Talk:Napoleonic Wars

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No Ottoman Empire?[edit]

Shouldn't Ottoman Empire be in infobox? It clearly says 'The Second Coalition was formed in 1798 by Austria, Great Britain, the Kingdom of Naples, the Ottoman Empire, the Papal States, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and other states. ' elmasmelih 21:00, 30 August 2014 (UTC)

The Ottoman Empire was removed from the infobox without explanation in February. I just noticed this, so I have put the Ottoman Empire back in the infobox. King Philip V of Spain (talk) 17:54, 26 November 2014 (UTC)

Challenge to new 'prelude' section[edit]

User:CJK has added the following prelude section, with citations to primary sources from 1803. The Wikipedia rules require it be based on reliable secondary sources, of which there are many for this important development. The proposed text itself is flawed, because it does not explain the decision-making process of the British leadership In the start of the war. It focuses on 1803 and the breakdown of the Treaty of Amiens But does not say why Britain wanted to go to war in the first place. Indeed you seem to suggest that it war was primarily designed to cover the embarrassment of the Addington administration about a incorrect announcement. A much better explanation is available in Schroeder, The transformation of European politics 1763-1848 pp 231ff, which blames Napoleon primarily for the breakdown of Amiens. Rjensen (talk) 15:38, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

prelude[edit]

Britain was irritated by a number of French actions following the Treaty of Amiens. Bonaparte had annexed Piedmont and Elba, made himself President of the Italian Republic, a state in northern Italy that France had set up, and failed to evacuate Holland. France continued to interfere with British trade despite peace having been made and complained about Britain harboring certain individuals and not cracking down on their anti-French press.[1]:220–239

Malta had been occupied by Britain during the war and had been subject to a complex arrangement in the 10th article of the Treaty of Amiens where it was to be restored to the Knights of St. John with a Neapolitan garrison and placed under the guarantee of third powers. However, the weakening of the Knights of St. John by the confiscation of their assets in France and Spain along with delays in obtaining guarantees prevented the British from evacuating it after three months as stipulated in the treaty.[1]:239-247

The Helvetian Republic had been set up by France when they invaded Switzerland in 1798. France had withdrawn its troops, but violent strife subsequently broke out against the government, which many Swiss saw as overly centralized. Alarmed, Bonaparte reoccupied the country in October 1802 and imposed a compromise settlement. This action caused widespread outrage in Britain, who protested this as violation of the Treaty of Luneville. Although continental powers were unprepared to act, the British decided to send an agent who would help the Swiss obtain supplies, and also sent orders for their military not to return Cape Colony to Holland as they had committed to do so in the Treaty of Amiens.[1]:248-252

Swiss resistance collapsed, however, before anything could be accomplished and after a month Britain countermanded the orders not to restore Cape Colony. At the same time Russia finally joined the guarantee with regards to Malta. Concerned that there would be hostilities when Bonaparte found out that Cape Colony had been retained, the British began to deliberately procrastinate on the evacuation of Malta.[1]:252-258 In January 1803 an official government paper in France published a report from a commercial agent which noted the ease that Egypt could be conquered. The British seized on this to demand some sort of satisfaction and security before evacuating Malta. France disclaimed any desire to seize Egypt and asked what sort of satisfaction was required but the British were unable to give a response.[1]:258-264 There was still no thought of going to war, Prime Minister Addington publicly affirmed Britain was in a state of profound peace.[1]:265

In early March 1803 the Addington ministry received word that Cape Colony had been re-occupied by the British army in accordance with the orders which had subsequently been countermanded. On 8 March they ordered military preparations to guard against possible French retaliation, but publicly justified them by falsely claiming that France was making military preparations and that they were engaged in negotiations with France that had taken a turn for the worse. In a few days it was known that Cape Colony had been surrendered in accordance with the counter-orders, but it was too late. Bonaparte berated the British ambassador in front of 200 spectators over its unjustified military preparations.[1]:264-268

