Convention of Alessandria

The Convention of Alessandria (also known as the Armistice of Marengo) was a treaty signed on 15 June 1800 between the French First Republic led by Napoleon and Austria during the War of the Second Coalition. Following the Austrian defeat at the Battle of Marengo, they agreed to evacuate Italy as far as the Mincio and abandon strongholds in Piedmont and Milan. Great Britain and Austria were allies and hoped to negotiate a peace treaty with France, but Napoleon insisted on separate treaties with each nation. The negotiations failed, and fighting resumed on 22 November 1800.

Convention of Alessandria
Signing of the Convention of Alexandria (by Michel Martin Drolling)
Contextafter the defeat of the Archduchy of Austria by the French First Republic in the War of the Second Coalition
Signed15 June 1800
Parties French First Republic
Habsburg Monarchy Austria
Convention of Alessandria at Wikisource


Lejeune - Bataille de Marengo
The Battle of Marengo

The War of the Second Coalition was the second war against revolutionary France by various European monarchies. The Second Coalition was led by Britain, Austria and Russia, and included the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, various German monarchies and several other minor European states. Its aim was to contain the expansion of the French Republic and to restore the monarchy in France.[1][2][3][4]

French troops returned to Italy in 1799, following a brief period of absence which had precipitated the collapse of their Italian client republics.[5] Napoleon Bonaparte, who had seized power in the Coup of 18 Brumaire,[6] carried out a crossing of the Alps with his Army of the Reserve (officially commanded by Louis-Alexandre Berthier) in May 1800.[7][8] This move, made almost before the passes were open, threatened Austrian General Michael von Melas' lines of communications in northern Italy. The French army then seized Milan on 2 June, followed by Pavia, Piacenza and Stradella, cutting the main Austrian supply route eastward along the south bank of the Po river. Bonaparte hoped that Melas' preoccupation with the Siege of Genoa, held by French General André Masséna, would prevent the Austrians from responding to his offensive. However, Masséna surrendered the town on 4 June, freeing a large number of Austrians for operations against the French.[9]

On 9 June French General Jean Lannes beat Austrian Feldmarschallleutnant Peter Ott in the Battle of Montebello. Bonaparte subsequently convinced himself that Melas would not attack and, further, that the Austrians were about to retreat. As other French forces closed from the west and south, the Austrian commander had withdrawn most of his troops from their positions near Nice and Genoa to Alessandria on the main Turin-Mantua road.[9] The Battle of Marengo was fought on 14 June 1800 between Bonaparte and Melas near Alessandria. Towards the end of the day, the French overcame the Austrian surprise attack.[10]


Convention of Alessandria map
Land ceded by the Convention of Alessandria
  Ceded to France
  Neutral territory
  Retained by Austria

At 4:00 am on 15 June 1800, von Melas sent General Johann Ferdinand von Skal and two captains to the French encampment with a flag of surrender. Napoleon, who had expected the Austrians to continue fighting, quickly accepted the surrender.[11][12] A cease-fire was signed a few hours later. In the agreement, the Austrians agreed to evacuate to the left bank of the Bormida, and that hostilities would cease for forty-eight hours. The Austrians initially hoped to give up only Piedmont and Genoa, but Napoleon demanded they retreat to behind the Po and Mincio. The final agreement was formalized and signed as the Convention of Alessandria.[13][14]

On 15 June, the Convention was signed. It caused the fighting to end,[15] and the Austrians agreed to evacuate Italy as far as the Mincio and abandon all of their strongholds in the Piedmont and Milan,[16] losing all that they had gained in 1798 and 1799.[17] The Austrians agreed to give the French Tortona, Alessandria, Milan, Turin, Pizzighetone, Arona, and Piacenza by 20 June. They agreed to surrender by 24 June the fortress of Coni, the castles of Seva and Savona, and the city of Genoa; and the city of Urbino by 26 June. The land between the Chiesa, the Oglio, and the Po rivers was ceded to the French, and that between the Chiesa and the Mincio was designated a neutral zone, not to "be occupied by either of the two armies."[15] The Austrians retained control of Tuscany,[18] and retained the bulk of their army, with the French letting their soldiers retreat.[19]


Allegory Representing the Convention of Alessandria after Napoleon's Victory at the Battle of Marengo
Allegory Representing the Convention of Alessandria after Napoleon's Victory at the Battle of Marengo by Giuseppe Longhi

On 17 June, Napoleon left for Paris after the signing of the Convention.[20] He stopped in Milan, and was greeted as a hero, with large crowds celebrating his arrival. The Cisalpine Republic was again established as a French client republic, and a temporary government was put in place until the signing of a peace treaty with Austria. Many strongholds listed in the convention were given up by the Austrians and their fortifications dismantled by the French, including Genoa on 24 June. Napoleon left Milan the same day, and stopped briefly in Turin and Lyon before arriving in Paris on 2 July.[21][22] The victory consolidated Napoleon's political position in Paris as First Consul.[10] French historian François Furet noted that the battle served as "the true coronation of [Napoleon's] power and his regime".[23]

