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The Napoleonic Wars

In 1799, Napoleon came to power in France, ending the revolutionary era and creating a dictatorship (crowning himself Emperor in 1804). After he had triumphed on the European continent against the major European powers, Napoleon contemplated an invasion of the British mainland, but was dissuaded by an Austrian attack over its Bavarian allies.

In response Napoleon established a continental system by which no nation was permitted to trade with the British. Napoleon hoped the embargo would isolate the British Isles severely weakening them, but a number of countries continued to trade with them in defiance of the policy. In spite of this the Napoleonic influence stretched across much of Europe.

In 1808 French forces invaded Portugal trying to attempt to halt trade with Great Britain, turning Spain into a satellite state in the process The British responded by dispatching a force under Sir Arthur Wellesley which captured Lisbon Napoleon dispatched increasing forces into the Iberian Peninsular, which became the key battleground between the two nations. Allied with Spanish and Portuguese forces, the British inflicted a number of defeats on the French during the Peninsular War which led Napoleon to brand it the "Spanish Ulcer". Allied to an increasingly resurgent European coalition, the British invaded southern France forcing Napoleon to abdicate and go into exile on Elba in 1814

The Allied victory at the Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the Napoleonic Era. Though the last war fought between the two states, the rivalry continued throughout the nineteenth century.

After escaping and briefly threatening to restore the French Empire, Napoleon was defeated by a combined Anglo-German-Dutch force at Battle of Waterloo. With strong British support, the Bourbon monarchy was restored and Louis XVIII was crowned King. The Napoleonic era was the last occasion on which Britain and France went to war with each other, but by no means marked the end of the rivalry between the two nations. Despite his final defeat, Napoleon continues to be regarded as a national hero figure in France for his numerous victories over coalised monarchies.

Early 19th century

The Duke of Wellington was a major influence British politics following the Congress of Vienna. He advocated support for a restored Bourbon monarchy in France.

Despite having entered the Napoleonic era regarded by many as a spent force, Britain had emerged from the 1815 Congress of Vienna as one of the leading financial, military and cultural powers of the world. France also recovered from the defeat at Waterloo to quickly retake its position on the world stage.

Despite their historic enmity, the British and French eventually became strained political allies, as both began to turn their attentions to acquiring new territories beyond Europe. The British developed India and Canada and settled Australia, spreading their powers to several different continents as the Second British Empire.



They frequently made stereotypical jokes about each other, and even side by side in war were critical of each other's tactics. According to one story, Chauvin once said to Lord Palmerston 'If I were not French, I would wish to be English', to which Lord Palmerston replied, 'If I were not English, I would wish to be English.' According to another, upon seeing the disastrous British Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War against Russia, French marshal Pierre Bosquet said 'C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre.' ('It's magnificent, but it's not war.') Eventually, relations settled down as the two empires tried to consolidate themselves rather than extend themselves.


Date: 2016-03-03; view: 186


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