From the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna 3

Germany History: From the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna (1648–1815) Part III

French revolutionary wars, dissolution of the empire

The social and political foundations of the European states, however, suffered a decisive shock from the French Revolution of 1789. Their appeal to “freedom, equality and brotherhood” threatened the absolutist as well as the estate order in Germany, especially since the intervention of Austria and Prussia against France provoked expansive counter-attack of the revolution. Under the onslaught of the French revolutionary armies, the empire finally collapsed under the emperors Leopold II (1790–92) and Franz II (1792–1806) in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd coalition wars (French Revolutionary Wars). In the Peace of Basel (April 5, 1795), Prussia temporarily ceded the left bank of the Rhine to the French Republic. Austria had to conclude the Campoformio peace on October 17, 1797; the Treaty of Lunéville (9 February 1801) between France and Austria, which was decisive for the empire, confirmed the cession of the left bank of the Rhine to France. Learn more about Germany and Europe, please click

The empire, in the process of dissolution, was now territorially revolutionized and divided into zones of influence in accordance with the interests and tendencies of the major European powers. Due to the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss that came about under French influence(February 25, 1803) the political and legal foundations of the “old empire” were dissolved. The ecclesiastical principalities were secularized and, like the territories of the imperial knights and other small lordships, including most imperial cities, were incorporated into other German states (“mediatized”), mostly as compensation for ceding territories to France on the left bank of the Rhine. Baden, Württemberg, Hessen-Kassel and Salzburg were elevated to electoral princedoms and the imperial idea thus undermined. As a result of the 3rd coalition war, which was no longer waged as an Imperial War, Bavaria and Württemberg became kingdoms in 1805. 16 South and West German states united under the French protectorate in Paris on July 12, 1806 to form the Rhine Confederation (until 1811 a further 20 German states joined), declared themselves sovereign and announced on 1.8. her exit from the Holy Roman Empire. On August 6th, 1806 Kaiser Franz II, who had already assumed the title of Emperor of Austria in 1804, lowered the (Roman) imperial crown at the request of Napoleon I (end of the Holy Roman Empire).

Period of the Napoleonic Wars, Congress of Vienna

In the Napoleonic Wars, the Prussia of Frederick II the Great also collapsed. One of the great late achievements in Prussia was the “General Land Law for the Prussian States” (abbreviation ALR), which was published in 1794 by his successor Friedrich Wilhelm II after the decisive preparatory work in the time of Frederick II. King Friedrich Wilhelm III. lost through the Tilsit Peace of July 9th, 1807 as a result of the 4th coalition war (defeat at Jena and Auerstedt, October 14th, 1806) all land west of the Elbe and the former Polish areas except parts of West Prussia. Napoleon established the Kingdom of Westphalia and the Grand Duchy of Berg and entrusted them to relatives. Like Saxony and the other small states in central and northern Germany, they joined the Confederation of the Rhine. Furthermore, northwest Germany as far as Lübeck was incorporated directly into the French Empire.

In Prussia, imperial barons vom and zum SteinK. A. Fürst von HardenbergW. von HumboldtG. J. D. von ScharnhorstH. von BoyenC. von Clausewitz and A. W. A. ​​von Gneisenau began a major reform work (so-called Prussian reforms): peasant liberation (1807), Self-government of the citizenry (city code of 1808), freedom of trade (1810), tax reform (1810/12), educational reform (1809/10/12), reorganization of the army based on general conscription (1807-14; legally introduced in 1814).

A similar reform movement under J. P. Graf von Stadion in Austria ended with the defeat by Napoleon in 1809. The successful and forward-looking reform activities of M. J. Graf von Montgelas in Bavaria should also be emphasized; Recently, particular importance has been attached to reform activity in the most important Rhine Confederation states.

After the fall of Napoleon’s Great Army in Russia, Prussia rose up in 1813/14 (Wars of Liberation). Austria soon followed, the rest of Germany only sporadically, and the Confederation of the Rhine only joined after Napoleon’s defeat. The Battle of the Nations near Leipzig (October 16–19, 1813) liberated Germany; then the grand European coalition succeeded in overthrowing the Napoleonic empire. The 1st Peace of Paris (May 30, 1814) left France within the borders of 1792; after Napoleon,who had returned from Elba, was again defeated France had to cede Landau to Bavaria, Saarlouis and Saarbrücken to Prussia in the 2nd Paris Peace (November 20th, 1815), but kept Alsace. The Congress of Vienna of 1814/15 rearranged the European state system and regulated the territorial structure and constitutional order of Germany; the individual states (37 princes and four free cities), recognized as sovereign, became a loose confederation, the German Confederation,united, in which three foreign sovereigns were members for their German possessions (the King of Great Britain for Hanover, the King of the Netherlands for Luxembourg and Limburg, the King of Denmark for Holstein and Lauenburg). The sovereignty of the princes did not apply to the German Confederation, to whose majority decisions they were bound. The Federal Act of June 8, 1815 as the Basic Law of the Federation was supplemented by the Vienna Final Act on May 15 and July 8, 1820. As in the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, European powers were made guarantors of the German constitution. The Holy Alliance (9/24/1815) suggested by the Russian Emperor Alexander I.

From the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna 3