General Officer Count Joseph Saint-Julien was sent to deliver the convention to Francis II,[a][25] and it was soon ratified by the Court of Vienna,[26][13] It proved to be only a temporary cease-fire, as Johann Amadeus von Thugut (and the Austrian government) refused to accept the terms and give up any of Austria's Italian holdings.[27][26] Francis II, several hours before receiving the Convention on 20 June 1800, had signed a treaty with Britain, in which Britain agreed to give Austria two million pounds sterling in exchange for Austria continuing the war with France. The treaty also prohibited negotiations between Austria and France without the involvement of Britain before 1 February 1801.[28][29]

Austria soon dispatched Saint-Julien to travel to Paris, carrying news of the treaty's ratification, and to further consider the terms of it.[b][28][29] He arrived on 21 July and began negotiations.[22] On 22 July he attended a meeting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at which Saint-Julien was persuaded to assume the position of an accredited diplomat and sign several preliminary articles on 28 July.[31] Saint-Julien and Géraud Duroc were dispatched to deliver the news to Vienna. On 4 August, they arrived at Alt Oettiugen, the headquarters of Paul Kray.[32] The negotiations were disavowed by Austria due to their treaty with Britain. Duroc was turned away and Saint-Julien was arrested for negotiating without instructions. On 29 September, the Convention of Castiglione was signed, extending the Convention of Alessandria;[28][29] but further negotiations at Lunéville were fruitless, as Napoleon demanded separate peace treaties with England and Austria.[33] On 22 November 1800 hostilities resumed.[27]

Historical opinion

British general and military historian John Mitchell later argued in 1846 that the French would have accepted many fewer concessions and wrote that "nothing equal to this ill-fated convention had ever been known in military history."[14] The treaty was described by British historian Thomas Henry Dyer in 1877 as "one of the most disgraceful capitulations in history."[34] David Bell concluded in 2014 that a bulk of the Austrian army had survived the Battle of Marengo, and Melas was still in a position that he could have continued fighting. Prussian historian Dietrich Heinrich von Bülow "the keenest contemporary observer of the 1800 campaign,"[35] said of the convention: "Bonaparte did not seize success; Melas threw it away."[12]


  1. ^ With a note from Napoleon, expressing his desire for a more permanent peace treaty.[24]
  2. ^ Saint-Julien was sent to placate Napoleon and buy time for the Austrians, and had been instructed not to negotiate so as to avoid angering Britain.[13] He had a letter from the Austrians, addressed to Napoleon that contained "a ratification of the armistice both in Italy and Germany, and invited explanations in reference to the bases of future negotiation."[30]


  1. ^ "Second Coalition." World History: The Modern Era, ABC-CLIO, 2018.
  2. ^ Schroeder, Paul W. (June 1987). "The Collapse of the Second Coalition". The Journal of Modern History. 59: 244–290. ISSN 0022-2801.
  3. ^ A ́goston, Ga ́bor; Masters, Bruce Alan (2010). Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Infobase Publishing. p. 515. ISBN 9781438110257.
  4. ^ Nash, Jay Robert (18 May 1976). Darkest Hours. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 773. ISBN 9781590775264.
  5. ^ Holmes, George (2001). The Oxford Illustrated History of Italy. Oxford University Press. p. 180. ISBN 9780192854445. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Coup of 18–19 Brumaire | French history [1799]". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  7. ^ "'Napoleon Crossing the Alps', Paul Delaroche (1797–1856)". Archived from the original on 22 November 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  8. ^ Markham, J. David (2003). Napoleon's Road to Glory: Triumphs, Defeats and Immortality. Brassey's. p. 101. ISBN 9781857533279.
  9. ^ a b Hollins 2006, p. 606.
  10. ^ a b Hollins 2006, pp. 605–606.
  11. ^ Arnold 1999, p. 188.
  12. ^ a b Dwyer 2013, p. 43.
  13. ^ a b c Massey 1865, p. 258.
  14. ^ a b Mitchell 1846, p. 558.
  15. ^ a b Berthier, Alexander (1800). Wikisource link to Convention of Alessandria. Wikisource.
  16. ^ Birchall 1876, p. 540.
  17. ^ Knight 1814, p. 395.
  18. ^ Thiers & Marie 1846, p. 137.
  19. ^ Bell 2014, pp. 222–226.
  20. ^ Chandler 1973, p. 298.
  21. ^ Kolla, Edward James (2017). Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution. Cambridge University Press. p. 251. ISBN 9781107179547.
  22. ^ a b Deans 1882, pp. 697–698.
  23. ^ Bell 2014, p. 227.
  24. ^ Deans 1882, p. 697.
  25. ^ Sainsbury 1936, p. 258.
  26. ^ a b Ritchie 1802, p. 258.
  27. ^ a b Ryan 2003, pp. 109–110.
  28. ^ a b c Dyer 1877, p. 134.
  29. ^ a b c Massey 1865, p. 259.
  30. ^ Deans 1882, p. 707.
  31. ^ Deans 1882, pp. 707–708.
  32. ^ Clarke 1816, pp. 475–476.
  33. ^ Bright 1837, p. 1226.
  34. ^ Dyer 1877, p. 132.
  35. ^ Bell 2014, pp. 224–226.



