Austrian Netherlands

The Austrian Netherlands (Dutch: Oostenrijkse Nederlanden; French: Pays-Bas Autrichiens; German: Österreichische Niederlande; Latin: Belgium Austriacum) was the larger part of the Southern Netherlands between 1714 and 1797. The period began with the acquisition of the former Spanish Netherlands under the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714 and lasted until its annexation during the aftermath of the Battle of Sprimont in 1794 and the Peace of Basel in 1795. Austria, however, did not relinquish its claim over the province until 1797 in the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Austrian Netherlands was a noncontiguous territory that consisted of what is now western Belgium as well as greater Luxembourg, bisected by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The dominant languages were German (including Luxembourgish), Dutch (Flemish), and French, along with Picard and Walloon.

As a result of the Barrier Treaty, the Holy Roman emperor Charles VI showed little apparent interest in the day-to-day rule of the Austrian Netherlands; yet he insisted on keeping ultimate control of the territories concerned. This caused quite a lot of frustration with Austria's own inhabitants, especially because the Dutch troops were paid with money that needed to be raised from the Austrian Netherlands themselves. The war of 1740-1748 showed that Austria already had little interest in maintaining the Austrian Netherlands: constant bickering among the Allied commanders meant the French kept the initiative during the campaigns, and the fortifications, manned with mostly Dutch troops, were captured with ease by the French army. Although the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle had stipulated that the Barrier towns should again be manned by Dutch garrisons, Charles's daughter and successor Maria Theresa, advised by her counselor Kaunitz, refused to pay for those troops any longer, unless there were to be negotiations about new trade agreements. In the end, the Republic refused to pay for the rebuilding of the fortifications and send any troops, but with the Barrier towns in ruins and the Netherlands now open for a new invasion, she had little to offer. When Austria and France entered into an alliance in 1756, there was in effect no purpose in the Barrier treaty any more. In 1781, Emperor Joseph II of Austria unilaterally renounced the treaty.

Austrian Netherlands

Österreichische Niederlande
Pays-Bas Autrichiens
Oostenrijkse Nederlanden
Belgium Austriacum
1714–1794
The Austrian Netherlands in 1789. *   Austrian Netherlands *   Habsburg Monarchy
The Austrian Netherlands in 1789.
StatusProvince of Austria
State of the Holy Roman Empire
CapitalBrussels
Common languagesGerman, French, Dutch, Latin
Religion
Roman Catholic
GovernmentGovernorate
Governor 
• 1716–1724
Francis Eugene (first)
• 1793–1794
Charles Louis (last)
Plenipotentiary 
• 1714–1716
Lothar Dominik (first)
• 1793–1794
Franz Karl (last)
Historical eraEarly Modern
7 March 1714
8 November 1785
1789–1790
18 September 1794
1797
CurrencyKronenthaler
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Spanish Netherlands
French First Republic
Today part of Belgium
 Germany
 Luxembourg

History

Under the Treaty of Rastatt (1714), following the War of the Spanish Succession, the surviving portions of the Spanish Netherlands were ceded to Austria.

The Austrians were unconcerned with the upkeep of their province and the fortresses along the border (the Barrier Fortresses) were, by treaty, garrisoned with Dutch troops. The area had, in fact, been given to Austria largely at British and Dutch insistence, as these powers feared potential French domination of the region.

Austrian Netherlands 1713 - 1789
Map of the Austrian Netherlands, bisected by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège.

Charles VI attempted to use the Austrian Netherlands to compete with British and Dutch traders in an enterprise known as the Ostend Company.

Throughout the latter part of the eighteenth century, the principal foreign policy goal of the Habsburg rulers was to exchange the Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria, which would round out Habsburg possessions in southern Germany. In the Treaty of Versailles of 1757, Austria agreed to the creation of an independent state in the Southern Netherlands ruled by Philip, Duke of Parma and garrisoned by French troops in exchange for French help in recovering Silesia. However, the agreement was later revoked by the Treaty of Versailles of 1758 and Austrian rule continued.

In 1784 Joseph II did take up the long-standing grudge of Antwerp, whose once-flourishing trade was destroyed by the permanent closure of the Scheldt, and demanded that the Dutch Republic open the river to navigation. However, the Emperor's stance was far from militant, and he called off hostilities after the so-called Kettle War, known by that name because its only "casualty" was a kettle. Though Joseph did secure in the Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1785 that the Southern Netherlands would be compensated by the Dutch Republic for the continued closing the Scheldt, this achievement failed to gain him much popularity.

