From The Death Of Joseph Ii To The End Of The German Empire


The Crisis in Europe. --Frederick William II. in Prussia. --Leopold II.

in Austria. --His short Reign. --Francis II. succeeds. --French

Claims in Alsatia. --War declared against Austria. --The Prussian

and Austrian Invasion of France. --Valmy and Jemappes. --THE FIRST

COALITION. --Campaign of 1793. --French Successes. --Hesitation of

Prussia. --The Treaty of Basel. --Cath
rine II.'s Designs. --Second

Partition of Poland. --Kosciusko's Defeat. --Suwarrow takes Warsaw.

--End of Poland. --French Invasion of Germany. --Success of the

Republic. --Bonaparte in Italy. --Campaign of 1796. --Austrian

Successes. --Bonaparte victorious. --Peace of Campo Formio. --New

Demands of France. --THE SECOND COALITION. --Suwarrow in Italy and

Switzerland. --Bonaparte First Consul. --Victories at Marengo and

Hohenlinden. --Peace of Luneville. --The German States

reconstructed. --Character of the political Changes. --Supremacy of

France. --Hannover invaded. --Bonaparte Emperor. --THE THIRD

COALITION. --French march to Vienna. --Austerlitz. --Treaty of

Presburg. --End of the "Holy Roman Empire."

[Sidenote: 1790. CONDITION OF EUROPE.]

The mantles of both Frederick the Great and Joseph II. fell upon

incompetent successors, at a time when all Europe was agitated by the

beginning of the French Revolution, and when, therefore, the greatest

political wisdom was required of the rulers of Germany. It was a crisis,

the like of which never before occurred in the history of the world, and

probably never will occur again; for, at the time when it came, the

people enjoyed fewer rights than they had possessed during the Middle

Ages, and the monarchs exercised more power than they had claimed for at

least fifteen hundred years before, while general intelligence and the

knowledge of human rights were increasing everywhere. The fabrics of

society and government were ages behind the demands of the time: a

change was inevitable, and because no preparation had been made, it came

through violence.

[Sidenote: 1792.]

Frederick the Great was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick William II.,

whom, with unaccountable neglect, he had not instructed in the duties

of government. The latter, nevertheless, began with changes which gave

him a great popularity. He abolished the French system of collecting

duties, the monopolies which were burdensome to the people, and

lightened the weight of their taxes. But, by unnecessary interference in

the affairs of Holland (because his sister was the wife of William V. of

Orange), he spent all the surplus which Frederick had left in the

Prussian treasury; he was weak, dissolute and fickle in his character;

he introduced the most rigid measures in regard to the press and

religious worship, and soon taught the people the difference between a

bigoted and narrow-minded and an intelligent and conscientious king.

Joseph II. was succeeded by his brother, Leopold II., who for

twenty-five years had been Grand-Duke of Tuscany, where he had governed

with great mildness and prudence. His policy had been somewhat similar

to that of Joseph II., but characterized by greater caution and

moderation. When he took the crown of Austria, and immediately

afterwards that of the German Empire, he materially changed his plan of

government. He was not rigidly oppressive, but he checked the evidences

of a freer development among the people, which Joseph II. had fostered.

He limited, at once, the pretensions of Austria, cultivated friendly

relations with Prussia, which was then inclined to support the Austrian

Netherlands in their revolt, and took steps to conclude peace with

Turkey. He succeeded, also, in reconciling the Hungarians to the

Hapsburg rule, and might, possibly, have given a fortunate turn to the

destinies of Austria, if he had lived long enough. But he died on the

1st of March, 1792, after a reign of exactly two years, and was

succeeded by his son, Francis II., who was elected Emperor of Germany on

the 5th of July, in Frankfort.

