The Peninsular War and Napoleons Downfall

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Transcript The Peninsular War and Napoleons Downfall

The Peninsular War and
Napoleons Downfall
Something to Ponder…
Why is it so hard to hold an Empire
Why do all Empires end? Are there any
Empires today?
The Peninsular War (1808-1813)
The Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal)
was becoming trouble for Napoleon
Gov’t of Spain led by King Charles IV
Napoleon and the incompetent Charles
reached an agreement that permitted French
troops to pass through his kingdom to
conquer Portugal, Britain’s ally.
A French army marched on Lisbon, and the
Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil
Napoleon kept sending more and more troops
into Spain
A popular insurrection against Charles IV led
to him abdicating his throne, and his son
Ferdinand VII inherited the throne
Napoleon then forced Ferdinand to also
abdicate and he made his older brother Joseph
Bonaparte the King of Spain
Guerrilla Warfare
Napoleon did not count on the resistance
of the Spanish and Portuguese people
 Ecclesiastical reforms imposed by Joseph
and Napoleon were not well received, for
the church was still a powerful force in
Spanish life
◦ Reduction of monastic convents
◦ Abolition of the Inquisition
Napoleon found some allies among the
urban middle class, but the Spanish nobility
joined their old allies, the clergy, in
opposition to the invaders
Local councils organized quick attacks on
the French forces, which were easy targets
for the small mobile groups of Spanish
guerrillas, who attacked then quickly
disappeared in the Spanish landscape, made
it unsafe for French troops to move around
Napoleon is not invincible “Spanish
Napoleon was forced to send fresh troops
from Central Europe, victory for Napoleon
in Spain seemed ever more distant
British troops arrived to help the Spanish
and Portuguese fight the French
By 1810, about 350,000 French troops were
tied up in the Iberian Peninsula
Fighting for “Church and King” Spaniards
sustained what arguably was the first
successful guerrilla war in Modern Europe.
Napoleon’s “Spanish Ulcer” bled France
The Russian Invasion and the
Empire’s Decline
Austria was preparing for war by the end of
 Also Russia (now an ally of France) and
Germany were becoming unhappy with
 War with Austria resembled earlier wars
◦ Napoleon was quick and precise, gained territory
and money
◦ The Austrians were slow, fumbling and begging
for peace
◦ April 2, 1810, Napoleon married Marie Louise,
daughter of Austrian Emperor
Napoleon worked to preserve the
continental system and plug and loopholes,
but the system was making French rule
unbearable over much of Europe
 Napoleon misunderstood British wealth
◦ Britain needed food, because industrial cities
covered much land
◦ Napoleon allowed food to be shipped to
◦ If he had not allowed this, surrender would
have been almost certain
The Czar, Nicholas I refused to close his
ports to British and neutral ships carrying
English goods
Napoleon believed he could enforce the
continental blockade by defeating Russia
June 28, 1812, Napoleons “Grand Army”
over 600,000 strong, crossed into Russia
Napoleon hoped to lure the Russian armies
into battle. The Russians, however, simply
retreated, drawing Napoleon ever farther
into Western Russia
Not so “Grand”
While 600,000 troops was a lot, they
weren’t all the highest quality
 Some of Napoleons finest troops were
dodging guerrilla attacks in Spain
 Half of the Grand Army consisted of Russian,
Italia, Austrian, Swiss, or Dutch conscripts
(who did not know how to handle a horse,
or a weapon)
 Napoleon was almost constantly at war,
there was never a chance to rebuild it to
Napoleon’s satisfaction
Russia is a pretty big place
In Russia, disease, heat, and hunger took a
far greater toll on Napoleon’s army during
those first few months then the Russian
army did
 The Grand army reached the city of
Smolensk, 200 miles west of Moscow, in
the middle of August, where the Emperor
planned on forcing the Czar to sign a
humiliating treaty
Just keep backing up
The Russians retreated again, and
Napoleons marshals begged him to wait
in Smolensk, but he was too tempted by
the possibility of capturing Moscow
 The French advanced to reach Borodino,
sixty miles from Moscow where the
Russians were waiting and the two sides
fought in the bloodiest battle of the
Napoleonic era, 68,000 were killed or
wounded, before the Russian continued
to retreat
Moscow: Capturing the Capital
means winning right?
September 14, 1812, Napoleon enters
Moscow and he found it virtually deserted
and burning to the ground
There was no enemy left to fight there, now
anywhere else in the region. The Czar and
his armies had fled to the east
Over 1500 miles from Paris, without
sufficient provisions, and with the early signs
of the approaching Russian winter already
apparent, Napoleon decided to march his
once Grand Army back to France
The retreat, which began October 19, was a
Russian troops picked off hundreds of the
retreating forces, forcing them to take a
longer route home
The freezing winter finished off most of what
was left of Napoleon’s Grand Army
Of the more than 600,000 men who had set
out in June, only about 40,000 returned
Undaunted Napoleon demanded a new levy of
350,000 troops, which was greeted with
massive resentment and resistance. Napoleon
planned new campaigns and further expansion
Napoleon reached Moscow
The Defeat of Napoleon
Napoleon throughout 1813, had to deal with
a crumbling empire
 Most new conscripts were under 20 and ill
prepared for battle
 Had very little money
 Napoleon’s enemies found new strength
 October 1813, Napoleon suffers defeat at
 Bavaria, Holland and Naples reverse their
After encountering tough resistance
(Napoleon wins 10 battles in 20 days) the
Allied forces (Russia, Prussia, Britain,
Germany) march into Paris triumphantly
 April 1, 1814, After a failed suicide attempt,
Napoleon abdicated his seat as Emperor
 April 11, 1814, a treaty is signed with the
 April 28, 1814, Napoleon is exiled to the
island of Elba