Treaty of Tilsit - History

Treaty of Tilsit - History

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In July the French signed two major treaties of Tilsit. It established a Franco-Russian Alliance. After it's defeat in the battle of Friedland, Russia was forced to sign the treaty , to accept the existence of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and the status of Danzig as a free state. Prussia ceded to Russia Bialstock and all the lands between the Rhine and Elbe to France. The treaty confirmed Napoleon as the dominant power on the European continent.

After Napoleon Bonaparte defeated the Russians at the Battle of Friedland (14 June 1807), Tsar Alexander I of Russia signed a peace treaty, known as the Treaty of Tilsit. Although the treaty was quite unpopular within the Russian court, Russia had no alternative as Napoleon could easily cross the Neman River (then the Russian border) and invade Russia.

The terms of the treaty obliged Russia to cease her maritime trade with Great Britain. This closure was a part of Napoleon's continuing efforts to establish the Continental System, strengthening economic ties between the different countries in Europe under French domination. Napoleon's objective was to close one of Britain's most important markets and thus force it economically into submission.

On 26 October 1807, Emperor of All Russia Alexander formally declared war on the United Kingdom after the British attack on Copenhagen in September 1807. He did not actively prosecute the war Alexander instead restricted Russia's contribution to the bare requirement to close off trade. The British, understanding his position, limited their military response to the declaration. However, there were a few notable incidents.

Detention of Russian vessels Edit

The official news did not arrive in Britain until 2 December, at which point the British declared an embargo on all Russian vessels in British ports. Some 70 vessels shared in the seizure of the 44-gun Russian frigate Speshnoy (Speshnyy), then in Portsmouth harbour. [2] The Russian storeship Wilhelmina (Vilgemina) was also seized at the same time. [3] [4]

Speshnyy had sailed from Kronstadt with the payroll for Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s squadron in the Mediterranean, together with Vilgemina. [5] Vilgemina was slower but caught up with Speshnyy at Portsmouth. [5] A portion of their cargo found on board consisted of 601,167 Spanish doubloons and 140,197 Dutch ducats. [5] Consequently, an able seaman on any one of the 70 British vessels in the harbour received 14s 7½d in prize money. [6]

Lisbon Incident Edit

In August 1807, Senyavin was ordered to bring his fleet from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, where the Finnish War with Sweden was already brewing. He set sail from Corfu on 19 September and although he planned to proceed directly to Saint Petersburg, stormy weather forced him to take refuge in the Tagus River and cast anchor in Lisbon on 30 October. Within days, John VI of Portugal had fled to the Portuguese colony of Brazil and the Royal Navy blockaded Lisbon, intercepting a Russian sloop as an enemy vessel because the Anglo-Russian War had been declared. In November, French forces under the Duc d'Abrantès overran Lisbon.

Senyavin, placed in a delicate diplomatic position, proceeded to distinguish himself as a diplomat. He declared himself neutral and managed to prevent his ships from seizure. In August 1808 the Duke of Wellington defeated the French at Vimeiro, which forced them to leave Portugal. Senyavin's seven ships of the line and one frigate were left face to face with fifteen British ships of the line and ten frigates. Senyavin maintained his neutrality, threatening to blow up his ships and destroy Lisbon in case of attack. Eventually, he signed a convention with Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, whereby the Royal Navy was to escort the Russian squadron to London, with the Russians still flying their flags. Moreover, Senyavin was to assume supreme command of the joint Anglo-Russian fleet (as the senior officer of the two). Two Russian ships (Rafail and Yaroslav) were left in Lisbon for repairs. [7]

On 31 August Senyavin's squadron left Portugal for Portsmouth. On 27 September the Admiralty was informed that enemy vessels had cast anchor in Portsmouth, with their flags streaming, as if in times of peace. The British detained the Russian fleet in Portsmouth under various pretexts until winter weather made their return to the Baltic impossible. The British insisted that Senyavin squadron should sail to Arkhangelsk, or else they would be intercepted by the waiting Swedish fleet. In 1809, the departure was further delayed by the disastrous Walcheren Expedition. Finally, on 5 August the Russian fleet was allowed to leave Portsmouth for Riga, where they arrived on 9 September 1809. [7]

Naval conflict in the Baltic Edit

Russia also invaded Sweden, then a close ally to Great Britain, in 1808. But it was unlikely related to Britain and the Treaty, as the two countries already were at odds at the time. British men-of-war supported the Swedish fleet during the Finnish War and had victories over the Russians in the Gulf of Finland in July 1808 and August 1809.