By this time the great changes which had taken place in France began to

agitate all Europe. The French National Assembly very soon disregarded

the provisions of the Peace of Westphalia (in 1648), which had only

ceded the possessions of Austria in Alsatia to France, allowing

various towns and districts on the West bank of the Upper Rhine to be

held by German Princes. The entire authority over these scattered

possessions was now claimed by France, and neither Prussia, under

Frederick William II., nor Austria under Leopold II. resisted the act

otherwise than by a protest which had no effect. Although the French

queen, Marie Antoinette, was Leopold II.'s sister, his policy was to

preserve peace with the Revolutionary party which controlled France.

Frederick William's minister, Hertzberg, pursued the same policy, but so

much against the will of the king, who was determined to defend the

cause of absolute monarchy by trying to rescue Louis XVI. from his

increasing dangers, that before the close of 1791 Hertzberg was

dismissed from office. Then Frederick William endeavored to create a

"holy alliance" of Prussia, Austria, Russia and Sweden against France,

but only succeeded far enough to provoke a bitter feeling of hostility

to Germany in the French National Assembly.

[Sidenote: 1792. FRANCE AND PRUSSIA.]

The nobles who had been driven out of France by the Revolution were

welcomed by the Archbishops of Mayence and Treves, and the rulers of

smaller States along the Rhine, who allowed them to plot a

counter-revolution. An angry diplomatic intercourse between France and

Austria followed, and in April, 1792, the former country declared war

against "the king of Bohemia and Hungary," as Francis II. was styled by

the French Assembly. In fact, war was inevitable; for the monarchs of

Europe were simply waiting for a good chance to intervene and crush the

republican movement in France, which, on its side, could only establish

itself through military successes. Although neither party was prepared

for the struggle, the energy and enthusiasm of the new men who governed

France gained an advantage, at the start, over the lumbering slowness of

the German governments. It was not the latter, this time, but their

enemy, who profited by the example of Frederick the Great.

Prussia and Austria, supported by some but not by all of the smaller

States, raised two armies, one of 110,000 men under the Duke of

Brunswick, which was to march through Belgium to Paris, while the other,

50,000 strong, was to take possession of Alsatia. The movement of the

former was changed, and then delayed by differences of opinion among the

royal and ducal commanders. It started from Mayence, and consumed three

weeks in marching to the French frontier, only ninety miles distant.

Longwy and Verdun were taken without much difficulty, and then the

advance ceased. The French under Dumouriez and Kellermann united their

forces, held the Germans in check at Valmy, on the 20th of September,

1792, and then compelled them to retrace their steps towards the Rhine.

While the Prussians were retreating through storms of rain, their ranks

thinned by disease, Dumouriez wheeled upon Flanders, met the Austrian

army at Jemappes, and gained such a decided victory that by the end of

the year all Belgium, and even the city of Aix-la-Chapelle, fell into

the hands of the French.

[Sidenote: 1793.]

At the same time another French army, under General Custine, marched to

the Rhine, took Speyer, Worms and finally Mayence, which city was made

the head-quarters of a republican movement intended to influence

Germany. But these successes were followed, on the 21st of January,

1793, by the execution of Louis XVI., and on the 16th of October of

Marie Antoinette,--acts which alarmed every reigning family in Europe

and provoked the most intense enmity towards the French Republic. An

immediate alliance--called the FIRST COALITION--was made by England,

Holland, Prussia, Austria, "the German Empire," Sardinia, Naples and

Spain, against France. Only Catharine II. of Russia declined to join,

not because she did not favor the design of crushing France, but because

she would thus be left free to carry out her plans of aggrandizing

Russia at the expense of Turkey and Poland.

The greater part of the year 1793 was on the whole favorable to the

allied powers. An Austrian victory at Neerwinden, on the 18th of March,

compelled the French to evacuate Belgium: in July the Prussians

reconquered Mayence, and advanced into Alsatia; and a combined English

and Spanish fleet took possession of Toulon. But there was no unity of

action among the enemies of France; even the German successes were soon

neutralized by the mutual jealousy and mistrust of Prussia and Austria,

and the war became more and more unpopular. Towards the close of the

year the French armies were again victorious in Flanders and along the

Rhine: their generals had discovered that the rapid movements and rash,

impetuous assaults of their new troops were very effectual against the

old, deliberate, scientific tactics of the Germans. Spain, Holland and

Sardinia proved to be almost useless as allies, and the strength of the

Coalition was reduced to England, Prussia and Austria.

