The Congress of Erfurt was the meeting between Napoleon, Emperor of the French, and Alexander I, Emperor of All Russia, from 27 September to 14 October 1808 intended to reaffirm the alliance concluded the previous year with the Treaties of Tilsit which followed the end of the War of the Fourth Coalition.
|Congress of Erfurt|
Fürstenkongress Erfurt (German)
|Host country||First French Empire|
|Date||27 September – 14 October 1808|
|Venue(s)||Kurmainzische Statthalterei, Principality of Erfurt|
|Follows||Treaties of Tilsit|
At Tilsit, Napoleon had made an admirer of Alexander, but by the time of the meeting at Erfurt anti-French sentiment at the Russian court was beginning to threaten the newly forged alliance. Napoleon and his foreign minister Jean-Baptiste Nompère de Champagny sought to strengthen the alliance once more in order to settle affairs in Spain and prepare for the expected war with Austria. Working at cross-purposes to Napoleon was Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord who had by this time come to the conclusion that Napoleon was leading France to destruction, and who secretly advised Alexander to resist Napoleon's demands.
The city of Erfurt was under the direct control of the Emperor of the French at this time as Principality of Erfurt. Napoleon attempted to awe Alexander with the glories of the French Empire. The meeting became a great conference involving an array of kings, princes, dukes, barons and notables from all over Europe. Among the attendees was Talma and the entire Comedie Française, who presented sixteen French tragedies over the course of the Congress. Goethe was courted by Napoleon himself and the twenty-year-old Arthur Schopenhauer arrived in Goethe's train and cast a cynical eye over the proceedings.
Out of the meetings came an agreement, the Erfurt Convention, in fourteen articles, calling upon Britain to cease its war against France, recognizing the Russian conquest of Finland from Sweden, and stating that in case of war with Austria, Russia should aid France "to the best of its ability." The two emperors departed for their homelands on 14 October. Six months later the expected war with Austria began, and Alexander barely lived up to his agreement, aiding France as little as possible. By 1810 both emperors were considering war with one another. Erfurt was the last meeting between the two leaders.
By 1812 Russia no longer complied with Napoleon's Continental System of economic warfare against the United Kingdom and anti-French sentiment in the Russian court had reached a new height. Russian defence spending had increased and troops were deployed to the border in preparation for an invasion of Poland. Napoleon pre-empted this by attacking first and with greater force.
From the beginning at Tilsit few onlookers believed these two European powers could peacefully exist side by side, with the Grand Duchy of Warsaw a French satellite state neighbouring Russia. Erfurt may have delayed the eventual outbreak of war, but it was likely the two powers would ultimately come into conflict.
was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar, the 1808th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 808th year of the 2nd millennium, the 8th year of the 19th century, and the 9th year of the 1800s decade. As of the start of 1808, the Gregorian calendar was
12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.1808 in France
Events from the year 1808 in France.Anne Jean Marie René Savary
Anne Jean Marie René Savary, 1st Duke of Rovigo (26 April 1774 – 2 June 1833) was a French general and diplomat.August Friedrich Ferdinand von der Goltz
August Friedrich Ferdinand Graf von der Goltz (July 20, 1765 – January 17, 1832) was Minister for Foreign Affairs of Prussia between 1808 and 1814, the first person to hold that title.Goltz entered the diplomatic service of Prussia in 1787. He help posts in the Prussian Legations at Copenhagen, Mainz, Stockholm, and St Petersburg. In 1807 at the Peace of Tilsit when Napoleon refused to negotiate with Karl August von Hardenberg and demanded his retirement, Goltz signed the treaty in place of Hardenberg and the next year became Minister of Foreign Affairs. Goltz represented Prussia at the Congress of Erfurt in 1808. He was head of the Corporate Governance in Berlin and after the Paris Peace of 1814 he became Oberhofmarschal to the Prussian court, in 1816 the courts representative to the Bundestag, in 1817 member of council of state. In 1824 he left the Bundestag and was reappointed Oberhofmarschal.Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (full name: Emil Leopold August) (23 November 1772 — 17 May 1822), was a Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, and the author of one of the first modern novels to treat of same-sex love. He was the maternal grandfather of Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria.Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord
Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (; French: [ʃaʁl moʁis də tal(ɛ)ʁɑ̃ peʁiɡɔʁ]; 2 February 1754 – 17 May 1838), 1st Prince of Benevento, then 1st Prince of Talleyrand, was a laicized French bishop, politician, and diplomat. After theology studies, he became in 1780 Agent-General of the Clergy and represented the Catholic Church to the French Crown. He worked at the highest levels of successive French governments, most commonly as foreign minister or in some other diplomatic capacity. His career spanned the regimes of Louis XVI, the years of the French Revolution, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and Louis-Philippe. Those he served often distrusted Talleyrand but, like Napoleon, found him extremely useful. The name "Talleyrand" has become a byword for crafty, cynical diplomacy.