In May 1808 the British sent a fleet under Vice-Admiral Sir James Saumarez to the Baltic. The British 44-gun frigate Salsette captured the Russian cutter Opyt on 23 June [O.S. 11 June] 1808 after her captain and crew put up a heroic resistance. The action took place off Nargen island, which defends Revel’ from the sea. [8] The Admiralty took Opyt into service as HMS Baltic.

Centaur and Implacable vs. Vsevolod

On 9 July, the Russian fleet, under Admiral Peter Khanykov, came out from Kronstadt. The Swedes massed a fleet under Swedish Admiral Rudolf Cederström, consisting of 11 line-of-battle ships and 5 frigates at Örö and Jungfrusund to oppose them. On 16 August, Saumarez then sent 74-guns Centaur and Implacable to join the Swedish fleet. They chased two Russian frigates on the 19th and joined the Swedes the following day.

On 22 August, the Russian fleet, consisting of nine ships of the line, five large frigates and six smaller ones, moved from Hanko to threaten the Swedes. The Swedes, with the two British ships, grouped at Örö, and three days later sailed to meet the Russians.

The Russians and the Anglo-Swedish force were fairly evenly matched, but the Russians retreated and the Allied ships followed them. Centaur and Implacable were better vessels than the Swedish ships and slowly pulled ahead, with Implacable catching up with a Russian straggler, the 74-gun Vsevolod (also Sewolod), under Captain Rudnew (or Roodneff). Eventually, and after heavy casualties, Vsevolod struck. [9] In 1847 the Admiralty awarded the Naval General Service Medal with clasps "Implacable 26 Augt. 1808" and "Centaur 26 Augt. 1808" to the surviving claimants (41 per vessel) from the action. [10]

Vice-Admiral Saumerez with his entire squadron joined the Anglo-Swedish squadron the next day. They then blockaded Khanykov's squadron for some months. After the British and the Swedes abandoned the blockade, the Russian fleet was able to return to Kronstadt. [9]

On 7 and 8 July 1809, the boats of Prometheus, Implacable, Bellerophon and Melpomene captured or destroyed gunboats and a convoy off Hango Head (Hangöudde) in the Baltic. Among the captured vessels were Russian gun boats No.5, No.10, No. 13, and No.15. [11] In 1847 the Admiralty issued the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "7 July Boat Service 1809" to 33 surviving claimants from the action. [12]

Then on 25 July seventeen boats from a British squadron consisting of Princess Caroline, Minotaur, Cerberus and Prometheus, attacked a flotilla of four Russian gunboats and a brig off Aspö Head near Fredrikshamn in Finland then still part of Sweden (present-day Hamina, Finland). Captain Forrest of Prometheus commanded the boats and succeeded in capturing gunboats Nos. 62, 65, and 66, and the transport brig No. 11. The action was sanguinary in that the British lost 19 men killed and 51 wounded, and the Russians lost 28 men killed and 59 wounded. [13] In 1847 the Admiralty issued the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "25 July Boat Service 1809" to 35 surviving claimants from the action. [12]

However the successes of the Russian army on land forced Sweden to sign a peace treaty with Russia in 1809 whereby, inter alia, Sweden ceded the Grand Duchy of Finland to Russia. Sweden sued for peace with France in 1810 and then formally joined the blockade against Britain as required by the Continental System. Sweden kept trading with Britain and the Royal Navy kept using Swedish ports.

Naval raids in the Barents Sea Edit

The war overlapped, in time, the Gunboat War against Denmark-Norway, leading the British to expand their trade embargo to Russian waters and to forays by the British navy northwards into the Barents Sea. The navy conducted raids on Hasvik and Hammerfest and disrupted the Pomor trade, the Norwegian trade with Russia.

In June 1809 HMS Nyaden participated in at least one and possibly two actions. First, her boats conducted a night raid on Kildin Island that wiped out a Russian garrison. Boats from Nyaden also captured some 22-3 coastal trading vessels in the Kola River, many upriver from the present city of Murmansk. [14] Nyaden also took several other Russian vessels at sea as prizes.

