This timeline forms part of our close-ups on: the Prussian campaign and Napoleon’s entry into Berlin, 27 October, 1806.
End of October/beginning of November: Frederick William III, king of Prussia and Alexander, Tsar of Russia meet. Signature of the so-called “Treaty of Potsdam”, a (secret) agreement by which Prussia would present an ultimatum to Napoleon: France must return to what was agreed at Lunéville, otherwise Prussia would join the allies of the Third Coalition.
14 November: The Prussian diplomat, Haugwitz, left Berlin to meet Napoleon in order to present him with the ultimatum.
28 November (7 Frimaire): Haugwitz is finally granted access to Napleon (at that time at Brünn in full preparation for the approaching battle). However, the Prussian did not present an ultimatum but rather a letter from the king. Napoleon thought that Prussia had not yet decided which side to support. As a result he sent Haugwitz to Vienna continue to negotiate with Talleyrand.
2 December (11 Frimaire): Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz. The emperor was now in a strong position in order to achieve his “glorious peace”.
3 December (12 Frimaire): Meeting between Alexander I and Francis II.
4 December (13 Frimaire)
Meeting between Napoleon and Francis II.
6 December (15 Frimaire)
Signature of an armistice with Austria.
10-12 December (19-21 Frimaire): Signature of the Treaty of Brünn.
10 December: France signed a treaty with Bavaria whereby the received, as a reward for her support, additional territory and become a ‘kingdom’.
11 and 12 December: France signed a similar treaty with the sovereigns of Wurtemberg and Baden, the former receiving a royal crown, the latter the dignity of Grand Duke. Napoleon was beginning his system of alliance and control over the third Germany (the Germany between Prussia and Austria).
15 December (24 Frimaire): Signature in Schönbrunn of a Franco-Prussian offensive and defensive alliance sub spe rati (that is, in the hope that the alliance would be ratified by the king of Prussia): Prussia was to ceded Neuchâtel, Bayreuth and Ansbach and to receive Hanover, in fact a British possession but occupied by French troops. By waiting until after Austerlitz, Prussia had missed the chance to present her ultimatum. And so, in a weak position with respect to France, Prussia did not take Hanover but received it as a gift from a third party.
26 December (5 Nivôse): Treaty of Pressburg between France and Austria: by ceding many territories in the kingdom of Italy, and by handing over territories to Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden and France, the House of Austria was greatly weakened in her influence over Italia and Germany.
3 January: Napoleon continued his policy of extending his influence over the Third Germany by signing a matrimonial alliance with Bavaria, marrying on 14 January his stepson and viceroy of Italy, Eugène de Beauharnais, to Augusta, daughter of the king of Bavaria. On 8 April, the empress Josephine’s niece, Stéphanie de Beauharnais, married the crown prince of Baden. In Berlin, a State Council met to discuss the Treaty of Schönbrunn and modified it – the king had already crossed out the words “defensive/offensive alliance” replacing them simply with “alliance”.
14 January: Haugwitz left Berlin for Paris in order to complete the negotiation.
23 January: In Britain, on the death of William Pitt «the younger», William Wyndham Grenville led the new government, with Charles James Fox (who had a reputation as being pro-French) as Foreign Minister.
24 January: General retreat and demobilisation of Prussian troops, especially around Wurtzburg.
26 January: Napoleon returns to Paris.
9 February: Napoleon gives Haugwitz an audience, but treats him coldly, dismissing him brusquely on hearing that Prussian troops were already taking possession of Hanover.
15 February: A new treaty is presented to Haugwitz. Some of the clauses of the treaty of 15 December 1805 are repeated but other impositions include: that Prussia cede the strategically important fortress at Wesel: that she should close her ports to goods coming from Britain and that she should declare war against Britain. This treaty was ratified by Frederick William III on 26 February.
22 February: Closure of French ports to goods coming from Britain.
6 March: In a spirit of openness and détente, Fox sends a letter to Talleyrand, informing him that a certain Guillet de La Gebrillière (arrested but subsequently released in Britain) was planning to assassinate Napoleon.
27 March: Prussia closed her ports to goods from Britain.
30 March: The “Acte des Tuileries” officially proclaiming Joseph, king of Naples and of Sicily.
1 April: Talleyrand replies favourably to Fox, proposing a meeting of plenipotentiaries.
8 April: Following previous agreements between Britain and Russia, Fox suggested to Talleyrand that Russia should take part in the peace discussions between France and Britain.
11 May: Britain declares war on Prussia.
23 May: Soon to be the British plenipotentiary, Lord Seymour, Earl of Yarmouth, a prisoner of war in Amiens, was freed by imperial decree so that he could lead the parley.
24 May: Treaty signed created the kingdom of Holland, thereby replacing the previous République Batave.
5 June: Napoleon proclaims his brother Louis Bonaparte king of Holland.
6 June: Napoleon received the new Turkish ambassador, Mouhib Effendi. Diplomatic relations between France and the Sublime Porte were thus re-activated, Napoleon hoping that Turkey would act as a break to Russia.
14 June: Arrival in Paris of Lord Seymour, Earl of Yarmouth, the British plenipotentiary (he had returned to Britain to receive his letters patent). He brought with him the British government’s peace proposition.
