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The Amiens Truce: Britain and Bonaparte 1801 - 1803

The Amiens Truce: Britain and Bonaparte 1801 - 1803

John D. Grainger
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    The Amiens Truce: Britain and Bonaparte 1801 - 1803
    Book Description:

    In 1801 Britain and Bonaparte made an armistice, which became the Treaty of Amiens in March 1802. In the brief period of peace which followed, British attitudes underwent a major change, so that when war began again in May 1803 there was little or no dissent from the view that the war had to be fought to a finish and Bonaparte's power destroyed. This was partly the result of Bonaparte's underhand methods during negotiations; but it was also due to the conclusion reached by the many British visitors to France during the interval of peace that Bonaparte was extremely dangerous, anger at his stealthy political advances in Europe and America, and outrage at his detention and imprisonment of British civilians when war began again. The attitude of the British government headed by Henry Addington, and in particular the diplomatic methods of the Foreign Secretary Lord Hawkesbury (later the Prime Minister Lord Liverpool) were decisive in countering Bonaparte's methods; they receive their due in this first detailed examination of events, based on original materials.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-225-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)

    The short peace between Britain and France in 1802–1803 is usually treated only briefly, and even cavalierly, as a minor episode interrupting a long war. Blame is usually cast on the government of Henry Addington for making the peace, and then also for allowing it to end. Addington gets a poor press from historians, in thrall as they are to the greater esteem of William Pitt and Lord Grenville. Grenville’s obdurately anti-French policy is generally seen to have been the ‘correct’ policy, which eventually, in the hands of Castlereagh and Lord Liverpool, prevailed, even though it had clearly failed...

  5. PROLOGUE: The emergence of the first consul
    (pp. 1-6)

    Making peace between Britain and France after the French Revolution was a task of difficulty and great complexity. Neither side was willing to abandon its war aims; both sides seized on momentary successes to derail any negotiations which were under way. The Peace Treaty which was finally concluded at Amiens in March 1802 was the result of a full year of negotiations, and they had also been preceded by intermittent discussions spread over the previous five years. Furthermore, the resulting treaty ensured peace for no more than fourteen months: even at the time it was often regarded as no more...

  6. 1 NEGOTIATION: The tortuous route to a preliminary peace
    (pp. 7-48)

    The alliance between Britain and Austria agreed in Vienna on 20 June, in the aftermath of the Austrian defeat at Marengo, included two terms which were crucial to the next events: the grant of a subsidy to Austria, and a reciprocal agreement by Austria not to make a separate peace with France.¹ The armistice which Bonaparte had agreed with General Melas, the Austrian commander in Italy, on the day after Marengo was therefore to be only temporary. He followed it up with a peace offer, and then with an armistice in Germany, which was followed in turn by a peace...

  7. 2 PACIFICATION: The slow journey to a treaty
    (pp. 49-80)

    The agreement on the Peace Preliminaries was not the end of the Anglo-French negotiations; itwasthe end, however, of any active fighting. For the next six months further negotiations would continue, slowly and painfully, with the object of converting the preliminary agreement into a fully definitive Treaty of Peace. Meanwhile, the end of the active war did mean that, for the first time since 1793, it was possible to travel relatively freely between Britain and France, and a substantial number of people did so, in both directions, though it seems that, for the moment, more British visited France than...

  8. 3 PEACE
    (pp. 81-124)

    The transition from war to peace had been curiously uneven, mediated as it had been by the long negotiations to convert the Preliminaries of October 1801 to the definitive Treaty of Amiens six months later. In the same way the succeeding period of peace, after March 1802, was as uncomfortable and confusing as the near-peace of the half-year preceding.

    As soon as the Preliminaries were announced some opportunists had headed across the Channel to France, but the main flow of visitors came after the final treaty. The conclusion of the definitive Treaty of Peace, in fact, came as something of...

  9. 4 ARGUMENTATION: The steady unravelling of peace
    (pp. 125-153)

    On 17 October 1802 Lord Hobart wrote to Major-General Villettes in Malta, to the Governor-General in India, Marquess Wellesley, and to Major-General Francis Dundas, the acting governor of the Cape of Good Hope, instructing all three men that the process of restoring thestatus quo ante bellumin Malta, at the Cape, and in the French Indian posts should be suspended.¹ Until then the British government’s policy had been, albeit lethargically, to implement the peace terms agreed at Amiens, an attitude reciprocated by the French, who operated with equal lethargy. But in September and October 1802 it seemed to the...

  10. 5 COLLISION: The descent into crisis
    (pp. 154-177)

    At the beginning of 1803 the British political situation had remained fragmented. The general election of the previous year had made little or no difference, though one politician noted that the new House of Commons was ‘more loose and unsettled’ than before;¹ perhaps this was due to the relaxation of the pressures of war. The government of Henry Addington still commanded a firm majority in Parliament, but there was a disturbing number of prominent political figures who were outside the government. Indeed, it was common for it to be remarked that all the talent in the House was on the...

  11. 6 WAR AGAIN
    (pp. 178-209)

    The war scare of early March 1803 was a diplomatic matter in the main and it faded away, as diplomatic contretemps do, but the sharpness of the exchange between Bonaparte and Whitworth in the public audience of 13 March was soon public knowledge, and the British partial mobilisation made it clear to all that something unusually serious was now involved. Most people outside the diplomatic arena, however, seem to have been confused rather than alarmed. Bertie Greatheed noted in his diary on 24 March that ‘the rumours of war [are] rather abating’, but two days later he thought that they...

    (pp. 210-211)

    The peace made between Britain and France, first by the preliminary agreement in London in October 1801 and then by the final treaty at Amiens in March 1802, was regarded by both sides, in George III’s all too accurate description, as ‘experimental’. But in this case the experiment was regarded as having a different purpose by the two participants. For the British government the experiment was in living alongside a swollen French Republic controlled by a charismatic military dictator; for the military dictator the experiment was in expanding his power in times of peace rather than by conquest. Bonaparte thus...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 212-222)