[Sidenote: 1795. THE TREATY OF BASEL.]

In 1794 a fresh attempt was made. Prussia furnished 50,000 men, who

were paid by England, and were hardly less mercenaries than the troops

sold by Hesse-Cassel twenty years before. In June, the French under

Jourdan were victorious at Fleurus, and Austria decided to give up

Belgium: the Prussians gained some advantages in Alsatia, but showed no

desire to carry on the war as the hirelings of another country.

Frederick William II. and Francis II. were equally suspicious of each

other, equally weak and vacillating, divided between their desire of

overturning the French Republic on the one side, and securing new

conquests of Polish territory on the other. Thus the war was prosecuted

in the most languid and inefficient manner, and by the end of the year

the French were masters of all the territory west of the Rhine, from

Alsatia to the sea. During the following winter they assisted in

overturning the former government of Holland, where a new "Batavian

Republic" was established. Frederick William II. thereupon determined to

withdraw from the Coalition, and make a separate peace with France. His

minister, Hardenberg, concluded a treaty at Basel, on the 5th of April,

1795, by which Cleves and other Prussian territory west of the Lower

Rhine was relinquished to France, and all of Germany north of a line

drawn from the river Main eastward to Silesia, was declared to be in a

state of peace during the war which France still continued to wage with


The chief cause of Prussia's change of policy seems to have been her

fear that Russia would absorb the whole of Poland. This was probably the

intention of Catharine II., for she had vigorously encouraged the war

between Germany and France, while declining to take part in it. The

Poles themselves, now more divided than ever, soon furnished her with a

pretext for interference. They had adopted an hereditary instead of an

elective monarchy, together with a Constitution similar to that of

France; but a portion of the nobility rose in arms against these

changes, and were supported by Russia. Then Frederick William II.

insisted on being admitted as a partner in the business of interference,

and Catharine II. reluctantly consented. In January, 1793, the two

powers agreed to divide a large portion of Polish territory between

them, Austria taking no active part in the matter. Prussia received the

cities of Thorn and Dantzig, the provinces of Posen, Gnesen and Kalisch,

and other territory, amounting to more than 20,000 square miles, with

1,000,000 inhabitants. The only resistance made to the entrance of the

Russian army into Poland, was headed by Kosciusko, one of the heroes of

the American war of Independence. Although defeated at Dubienka, where

he fought with 4,000 men against 16,000, the hopes of the Polish

patriots centred upon him, and when they rose in 1794 to prevent the

approaching destruction of their country, they made him Dictator. Russia

was engaged in a war with Turkey, and had not troops enough to quell the

insurrection, so Prussia was called upon to furnish her share. In June,

1794, Frederick William himself marched to Warsaw, where a Russian army

arrived about the same time: the city was besieged, but not attacked,

owing to quarrels and differences of opinion among the commanders. At

the end of three months, the king got tired and went back to Berlin;

several small battles were fought, in which the Poles had the greater

advantage, but nothing decisive happened until the end of October, when

the Russian General Suwarrow arrived, after a forced march, from the

seat of war on the Danube.

[Sidenote: 1795.]

He first defeated Kosciusko, who was taken prisoner, and then marched

upon Warsaw. On the 4th of November the suburb of Praga was taken by

storm, with terrible slaughter, and three days afterwards Warsaw fell.

This was the end of Poland, as an independent nation. Although Austria

had taken no part in the war, she now negotiated for a share in the

Third (and last) Partition, which had been decided upon by Russia and

Prussia, even before the Polish revolt furnished a pretext for it.

