davout and his corps were able to defeat the numerically superior Prussian main army under the Duke of Braunschweig near Auerstedt . In older sources, instead of "Battle of Jena and Auerstedt", it also says "Double Battle of Jena and Auerstedt". Both terms do not indicate that both the French and the Prussians had next to no knowledge of the battles that took place at the same time. However, neither of the two battles can be viewed to the exclusion of the other.

Prehistory

After the overwhelming victory over the allied armies of Russia and Austria in the Battle of Austerlitz on December 2, 1805, Napoleon increasingly dictated European politics and division. The Peace of Pressburg on December 26, 1805, which Emperor Franz II had to conclude, included extensive territorial losses by the Habsburgs in southern Germany and Italy in favor of France and its allies such as Bavaria, Baden, Württemberg and the Kingdom of Italy. In the reorganization of Europe by Napoleon, Bavaria and Württemberg were upgraded to kingdoms, and Baden, Hesse and Berg to grand duchies. Napoleon left his troops in Central Europe and Italy in order to underline his policy with military pressure. Napoleon's brothers Joseph and Louis were appointed kings of Naples (March 1806) and of Holland (May 1806), respectively. Napoleon's brother-in-law Murat became Grand Duke von Berg. Under French protectorate, the Rhine Confederation was founded on July 26th by 16 German principalities that left the German Empire. On August 6, 1806, at Napoleon's pressure, Francis II resigned from the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation ceased to exist. Napoleon also had more and more influence on Prussian politics. In order to achieve Prussia's neutrality in the conflict with England, Austria and Russia, Napoleon offered the Electorate of Hanover as a pledge. When the French 1st Corps under Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who had been in charge of Hanover since June 1804, crossed the border of the Prussian margraviate of Ansbach on the train to the south on the orders of Napoleon, the abandoned Hanover was occupied by the Prussians and the Russians were allowed to march through Prussian territory. Originally Prussia wanted to ask Napoleon to separate the crowns of France and Italy and to recognize the neutrality of Switzerland and the Netherlands. However, Napoleon's victory in the Battle of Austerlitz changed the political situation. The Prussian cabinet minister Haugwitz, who also had the secret instructions to keep peace by his king, agreed on December 15, 1805 in Schönbrunn, where Napoleon resided, to an alliance treaty with France. This also envisaged the transfer of Prussian possessions such as the Margraviate of Ansbach to Bavaria, which was allied with France, and the Duchy of Kleve and the Principality of Neuchâtel (Neuchâtel) to France. In return, Prussia was to receive Hanover and for Ansbach a small region near Bayreuth. The possession of Hanover, which was actually in personal union with Great Britain, posed a problem for Prussia, as it came into conflict with the United Kingdom. Prussia tried the possession only as a temporary use

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