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Adam Zamoyski's Napoleon: A Life

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  • #31
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post

    The Bourbons were on their thrones at the start of the war; in France as a matter of succession in the C16th and in Spain as a result of Louis XIV machinations. in the early C18th. Napoleon's deposition of the Spanish kings did not negate the Borbons being the legitimate Kings of Spain. The case of the Bourbons of France is obviously more problematic but in 1814 Napoleon abdicated, he had presided over France continuing as a monarchy and, for better or worse, the legitimate line was restored; 'via foreign bayonets,' I would say, is a misleading oversimplification.

    Saying Britain invaded Spain is simply not correct. From 1808, Britain fought as an ally of Spain to expel the French. This successfuly achieved, Wellington pursued the retreating French army onto its home ground to ensure victory. To describe that as 'invasion,' again would be misleading. The war aim was to defeat the French and expel them from Spain, not to occupy French territory for its own sake.

    A balance of power is just that. One can't have balance in one area and not another. That would not be a balance.

    You asked me which invasions. I explained the what I was referring to. I agree that arguably the Brits didn't "invade" Spain, but the fact that spain and England were allies didn't provide a lot of protections for the Spanish populace. Since Spain's legitimate rulers were locked up in France, they hardly could have invited the Brits to land/invade. Additionally, I question whether the various juntas governing much of Spain actually recognized the Bourbons at that point. I will defer to Messena on that point though.

    The Bourbons were the legitimate rulers of Spain, but putting them back in power wasn't a "liberation". It was merely a change in despots.
    At best, the French "oppressors" were simply replaced by Spanish "oppressors".

    The British "invasion" of France was militarily and politically justified. But it was an "invasion" nonetheless.
    I am not questioning Britain's moral right to invade France at that point.

    The "balance of power" was designed to stop European nations from going to war. It was not to give the continental powers a "balance of power" in the commercial field. The division of spoils at the Congress of Vienna did little other than to benefit the victors.
    I seem to recall that the division of spoils nearly led to war with Austria, England and France on one side and Prussia and Russia on the other.

    The balance of power protected the winners and no one else.
    I would point to the various revolts that took place after liberation from Napoleon that were brutally suppressed by the victors.

    Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

    Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

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    • #32
      Well clearly it is necessary to define one's terms. I would argue that 'invade' is not a neutral term in the context and implies aggressive intention. I believe that in certain instances it is being used in a misleading way. Was the march of the allied army into France in 1814 an invasion or ensuring an invader was not only fully expelled but defeated. Did the Austrians invade Bavaria in 1805 or were they exercising customary rights of passage in preparation for a confrontation with France?

      As for ' liberate' that is Paul's dog and yours. Restoring the political status quo following military invasion and anexation of power, is one question, debating the merits of absloute monarchy or of a particular dynasty is another.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post

        I would point to the various revolts that took place after liberation from Napoleon that were brutally suppressed by the victors.
        That would be illuminating

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        • #34
          Originally posted by jf42 View Post
          Well clearly it is necessary to define one's terms. I would argue that 'invade' is not a neutral term in the context and implies aggressive intention. I believe that in certain instances it is being used in a misleading way. Was the march of the allied army into France in 1814 an invasion or ensuring an invader was not only fully expelled but defeated. Did the Austrians invade Bavaria in 1805 or were they exercising customary rights of passage in preparation for a confrontation with France?

          As for ' liberate' that is Paul's dog and yours. Restoring the political status quo following military invasion and anexation of power, is one question, debating the merits of absloute monarchy or of a particular dynasty is another.

          "Invade" does imply aggressive intention and, as such, I think accurately describes the intentions of the coalition forces. The invasion was clearly justified given the state of war between the parties.
          As for Austria in 1805, their behavior was pretty much the same thing that Napoleon is routinely condemned for. Austria intended to invade France at that time too.
          Bavaria wasn't a threat to Austria and really neither was France.
          The French army was preparing to invade England and posed no threat to Austrian (or Russian ) interests.

          The Austrians were interested in removing French influence and control from Germany and Italy and replacing it with their own.

          My ultimate point remains that Napoleon's behavior wasn't unique in any way, he was just far more successful at it.
          Perhaps too successful for his own good.
          Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

          Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post



            As for Austria in 1805, their behavior was pretty much the same thing that Napoleon is routinely condemned for. Austria intended to invade France at that time too.
            Bavaria wasn't a threat to Austria and really neither was France.
            The French army was preparing to invade England and posed no threat to Austrian
            I think that's what the French propaganda machine broadcast.

            Bonaparte later shared with Metternich: "Never would I have been such a fool as to make a descent upon England, unless indeed a revolution had taken place within that country. The army assembled at Boulogne was always an army against Austria. I could not place it anywhere else without giving offence, and, being obliged to form it somewhere, I did so at Boulogne, where I could while collecting it also disquiet England." q. in Esdaile Napoleon's Wars

            Austria. finally provoked by Napoleon creating himself King of italy and the subsequent annexation of Genoa, Parma & Piacenza, was the last reluctantly to join the Third Coalition, following Britain and Russia's earlier lead. The march into Bavaria was not to acquire territory but to pre-empt a French advance across the Rhine, while Russian troops marched west.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by jf42 View Post

              I think that's what the French propaganda machine broadcast.