Catharine II. favored the Austrian claims, and even concluded a secret

agreement with Francis II. without consulting Prussia. When this had

been made known, in August, 1795, Prussia protested violently against

it, but without effect: Russia took more than half the remaining

territory, Austria nearly one-quarter, and Prussia received about 20,000

square miles more, including the city of Warsaw.

After the Treaty of Basel, which secured peace to the northern half of

Germany, Catharine II., victorious over Turkey and having nothing more

to do in Poland, united with England and Austria against France. It was

agreed that Russia should send both an army and a fleet, Austria raise

200,000 men, and England contribute 4,000,000 pounds sterling annually

towards the expenses of the war. During the summer of 1795, however,

little was done. The French still held everything west of the Rhine, and

the Austrians watched them from the opposite bank: the strength of both

was nearly equal. Suddenly, in September, the French crossed the river,

took Duesseldorf and Mannheim, with immense quantities of military

stores, and completely laid waste the country in the neighborhood of

these two cities, treating the people with the most inhuman barbarity.

Then the Austrians rallied, repulsed the French, in their turn, and

before winter recovered possession of nearly all the western bank.


In January, 1796, an armistice was declared: Spain and Sardinia had

already made peace with France, and Austria showed signs of becoming

weary of the war. The French Republic, however, found itself greatly

strengthened by its military successes: its minister of war, Carnot, and

its ambitious young generals, Bonaparte, Moreau, Massena, &c., were

winning fame and power by the continuance of hostilities, and the system

of making the conquered territory pay all the expenses of the war (in

some cases much more), was a great advantage to the French national

treasury. Thus the war, undertaken by the Coalition for the destruction

of the French Republic, had only strengthened the latter, which was in

the best condition for continuing it at a time when the allies (except,

perhaps, England) were discouraged, and ready for peace.

The campaign of 1796 was most disastrous to Austria. France had an army

under Jourdan on the Lower Rhine, another under Moreau--who had replaced

General Pichegru--on the Upper Rhine, and a third under Bonaparte in

Italy. The latter began his movement early in April; he promised his

unpaid, ragged and badly-fed troops that he would give them Milan in

four weeks, and he kept his word. Plunder and victory heightened their

faith in his splendid military genius: he advanced with irresistible

energy, passing the Po, the Adda at Lodi, subjecting the Venetian

Republic, forming new republican States out of the old Italian Duchies,

and driving the Austrians everywhere before him. By the end of the year

the latter held only the strong fortress of Mantua.

[Sidenote: 1797.]

The French armies on the Rhine were opposed by an Austrian army of equal

strength, commanded by the Archduke Karl, a general of considerable

talent, but still governed by the military ideas of a former

generation. Instead of attacking, he waited to be attacked; but neither

Jourdan nor Moreau allowed him to wait long. The former took possession

of the Eastern bank of the Lower Rhine: when the Archduke marched

against him, Moreau crossed into Baden and seized the passes of the

Black Forest. Then the Archduke, having compelled Jourdan to fall back,

met the latter and was defeated. Jourdan returned a second time, Moreau

advanced, and all Baden, Wuertemberg, Franconia, and the greater part of

Bavaria fell into the hands of the French. These States not only

submitted without resistance, but used every exertion to pay enormous

contributions to their conquerors. One-fourth of what they gave would

have prevented the invasion, and changed the subsequent fate of Germany.

Frankfort paid ten millions of florins, Nuremberg three, Bavaria ten,

and the other cities and principalities in proportion, besides

furnishing enormous quantities of supplies to the French troops. All

these countries purchased the neutrality of France, by allowing free

passage to the latter, and agreeing further to pay heavy monthly

contributions towards the expenses of the war. Even Saxony, which had

not been invaded, joined in this agreement.

