When in 1792 revolutionary France declared war on Habsburg Austria, the Holy Roman Empire’s days were numbered. Habsburg Austria’s emperor, Joseph II, was also the Holy Roman emperor. Prussia allied itself to Austria and a coalition of Britain, Spain, Portugal, Sardinia, Naples and Sicily. Although France was invaded on several sides, it conquered parts of the Holy Roman Empire. By 1795 and 1797, Prussia and Austria had capitulated territories to the French, including Antwerp and Brussels, western Germany (Confederation of the Rhine), northern Italy and the Batavian Republic. After a temporary peace, the French, under Napoleon Bonaparte, reignited hostilities with the Austrians in 1799. In 1801, defeated, the Austrians confirmed France’s earlier territorial gains and ceded further land. In 1805, the French again invaded Austria and successfully crushed combined Russian and Austrian forces, despite Austria’s entry into a new coalition with its original allies. This resulted in the ceding of more territories and the end of the empire.
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