The Addington ministry realized they would face an inquiry over their false reasons for the military preparations, and during the month of April unsuccessfully attempted to secure the support of William Pitt the Younger to shield them from inquiry.[1]:277 That same month the ministry issued an ultimatum to France demanding the retention of Malta for at least ten years and the evacuation of Holland and Switzerland. France offered to place Malta in the hands of Russia to satisfy any British concerns and to evacuate Holland when Malta was evacuated. The British falsely claimed that Russia had not made such an offer and declared war on France when their demands were rejected.[1]:268-273 The Addington ministry was intent on retaining Malta or going to war because it would give them enough popularity to get them through an inquiry into their misconduct.[1]:278

Commentary[edit]

The Wikipedia rules require it be based on reliable secondary sources
The Annual Register is not a primary source.
The proposed text itself is flawed, because it does not explain the decision-making process of the British leadership In the start of the war.
I believe it clearly explains that.
Indeed you seem to suggest that it war was primarily designed to cover the embarrassment of the Addington administration about a incorrect announcement.
Not me, its the annual register, which if you read it is actually ludicrously pro-British.
A much better explanation is available
If you have an alternative account to these event, you are free to present them at any time. Its absurd that all this time there hasn't been any statements as to the concrete events which caused the war.
CJK (talk) 16:00, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Two centuries of historiography has displaced the Annual register as a major secondary source. The Annual Register had no access to critical records from France and other countries, nor to the private papers of British statesman. And of course it was totally unaware of what happened after 1803, and of hundreds of scholarly articles and books that deal with the topic. I did add a new section that explains the British motivation in ending the Amiens agreement, based on recent scholarship. Rjensen (talk) 17:09, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

There are no time limits that I am aware of on sources. The annual register is certainly reliably for detailing the specific events which preceded the war, which you have failed to cover. Nobody doubts that Britain was upset by French actions, I in fact noted that in my edit. But that was not an immediate cause of the war. Before March 1803 Britain had made no demands on France, it was only after the Capes fiasco that they did so. And even then they explicitly said they were willing to recognize French influence in Italy on certain conditions, so that certainly cannot be said to have caused the war. The only real issue was the retention of Malta, this is acknowledged by the extremely pro-British Annual Register.

CJK (talk) 17:22, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

The Annual Register is no longer used for this.-- It is unknown even who the author was, but he certainly had an overwhelming predisposition for exaggerations and British flag-waving. [E.g. on page 240 Ann Reg tells of a petition from residents in Malta, calling it “This manly and spirited remonstrance, with which every British heart must beat in unison”] we agree "it is actually ludicrously pro-British." That certainly weakens the case for using it as the exclusive source! The anonymous author was no scholar, and did not use the critical sources, such as private letters by the British, French, Russian, and other diplomats and politicians. His speculations about Addington's motivations are not accepted by Addington specialists like biographer Philip Ziegler (The anonymous author never read any of Addington's or Pitt's letters). Yet no access to any French materials, such as Napoleon's correspondence. No modern historian cites him, So why should we Pretend he is"reliable." Rjensen (talk) 17:54, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Anyone looking for good scholarly sources should try these: 1) John D. Grainger, Amiens Truce: Britain & Bonaparte, 1801-1803 (2004) has a well-balanced analysis of both sides; 2) Arthur Bryant, Years of victory: 1802-1812 (1944), pp 1-52, although older, is a well-regarded interpretation from the British perspective 3) Frederick Kagan, The End of the Old Order: Napoleon and Europe, 1801-1805 (2007) pp 1-50 stresses Napoleon's initiatives. 4) Paul Schroeder, The Transformation of European politics 1763-1848 (1994) pp 231-45 is highly analytical and hostile to Napoleon. Rjensen (talk) 17:58, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

I again reiterate that the Annual Register is still suitable for narrating the specific events that immediately preceded the war as opposed to any possible long-term or structural causes. They had access to the diplomatic correspondence at the time. The fact that it is extremely pro-British makes it equally extremely unlikely they would falsely accuse the Addington administration of causing the war. The fact is that Britain suddenly demanded the retention of Malta, and discarded viable counter-proposals from France. It only appears reasonable to assume that some ulterior motive was going on, and considering they had not made this demand before the logical explanation is that it was done for political reasons. The Annual Register gives abundant details to sustain their point of view.