Nyaden was probably the vessel whose boats in July took possession of Catherine Harbour, in the ostrog, or fortified settlement, of Kola. The British also commandeered all the stores belonging to the White Sea Company (est. 1803 at Archangelsk). The Times reported that this was the first British engagement in Russian territory, news of the actions on Kildin Island either being subsumed or overlooked. [15]

British naval involvement in the region continued into 1811. On 3 August 1810, the brig Gallant captured the St. Peder. Next year, on 2 January, Gallant captured the Danish privateer Restorateur off the Norwegian coast. Restorateur was armed with six 12-pounder guns and had a crew of 19 men. [16] Four months later, on 5 April, Gallant captured the Victoria. [17] Then on 1 August 1811, the frigate Alexandria, which was operating out of the Lieth station, captured the Russian vessels Michael, Ivan Isasima, and St. Oluff, and their cargoes. [18]

Persia Edit

During the Russo-Persian War (1804–1813), several British officers, part of Sir John Malcolm's 1809 embassy to Persia, remained in that country, providing training to the reforming Persian army. One of the British officers, William Monteith, accompanied Abbas Mirza on his unsuccessful campaign in Georgia and then commanded a frontier force and the garrison of Erivan. [19]

Alexander I kept Russia as neutral as possible in the ongoing French war with Britain. He allowed Russians to continue secretly to trade with Britain and did not enforce the blockade required by Continental System. [20] In 1810 he withdrew Russia from the Continental System and trade between Britain and Russia grew. [21]

Franco-Russian relations became progressively worse after 1810. By 1811, it became clear that Napoleon was not keeping to his side of the terms of the Treaty of Tilsit. He had promised assistance to Russia in its war against the Ottoman Empire, but as the campaign went on, France offered no support at all. [20]

With war imminent between France and Russia, Alexander started to prepare the ground diplomatically. In April 1812 Russia and Sweden signed an agreement for mutual defence. A month later Alexander secured his southern flank by Treaty of Bucharest (1812), which formally ended the war against Turkey. [21]

After Napoleon invaded Russia in June, the British and the Russians signed one Treaty of Orebro on 18 July 1812 on that same day and in the same place the British and Swedes signed another Treaty of Orebro ending the Anglo-Swedish War (1810–1812), a war that had had no engagements and no casualties. [22]

Treaty of Tilsit

Agreements that France signed separately with Russia and Prussia at Tilsit, northern Prussia (now Sovetsk, Russia).

The treaty, which follows the Russian defeat at the battle of Friedland on 14 June, makes much of Napoleon and Alexander's new-found fraternal feelings and their desire to work together rather than in enmity. Alexander agrees to abandon his past commitment to 'liberating' Europe from the revolutionary French. He will leave most of Europe to France in return for being given a free hand at the expense of Finland, Sweden and the Ottoman empire, which is supposedly an ally of Napoleon.

Alexander is said to have been infuriated by what he saw as the betrayal of the British in failing to provide troops to fight Napoleon. 'Why do you not send your militia?' he is reported to have demanded of the British ambassador, referring to the 300,000-strong force that had been assembled when the invasion of England threatened.

The treaties followed Napoleon's victories in the Napoleonic Wars and established his supremacy in western and central Europe. France and Russia became allies and divided Europe between them, reducing Prussia and Austria to helplessness. In secret provisions, Russia joined the Continental System against British trade. By 1810 Russian trade was hampered and the tsar opened Russian ports to neutral ships, causing the alliance to fail and paving the way for Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812.


Prior to Friedland, Europe had become embroiled in the War of the Third Coalition in 1805. Following the French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in December 1805, Prussia went to war in 1806 to recover her position as the leading power of Central Europe.

The Prussian Campaign Edit

Franco-Prussian tensions gradually increased after Austerlitz. Napoleon insisted that Prussia should join his economic blockade of Great Britain. This adversely affected the German merchant class. Napoleon ordered a raid to seize a subversive, anti-Napoleonic bookseller named Johann Philipp Palm in August 1806, and made a final attempt to secure terms with Britain by offering her Hanover, which infuriated Prussia. [16] The Prussians began to mobilize on August 9, 1806, and issued an ultimatum on August 26: they required French troops to withdraw to the west bank of the Rhine by October 8 on pain of war between the two nations. [17]

Napoleon aimed to win the war by destroying the Prussian armies before the Russians could arrive. [17] 180,000 French troops began to cross the Franconian forest on October 2, 1806, deployed in a bataillon-carré (square-battalion) system designed to meet threats from any possible direction. [18] On October 14 the French won decisively at the large double-battle of Jena-Auerstedt. A famous pursuit followed, and by the end of the campaign the Prussians had lost 25,000 killed and wounded, 140,000 prisoners, and more than 2,000 cannon. [19] A few Prussian units managed to cross the Oder River into Poland, but Prussia lost the vast majority of its army. Russia now had to face France alone. By November 18 French forces under Louis Nicolas Davout were marching from Eylau, and towards Warsaw with their spirits high. Augereau's men had neared Bromberg, and Jérôme Bonaparte's troops had reached the approaches of Kalisz. [20]

