Declaration of Pillnitz

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The meeting at Pillnitz Castle in 1791. Oil painting by J. H. Schmidt, 1791.

Declaration of Pillnitz was a statement issued on 27 August 1791 at Pillnitz Castle near Dresden (Saxony) by the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II and Frederick William II of Prussia. It declared the joint support of the Holy Roman Empire and of Prussia for King Louis XVI of France against the French Revolution.

Calling on European powers to intervene if Louis was threatened, this declaration was intended to serve as a warning to the French revolutionaries not to infringe further on the king's prerogatives and to permit his resumption of power.[1] The statement contributed to the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars. (The Pillnitz Conference itself dealt mainly with the Polish Question and the war of Austria against the Ottoman Empire.)

The declaration stated that Austria would go to war if and only if all the other major European powers also went to war with France. Leopold chose this wording so that he would not be forced to go to war; he knew William Pitt, prime minister of Great Britain, did not support war with France. Leopold merely issued the declaration to satisfy the French emigres who had taken refuge in his country and were calling for foreign interference in their homeland.

The National Assembly of France interpreted the declaration to mean that Leopold was going to declare war; radical Frenchmen who called for war, such as Jacques Pierre Brissot, used it as a pretext to gain influence and declare war on 20 April 1792, leading to the campaigns of 1792 in the French Revolutionary Wars.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Karl Otmar von Aretin: Vom Deutschen Reich zum Deutschen Bund. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993, ISBN 978-3-525-33583-3, p. 24. (German)

External links[edit]

Media related to Declaration of Pillnitz at Wikimedia Commons