He was Napoleon's chief diplomat during the years when French military victories brought one European state after another under French hegemony, as, he believed, they rightfully should be. However, most of the time, Talleyrand worked for peace so as to consolidate France's gains. He succeeded in obtaining peace with Austria through the 1801 Treaty of Luneville and with Britain in the 1802 Treaty of Amiens. He could not prevent the renewal of war in 1803 but by 1805, he opposed his emperor's renewed wars against Austria, Prussia, and Russia. He resigned as foreign minister in August 1807, but retained the trust of Napoleon and conspired to undermine the emperor's plans through secret dealings with Tsar Alexander of Russia and Austrian minister Metternich. Talleyrand sought a negotiated secure peace so as to perpetuate the gains of the French revolution. Napoleon rejected peace and, when he fell in 1814, Talleyrand eased the Bourbon restoration decided by the Allies. He played a major role at the Congress of Vienna in 1814–1815, where he negotiated a favourable settlement for France and played a role in decisions regarding the undoing of Napoleon's conquests.
Talleyrand polarizes scholarly opinion. Some regard him as one of the most versatile, skilled and influential diplomats in European history, and some believe that he was a traitor, betraying in turn the Ancien Régime, the French Revolution, Napoleon, and the Restoration.Continental System
The Continental System or Continental Blockade (known in French as Blocus continental) was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France against the United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. As a response to the naval blockade of the French coasts enacted by the British government on 16 May 1806, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree on 21 November 1806, which brought into effect a large-scale embargo against British trade. The embargo was applied intermittently, ending on 11 April 1814 after Napoleon's first abdication. The blockade caused little economic damage to the UK, although British exports to the continent (as a proportion of the UK's total trade) dropped from 55% to 25% between 1802 and 1806. As Napoleon realized that extensive trade was going through Spain and Russia, he invaded those two countries. His forces were tied down in Spain—in which the Spanish War of Independence was occurring simultaneously—and suffered severely in, and ultimately retreated from, Russia in 1812.
The Berlin Decree forbade the import of British goods into any European countries allied with or dependent upon France, and it installed the Continental System in Europe. All connections with Britain were to be cut, even the mail. British merchants smuggled in many goods and the Continental System was not a powerful weapon of economic war. There was some damage to British trade, especially in 1808 and 1812, but British control of the oceans led to replacement trade with North and South America, as well as large scale smuggling in Europe.
The loss of Britain as a trading partner also hit the economies of France and its allies. Angry governments gained an incentive to ignore the Continental System, which led to the weakening of Napoleon's coalition.Edmond de Talleyrand-Périgord
Edmond de Talleyrand-Périgord, 2nd Duke of Talleyrand, 2nd Duke of Dino (1 August 1787, Paris – 14 May 1872, Florence), was a French general of the Napoleonic Wars.Erfurt
Erfurt (German pronunciation: [ˈɛʁfʊʁt] (listen)) is the capital and largest city in the state of Thuringia, central Germany.
Erfurt lies in the southern part of the Thuringian Basin, within the wide valley of the Gera river. It is located 100 km (62 mi) south-west of Leipzig, 300 km (186 mi) south-west of Berlin, 400 km (249 mi) north of Munich and 250 km (155 mi) north-east of Frankfurt. Together with neighbouring cities Weimar and Jena it forms the central metropolitan area of Thuringia with approximately 500,000 inhabitants.
Erfurt's old town is one of the best preserved medieval city centres in Germany. Tourist attractions include the Krämerbrücke (Merchants' bridge), the Old Synagogue, the ensemble of Erfurt Cathedral and Severikirche (St Severus's Church) and Petersberg Citadel, one of the largest and best preserved town fortresses in Europe. The city's economy is based on agriculture, horticulture and microelectronics. Its central location has led to it becoming a logistics hub for Germany and central Europe. Erfurt hosts the second-largest trade fair in eastern Germany (after Leipzig) as well as the public television children’s channel KiKa.