Eylau Edit

When the French arrived in Poland, the local people hailed them as liberators. [21] The Russian general Bennigsen worried that French forces might cut him off from Buxhoevden's army, so he abandoned Warsaw and retreated to the right bank of the Vistula. On November 28, 1806, French troops under Murat entered Warsaw. The French pursued the fleeing Russians and a significant battle developed around Pułtusk on December 26. The result remained in doubt, but Bennigsen wrote to the Tsar that he had defeated 60,000 French troops, and as a result he gained overall command of the Russian armies in Poland. At this point, Marshal Ney began to extend his forces to procure food supplies. Bennigsen noticed a good opportunity to strike at an isolated French corps, but he abandoned his plans once he realized Napoléon's maneuvers intended to trap his army. [22] The Russians withdrew towards Allenstein, and later to Eylau.

On February 7 the Russians fought Soult's corps for possession of Eylau. Daybreak on February 8 saw 44,500 French troops on the field against 67,000 Russians, [22] but after receiving reinforcements the French had 75,000 men against 76,000. [23] [24] Napoleon hoped to pin Bennigsen's army long enough to allow Ney's and Davout's troops to outflank the Russians. A fierce struggle ensued, made worse by a blinding snowstorm on the battlefield. The French found themselves in dire straits until a massed cavalry charge, made by 10,700 troopers formed in 80 squadrons, [25] relieved the pressure on the center. Davout's arrival meant the attack on the Russian left could commence, but the assault was blunted when a Prussian force under L'Estocq suddenly appeared on the battlefield and, with Russian help, threw the French back. Ney came too late to effect any meaningful decision, so Bennigsen retreated. Casualties at this indecisive battle were horrific, perhaps 25,000 on each side. [26] More importantly, however, the lack of a decisive victory by either side meant that the war would go on.

Heilsberg Edit

After several months of recuperating from Eylau, Napoleon ordered the Grande Armée on the move once again. Learning that the Russians had encamped at their operational base in the town of Heilsberg, by the Alle River, Napoleon decided to conduct a general assault in the hopes of dislodging what he thought was the rearguard of the Russian army. In fact, the French ran into the entire Russian army of over 50,000 men and 150 artillery guns. [27] Repeated and determined attacks by the French failed to dislocate the Russians, who were fighting inside elaborate earthworks designed to prevent precisely the kind of river crossing Napoleon was attempting. French casualties soared to 10,000 while the Russians lost about 6,000. [27] The Russians eventually withdrew from Heilsberg as their position became untenable, prompting Napoleon to chase after them once again. The French headed in the direction of Königsberg to gain additional supplies and provisions. On June 13, the advance guard of Marshal Lannes reported seeing large numbers of Russian troops at the town of Friedland. Both sides engaged one another for the remainder of the day with no result. Crucially, Bennigsen believed he had enough time to cross the Alle the following day, to destroy the isolated units of Lannes, and to withdraw back across the river without ever encountering the main French army.


The treaty ended war between Imperial Russia and the French Empire and began an alliance between the two empires that rendered the rest of continental Europe almost powerless. The two countries secretly agreed to aid each other in disputes — France pledged to aid Russia against Ottoman Turkey, while Russia agreed to join the Continental System against the British Empire. Napoleon also convinced Alexander to enter into the Anglo-Russian War, and to instigate the Finnish War against Sweden to force Sweden to join the Continental System. More specifically, the tsar agreed to evacuate Wallachia and Moldavia, which had been occupied by Russian forces as part of the Russo-Turkish War, 1806-1812. The Ionian Islands and Cattaro(Kotor), which had been captured by Russian admirals Ushakov and Senyavin, were to be handed over to the French. In recompense, Napoleon guaranteed the sovereignty of the Duchy of Oldenburg and several other small states ruled by the tsar's German relatives.

A French medaillon dating from the post-Tilsit period. It shows the French and Russian emperors embracing each other.

Treaty between Prussia and France, Tilsit, 9 July, 1807

Conditions of Peace between his Majesty the Emperor of the French and King of Italy, and his Majesty the King of Prussia. Done at Tilsit, July 9th, 1807.

HIS Majesty the Emperor of the French, King of Italy, and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, and his Majesty the King of Prussia, animated with the same desire of putting an end to the calamities of war, for that purpose appointed plenipotentiaries, namely on the part of this Majesty the Emperor of France and King of Italy, Protector of the Confederation of Rhine, M. Ch. Maurice Talleyrand, Prince of Benevento, his Great Chamberlain, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, &c. &c. and on that of his Majesty the King of Prussia, M. Marshal Count de Kalkreuth, Knight of the Prussian Orders of the Black and Red Eagle, and Count Von Golz, his Privy Counsellor, Envoy Extraordinary, and Minister Plenipotentiary to his Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, and Knight of the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle: who after the exchange of their several full powers, have agreed on the following articles:–

Art.I. From the day of the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty, there shall be perfect peace and amity between the King of Prussia and the Emperor of France.

