Anglo-Russian occupation of Naples

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The Anglo-Russian occupation of Naples was the stationing of British and Russian forces in the Kingdom of Naples from the summer of 1805 until January 1806 during the War of the Third Coalition.[1]

Background[edit]

A previous cooperation in July 1799 between British admiral Horatio Nelson and Russian admiral Ushakov led to the reconquest of Naples and suppression of the pro-French revolutionary Parthenopaean Republic. The war ended with the Treaty of Florence (28 March 1801), in which Naples had to do various concessions to France, including closing its ports to all Ottoman and British ships, giving France preferential treatment in trade, and allowing French garrisons in the Apulian trading ports of Pescara, Brindisi and Otranto and the province of Terra d'Otranto on Neapolitan costs.

For his upcoming confrontation with Austria and Russia in Central Europe in autumn 1805, French Emperor Napoleon sought to secure his southern flank. He was willing to abandon the French-occupied coastal cities in Apulia to Naples in exchange for Neapolitan neutrality in the war ahead. King Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily agreed and signed a treaty with Napoleon.

Course[edit]

However, after receiving the Apulian cities, Ferdinand soon went back on his promise and allied himself with France's enemies Britain and Russia, which landed troops in Naples with his permission to guard against a possible French invasion and plan an attack on the Napoleonic states in central and northern Italy.[2] The British commander was general James Henry Craig, who had ill health at the time and had 7,000 troops,[3] while the Russian forces were led by Maurice Lacy and Roman Anrep. The combined army was too weak and poorly equipped to withstand any serious French attack.[1]

When the combined Austro–Russian Army was dealt a severe blow by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805, 30,000 French troops were freed up for a campaign against Naples.[3] Tsar Alexander I of Russia ordered his troops to withdraw from southern Italy to Corfu,[1] which they did after Lacy received the tsar's dispatch on 7 January 1806.[3] Meanwhile, Craig was awaiting orders from Lord Castlereagh; he wrote on 30 December that he received his most recent instructions on 16 October.[3] Against the wishes of ambassador Hugh Elliot, who warned evacuation would provoke the French to attack, Craig had the vastly outnumbered British troops depart Naples and set sail for the island of Sicily on 10 January 1806, ending the Anglo-Russian occupation and leaving the Neapolitan army to defend the kingdom on its own.[3] The British fleet reached Messina on 22 January and the soldiers disembarked.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

After Austerlitz, Napoleon rallied his forces to punish Ferdinand's treason and take possession of all of southern Italy. French troops invaded and conquered the kingdom from 8 February to 18 July 1806.

Further reading[edit]

  • William Henry Flayhart III, Counterpoint to Trafalgar: The Anglo-Russian Invasion of Naples, 1805–1806. (1992). Pp. xi, 198. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.
  • Piers Mackesy, The War in the Mediterranean, 1803-1810 (1957).

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Saul, Norman E. (1 April 1994). "Counterpoint to Trafalgar: The Anglo-Russian Invasion of Naples, 1805–1806 (review)". The American Historical Review. University of Chicago Press. 99 (2): 545–546. doi:10.1086/ahr/99.2.545.
  2. ^ Paoletti, Ciro (2008). A Military History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 77–78. ISBN 9780275985059. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Rosenberg, Chaim M. (2017). Losing America, Conquering India: Lord Cornwallis and the Remaking of the British Empire. McFarland. p. 168. ISBN 9781476668123. Retrieved 18 October 2018.