The city is situated on the Via Regia, a medieval trade and pilgrims' road network. Modern day Erfurt is also a hub for ICE high speed trains and other German and European transport networks. Erfurt was first mentioned in 742, as Saint Boniface founded the diocese. Although the town did not belong to any of the Thuringian states politically, it quickly became the economic centre of the region and it was a member of the Hanseatic League. It was part of the Electorate of Mainz during the Holy Roman Empire, and later became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1802. From 1949 until 1990 Erfurt was part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
The University of Erfurt was founded in 1379, making it the first university to be established within the geographic area which constitutes modern-day Germany. It closed in 1816 and was re-established in 1994, with the main modern campus on what was a teachers' training college. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was its most famous student, studying there from 1501 before entering St Augustine's Monastery in 1505. Other noted Erfurters include the medieval philosopher and mystic Meister Eckhart (c. 1260-1328), the Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) and the sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920).Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army (Russian: Ру́сская импера́торская а́рмия, tr. Rússkaya imperátorskaya ármiya) was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of more than 900,000 regular soldiers and nearly 250,000 irregulars (mostly Cossacks).
The last living veteran of the Russian Imperial Army was Ukrainian supercentenarian Mikhail Krichevsky, who died in 2008.John Moore (British Army officer)
Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, (13 November 1761 – 16 January 1809) was a British Army general, also known as Moore of Corunna. He is best known for his military training reforms and for his death at the Battle of Corunna, in which he repulsed a French army under Marshal Soult during the Peninsular War. After the war General Sarrazin wrote a French history of the battle, which nonetheless may have been written in light of subsequent events, stating that "Whatever Buonaparte may assert, Soult was most certainly repulsed at Corunna; and the British gained a defensive victory, though dearly purchased with the loss of their brave general Moore, who was alike distinguished for his private virtues, and his military talents."Napoleon
Napoléon Bonaparte (, French: [napɔleɔ̃ bɔnɑpaʁt]; Italian: Napoleone Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.He was born Napoleone di Buonaparte (Italian: [napoleˈoːne di ˌbwɔnaˈparte]) in Corsica to a relatively modest family of Italian origin from minor nobility. He was serving as an artillery officer in the French army when the French Revolution erupted in 1789. He rapidly rose through the ranks of the military, seizing the new opportunities presented by the Revolution and becoming a general at age 24. The French Directory eventually gave him command of the Army of Italy after he suppressed a revolt against the government from royalist insurgents. At age 26, he began his first military campaign against the Austrians and the Italian monarchs aligned with the Habsburgs—winning virtually every battle, conquering the Italian Peninsula in a year while establishing "sister republics" with local support, and becoming a war hero in France. In 1798, he led a military expedition to Egypt that served as a springboard to political power. He orchestrated a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic. His ambition and public approval inspired him to go further, and he became the first Emperor of the French in 1804. Intractable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805. Napoleon shattered this coalition with decisive victories in the Ulm Campaign and a historic triumph over the Russian Empire and Austrian Empire at the Battle of Austerlitz which led to the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1806, the Fourth Coalition took up arms against him because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. Napoleon quickly defeated Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, then marched his Grande Armée deep into Eastern Europe and annihilated the Russians in June 1807 at the Battle of Friedland. France then forced the defeated nations of the Fourth Coalition to sign the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, bringing an uneasy peace to the continent. Tilsit signified the high-water mark of the French Empire. In 1809, the Austrians and the British challenged the French again during the War of the Fifth Coalition, but Napoleon solidified his grip over Europe after triumphing at the Battle of Wagram in July.
Napoleon then invaded the Iberian Peninsula, hoping to extend the Continental System and choke off British trade with the European mainland, and declared his brother Joseph Bonaparte the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War lasted six years, featured extensive guerrilla warfare, and ended in victory for the Allies against Napoleon. The Continental System caused recurring diplomatic conflicts between France and its client states, especially Russia. The Russians were unwilling to bear the economic consequences of reduced trade and routinely violated the Continental System, enticing Napoleon into another war. The French launched a major invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The campaign destroyed Russian cities, but did not yield the decisive victory Napoleon wanted. It resulted in the collapse of the Grande Armée and inspired a renewed push against Napoleon by his enemies. In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in the War of the Sixth Coalition against France. A lengthy military campaign culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813, but his tactical victory at the minor Battle of Hanau allowed retreat onto French soil. The Allies then invaded France and captured Paris in the spring of 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April. He was exiled to the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany, and the Bourbon dynasty was restored to power. However, Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of France once again. The Allies responded by forming a Seventh Coalition which defeated him at the Battle of Waterloo in June. The British exiled him to the remote island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died six years later at the age of 51.