II. The part of the Duchy of Magdeburg which lies on the right bank of the Elbe the Mark of Preigntz, the ukermark, and the new Mark of Brandenburg, with the exception of the Circle of Colbus, in Lower Lusatia the Duchy of Pomerania Upper, Lower, and New Silesia, with the County of Glatz the part of the district of Mess which lies to the road from Driesen to Schneidesmuhl, and to the north of a line passing from Scheindesmuhl, by Woldau, to the Vistula, and to the frontier of the Circle of Bromberg Pomerelia the Island of Nogat, and the country on the right bank of the Vistula and the Nogat, to the west of the Old Prussia and the Circle Culmer: finally, the kingdom of Prussia, as it was on the 1st of January, 1772, shall be restored to his Majesty the King of Prussia, with the fortresses of Spandau, Stettin, Custrin, Glogau, Breslaw, Schweiduitz, Niesse, Brieg-Cosel, and Glaz and, in general, all the places, citadels, castles, and forts of the above mentioned, shall be restored in the state in which they at present are: the town and citadel of Graudenz, with the villages of Neudorf, Parschken, and Schwierkorzy, shall likewise be restored to his Majesty the King of Prussia.

III. His Majesty the King of Prussia acknowledges his Majesty the King of Naples, Joseph Napoleon, and his Majesty the King of Holland, Louis Napoleon.

IV. His Majesty the King of Prussia in like manner acknowledges the Confederation of the Rhine, and the present state of the possessions of the sovereigns of which is composed, and the titles which have been bestowed on them, either by the act of confederation, or by the subsequent treaties. He said Majesty likewise engages to acknowledge those sovereigns who, in future, shall become members of the said Confederation, and the titles they may receive by their treaties of accession.

V. The present Treaty of Peace and Amity shall be in common for his Majesty the King of Naples, Joseph Napoleon, for his majesty the King of Holland, and for the Sovereigns of the Confederation of the Rhine, the allies of his Majesty the Emperor Napoleon.

VI. His Majesty the King of Prussia, in like manner, acknowledges his Imperial Highness Prince Jerome Napoleon as King of Westphalia.

VII. His Majesty the King of Prussia cedes, in full right of property and sovereignty to the King, Grand Dukes and Dukes, and Princes, who shall be pointed out by his majesty the Emperor of the French and King of Italy, all the Duchies, Margravates, Principalties, Counties, and Lordships, and, in general, all the territorial property of whatever kind, or by whatever title possessed, by his Majesty the King of Prussia, between the Rhine and the Elbe, at the commencement of the present war.

VIII. The kingdom of Westphalia shall consist of the provinces ceded by his Majesty the King of Prussia, and of other states which are at present in possession of his Majesty the Emperor Napoleon.

IX. The arrangements which his majesty the Emperor Napoleon shall make in the countries alluded to in the two preceding articles, and the occupation of the same by those sovereigns in whose favour he shall make such arrangements, shall be acknowledged by his Majesty the King of Prussia in the same manner as if they were contained and stipulated in the present treaty.

X. His Majesty the King of Prussia renounces for himself, his heirs, and successors, all actual or future right which he has or may require.
1. To all territory without exception, situate between the Elbe and the Rhine, and in general to all not describe in article VII.
2. To all possessions of his Majesty the King of Saxony and of the house of Anhalt, situate on the right bank of the Elbe. On the other hand, all rights or claims of the states situate between the Rhine and the Elbe to the possessions of his Majesty the King of Prussia, as they are defined by the present Treaty, shall be for ever extinguished and annulled.

XI. All negotiations, conventions, or treaties of alliance, that may have been publicly or privately concluded between Prussia and any States on the left bank of the Elbe, and which have not been broken by the present war, shall remain without effect, and be considered as null and not concluded.

XII. His Majesty the King of Prussia cedes the Circle of Colbus, in Lower Lusatia, to his Majesty the King of Saxony, with full right of proprietorship and sovereignty.

XIII. His Majesty the King of Prussia renounces for ever possession to all the provinces which formerly constituted parts of the kingdom of Poland, have at different periods come under the dominion of Prussia, excepting Ermeland, and the country to the west of Ancient Prussia, to the east of Pomerania and the Newark, to the north of the Circle of Halm, and a line which passes from the Vistula by Waldau to Schneidesmuhl, and passes along the boundaries of Bromberg and the road from the Schneidesmuhl to Driesen, which provinces, with the town and citadel of Graudentz, and the villages of Neudorf, Parschken, and Swiethorzy shall in future be possessed, with all rights of proprietorship and sovereignty, by his Majesty the King of Prussia.