Towards the end of summer the Archduke twice defeated Jourdan and forced

him to retreat across the Rhine. This rendered Moreau's position in

Bavaria untenable: closely followed by the Austrians, he accomplished

without loss that famous retreat through the Black Forest which is

considered a greater achievement than many victories in the annals of

war. Thus, at the close of the year 1796, all Germany east of the Rhine,

plundered, impoverished and demoralized, was again free from the French.

This defeated Bonaparte's plan, which was to advance from Italy through

the Tyrol, effect a junction with Moreau in Bavaria, and then march upon

Vienna. Nevertheless, he determined to carry out his portion of it,

regardless of the fortunes of the other French armies. On the 2d of

February, 1797, Mantua surrendered; the Archduke Karl, who had been sent

against him, was defeated, and Bonaparte followed with such daring and

vigor that by the middle of April he had reached the little town of

Leoben, in Styria, only a few days' march from Vienna. Although he had

less than 50,000 men, while the Archduke still had about 25,000, and

the Austrians, Styrians and Tyrolese, now thoroughly aroused, demanded

weapons and leaders, Francis II., instead of encouraging their

patriotism and boldly undertaking a movement which might have cut off

Bonaparte, began to negotiate for peace. Of course the conqueror

dictated his own terms: the preliminaries were settled at once, an

armistice followed, and on the 17th of October, 1797, peace was

concluded at Campo Formio.

[Sidenote: 1798. THE CONGRESS OF RASTATT.]

Austria gave Lombardy and Belgium to France, to both of which countries

she had a tolerable claim; but she also gave all the territory west of

the Rhine, which she had no right to do, even under the constitution of

the superannuated "German Empire." On the other hand, Bonaparte gave to

Austria Dalmatia, Istria, and nearly all the territory of the Republic

of Venice, to which he had not the shadow of a right. He had already

conquered and suppressed the Republic of Genoa, so that these two old

and illustrious States vanished from the map of Europe, only two years

after Poland.

Nevertheless, the illusion of a German Empire was kept up, so far as the

form was concerned. A Congress of all the States was called to meet at

Rastatt, in Baden, and confirm the Treaty of Campo Formio. But France

had become arrogant through her astonishing success, and in May, 1798,

her ambassadors suddenly demanded a number of new concessions, including

the annexation of points east of the Rhine, the levelling of the

fortress of Ehrenbreitstein (opposite Coblentz), and the possession of

the islands at the mouth of the river. At this time Bonaparte was

absent, on his expedition to Egypt, and only England, chiefly by means

of her navy, was carrying on the war with France. The new demands made

at the Congress of Rastatt not only prolonged the negotiations, but

provoked throughout Europe the idea of another Coalition against the

French Republic. The year 1798, however, came to an end without any

further action, except such as was secretly plotted at the various


Early in 1799, the SECOND COALITION was formed between England, Russia

(where Paul I. had succeeded Catharine II. in 1796), Austria, Naples and

Turkey: Spain and Prussia refused to join. An Austrian army under the

Archduke defeated Jourdan in March, while another, supported by Naples,

was successful against the French in Italy. Meanwhile, the Congress

continued to sit at Rastatt, in the foolish hope of making peace after

the war had again begun. The approach of the Austrian troops finally

dissolved it; but the two French ambassadors, who left for France on the

evening of April 28th, were waylaid and murdered near the city by some

Austrian hussars. No investigation of this outrage was ever ordered; the

general belief is that the Court of Vienna was responsible for it. The

act was as mad as it was infamous, for it stirred the entire French

people into fury against Germany.

[Sidenote: 1799.]

In the spring of 1799, a Russian army commanded by Suwarrow arrived in

Italy, and in a short time completed the work begun by the Austrians.