Napoleon's influence on the modern world brought liberal reforms to the numerous territories that he conquered and controlled, such as the Low Countries, Switzerland, and large parts of modern Italy and Germany. He implemented fundamental liberal policies in France and throughout Western Europe. His Napoleonic Code has influenced the legal systems of more than 70 nations around the world. British historian Andrew Roberts states: "The ideas that underpin our modern world—meritocracy, equality before the law, property rights, religious toleration, modern secular education, sound finances, and so on—were championed, consolidated, codified and geographically extended by Napoleon. To them he added a rational and efficient local administration, an end to rural banditry, the encouragement of science and the arts, the abolition of feudalism and the greatest codification of laws since the fall of the Roman Empire".Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (1783–1851)
Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (Friedrich Wilhelm Karl von Preußen; 3 July 1783, Berlin – 28 September 1851, Berlin) was the son of Frederick William II of Prussia and Frederika Louisa of Hesse-Darmstadt.Principality of Bayreuth
The Principality of Bayreuth (German: Fürstentum Bayreuth) or Margraviate of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (Markgraftum Brandenburg-Bayreuth) was an immediate territory of the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by a Franconian branch of the Hohenzollern dynasty. Since Burgrave Frederick VI of Nuremberg was enfeoffed with the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1415/17, the Hohenzollern princes transferred the margravial title to their Franconian possessions, though the principality never had been a march. Until 1604 they used Plassenburg Castle in Kulmbach as their residence, hence their territory was officially called the Principality of Kulmbach or Margraviate of Brandenburg-Kulmbach until the Empire's dissolution in 1806.Principality of Erfurt
The Principality of Erfurt (German: Fürstentum Erfurt; French: Principauté d'Erfurt) was a small state in modern Thuringia, Germany, that existed from 1807 to 1814, comprising the modern city of Erfurt and the surrounding land. It was subordinate directly to Napoleon, the Emperor of the French, rather than being a part of the Confederation of the Rhine. After nearly 3 months of siege, the city fell to Prussian, Austrian and Russian forces. Having mainly been Prussian territory before the Napoleonic Wars, most of the lands were restored to Prussia by the Congress of Vienna.Pyotr Aleksandrovich Tolstoy
Count Pyotr Aleksandrovich Tolstoy (Russian: Пётр Александрович Толстой) (1769 – 28 September 1844) was a Russian general and statesman.
Pyotr Tolstoy came from the Oryol branch of the Tolstoy family, his father Alexander Tolstoy was a grandson of Count Pyotr Andreyevich Tolstoy. In 1775 he was enrolled in the Leib Guard Preobrazhensky regiment and started the service on 21 May 1785 as an aide-de-camp of the staff of Prince Nikolai Saltykov. In the same year he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1788–1790 he participated in the Gustav III's Russian War.
In 1794 he was prominent in the Siege of Warsaw and then promoted to colonel. On 24 October 1794 he commanded two battalions in the Battle of Praga. On return, Empress Catherine II awarded Tolstoy the Order of St. George of the 3rd degree with her own hand and appointed him the chief of the Pskov Dragoon regiment. On 9 November 1797 he obtained the rank of major general with appointment the chief of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon regiment and in the next year received the Order of St. Anna of the 1st degree.
In the end of 1798 he was sent to Archduke Charles of Austria for the communication with Alexander Suvorov. After the Campaigns of 1799 he was promoted to lieutenant general and became a member of the War Collegium and of the Governing Senate. In 1802 he was appointed the war governor of Vyborg and in the next year of St Petersburg. At this post Tolstoy became famous by his generosity, giving out money to poor and soldiers of guard regiments. In this time he also commanded the Preobrazhensky regiment.
In September 1805 he departed with 20,000 landing corps into Pomerania and operated in the North Germany under the general command of King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden. He captured Hanover and returned to Russia after the battle of Austerlitz. In the beginning of the War of the Fourth Coalition Emperor Alexander sent Tolstoy to reconcile Corps Commanders Bennigsen and Buxhoeveden and to report about their quarrel personally to himself. After the Bennigsen's appointment the commander-in-chief, Tolstoy became on-duty General of the latter.