Brabant Revolution

In the 1780s, opposition emerged to the liberal reforms of Emperor Joseph II, which were perceived as an attack on the Catholic Church and the traditional institutions in the Austrian Netherlands. Resistance, focused in the autonomous and wealthy Estates of Brabant and Flanders, grew. In the aftermath of rioting and disruption, known as the Small Revolution, in 1787, many of opponents took refuge in the neighboring Dutch Republic where they formed a rebel army. Soon after the outbreak of the French and Liège revolutions, the émigré army crossed into the Austrian Netherlands and decisively defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Turnhout in October 1789. The rebels, supported by uprisings across the territory, soon took control over much of the territory and proclaimed independence. Despite the tacit support of Prussia, the independent United Belgian States, established in January 1790, received no foreign recognition and soon became divided along ideological lines. The Vonckists, led by Jan Frans Vonck, advocated progressive and liberal government, whereas the Statists, led by Hendrik Van der Noot, were staunchly conservative and supported by the Church. The Statists, who had a wider base of support, soon drove the Vonckists into exile through a terror. [1]

By mid-1790, Habsburg Austria ended its war with the Ottoman Empire and prepared to suppress the rebels. The new Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II, was also a liberal and proposed an amnesty for the rebels. After defeating a Statist army at the Battle of Falmagne, the territory was soon overrun and the revolution was defeated by December. The Austrian reestablishment was short-lived, however, and the territory was soon overrun by the French during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Imperial Councillors of State

The Councillors of state acted as government, and formed the council by imperial consent:[1]

  • The Baron von Reischach, Imperial Diplomat
  • Cardinal von Migazzi
  • Cardinal von Frankenberfg
  • the Baron of Gottignies, Imperial Lord Chamberlain
  • Philippe von Cobenzl, vice Chancellor of the Imperial Council of State.
  • Henri d'Ognies, Prince of Grimberghen, Imperial Lord Chamberlain
  • the Count of Neny; president of the Privy Council, member of the Imperial Council of State
  • the Count of Woestenraedt, Imperial Lord Chamberlain.
  • the Marquess of Chasteler, Lord Chamberlain
  • the Count of Gomegnies, President of the Council of Hainaut
  • the Viscount of Villers; Imperial Treasurer General
  • the Prince of Gavre: Grand Marshall of the Imperial Court of the Archduchess.

French rule

In 1794, the armies of the French Revolution annexed the Austrian Netherlands from the Holy Roman Empire and integrated them into the French Republic.

Citations

  1. ^ Almanach de la cour de Bruxelles sous les dominatione autrichienne et francaise, la monarchie des Pays-Bas et le gouvernement belge, de 1725 a 1840 (etc.)

Sources

  • Heinrich Benedikt. Als Belgien österreichisch war. Herold, Vienna, 1965.
Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (governor)

Archduchess Maria Anna Eleanor Wilhelmina Josepha of Austria (18 September 1718 in Vienna – 16 December 1744 in Brussels) was an Archduchess of Austria and a Princess of Lorraine, the younger sister of Empress Maria Theresa, and a Governor of the Austrian Netherlands.

Austrian Netherlands kronenthaler

The kronenthaler was the currency of the Austrian Netherlands since 1755. It was subdivided into 216 liards or 54 sols. During the Brabant Revolution in the Austrian Netherlands in 1789–90, it was briefly replaced with a short-lived revolutionary currency.

Following the French occupation of the Austrian Netherlands in 1794, the Kronenthaler was replaced by the French franc.

Battle of Fleurus (1794)

The Battle of Fleurus, on 26 June 1794, was an engagement between the army of the First French Republic, under General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan and the Coalition Army (Britain, Hanover, Dutch Republic, and Habsburg Monarchy), commanded by Prince Josias of Coburg, in the most significant battle of the Flanders Campaign in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary Wars. Both sides had forces in the area of around 80,000 men but the French were able to concentrate their troops and defeat the First Coalition. The Allied defeat led to the permanent loss of the Austrian Netherlands and to the destruction of the Dutch Republic. The battle marked a turning point for the French army, which remained ascendant for the rest of the War of the First Coalition. The French use of the reconnaissance balloon l'Entreprenant was the first military use of an aircraft that influenced the result of a battle.