The Roman Republic was overthrown and Pope Pius VII. restored: all

Northern Italy, except Genoa, was taken from the French; and then,

finding his movements hampered by the jealousy of the Austrian generals,

Suwarrow crossed the St. Gothard with his army, fighting his way through

the terrific gorges of the Alps. To avoid the French General, Massena,

who had been victorious at Zurich, he was compelled to choose the most

lofty and difficult passes, and his march over them was a marvel of

daring and endurance. This was the end of his campaign, for the Emperor

Paul, suspicious of Austria and becoming more friendly to France, soon

afterwards recalled him and his troops. During the campaign of this

year, the English army under the Duke of York, had miserably failed in

the Netherlands, but the Archduke, although no important battle was

fought, held the French thoroughly in check along the frontier of the


The end of the year, and of the century, brought a great change in the

destinies of France. Bonaparte had returned from Egypt, and on the 9th

of November, by force of arms, he overthrew the Government and

established the Consulate in the place of the Republic, with himself as

First Consul for ten years. Being now practically Dictator, he took

matters into his own hands, and his first measure was to propose peace

to the Coalition, on the basis of the Treaty of Campo Formio. This was

rejected by England and Austria, who stubbornly believed that the

fortune of the war was at last turning to their side. In Prussia,

Frederick William II. had died in November, 1797, and was succeeded by

his son, Frederick William III., who was a man of excellent personal

qualities, but without either energy, ambition or clear intelligence.

Bonaparte's policy was simply to keep Prussia neutral, and he found no

difficulty in maintaining the peace which had been concluded at Basel

nearly five years before. England chiefly took part in the war by means

of her navy, and by contributions of money, so that France, with the

best generals in the world and soldiers flushed with victory, was only

called upon to meet Austria in the field.


At this crisis, the Archduke Karl, Austria's single good general, threw

up his command, on account of the interference of the Court of Vienna

with his plans. His place was filled by the Archduke John, a boy of

nineteen, under whom was an army of 100,000 men, scattered in a long

line from the Alps to Frankfort. Moreau easily broke through this

barrier, overran Baden and Wuertemberg, and was only arrested for a short

time by the fortifications of Ulm. While these events were occurring,

another Austrian army under Melas besieged Massena in Genoa. Bonaparte

collected a new force, with such rapidity and secrecy that his plan was

not discovered, made a heroic march over the St. Bernard pass of the

Alps in May, and came down upon Italy like an avalanche. Genoa,

thousands of whose citizens perished with hunger during the siege, had

already surrendered to the Austrians; but, when the latter turned to

repel Bonaparte, they were cut to pieces on the field of Marengo, on the

14th of June, 1800. This magnificent victory gave all Northern Italy, as

far as the river Mincio, into the hands of the French.

Again Bonaparte offered peace to Austria, on the same basis as before.

An armistice was concluded, and Francis II. made signs of accepting the

offer of peace, but only that he might quietly recruit his armies. When,

therefore, the armistice expired, on the 25th of November, Moreau

immediately advanced to attack the new Austrian army of nearly 90,000

men, which occupied a position along the river Inn. On the 3d of

December, the two met at Hohenlinden, and the French, after a bloody

struggle, were completely victorious. There was now, apparently, nothing

to prevent Moreau from marching upon Vienna, and the Archduke Karl, who

had been sent in all haste to take command of the demoralized Austrians,

was compelled to ask for an armistice upon terms very humiliating to the

Hapsburg pride.

[Sidenote: 1801.]

After all its combined haughtiness and incompetency, the Court of Vienna

gratefully accepted such terms as it could get. Francis II. sent one of

his ministers, Cobenzl, who met Joseph Bonaparte at Luneville (in

Lorraine), and there, on the 9th of February, 1801, peace was concluded.