1800 (MDCCC)

was an exceptional common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar, the 1800th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 800th year of the 2nd millennium, the 100th and last year of the 18th century, and the 1st year of the 1800s decade. As of the start of 1800, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923. As of March 1 (O.S. February 18), when the Julian calendar acknowledged a leap day and the Gregorian calendar did not, the Julian calendar fell one day further behind, bringing the difference to 12 days until 1899.

Anton von Zach

Anton Freiherr von Zach (IPA: [za:x]) (14 June 1747 – 22 November 1826) was an Austrian General with Hungarian ancestors, who enlisted in the army of Habsburg Austria and fought against the First French Republic. In the French Revolutionary Wars, he gained prominence as a staff officer. Still on active service during the Napoleonic Wars, he fought in the 1805 and 1809 wars. He was not given combat assignments after 1809.

Zach held the office of army chief of staff during the 1796, 1799, and 1800 campaigns. In the latter year, he played an important role at the Battle of Marengo, where he was captured. During the Napoleonic Wars he was again chief of staff of the Army of Italy in 1805. In 1809 he commanded a division in the Italian theater. After 1809, the Austrian military employed him as a fortress commandant. He was Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian infantry regiment from 1807 until his death.

Battle of Marengo

The Battle of Marengo was fought on 14 June 1800 between French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces near the city of Alessandria, in Piedmont, Italy. Near the end of the day, the French overcame Gen. Michael von Melas's surprise attack, driving the Austrians out of Italy and consolidating Napoleon's political position in Paris as First Consul of France in the wake of his coup d’état the previous November.Surprised by the Austrian advance toward Genoa in mid-April 1800, Bonaparte hastily led his army over the Alps in mid-May and reached Milan on 2 June. After cutting Melas’ line of communications by crossing the River Po and defeating Feldmarschallleutnant (FML) Peter Karl Ott von Bátorkéz at Montebello on 9 June, the French closed in on the Austrian army, which had massed in Alessandria. Deceived by a local double agent, Bonaparte dispatched large forces to the north and south, but the Austrians launched a surprise attack on 14 June against the main French army under Gen. Louis Alexandre Berthier.Initially their two assaults across the Fontanone stream near Marengo village were repelled, and Gen. Jean Lannes reinforced the French right. Bonaparte realized the true position and issued orders at 11:00 am to recall the detachment under Général de Division (GdD) Louis Desaix, while moving his reserve forward. On the Austrian left Ott's column had taken Castel Ceriolo, and its advance guard moved south to attack Lannes’ flank. Melas renewed the main assault and the Austrians broke the central French position. By 2:30 pm the French were withdrawing and Austrian dragoons seized the Marengo farm. Bonaparte had by then arrived with the reserve, but Berthier's troops began to fall back on the main vine belts. Knowing Desaix was approaching, Bonaparte was anxious about a column of Ott's soldiers marching from the north, so he deployed his Consular Guard infantry to delay it. The French then withdrew steadily eastward toward San Giuliano Vecchio as the Austrians formed a column to follow them in line with Ott's advance in the northern sector.Desaix's arrival around 5:30 pm stabilized the French position, as the 9th Light Infantry Regiment delayed the Austrian advance down the main road and the rest of the army reformed north of Cascina Grossa. As the pursuing Austrian troops arrived, a mix of musketry and artillery fire concealed the surprise attack of Général de Brigade (GdB) François Étienne de Kellermann’s cavalry, which threw the Austrian pursuit into disordered flight back into Alessandria, with about 14,000 killed, wounded or captured. The French casualties were considerably fewer, but included Desaix. The whole French line chased after the Austrians to seal une victoire politique (a political victory) that secured Bonaparte's grip on power after the coup. It would be followed by a propaganda campaign that sought to rewrite the story of the battle three times during Napoleon's rule.

Lucio Matarazzo

Lucio Matarazzo is an Italian classical guitarist. Along with guitar luminaries such as Julian Bream, Alirio Diaz and Alexandre Lagoya, he is a recipient of the prestigious Chitarra d'Oro (Golden Guitar) in the category of Una Vita per la Chitarra (A Life for the Guitar) awarded by the International Guitar Convention of Alessandria.


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".

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