From 14 October 1807 to 1 October 1808 he was the ambassador in Paris. His main objective was to observe the Treaty of Tilsit, and Tolstoy wrote to Alexander that all friendly assurances of Napoleon are mendacious, he entreated him not to believe them, but to prepare for the rebuff in advance, and predicted the forthcoming French invasion of Russia. He recommended to the Russian government a system of measures for the protection of the interests of Russia against possible aggression from Napoleon I: to greatly increase the size of the army, to move it to the Western borders, to conclude a secret agreement with Austria, to finish the war with Turkey and Sweden, to conclude peace with England and to organize a new anti-French coalition with Prussia and Austria. Because of his lack of diplomatic experience, however, his efforts were useless and after the Congress of Erfurt Tolstoy was recalled. However, Tolstoy nevertheless observed worsening in the relations between Aleksander and Napoleon.
From 1809 to 1812 he lived in his estate near Tula. In 1812 he formed and then commanded the militia of Nizhny Novgorod, Simbirsk, Kazan, Vyatka and Orenburg governorates. In 1813 he participated in the taking of Dresden and Magdeburg.
On 19 June 1814 he was promoted to Full General, on 16 January 1816 appointed the chief of the 4th and then 5th infantry regiment. From 30 August 1823 he was a member of the State Council. During the reign of Emperor Nicholas I he received the Order of St. Andrew and took a different military post.
From 1839 he was in retirement. Pyotr Tolstoy died in Moscow and was buried in the Donskoy Monastery.The Night With the Emperor
The Night With the Emperor (German: Die Nacht mit dem Kaiser) is a 1936 German historical comedy film directed by Erich Engel and starring Jenny Jugo, Richard Romanowsky and Friedrich Benfer. The film is set in 1808 at the Congress of Erfurt.
The film's sets were designed by the art directors Karl Haacker and Hermann Warm.War of the Fifth Coalition
The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent another expedition, the Walcheren Campaign, to the Netherlands in order to relieve the Austrians, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July.
The resulting Treaty of Schönbrunn was the harshest that France had imposed on Austria in recent memory. Metternich and Archduke Charles had the preservation of the Habsburg Empire as their fundamental goal, and to this end the former succeeded in making Napoleon seek more modest goals in return for promises of Franco-Austrian peace and friendship. Nevertheless, while most of the hereditary lands remained part of Habsburg territories, France received Carinthia, Carniola, and the Adriatic ports, while Galicia was given to the Poles and the Salzburg area of the Tyrol went to the Bavarians. Austria lost over three million subjects, about one-fifth of her total population, as a result of these territorial changes.
Although the Fifth Coalition ended, Britain, Spain and Portugal remained at war with France in the ongoing Peninsular War. There was peace in central and eastern Europe until Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, which led to the formation of the Sixth Coalition in 1813.War of the Fourth Coalition
The Fourth Coalition fought against Napoleon's French Empire and was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and Great Britain. Several members of the coalition had previously been fighting France as part of the Third Coalition, and there was no intervening period of general peace. On 9 October 1806, Prussia joined a renewed coalition, fearing the rise in French power after the defeat of Austria and establishment of the French-sponsored Confederation of the Rhine. Prussia and Russia mobilized for a fresh campaign, and Prussian troops massed in Saxony.
Napoleon decisively defeated the Prussians in an expeditious campaign that culminated at the Battle of Jena–Auerstedt on 14 October 1806. French forces under Napoleon occupied Prussia, pursued the remnants of the shattered Prussian Army, and captured Berlin. They then advanced all the way to East Prussia, Poland and the Russian frontier, where they fought an inconclusive battle against the Russians at the Battle of Eylau on 7–8 February 1807. Napoleon's advance on the Russian frontier was briefly checked during the spring as he revitalized his army with fresh supplies. Russian forces were finally crushed by the French at the Battle of Friedland on 14 June 1807, and three days later Russia asked for a truce.
By the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, France made peace with Russia, which agreed to join the Continental System. The treaty was particularly harsh on Prussia, however, as Napoleon demanded much of the Prussian territory along the lower Rhine west of the Elbe and in what was part of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Respectively, these acquisitions were incorporated into the new Kingdom of Westphalia, led by his brother Jérôme Bonaparte, and established the Duchy of Warsaw, ruled by his new ally the king of Saxony. At the end of the war Napoleon was master of almost all of western and central continental Europe, except for Spain, Portugal, Austria and several other smaller states.
Despite the end of the Fourth Coalition, Britain remained at war with France. Hostilities on land resumed later in 1807, when a Franco-Spanish force invaded Britain's ally Portugal, beginning the Peninsular War. A further Fifth Coalition would be assembled when Austria re-joined the conflict in 1809.