XIV. His Majesty the King of Prussia renounces in like manner, for ever, possession of the city of Dantzic.

XV. The provinces which his majesty the King of Prussia renounces in the 13th article, with exception of the territories mentioned in the 18th article, shall be possessed with right of property and sovereignty by his Majesty the King of Saxony, under the title of Dukedom of Warsaw, and governed according to a constitution which shall secure the liberties and privileges of the people of that duchy, and be conformable to the tranquillity of the neighbouring states.

XVI. To secure a connection and communication between the kingdom of Saxony and the duchy of Warsaw, the free use of a military road shall be granted to the King of Saxony through the states of his Majesty the King of Prussia. This road, the number of troops which shall pass through it at one time, and the places at which they shall halt, shall be settled by a particular agreement between the two sovereigns, under the mediation of France.

XVII. The navigation of the river Ness, and the canal of Bromberg, from Driesen to the Vistula and back, shall remain free from any toll.

XVIII. In order to establish, as much as possible, natural boundaries between Russia and the duchy of Warsaw, the territory between the present boundaries of Russia, from the Berg, to the mouth of the Lassosna, and a line which passes from the said mouth, and along the channel of that river, the channel of the Bobro to its mouth, the channel of the Narew from its mouth to Suradz, the channel of the Lisa to its source near the village of Mien, and of the two neighbouring arms of the Nurzuck, rising near that village, and the channel of the Nurzuck itself to its mouth and lastly, along the channel of the Bug, up the stream to the present boundaries of Russia, shall for ever be incorporated with the Russian empire.

XIX. The city of Dantzic, with a territory of two miles circumferences, shall be restored to its former independence, under the protection of his Majesty the King of Prussia and the King of Saxony, and be governed by the rules by which it was governed when it ceased to be its own mistress.

XX. Neither his majesty the King of Prussia, nor his Majesty the King of Saxony, shall obstruct the navigation of the Vistula by any prohibition, nor by any customs, duty, or imports whatsoever.

XXI. The city, port, and territory of Dantzic, shall be shut up during the present maritime war against the trade and navigation of Great Britain.

XXII. No individual of any rank or description whatsoever, whose property and abode are situated in such provinces as formerly belonged to the kingdom of Poland, or which the King of Prussia is henceforth to possess and no individual of the duchy of Warsaw, or residing within the territory incorporated with Russia, or possessing any landed property, rents, annuities, and income, nor with respect to his rank and dignities, be prosecuted on account of any part which he may have taken, either in a political or military point of view, in the event of the present war.

XXIII. In the same manner, no individual residing or possessing landed property in the countries which belong to the King of Prussia, prior to the 1st of January, 1772, and which restored to him by virtue of the preceding second article and in particular, no individual of the Berlin civic guard or of the genes dames, who have taken up arms in order to main in tranquillity, shall be prosecuted in his person, his estates, rents, annuities, or any income whatsoever, or in his rank or dignity, nor in any manner whatsoever, on account of any part which he may have taken in the events of the present war, or be subjected to any inquiry.

XIV. The engagements, debts, or obligations of any nature whatsoever, which his Majesty the King of Prussia may have contracted or concluded, prior to the present war, as possessor of the countries, dominions, and revenues, which his Majesty cedes and renounces in the present treaty, shall be performed and satisfied by the new possessors, without any exception or reservation whatsoever.

XXV. The funds and capitals which belong to private persons, or public religion, civil, or military associations, countries which his Majesty the King of Prussia, or, which he renounces by the private treaty, whether the said capitals be vested in the Bank of Berlin, in the chest of the territory of Noviltrade, or in any other manner, in the dominions of the King of Prussia, shall neither be confiscated nor attached by the proprietors of the funds or capitals, shall be at liberty to dispose of the same, and they are to continue to enjoy the interest thereof, whether such interest be already due, or may yet become due at the periods stipulated in the conventions or bonds the same shall, on the other side, be observed with regard to all funds and capitals which are vested by private individuals, or public institutions whatsoever, in such countries which are ceded or renounced by his Prussian Majesty by virtue of the present treaty.

