The Peace of Amiens

Period : Directory / 1st Empire
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1801, January – March

8 January: Peace of Lunéville
France gained Belgium and much of the left bank of the Rhine and dictated remuneration to be given by Austria to the German prince thus destituted.

29 January: Spanish ultimatum to Portugal to break off relations with Britain

27 February: Official Spanish declaration of war against Portugal

14 March: resignation of Pitt: Addington becomes prime minister (17 March)
After a clash with the King George III over the issue of Catholic emancipation – Pitt wanted to let Irish catholics have the vote – Pitt resigned, opening the way to Addington. Cornwallis also resigned as Viceroy of Ireland for the same reasons as Pitt.

23 March: Tsar Paul I assassinated (with suspected British collusion).

1801, April – June

2 April: Battle of Copenhagen
>Nelson famously continued to fight the Danes even though ordered to retire winning a crucial victory and sounding the death knell for the second League of Neutrals.

19 May: Godoy’s troops enter Portugal, the famous ‘Guerre des Oranges’, culminating in the Treaty of Badajoz (7 June) signed by Godoy “the Prince of Peace” and the Portuguese minister Pinto (Portugal was forced to pay indemnities of 15 million livres, its ports were closed to British boats fermeture and the district around Olivenza was ceded to Spain).

17 June: the Czar Alexander I signed a peace treaty with Great Britain: the League of Neutrals (founded 16 December between Russia, Sweden, Denmark; and later Prussia) was dissolved.

27 June: in Cairo, Belliard surrendered to British troops. General Augustin-Daniel Belliard (1769-1832) had been holed up in Cairo with 5000 men since the middle of April, whilst Lagrange was at Rahmanieh with 4000 men and Menou was at Alexandria with 6000 men. When the British took Rosetta, (8 April, 1801) and when, by breaching the dam between Lake Madieh and Lake Mareotis, they managed to isolate Alexandria, Lagrange was driven back to Cairo, 10 May: de facto, the French Armée d’Orient was cut in two. Faced with the threat of worsening plague, besieged by the Anglo/Ottoman troops, feeling increasingly isolated, and despairing of ever receiving reinforcements from France, Belliard demanded a suspension of hostilities and then signed the capitulation. The 13,600 French soldiers, academics and others began leaving Cairo on 14 July. The end of the Egyptian expedition was marked by the capitulation of Menou in Alexandria on 31 August, 1801.

1801, July – August

6-12 July: Action at Algeciras between British ships under Saumarez and French/Spanish vessels. British losses: one ship of the line (Hannibal) 130 dead, 240 wounded; French/Spanish losses: 5 ships of the line, at least 1,700 dead.

4 August: Attack by Nelson on Boulogne driven off by Latouche-Tréville.

31 August: French forces remaining under Menou in Alexandria surrender to the British. In return for capitulating, French troops were returned home on British warships.

1801, October

1 October: Lord Hawkesbury and Louis-Guillaume Otto signed Treaty of London, preliminaries to the Peace of Amiens.

Britain to give back all the French, Spanish (except Trinidad) and Batavian (except Ceylon) colonies and possessions occupied since the wars began in 1793, and to return Malta to the Order of Saint John (all the powers were to ensure its independence).

France to abandon all pretensions to Egypt, to evacuate Naples and the Papal States, to recognise the independence of the Ionian islands (the Republic of the Seven Islands), despite the fact that they belonged to France as per the Treaty of Campoformio (1797). All hostilities would cease as soon as the main treaty was signed.

Article 15 called for a conference in Amiens in December.

The treaty was welcomed with such enthusiasm by the British public that on returning to London with Bonaparte’s ratification of the preliminaries the First Consul’s ADC, Lauriston, was welcomed by a huge crowd that unhitched the horses and pulled his carriage through the streets shouting ‘Vive Bonaparte!’.

8 October: France and Russia officially concluded peace in Paris. In exchange for turning a blind eye to the Piedmont question, Russia kept protectorate over the Ionian islands and a garrison on Corfu.

1802, January – March

25 January: Bonaparte elected President of the Repubblica Italiana, the new title for the Repubblica Cisalpina due to come into force 26 January. Francesco Melzi d’Eril was appointed vice-president.

6 February: Having left Brest on 14 December 1801, and having landed on Santo Domingo on 29 January, 1802, general Victoire-Emmanuel Leclerc (1772-1802) launched his first attack on Toussaint-Louverture.

25 March: Final peace signed in Amiens by Joseph Bonaparte and Lord Cornwallis. Signing for Spain and and the Batavian Republic were Azzara and Schimmelpenninck respectively. In addition to the previous possession, the Batavian Republic was to keep the Cape of Good Hope. Britain promised to evacuate Porto Ferraio (Elba) and Malta (but the plan to ensure its independence were shelved; under the tutelage of Naples (a British ally), Malta  remained under British influence. According to article 8, he ‘the territories, possessions and rights of the Sublime Porte (Turkey) were to remain intact – the implication being that Britain would be forced to abandon Egypt.

As for Spain, Minorca was returned but Trinidad remained British.

In return France was to evacuate the Two Sicilies, Portugal, Egypt and the Roman States, no mention being made of Belgium and the left bank of the Rhine, the gains enshrined in the Treaty of Lunéville, or of the changes undergone in Italy.

1802, May – June

1-6 May: Toussaint-Louverture, beaten, began negotiating his capture.

8 May: The Sénat voted for a ten year prolungation of Bonaparte’s office: Bonaparte sidestepped this called for a plebiscite (referendum).

10 May: Extraordinary meeting of the Conseil d’Etat to organise the Plebiscite (referendum), with the question: “Should Napoleon Bonaparte be made Consul for life?”. Two days later, the Tribunate voted unanimously (all that is apart from Carnot) for the Life Consulship for Napoleon Bonaparte, as did the Corps législatif, also majority voting in favour (apart from three votes). The plebiscite was organised to finish on 1 June, and the results were announced at the beginning of August: 3,568,885 citizens voted for, 8,374 voted against. Napoleon was pronounced Consul for life by the Sénat.

25 June: France concluded peace with the Sublime Porte (Turkey) in Paris

After 10 years of war, France was finally at peace. As Talleyrand put it (Mémoires, Paris: Jean De Bonnot, 1967, vol. 1, p. 286): “It can be said without the slightest exaggeration that at the time of the peace of Amiens, France enjoyed such power, glory and influence abroad that even the most ambitious mind could not have wanted anything more for his country. And what rendered this situation even more wonderful was the rapidity with which this thing had happened. In less than two and a half years that is from 18 Brumaire (9 November, 1799) to 25 March, 1802, the date of the Peace of Amiens, France passed from the debasement into which the Directory had plunged her, to the foremost rank in Europe.”

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