Its chief provisions were those of the Treaty of Campo Formio: all the

territory west of the Rhine, from Basel to the sea, was given to France,

together with all Northern Italy west of the Adige. The Duke of Modena

received part of Baden, and the Duke of Tuscany Salzburg. Other temporal

princes of Germany, who lost part or the whole of their territory by the

treaty, were compensated by secularizing the dominions of the priestly

rulers, and dividing them among the former. Thus the States governed by

Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots or other clerical dignitaries, nearly one

hundred in number, were abolished at one blow, and what little was left

of the fabric of the old German Empire fell to pieces. The division of

all this territory among the other States gave rise to new difficulties

and disputes, which were not settled for two years longer. The Diet

appointed a special Commission to arrange the matter; but, inasmuch as

Bonaparte, through his Minister Talleyrand, and Alexander I. of Russia

(the Emperor Paul having been murdered in 1801), intrigued in every

possible way to enlarge the smaller German States and prevent the

increase of Austria, the final arrangements were made quite as much by

the two foreign powers as by the Commission of the German Diet.

On the 27th of April, 1803, the decree of partition was issued, suddenly

changing the map of Germany. Only six free cities were left out of

fifty-two,--Frankfort, Hamburg, Bremen, Luebeck, Nuremberg and Augsburg:

Prussia received three bishoprics (Hildesheim, Muenster and Paderborn),

and a number of abbeys and cities, including Erfurt, amounting to four

times as much as she had lost on the left bank of the Rhine. Baden was

increased to double its former size by the remains of the Palatinate

(including Heidelberg and Mannheim), the city of Constance, and a number

of abbeys and monasteries: a great part of Franconia, with Wuerzburg and

Bamberg, was added to Bavaria. Wuertemberg, Hesse-Darmstadt and Nassau

were much enlarged, and most of the other States received smaller

additions. At the same time the rulers of Baden, Wuertemberg,

Hesse-Cassel and Salzburg were dignified by the new title of

"Electors"--when they never would be called upon to elect another German



An impartial study of these events will show that they were caused by

the indifference of Prussia to the general interests of Germany, and the

utter lack of the commonest political wisdom in Francis II. of Austria

and his ministers. The war with France was wantonly undertaken, in the

first place; it was then continued with stupid obstinacy after two

offers of peace. But except the loss of the left bank of the Rhine, with

more than three millions of German inhabitants, Germany, though

humiliated, was not yet seriously damaged. The complete overthrow of

priestly rule, the extinction of a multitude of petty States, and the

abolition of the special privileges of nearly a thousand "Imperial"

noble families, was an immense gain to the whole country. The influence

which Bonaparte exercised in the partition of 1803, though made solely

with a view to the political interests of France, produced some very

beneficial changes in Germany. In regard to religion, the Chief Electors

were now equally divided, five being Catholic and five Protestant; while

the Diet of Princes, instead of having a Catholic majority of twelve, as

heretofore, acquired a Protestant majority of twenty-two.

France was now the ruling power on the Continent of Europe. Prussia

preserved a timid neutrality, Austria was powerless, the new Republics

in Holland, Switzerland and Italy were wholly subjected to French

influence, Spain, Denmark and Russia were friendly, and even England,

after the overthrow of Pitt's ministry, was persuaded to make peace with

Bonaparte in 1802. The same year, the latter had himself declared First

Consul for life, and became absolute master of the destinies of France.

A new quarrel with England soon broke out, and this gave him a pretext

for invading Hannover. In May, 1803, General Mortier marched from

Holland with only 12,000 men, while Hannover, alone, had an excellent

army of 15,000. But the Council of Nobles, who governed in the name of

George III. of England, gave orders that "the troops should not be

allowed to fire, and might only use the bayonet moderately, in extreme

necessity!" Of course no battle was fought; the country was overrun by

the French in a few days, and plundered to the amount of 26,000,000

thalers. Prussia and the other German States quietly looked on, and--did


[Sidenote: 1804.]

In March, 1804, the First Consul sent a force across the Rhine into

Baden, seized the Duke d'Enghien, a fugitive Bourbon Prince, carried him

into France and there had him shot. This outrage provoked a general cry

of indignation throughout Europe. Two months afterwards, on the 18th of

May, Bonaparte assumed the title of Napoleon, Emperor of the French: the

Italian Republics were changed into a Kingdom of Italy, and that period

of arrogant and selfish personal government commenced which brought

monarchs and nations to his feet, and finally made him a fugitive and a

prisoner. On the 11th of August, 1804, Francis II. imitated him, by

taking the title of "Emperor of Austria," in order to preserve his

existing rank, whatever changes might afterwards come.

