The Expansion of France and Prussia 1797


Map Code: Ax02383

Relations between the French Republic and its neighbouring monarchies had deteriorated since 1791. Prussia, in alliance with Austria, declared war on France in June 1792, invading a month later. Thereafter, the First Coalition, which loosely comprised Austria, Prussia, Spain, Holland, Sardinia and Britain, embarked on a series of intermittent invasions of France. Prussia and Austria attacked from the Austrian Netherlands and the Rhine, laying siege to Toulon in 1793. The French responded by forming the Committee of Public Safety in 1793, introducing conscription for those aged 18–25, and counterattacking. The French established the Batavian Republic in 1795, and the Prussians recognized French control of the Left Bank of the Rhine at the Peace of Basel (1795). In 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte – who was a rising to power in the French military – defeated the armies of Austria in a series of battles in northern Italy. Under terms agreed at the Treaty of Campo Formio (1797) the Holy Roman Empire ceded the Austrian Netherlands to France and northern Italy was turned into several French sister republics. At this point the First Coalition collapsed, leaving only Britain in opposition to French ambitions. Meanwhile, in eastern Europe, the Austrians, Prussians and Russians completed the last in a series of three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, resulting in its complete dissolution. The final partition followed a nationwide uprising in Poland in 1794, which was crushed by Russia and Prussia. In 1797 a treaty was signed by the three conquering powers, which divided Polish territory between them.

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