XXVI. The archives which contain the titles of property, documents, and in general all the papers which relate to the countries, territories, dominions, as well as the maps and plans of the strong places, citadels, castles, and forts seated in the above-mentioned countries, are to be delivered up by commissioners of his said Majesty, within the time of the three months next ensuing the exchange of the ratification of this treaty, to commissioners of his Majesty the Emperor Napoleon, with regard to the countries seated on the left bank of the Rhine and to commissioners of his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, of the King of Saxony, and of the city of Dantzic are in future to possess, by virtue of the present compact.

XXVII. Until the day of the ratification of the future definitive treaty of peace between France and England, all the countries under the dominion of his Majesty the King of Prussia, without any exception whatsoever, shall be shut against the trade and navigation of the English. No shipment to be made from any Prussian port for the British Isles or British Colonies nor shall nay ship which sailed from England, or her colonies, be admitted in any Prussian port.

XXVIII. The necessary arrangements shall immediately be made to settle every point which relates to the manner and period of the surrender of the places which are to be restored to his Majesty the King of Prussia, and to the civil and military administration of the said countries.

XXIX. The prisoners of war taken on both sides are to be returned without any exchange and in mass, as soon as circumstances shall admit.

XXX. The present treaty is to be ratified by his Majesty the Emperor of the French, and by his Majesty the King of Prussia, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Koenigsberg by the undersigned, within the time of six days next ensuing the signing of the treaty.

Done at Tilsit, the 9th of July, 1807.

Signed C.M. TALLEYRAND, Prince of Benevento.

The ratifications of this treaty were exchanged at Koenigsberg, on the 12th July, 1807.

Brief Notes on the Treaty of Tilsit

On 8th July 1807 the treaty of Tilsit was concluded between France and Russia. The treaty can be divided into three parts:

Main Treaty, (a) By the provisions of this treaty Napoleon and Alexander had divided Europe between each other. Napoleon and Alexander were free to interfere according to their will, in Western and Eastern Europe.

(b) Czar Alexander of Russia recognised those new states which were formed by Napoleon.

(c) Russia was not compelled to pay any reparations nor an inch of its territory was taken, but on the other hand Russia was encouraged to extend its Empire in Finland and Turkey.

Secret Treaty:

That was decided between the two Emperors, i.e. Napoleon and Alexander, that England should give up its rights on the sea and she should conclude a treaty with France for which Russia would act as a mediator.

If England did not agree to it within a month, Russia and France should declare war against England and they would also encourage Denmark, Sweden and Portugal to wage war against England.

Anyhow Canning could know about this secret treaty and he asked Denmark to surrender its fleet to England but Denmark did not agree to do so. Hence England had to take over its fleet by force.

In the same way France was to act as a mediator to settle the dispute between Russia and Turkey, and if Turkey refused to accept this proposal she would be attacked and divided between France and Russia.

Russia also wanted to establish its supremacy over Constantinople but Napoleon refused outright, saying “Constantinople: Never that would be the mastery of the world.”

Czar Paul was assassinated in 1801 and was replaced by Alexander I who refused to implement the Continental System after 1806 neither had he made peace with France after the Battle of Austerlitz. The Russian army was still in Poland, and the Czar would have come to the aid of Prussia but for Prussia's collapse after the Battle of Jena. Napoleon now set out to overthrow the last great continental Power capable of withstanding his will. Marching into Prussian Poland, he tried to gain the support of the people by hinting that he was about to reconstruct their country which had disappeared in the Partitions of 1772, 1793 and 1795.

However, the difficulties of campaigning in Poland were greater than any he had ever encountered. The vast plain was so thinly populated that he could procure no foodstuffs for his men or forage for his horses at that season snows and frosts alternated with thaws and rains which turned the whole country side into a sea of sticky mud. Napoleon attacked the Russians at Eylau in February 1807 but after a battle in which 30,000 men lost their lives, neither side could claim much advantage. After this setback Napoleon went into winter quarters.

Even though he was seven hundred miles from Paris Napoleon supervised the details of home government, directed the military occupation of Prussia, developed the Confederation of the Rhine, kept in check the hostility of Austria and Spain, and organised reinforcements and supplies for his army from all the countries which he dominated. Meanwhile the Czar was building up another coalition. By the Convention of Bartenstein of April 1807, Russia, Prussia and Sweden undertook to make no separate peace with Napoleon Britain afterwards joined in with a promise of subsidies and a fleet to be sent to the Baltic. This combination shared the fate of its predecessors. As soon as summer made the movement of troops again possible, Napoleon fought the Russian army at the Battle of Friedland in June and destroyed it.

The Czar took a serious view of this defeat even though

  • his vast resources were barely tapped
  • Swedish and Prussian forces were on the march
  • British support was on its way
  • Austria was on the point of joining the Coalition.

