Napoleonic Wars

Napoleonic Wars between France and opposing coalitions

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of wars between Napoleon’s French Empire and opposing coalitions led by Great Britain. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionized European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly owing to the application of modern mass conscription. French power rose quickly as Napoleon’s armies conquered much of Europe but collapsed rapidly after France’s disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. Napoleon was defeated in 1814; he returned and was finally defeated in 1815 at Waterloo, and all France’s gains were taken away by the victors. Napoleonic Wars Before a final victory against Napoleon, five of seven coalitions saw defeat at the hands of France. France defeated the first and second coalitions during the French Revolutionary Wars, the third (notably at Austerlitz), the fourth (notably at Jena, Eylau, and Friedland) and the fifth coalition (notably at Wagram) under the leadership of Napoleon. These great victories gave the French Army a sense of invulnerability, especially when it approached Moscow. But after the retreat from Russia, in spite of incomplete victories, France was defeated by the sixth coalition at Leipzig, in the Peninsular War at Vitoria and at the hands of the seventh coalition at Waterloo. The wars resulted in the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and sowed the seeds of nascent nationalism in Germany and Italy that would lead to the two nations’ respective consolidations later in the century. Meanwhile, the global Spanish Empire began to unravel as French occupation of Spain weakened Spain’s hold over its colonies, providing an opening for nationalist revolutions in Spanish America. As a direct result of the Napoleonic wars, the British Empire became the foremost world power for the next century,[6] thus beginning Pax Britannica, and the Russian Empire, after the Battle of Paris in 1814, became, until the Crimean War in 1853, the paramount continental power of Europe. No consensus exists about when the French Revolutionary Wars ended and the Napoleonic Wars began. An early candidate is 9 November 1799, the date of Bonaparte’s coup seizing power in France. However, the most common date is 18 May 1803, when renewed war broke out between Britain and France, ending the one-year-old Peace of Amiens, the only period of general peace in Europe between 1792 and 1814. Most actual fighting ceased following Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815, although skirmishing continued as late as 3 July 1815 at the Battle of Issy. The Second Treaty of Paris officially ended the