Fourth coalition war

Article

October 17, 2021

The Fourth Coalition War, also the Third Napoleonic War or the campaign against Prussia, took place in 1806 and 1807 between France and the states associated with it, such as the members of the Rhine Confederation on the one hand and essentially Prussia and Russia on the other. The old Prussian state collapsed after the double battle of Jena and Auerstedt in October 1806. The court fled to East Prussia. The main burden of the war was now on Russia. After the decisive defeat by Napoleon in the Battle of Friedland, the Peace of Tilsit ended the war. Prussia lost almost half of its territory, had to pay high war indemnities and sank to the status of a less powerful state. In contrast, Napoleon was at the height of his power.

Prehistory

The Third War of the Coalition ended with Austria's departure from the Alliance in the dictated peace of Pressburg. Great Britain and Russia in particular continued the war. The peace for Austria was connected with the loss of territory in Italy, the formation of the Rhine Confederation and the associated dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Prussia had stayed away from the anti-French coalitions since the First Coalition War. In the Third Coalition War, however, the country had formed an alliance with Russia and was about to enter the war when the coalition broke up. Prussia had to sign the Treaty of Schönbrunn of December 15, 1805 with France. Hoping to improve conditions in its own favor, it did not ratify the treaty. Instead, it had to accept the Paris treatise of February 15, 1806. There was no longer any mention of a defensive and offensive alliance with France, but the material conditions for Prussia were tougher. It had to cede Kleve and Neuchâtel with Valengin. The Principality of Ansbach fell to the Kingdom of Bavaria without compensation. Prussia had to take over the Electorate of Hanover, which was in personal union with Great Britain, and to close the ports for the British. It also had to guarantee the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, which meant the risk of a conflict with Russia. Napoleon's goal was for Prussia and England to be enemies. In fact, according to the Paris treaty, Great Britain declared war on Prussia. Even before the official declaration of war, Prussian ships were locked up in British ports or seized at sea. Under pressure from England, Sweden also declared war on Prussia. Prime Minister Pitt died in Great Britain. He was followed by Grenville, whose government was more willing to compromise with France. As a result, Napoleon offered Great Britain the return of Hanover for a peace treaty. It did not come to that, but this procedure increased the distrust of Napoleon in Prussia. The Prussian government also had to take note of the establishment of the Grand Duchy of Berg from some of the former Prussian areas in western Germany. This pushed Prussian politics to the east. The establishment of the Rhine Confederation also led to a deterioration in relations with France, as this meant the end of the plan to found a North German Confederation under Prussian leadership. Prussia began to make contact with Russia. Alexander I promised to do everything possible to protect the integrity and independence of Prussia, if the country would not oppose the Russian policy towards the Ottoman Empire in return. Russia then successfully mediated between Prussia and Sweden.

Formation of the coalition

In Prussia, fear grew that the country could become the target of Napoleon's hegemonic policy. Already i

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