CJK (talk) 18:22, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

As a compromise, I'm willing to state that part is merely the Register's opinion.

CJK (talk) 15:00, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Anti-French bias[edit]

The statement that historians agree that Napoleon "did not know when to stop" is simply too biased to be used in an encyclopedia article. We don't even say that about Hitler. I also removed the statement about the continental powers being willing to give him all his gains, because it is untrue. I inserted evidence of the peace negotiations of 1806 (the only serious negotiations conducted), where it appears that the British wanted Hanover back without conditions. So it isn't true that they were willing to grant him all his conquests.

CJK (talk) 22:31, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

The revised text says "most" of his conquests. I think Hanover is a pretty small piece of land that Britain wanted because of the dignity of its sovereign King. Rjensen (talk) 04:07, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
It's not that it's too biased, it's that it's so crass and childish it's beneath the dignity of even Wikipedia. I've actually read the work that Rjensen is citing; I can safely regard it as one of the most intellectually dishonest works ever done on Napoleon or the Napoleonic Wars, and public reviews of the book back me up. I oppose using both the source and the author, who obviously has a vitriolic hatred for Napoleon.UBER (talk) 03:45, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
"crass and childish" -- I suppose you are referring to Napoleon. The citations are two leading scholars of Napoleon and of strategy; you should read what they say a little more carefully. I can safely say that you seem to be unaware that many scholars are quite hostile to Napoleon. -- But that is beside the point: the point is Wikipedia requires serious scholarly views to be presented, whether some editor personally dislikes them or not. If you think the analysis is incorrect, it should be easy to cite a couple recent scholars who reject the notion that Napoleon did not know when to stop. Rjensen (talk) 04:06, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
The exact phrase that Napoleon "did not know when to stop" has been endorsed by many historians. Here is clear evidence: 1) Charles Esdaile, Napoleon's Wars: An International History 1803-1815 (Penduin, 2008), p 39; 2) Colin S. Gray (2007). War, Peace and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History. Routledge. p. 47. ; 3) Robin Neillands (2003). Wellington & Napoleon: Clash of Arms. Pen and Sword. p. 22. ; 4) Alistair Horne in Robert Cowley, ed. (2000). What If?: The World's Foremost Historians Imagine What Might Have Been. Penguin. p. 161. ; 5) Steve Chan (2013). Looking for Balance: China, the United States, and Power Balancing in East Asia. Stanford UP. p. 55. ; 6) Martin Malia (2008). History's Locomotives: Revolutions and the Making of the Modern World. Yale UP. p. 205.  Now let's see your sources please. Rjensen (talk) 04:20, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
To call Charles Esdaile a "serious scholar" of Napoleon is to implicitly admit ignorance on actually serious Napoleonic scholars. I hate to cite Andrew Roberts, since he has turned into the guardian angel of all the rainbows and roses about Napoleon, but one of the first things he clarifies in his recent biography is that Napoleon's foreign policy was frequently responsive. Very rarely was he aggressive. Whether you agree with this or not is irrelevant; the point is that this biography by Roberts has rapidly become one of the most popular, best-reviewed works on the subject ever written. Historical scholarship changes; right now this is the biography on Napoleon that has set the tone.
Jean Tulard, Alistair Horne, John Elting, Robert Asprey, Martyn Lyons...just a few examples of reputable scholars on Napoleon and his era.UBER (talk) 04:30, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
The solution is to quote them rather than erase scholars you disagree with. Roberts indeed says that Napoleon was rarely aggressive, but that is not the point. The point is he could have stopped in 1808 and kept most of his gains. Robert says he invaded Russia in 1812 to protect his own "honour" or prestige. (p 567) to "Compromise his empire" (p 563) but Roberts says, "He obviously did not realize that he would be risking honour, prestige, and his throne itself over two Polish districts and the so far non-existent integrity of the Grant Duchy of Warsaw." (p 567) In other words, Napoleon did not know when to stop. Rjensen (talk) 04:51, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Tulard agrees that Napoleon did not know when to stop. "What war had its limits: the natural frontiers of France. By his endless conquest of Italy and Germany, Napoleon must have been building up resentments and Europe. France must finally succumb to a general coalition of her enemies." [Tulard, Napoleon: the myth of the Savior p 351. Rjensen (talk) 04:54, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
UberCryxic recommends Tulard and Alistair Horne as eminent scholars he respects. Ok, Tulard says Napoleon should have stopped and so does Alistair Horne. He says that Napoleon could and should have stopped at Tilsit, He asks, “could Napoleon now stop? Aboard the raft on the Nieman he had the option. It was his best chance to halt and consolidate his achievements. Perhaps he could have been satisfied merely with being king of Italy and uniting its disunited states…. Talleyrand…. saw Tilsit, which left France no real friends in Europe, as perpetuating that war. He was right." citation to Horne Rjensen (talk) 05:14, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Uber Recommends John Elting, but he seems to concern himself almost entirely with military affairs. Uber also recommends Robert Asprey. He takes up the question of why after Tilsit Napoleon did not turn his attention to rebuilding France. He answers: "One was lack of money, another Napoleon's ego and ambitions greatly enlarged by the last campaign and the treaty of Tilsit....Napoleon failed to realize that he had guaranteed himself perpetual conflict by his insistence on expanding the blockade to neutral countries." -- that is Napoleon's ego and ambitions did him in & guaranteed him perpetual conflict. Robert Asprey (2008). The Reign Of Napoleon Bonaparte. Basic Books. pp. 76–77.  Is that close enough to not knowing when to stop? Rjensen (talk) 05:31, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Simply saying "he didn't know when to stop" with no context is a simplistic way to deal with a complex issue. The fact of the matter is he couldn't "stop" the war unless the British made peace, which they only attempted to do once in 1806. The British wanted both to retain their overseas conquests and get Hanover back, which Napoleon thought was unfair. Hence it is misleading to simply assert they were willing to give him most of his gains.