1 July: Prussia signed an alliance treaty with Russia.
8 July: After two months spent in Vienna in discussion with French and British ambassadors respectively, the Russian chargé d’affaires, Oubril, arrived in Paris to lead the talks on the Russian side. In Russia, the minister of foreign affairs, Czartoryski, offered his resignation to be replaced by Baron Budberg.
11 July: In order to keep the negotiations on the rails, Talleyrand tells Napoleon (untruthfully) that Yarmouth is expecting a permission from Fox to give Sicily to France (wanted for Joseph’s kingdom of Naples). At the beginning of the talks, Britain refused to discuss the acquisition of Sicily.
12 July: Signature of the Treaty of Paris, bringing about the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbund). The treaty was to be ratified by Napoleon and the other signatories on 19 July.
21 July: Despite the Russo-British agreement to negotiate together, Oubril was led by general Clarke (who had replaced Talleyrand) to sign a Franco-Russian peace treaty. Oubril was however well aware that he had exceeded his instructions.
31 July: The British government sends out a firmer negotiator in the shape of Lord Lauderdale, in support of Yarmouth. Given that the Russian envoy Oubril had signed a separate treaty with France (offering Sicily), in order not to be out done the British envoy brought with him a new version of the Franco-British peace treaty. The concessions in the new treaty were: that the family reigning over Sicily were to be found other territories and reparations; that Britain would accept not only the French emperor’s title but also those of other nominated or promoted by Napoleon (so Sicily could be taken by France); that all France’s gains since 1797 would be respected; that the Bourbons would be relegated to Scotland or Ireland; that any Chouan leaders nominated by France would be transported to Canada. This was rejected by Napoleon because it was (in his words) “not yet fully mature.”
1 August: The members of the Confederation of the Rhine declared that they no longer formed part of the Holy Roman Empire.
6 August: Francis II abandoned his title Holy Roman Emperor.
9 August: Mobilisation Prussian troops.
25 August: On Napoleon’s orders, Palm, bookseller in the free city of Nuremberg is executed for having distributed a pamphlet encouraging German resistance to Napoleon. Beginning of work on the Vendôme column.
3 September: Napoleon learns of the Russian refusal to ratify the peace treaty. In a letter to his brother, Joseph, dated the same day, the emperor says that he thought the failure to ratify was as a result of the change of ministers in Russia. In the same letter, he noted that the Russian emperor, Alexander, had only given one reason: that he would not sign without Britain.
12 September: Prussians invade Saxony in order force her to participate in the coming war against France. The Saxons were to be the only troops to fight alongside Prussia at Jena.
13 September: Death of the British Foreign Minister Fox, replaced by Grey.
Napoleon ordered Berthier to go to Wurzburg (rather than Bamberg), giving the same order to the corps commanded by Ney, Augereau and Davout.
20 September: Napoleon calls upon his allies in the Confederation of the Rhine.
25 September: Napoleon leaves Paris to join the Grande Armée.
28 September: Napoleon arrives in Mainz.
1 October: The Prussian ambassador Knobelsdorf gives Talleyrand a letter from Frederick William III for Napoleon, which contains Prussia’s ultimatum: French troops should retire beyond the Rhine and the Confederation of the Rhine should be dissolved.
2 October: Napoleon arrives in Wurtzburg where he meets the German princes.
4 October: After a month of negotiation, Lauderdale presents the French negotiators with a new treaty. Sicily is no longer on the table and the general tone is much less conciliating, firm in the knowledge that the Russians had already refused to deal. Well aware that his proposals would not be accepted, Lauderdale asked for his passports and left France on 9 October, the negotiations having come to nothing.
7 October: Napoleon learns of the Prussian ultimatum. On the day before the Prussian ultimatum was to take effect, the Grande Armée set out for Berlin.
8-11 October: French soldiers cross the valleys in the Frankenwald.
8 October: First contact between the French troops and the Prussian at Saalberg.
9 October: At Schleiz, >Murat‘s cavalry, supported by the 3rd division of Bernadotte‘s corps, beat a body Prussians and Saxons led by Tauentzien. 400 Prussians/Saxons were killed or taken.
14 October: French double victory, Napoleon at Jena, and Davout at Auerstedt.
15 October: King Frederick William writes to Napoleon demanding peace conditions.
16 October: The Prussian capitulation at Erfurt before Murat.
17 October: Prussian defeat at Halle before Bernadotte.
22 October: Meeting between the Prussian envoy Lucchesini and an intransigent Napoleon.
23 October: Napoleon confiscates the Prussians territories in between the Rhine and the Elbe, the states belonging to the duke of Brunswick, Hanover and the territory around Osnabruck, giving East Friesland the king of Holland. The electorate of Saxony and the principality of Hesse-Cassel are placed under French administration.
24 October: Prussian capitulation at Potsdam
25 October: Spandau capitulates before Lannes
26 October: Davout’s corps enters Berlin, whilst Lasalle and Grouchy take Zehdenick.
Napoleon meditates before the tomb of Frederick the Great.
27 October: Napoleon enters Berlin.
28 October: Hohenlohe capitulates at Prenzlau.
30 October: Stettin capitulates before general Lasalle’s cavalry.
3 November: Napoleon addresses a proclamation to the Polish inviting them to rise up.
7 November: Blücher capitulates at Lübeck before Bernadotte.
8 November: Capitulation of Magdebourg before Ney.
16 November: Signature of a Franco-Prussian armistice, not ratified by Frederick William. The 32nd Bulletin de la Grande Armée announces the end of the Prussian campaign.