Battle of Jemappes

The Battle of Jemappes (6 November 1792) took place near the town of Jemappes in Hainaut, Belgium, near Mons during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. One of the first major offensive battles of the war, it was a victory for the armies of the infant French Republic, and saw the French Armée du Nord, which included a large number of inexperienced volunteers, defeat a substantially smaller regular Austrian army.

General Charles François Dumouriez, in command of an army of French Revolutionary volunteers, faced the Imperial army of Field Marshal Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen and his second-in-command François de Croix, Count of Clerfayt. The French, who outnumbered their opponents by about three-to-one, launched a series of enthusiastic but uncoordinated attacks against the Austrian position on a ridge. At length, the French seized a portion of the ridge and the Austrians were unable to drive them away. Saxe-Teschen conceded defeat by ordering a withdrawal.

Dumouriez, intent on invading the Austrian Netherlands, advanced late in the season and attacked the Austrians with greatly superior forces. Jemappes was won by costly but effective charges against the Austrians' prepared position. Dumouriez overran the Austrian Netherlands within a month, but lost it at the Battle of Neerwinden in March. The French would not reconquer the Austrian Netherlands until the summer of 1794.

Battle of Neerwinden (1793)

The Battle of Neerwinden (18 March 1793) saw a Republican French army led by Charles François Dumouriez attack a Coalition army commanded by Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. The Coalition army's Habsburg Austrians together with a small contingent of allied Dutch Republic troops repulsed all French assaults after bitter fighting and Dumouriez conceded defeat, withdrawing from the field. The French position in the Austrian Netherlands swiftly collapsed, ending the threat to the Dutch Republic and allowing Austria to regain control of her lost province. The War of the First Coalition engagement was fought at Neerwinden, located 57 kilometres (35 mi) east of Brussels in present-day Belgium.

After Dumouriez's victory at Jemappes in November 1792, the French armies rapidly overran most of the Austrian Netherlands. Rather than driving the Austrians to the west bank of the Rhine River, Dumouriez and the French government became preoccupied with a war with the Dutch Republic. During the breathing space offered by her enemy, Austria assembled an army under the Prince of Coburg and struck back. After a French covering force was routed by Coburg at Aldenhoven, Dumouriez began gathering his army for a counterstroke.

Coburg took up a defensive position at Neerwinden and awaited the confident Dumouriez's attack. The Coalition army was outnumbered in infantry but possessed a two-to-one superiority in cavalry. After intense fighting, Coburg's troops repulsed the attacks of the French center and right wing. When Dumouriez found that his left wing was driven off the battlefield, he began retreating. The defeat led to mass desertions from the discouraged French volunteers. In the face of the military collapse, Dumouriez negotiated a free withdrawal of French troops in return for the surrender of Belgium and Dutch territory. Soon, Dumouriez was plotting against his own government and when his plans failed, he defected to the Austrians, leaving the French army in chaos.

Battle of Tournay (1794)

The Battle of Tournay (1794) or Tournai was fought on 22 May 1794 as part of the Flanders Campaign in the Belgian province of Hainaut on the Schelde River (about 80 km southwest of Brussels) between French forces under General Pichegru and Coalition forces (Austrian, British, and Hanoverian troops) under Prince Josias of Coburg, in which the Coalition forces were victorious.

In the course of the battle, the enemy forces changed possession of the village Pont-à-Chin four times, until finally the French had to retreat.

Brabant Revolution

The Brabant Revolution or Brabantine Revolution (French: Révolution brabançonne, Dutch: Brabantse Omwenteling), sometimes referred to as the Belgian Revolution of 1789–90 in older writing, was an armed insurrection that occurred in the Austrian Netherlands (modern-day Belgium) between October 1789 and December 1790. The revolution, which occurred at the same time as revolutions in France and Liège, led to the brief overthrow of Habsburg rule and the proclamation of a short-lived polity, the United Belgian States, through the unification of the region's federated states.

The revolution was the product of opposition which emerged to the liberal reforms of Emperor Joseph II in the 1780s. These were perceived as an attack on the Catholic Church and the traditional institutions in the Austrian Netherlands. Resistance, focused in the autonomous and wealthy Estates of Brabant and Flanders, grew. In the aftermath of rioting and disruption, known as the Small Revolution, in 1787, many dissidents took refuge in the neighboring Dutch Republic where they formed a rebel army. Soon after the outbreak of the French and Liège revolutions, the émigré army crossed into the Austrian Netherlands and decisively defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Turnhout in October 1789. The rebels, supported by uprisings across the territory, soon took control over virtually all the Southern Netherlands and proclaimed independence. Despite the tacit support of Prussia, the independent United Belgian States, established in January 1790, received no foreign recognition and the rebels soon became divided along ideological lines. The Vonckists, led by Jan Frans Vonck, advocated progressive and liberal government, whereas the Statists, led by Hendrik Van der Noot, were staunchly conservative and supported by the Church. The Statists, who had a wider base of support, soon drove the Vonckists into exile through a terror.