CJK (talk) 13:59, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

the text says "The Continental powers as late as 1808 were willing to give him most of his remarkable gains and titles". Britain was the odd man out in that regard; Austria, Prussia, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, etc are the Continental powers. Rjensen (talk) 17:34, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

But its silly to say "he should have stopped" while ignoring that he needed to bring the British to terms.

CJK (talk) 18:16, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

Things keep changing so fast around here I hardly remember what we're even arguing about. I should note that Rjensen's current version of the material is substantially different from his original version, to the point where I'm more or less ok with it. I have several complaints over the way he selectively interprets a lot of the works and biographies he's citing, but these are more methodological gripes rather than differences over Wikipedia content.UBER (talk) 21:12, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
CJK says "But its silly to say 'he should have stopped' while ignoring that he needed to bring the British to terms." It is not silly. He should have stopped expanding and focused on consolidated his successes; I think every historian agrees that he made a major mistake by invading Spain and Russia. The historians I cited all believe he should have tried diplomacy after 1808. If he had done so, perhaps a few Bonapartes might still be on thrones in Europe. (For example, the current King of Sweden is a descendent of one of Napoleon's top marshals). Rjensen (talk) 21:55, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

notes[edit]

Commanders and leaders[edit]

This box really is way too crowded, perhaps we would be better served to just include the political leaders. For example, George III, William Pitt the Younger, Napoleon etc — Preceding unsigned comment added by Omnisome (talkcontribs) 18:04, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

Persia's role and in the article and on the map[edit]

Persia was firmly allied to France for several years following the Finkenstein treaty, and France was allied to Russia in the other years of the Napoleonic wars. Military diplomacy as part of the Napoleonic Wars subsequently commenced during the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) It would be nice if Qajar Persia's role, albeit minor, could be covered somewhere in the article as well as they largely led the front in the North and South Caucasus.

Also this map needs to be adjusted. If someone could do that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleonic_Wars#mediaviewer/File:NapoleonicWars.png

Regards - LouisAragon (talk) 16:23, 28 April 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Annual Register (1803)