Russia’s Western Border 1809–1914


Map Code: Ax00774

Russia emerged from the Napoleonic Wars as the most powerful terrestrial power in Europe. In 1807, by switching sides to support Napoleon, they had obtained Bialystok at the Treaty of Tilsit, and then Tarnopol by the Treaty of Schonbrunn in 1809. When Napoleon then turned on Russia, his Grande Armée was all but annihilated by ‘General Winter’. At the Congress of Vienna (1815) following Napoleon’s eventual defeat, the other victorious powers were determined to contain Russia. Tsar Alexander I was permitted to become king of Poland, but separately to his rule of Russia. Cracow and Danzig were retained respectively by Austria-Hungary and Prussia, which also gained Poznan. In between these acquisitions, Russia had found time to wage war with the Ottoman Empire (1806–12). By the subsequent Treaty of Bucharest, it obtained Bessarabia; together with its annexation of Finland from Sweden (1809), this would establish Russia’s western frontier until 1914.

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