By mid-1790, Habsburg Austria ended its war with the Ottoman Empire and prepared to suppress the Brabant revolutionaries. The new Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II, a liberal like his predecessor, proposed an amnesty for the rebels. After a Statist army was overcome at the Battle of Falmagne, the territory was quickly overrun by Imperial forces, and the revolution was defeated by December. The Austrian reestablishment was short-lived, however, and the territory was soon overrun by the French during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Because of its distinctive course, the Brabant Revolution had been extensively used in historical comparisons with the French Revolution. Some historians, following Henri Pirenne, have seen it as a key moment in the formation of a Belgian nation-state, and an influence on the Belgian Revolution of 1830.

Duchy of Luxemburg

The Duchy of Luxemburg (Dutch: Luxemburg, French: Luxembourg, German: Luxemburg, Luxembourgish: Lëtzebuerg) was a state of the Holy Roman Empire, the ancestral homeland of the noble House of Luxembourg. The House of Luxembourg, now Duke of Limburg, became one of the most important political forces in the 14th century, competing against the House of Habsburg for supremacy in Central Europe. They would be the heirs to the Přemyslid dynasty in the Kingdom of Bohemia, succeeding the Kingdom of Hungary and contributing four Holy Roman Emperors until their own line of male heirs came to an end and the House of Habsburg got the pieces that the two Houses had originally agreed upon in the Treaty of Brünn in 1364.In 1443, the duchy passed to Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy of the French House of Valois, and, in 1477, by marriage to Archduke Maximilian I of Austria of the House of Habsburg. The Seventeen Provinces of the former Burgundian Netherlands were formed into an integral union by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549. In 1795, French revolutionaries ended this situation.

Kronenthaler

The Kronenthaler was a silver coin first issued in 1755 in the Austrian Netherlands (see Austrian Netherlands Kronenthaler). It contained one ninth of a Cologne mark of silver and was thus equal to the Reichsthaler of the Leipzig convention. Most examples show the bust of the Austrian ruler on the obverse and three or four crowns on the reverse, hence the name which means "crown thaler" (also Brabanter and crocione (Italian). After the Austrian Netherlands was occupied by France, several German states (e.g., Bavaria, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Württemberg) issued Kronenthaler, as it had become a popular trade coin.

List of governors of the Habsburg Netherlands

The Governor (Dutch: Landvoogd) or Governor-General (Gouverneur-Generaal) ruled the Habsburg Netherlands as a representative of the Dukes of Burgundy (until 1506), the Kings of Castile (1506-1598; 1621-1706), and the Archdukes of Austria (1716-1794). They were normally based in Brussels. Frequently, the governor-general was a close relative of the Spanish or Austrian monarch, though at other times Spanish or German noblemen filled the role. The Governor-General was usually based in Brussels.

Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen

Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen (Maria Christina Johanna Josepha Antonia; 13 May 1742 – 24 June 1798), was the fifth child of Maria Theresa of Austria and Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. Married in 1766 to Prince Albert of Saxony, the couple received the Duchy of Teschen, and she was appointed Governor of the Austrian Netherlands jointly with her husband during 1781–1789 and 1791–1792. After two expulsions from the Netherlands (in 1789 and 1792), she lived with her husband in Vienna until her death.

Old University of Leuven

The Old University of Leuven (or of Louvain) is the name historians give to the university, or studium generale, founded in Leuven, Brabant (then part of the Burgundian Netherlands, now part of Belgium), in 1425. The university was closed in 1797, a week after the cession to the French Republic of the Austrian Netherlands and the principality of Liège (jointly the future Belgium) by the Treaty of Campo Formio.

The name was in medieval Latin Studium generale Lovaniense or Universitas Studii Lovaniensis, in humanistical Latin Academia Lovaniensis, and most usually, Universitas Lovaniensis, in Dutch Universiteyt Loven and also Hooge School van Loven.It is commonly referred to as the University of Leuven or University of Louvain, sometimes with the qualification "old" to distinguish it from the Catholic University of Leuven (established 1835 in Leuven). This might also refer to a short-lived but historically important State University of Leuven, 1817–1835. The immediate official and legal successor and inheritor of the old University, under the laws in force in 1797, was the École centrale de Bruxelles, which itself closed down in 1802.