England, Austria and Russia were now more than ever determined to

cripple the increasing power of Napoleon. Much time was spent in

endeavoring to persuade Prussia to join the movement, but Frederick

William III. not only refused, but sent an army to prevent the Russian

troops from crossing Prussian territory, on their way to join the

Austrians. By the summer of 1805, the THIRD COALITION, composed of the

three powers already named and Sweden, was formed, and a plan adopted

for bringing nearly 400,000 soldiers into the field against France.

Although the secret had been well kept, it was revealed before the

Coalition was quite prepared; and Napoleon was ready for the emergency.

He had collected an army of 200,000 men at Boulogne for the invasion of

England: giving up the latter design, he marched rapidly into Southern

Germany, procured the alliance of Baden, Wuertemberg and Bavaria, with

40,000 more troops, and thus gained the first advantage before the

Russian and Austrian armies had united.

The fortress of Ulm, held by the Austrian General Mack, with 25,000 men,

surrendered on the 17th of October. The French pressed forwards,

overcame the opposition of a portion of the allied armies along the

Danube, and on the 13th of November entered Vienna. Francis II. and his

family had fled to Presburg: the Archduke Karl, hastening from Italy,

was in Styria with a small force, and a combined Russian and Austrian

army of nearly 100,000 men was in Moravia. Prussia threatened to join

the Coalition, because the neutrality of her territory had been violated

by Bernadotte in marching from Hannover to join Napoleon: the allies,

although surprised and disgracefully defeated, were far from

appreciating the courage and skill of their enemy, and still believed

they could overcome him. Napoleon pretended to avoid a battle and

thereby drew them on to meet him in the field: on the 2d of December at

Austerlitz, the "Battle of the Three Emperors" (as the Germans call it)

occurred, and by the close of that day the allies had lost 15,000 killed

and wounded, 20,000 prisoners and 200 cannon.

[Sidenote: 1806. END OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE.]

Two days after the battle Francis II. came personally to Napoleon and

begged for an armistice, which was granted. The latter took up his

quarters in the Palace of the Hapsburgs, at Schoenbrunn, as a conqueror,

and waited for the conclusion of a treaty of peace, which was signed at

Presburg on the 26th of December. Austria was forced to give up Venice

to France, Tyrol to Bavaria, and some smaller territory to Baden and

Wuertemberg; to accept the policy of France in Italy, Holland and

Switzerland, and to recognize Bavaria and Wuertemberg as independent

kingdoms of Napoleon's creation. All that she received in return was the

archbishopric of Salzburg. She also agreed to pay one hundred millions

of francs to France, and to permit the formation of a new Confederation

of the smaller German States, which should be placed under the

protectorship of Napoleon. The latter lost no time in carrying out his

plan: by July, 1806, the Rheinbund (Confederation of the Rhine) was

entered into by seventeen States, which formed, in combination, a third

power, independent of either Austria or Prussia.

Immediately afterwards, on the 6th of August, 1806, Francis II. laid

down his title of "Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German

Nation," and the political corpse, long since dead, was finally buried.

Just a thousand years had elapsed since the time of Charlemagne: the

power and influence of the Empire had reached their culmination under

the Hohenstaufens, but even then the smaller rulers were undermining its

foundations. It existed for a few centuries longer as a system which was

one-fourth fact and three-fourths tradition: during the Thirty Years'

War it perished, and the Hapsburgs, after that, only wore the ornaments

and trappings it left behind. The German people were never further from

being a nation than at the commencement of this century; but the most of

them still clung to the superstition of an Empire, until the compulsory

act of Francis II. showed them, at last, that there was none.