Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly owing to the application of modern mass conscription. French power rose quickly as Napoleon's armies conquered much of Europe but collapsed rapidly after France's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. Napoleon's empire ultimately suffered complete military defeat resulting in the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France.

Despite a final victory against Napoleon, five of seven coalitions saw defeat at the hands of France. France beat the first and second coalition during the French Revolutionary Wars, and defeated the third (Victory of Austerlitz), the fourth (Victory de Jena, Eylau, Friedland) and fifth coalition (Victory of Wagram) under the leadership of Napoleon. These great victories gave the French Army a sense of invulnerability, especially when they approached Moscow. But after the retreat from Russia, in spite of incomplete victories, France was beaten by the sixth coalition at Leipzig and the seventh coalition at Waterloo.

The wars resulted in the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and sowed the seeds of nascent nationalism in Germany and Italy that would lead to the two nations' respective consolidations later in the century. Meanwhile, the global Spanish Empire began to unravel as French occupation of Spain weakened Spain's hold over its colonies, providing an opening for nationalist revolutions in Spanish America. As a direct result of the Napoleonic wars, the British Empire became the foremost world power for the next century, thus beginning Pax Britannica.

No consensus exists as to when the French Revolutionary Wars ended and the Napoleonic Wars began. An early candidate is 9 November 1799, when Bonaparte seized power in France with the coup of 18 Brumaire. 18 May 1803 is the most commonly used date, as this was when a renewed declaration of war between Britain and France (resulting from the collapse of the Treaty of Amiens), ended the only period of general peace in Europe between 1792 and 1814. The Napoleonic Wars ended following Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815 and the Second Treaty of Paris.

Read more about Napoleonic Wars:  Background 1789–1802, War Between Britain and France, 1803–1814, War of The Third Coalition 1805, War of The Fourth Coalition 1806–1807, War of The Fifth Coalition 1809, The Invasion of Russia 1812, War of The Sixth Coalition 1812–1814, Gunboat War 1807–1814, War of 1812, War of The Seventh Coalition 1815, Political Effects, Military Legacy, Last Veterans, In Fiction

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Famous quotes containing the word wars:

    Those wars are unjust which are undertaken without provocation. For only a war waged for revenge or defense can be just.
    Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 B.C.)