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the University of Leuven was until its closure a great centre of Jansenism in Europe, with professors such as Cornelius Jansen, Petrus Stockmans, Johannes van Neercassel, Josse Le Plat and especially Zeger Bernhard van Espen and his famous disciple Johann Nikolaus von Hontheim under the pseudonym Febronius. To shake off this reputation, the faculty of theology thrice declared its adherence to the papal condemnation of Jansenist beliefs in the papal bull Unigenitus (1713).

Ostend Company

The Ostend Company (Dutch: Oostendse Compagnie, or Generale Indische Compagnie, French: Compagnie d'Ostende; or, in full, Compagnie générale établie dans les Pays-Bas Autrichiens pour le Commerce et la Navigation aux Indes) was a chartered trading company in the Austrian Netherlands (part of the Holy Roman Empire, currently Belgium) which was established in 1722 to trade with the East and West Indies.

For a few years it provided strong competition for the traditional British, Dutch and French colonial trading companies, notably in the lucrative tea trade with China. It established two settlements in India. Despite its profitability, the company was eventually ordered to close down in 1731 after the British exerted diplomatic pressure on the Austrian government, fearing the company's effects on their own traders. Its disestablishment was made a precondition for the Treaty of Vienna and for creating an alliance between the two states. The Ostend Company can be considered the first attempt by the Holy Roman Empire to monopolise trade with the East Indies; the second being the much less-successful Austrian East India Company, founded in 1775.

Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine

Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine (French: Charles Alexandre Emanuel de Lorraine; German: Karl Alexander von Lothringen und Bar; 12 December 1712 in Lunéville – 4 July 1780 in Tervuren) was a Lorraine-born Austrian general and soldier, field marshal of the Imperial Army, and governor of the Austrian Netherlands.

Siege of Brussels

The Siege of Brussels took place between January and February 1746 during the War of the Austrian Succession. A French army under the overall command of Maurice de Saxe, in a bold and innovative winter campaign besieged and captured the city of Brussels, which was then the capital of the Austrian Netherlands, from its Austrian garrison.The French were boosted by the fact that a large part of the Allied army was forced to return to Britain where a Jacobite Rising of 1745 had broken out and Bonnie Prince Charlie had won a stunning victory at the Battle of Prestonpans. This left very few troops to actively oppose the French forces. After the French made two breaches in the walls of Brussels, the Austrian defenders were compelled to surrender on 22 February in a siege that lasted just three weeks.

The governor of the Austrian Netherlands, Count Kaunitz, was forced to withdraw his administration north to Antwerp. The siege severely damaged his view of Austria's allies, principally Britain and the Dutch Republic, who he considered had done virtually nothing to protect Brussels from the French. A decade later Kaunitz would be one of the architects of the Franco-Austrian Alliance in which Austria abandoned its former alliance with Britain and joined with its traditional enemy France.

The French followed up the capture of Brussels by taking other key cities and fortresses in the Austrian Netherlands including Mons and Namur. Brussels remained under French occupation until it was returned to Austria by the 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle along with the rest of the Austrian Netherlands, although it was January 1749 before the French finally evacuated the city.

Southern Netherlands

The Southern Netherlands, also called the Catholic Netherlands, was the part of the Low Countries largely controlled by Spain (1556–1714), later Austria (1714–1794), and occupied then annexed by France (1794–1815). The region also included a number of smaller states that were never ruled by Spain or Austria: the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, the Imperial Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy, the County of Bouillon, the County of Horne and the Princely Abbey of Thorn. The Southern Netherlands were part of the Holy Roman Empire until the whole area was annexed by Revolutionary France.

The Southern Netherlands comprised most of modern-day Belgium and Luxembourg, some parts of the Netherlands and Germany (the region of Upper-Gueldres, now divided between Germany and the modern Dutch Province of Limburg and in 1713 largely ceded to Prussia and the Bitburg area in Germany, then part of Luxembourg) as well as, until 1678, most of the present Nord-Pas-de-Calais region and the Longwy area in northern France.