Alexander was filled with admiration for Napoleon and he was angry that the British Government would not guarantee him a loan. Bonaparte had never aimed at conquering Russia: his one object in the campaign was to get the Czar into the Continental System. If he could do so without having to fight any more in that difficult theatre of war, so much the better so the two emperors met at Tilsit in a pavilion erected on a raft moored in the River Niemen.

Alexander's first words were: "I hate the English as much as you do" to which Napoleon replied, "In that case, peace is as good as made." During the next fortnight they met practically every day, sometimes tête-à-tête, sometimes attended by their foreign ministers. Once or twice Frederick William was allowed in, but Napoleon treated him with undisguised contempt.

There were several difficult areas in the discussions. For instance,

  • Alexander - like all Czars before and since - had designs on Constantinople but Napoleon was determined not to let Russia acquire this ancient capital of the world.
  • Alexander could not altogether abandon Frederick William, to whom he had sworn eternal brotherhood a few months before but Napoleon was determined to reduce Prussia to the rank of a second-class Power, so that it could never again interfere with his plans for dominating Germany.
  • Napoleon was intent on reviving Poland in some shape or form but Alexander feared that his own Polish subjects would be more restless than ever if there was an independent Polish state just across the frontier.
  • the economic prosperity of Russia was dependent on the trade with Britain which Napoleon was determined to stop.

Napoleon used all his powers of persuasion. Alexander, dazzled by the prospect of a lion's share in an approaching partition of Turkey, abandoned his earlier ambition to liberate western Europe from the menace of Imperial France, and fell in with Napoleon's design that the two of them should share the domination of the world.

By the Treaty of Tilsit in July 1807, the Czar recognised the Confederation of the Rhine, now augmented by a "Kingdom of Westphalia" concocted out of Prussian territories west of the Elbe, with Jerome Bonaparte as King. Prussian Poland was formed into a Grand Duchy of Warsaw, with the Elector (henceforth "King ") of Saxony as its ruler. Russia was to observe the Berlin Decree. By secret clauses, the two emperors agreed that if Britain continued to deny the "Freedom of the Seas" they would summon Denmark, Sweden and Portugal to close their ports to British shipping, and would make war on any of the three that refused.

The actual terms of this last agreement have only recently come to light, but the gist of them was made known to the British Government by a Secret Service agent a few days after it had been signed. Canning, who had just become Foreign Secretary, determined to be beforehand. The Baltic Powers were valuable allies, and the Danish navy would be an important addition to the fleets already at Napoleon's disposal. He therefore proposed a defensive alliance to Denmark, promising her armed support and a handsome subsidy, provided that she sent her fleet to be interned "as a sacred pledge" in a British port for the duration of the war. He hoped that the appearance of eighty ships and 15,000 troops off Copenhagen would at once overawe the Danes and give them an excuse for submitting but he was disappointed. The Prince Regent of Denmark rejected the British proposals and only gave way after Copenhagen had been bombarded for four days and nights in September 1807. The twenty-two ships of the Danish navy were then captured and taken to Portsmouth harbour. It is doubtful, however, if Britain really gained anything in the long run. Denmark remained hostile for the rest of the war Sweden was left defenceless and Napoleon had an excuse for labelling the British as treacherous and unscrupulous.

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The treaty ended the war between Imperial Russia and the French Empire and began an alliance between the two empires that rendered the rest of continental Europe almost powerless. The two countries secretly agreed to aid each other in disputes.

The treaty between France and Russia was signed on July 7th and the one between France and Prussia on July 9th. Russia and Prussia were to join the Continental System, the blockade intended to destroy Britain’s commerce, by closing their ports to British ships and neutral ships engaged in British trade.

Napoleon’s Downfall and First Abdication

In 1810, Russia withdrew from the Continental System. In retaliation, Napoleon led a massive army into Russia in the summer of 1812. Rather than engaging the French in a full-scale battle, the Russians adopted a strategy of retreating whenever Napoleon’s forces attempted to attack. As a result, Napoleon’s troops trekked deeper into Russia despite being ill-prepared for an extended campaign. In September, both sides suffered heavy casualties in the indecisive Battle of Borodino. Napoleon’s forces marched on to Moscow, only to discover almost the entire population evacuated. Retreating Russians set fires across the city in an effort to deprive enemy troops of supplies. After waiting a month for a surrender that never came, Napoleon, faced with the onset of the Russian winter, was forced to order his starving, exhausted army out of Moscow. During the disastrous retreat, his army suffered continual harassment from a suddenly aggressive and merciless Russian army. Of Napoleon’s 600,000 troops who began the campaign, only an estimated 100,000 made it out of Russia.

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