              Bonaparte later shared with Metternich: "Never would I have been such a fool as to make a descent upon England, unless indeed a revolution had taken place within that country. The army assembled at Boulogne was always an army against Austria. I could not place it anywhere else without giving offence, and, being obliged to form it somewhere, I did so at Boulogne, where I could while collecting it also disquiet England." q. in Esdaile Napoleon's Wars

              Austria. finally provoked by Napoleon creating himself King of italy and the subsequent annexation of Genoa, Parma & Piacenza, was the last reluctantly to join the Third Coalition, following Britain and Russia's earlier lead. The march into Bavaria was not to acquire territory but to pre-empt a French advance across the Rhine, while Russian troops marched west.
              And where did that idea come from? Do you actually believe that Austria's move into Bavaria was benign? Both Prussia and Austria were competing for dominance in Germany and Great Britain was behind Austria's move westward in order to get the Grande Armee away from the Channel.
              We are not now that strength which in old days
              Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
              Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
              To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

              Comment


              • #37
                Benign? Probably not. There was a war on

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by jf42 View Post

                  I think that's what the French propaganda machine broadcast.

                  Bonaparte later shared with Metternich: "Never would I have been such a fool as to make a descent upon England, unless indeed a revolution had taken place within that country. The army assembled at Boulogne was always an army against Austria. I could not place it anywhere else without giving offence, and, being obliged to form it somewhere, I did so at Boulogne, where I could while collecting it also disquiet England." q. in Esdaile Napoleon's Wars

                  Austria. finally provoked by Napoleon creating himself King of italy and the subsequent annexation of Genoa, Parma & Piacenza, was the last reluctantly to join the Third Coalition, following Britain and Russia's earlier lead. The march into Bavaria was not to acquire territory but to pre-empt a French advance across the Rhine, while Russian troops marched west.


                  The fact that Napoleon annexed territory that the Austrians wanted for themselves isn't the same thing as Napoleon declaring war on Austria or even threatening them..

                  That one alleged quote by Napoleon saying he didn't intend to invade England is countered by the extensive preparations, the building of ships the training for embarkation and landing, the numerous orders sent to Admiral Villaneuve and the fact that he concentrated his army on the coast.
                  As an aside, I doubt Metternich is a very reliable source, but will accept the claim for purposes of this discussion. I also question some of Napoleon's versions of his discussions with Metternich.

                  Austria was as territorial minded as any other European nation.
                  It wanted Italy and Germany for itself and would not accept French control of those regions.
                  That doesn't make Austria evil, it is just a recognition that the problem was that their interests clashed with Napoleon's. The Austrians were not innocent victims. (Nor were the Russians)
                  Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

                  Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by jf42 View Post
                    Benign? Probably not. There was a war on
                    Only when Great Britain 'encouraged' Austria to move west in order to take pressure off the Channel.

                    As to Metternich, he cannot be trusted as a source.
                    We are not now that strength which in old days
                    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by jf42 View Post
                      Did the Austrians invade Bavaria in 1805 or were they exercising customary rights of passage in preparation for a confrontation with France?
                      To defend their lands the in the west the Austrians could not but cross the lands of others - notably Bavaria.

                      osterrike1797.gif

                      I believe the Holy Roman Emperor did have the rights to cross Imperial lands with an army in defence of the HRE?

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post
                        Austria was as territorial minded as any other European nation.
                        It wanted Italy and Germany for itself and would not accept French control of those regions.
                        That doesn't make Austria evil, it is just a recognition that the problem was that their interests clashed with Napoleon's. The Austrians were not innocent victims. (Nor were the Russians)
                        Traditionally the Habsburgs expanded their territory through marriage rather than conquest. Austrian attempts to expand their territory at the expense of the other states of the HRE would entail upsetting the balance with Prussia and cause a coalition to form against them as was the case with the War of Bavarian Succession. The same would be true vice Prussian attempts to expand their territory in the HRE.
                        Revolutionary France and then Napoleon upset the balance of power so it seems a bit choice to complain about the aggression of others when a coalition inevitably formed against France.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                          To defend their lands the in the west the Austrians could not but cross the lands of others - notably Bavaria.

                          osterrike1797.gif

                          I believe the Holy Roman Emperor did have the rights to cross Imperial lands with an army in defence of the HRE?
                          I don't know much about the HRE, but have little doubt that from the Austrian perspective they had the right to make any demands they wanted from the smaller members of the HRE.

                          Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

                          Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                            Traditionally the Habsburgs expanded their territory through marriage rather than conquest. Austrian attempts to expand their territory at the expense of the other states of the HRE would entail upsetting the balance with Prussia and cause a coalition to form against them as was the case with the War of Bavarian Succession. The same would be true vice Prussian attempts to expand their territory in the HRE.
                            Revolutionary France and then Napoleon upset the balance of power so it seems a bit choice to complain about the aggression of others when a coalition inevitably formed against France.
                            I agree with your point, but Austria would still grab land by conquest when it could get away with it. (See Poland, Italy and the Balkans)

                            I am not complaining about the aggression of the coalition, just contending that the threat Napoleon posed wasn't that he was uniquely greedy and expansionist, just that he was uniquely good at achieving his goals. His success upset the balance of power, not his goals or his methods.
                            In the end, he overreached, but that is a different issue.
                            Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

                            Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              I am curious. How would you define 'grab'; we know about the tripartite partiton of Poland; but elsewhere?
                              Last edited by jf42; 25 Oct 18, 09:44.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post

                                I agree with your point, but Austria would still grab land by conquest when it could get away with it. (See Poland, Italy and the Balkans)

                                I am not complaining about the aggression of the coalition, just contending that the threat Napoleon posed wasn't that he was uniquely greedy and expansionist, just that he was uniquely good at achieving his goals. His success upset the balance of power, not his goals or his methods.
                                In the end, he overreached, but that is a different issue.
                                Austria was more sinned against than a sinner when it came to State land grabbing in the 18th Century I think.
                                France was the usual suspect from the middle of the 17th Century as regards expansion, especially of Imperial lands. In that respect the Kings of France were actually more successful than Napoleon.

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