Treaty of Leoben

The Treaty of Leoben was a general armistice and preliminary peace agreement between the Holy Roman Empire and the First French Republic that ended the War of the First Coalition. It was signed at Eggenwaldsches Gartenhaus, near Leoben, on 18 April 1797 (29 germinal V in the French revolutionary calendar) by General Maximilian von Merveldt and the Marquis of Gallo on behalf of the Emperor Francis II and by General Napoléon Bonaparte on behalf of the French Directory. Ratifications were exchanged in Montebello on 24 May, and the treaty came into effect immediately.

On 30 March, Bonaparte had made his headquarters at Klagenfurt and from there, on 31 March, he sent a letter to the Austrian commander-in-chief, the Archduke Charles, requesting an armistice to prevent the further loss of life. Receiving no response, the French advanced as far as Judenburg by the evening of 7 April. That night, Charles proffered a truce for five days, which was accepted. On 13 April, Merveldt went to the French headquarters at Leoben and requested the armistice be extended so that a preliminary peace could be signed. That was granted and three proposals were drawn up. The final one was accepted by both sides, and, on 18 April, at Leoben, the preliminary peace was signed.The treaty contained nine public articles and eleven secret ones. In the public articles, the Emperor ceded his "Belgian Provinces" (the Austrian Netherlands), and in the secret articles, he ceded his Italian states (Lombardy) in exchange for the Italian mainland possessions of the Republic of Venice, which had not yet been conquered. Except for these personal losses to the ruling Habsburgs, the treaty preserved the integrity of the Holy Roman Empire unlike in the amplified Treaty of Campo Formio of 17 October 1797.

No final peace between the Holy Roman Empire and France was reached before the outbreak of the War of the Second Coalition in 1799.

United Kingdom of the Netherlands

The United Kingdom of the Netherlands (Dutch: Verenigd Koninkrijk der Nederlanden; French: Royaume-Uni des Pays-Bas) is the unofficial name given to the Kingdom of the Netherlands as it existed between 1815 and 1839. The United Netherlands was created in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars through the fusion of territories that had belonged to the former Dutch Republic, Austrian Netherlands, and Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The polity was a constitutional monarchy, ruled by William I of the House of Orange-Nassau.

The polity collapsed in 1830 with the outbreak of the Belgian Revolution. With the de facto secession of Belgium, the Netherlands was left as a rump state and refused to recognise Belgian independence until 1839 when the Treaty of London was signed, fixing the border between the two states and guaranteeing Belgian independence and neutrality as the Kingdom of Belgium.

War of the First Coalition

The War of the First Coalition (French: Guerre de la Première Coalition) is the traditional name of the wars that several European powers fought between 1792 and 1797 against the French First Republic. Despite the collective strength of these nations compared with France, they were not really allied and fought without much apparent coordination or agreement. Each power had its eye on a different part of France it wanted to appropriate after a French defeat, which never occurred.France declared war on the Habsburg Monarchy (cf. the Holy Roman Empire, Austrian Empire etc.) on 20 April 1792. In July 1792, an army under the Duke of Brunswick and composed mostly of Prussians joined the Austrian side and invaded France, only to be rebuffed at the Battle of Valmy in September.

Subsequently these powers made several invasions of France by land and sea, with Prussia and Austria attacking from the Austrian Netherlands and the Rhine, and the Kingdom of Great Britain supporting revolts in provincial France and laying siege to Toulon in October 1793. France suffered reverses (Battle of Neerwinden, 18 March 1793) and internal strife (War in the Vendée) and responded with draconian measures. The Committee of Public Safety formed (6 April 1793) and the levée en masse drafted all potential soldiers aged 18 to 25 (August 1793). The new French armies counterattacked, repelled the invaders, and advanced beyond France.

The French established the Batavian Republic as a sister republic (May 1795) and gained Prussian recognition of French control of the Left Bank of the Rhine by the first Peace of Basel. With the Treaty of Campo Formio, the Holy Roman Empire ceded the Austrian Netherlands to France and Northern Italy was turned into several French sister republics. Spain made a separate peace accord with France (Second Treaty of Basel) and the French Directory carried out plans to conquer more of the Holy Roman Empire (German States, and Austria under the same rule).

North of the Alps, Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen redressed the situation in 1796, but Napoleon carried all before him against Sardinia and Austria in northern Italy (1796–1797) near the Po Valley, culminating in the Treaty of Leoben and the Treaty of Campo Formio (October 1797). The First Coalition collapsed, leaving only Britain in the field fighting against France.

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