Napoleonic Wars

1803–1815 wars involving the French Empire
(Redirected from Napoleonic War)

The Napoleonic Wars were fought during the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte over France. They started after the French Revolution ended, and Bonaparte became powerful in France in November 1799. War restarted between the United Kingdom and France in 1803 despite the Treaty of Amiens.

Napoleonic Wars

Battle of Waterloo
Date18 May 1803 – 20 November 1815 (1803-05-18 – 1815-11-20)
(12 years, 5 months and 4 weeks)
Result Coalition victory
Congress of Vienna
Full results
French Empire and allies:
French First Republic French Republic (1792–1804)
First French Empire French Empire (1804–1815)

Commanders and leaders
  • 900,000 Russian regulars, cossacks and militia at peak strength[20]
  • 750,000 British under arms in total
  • 250,000 British regulars and militia at peak strength[21]
  • 320,000 Prussian regulars and militia at peak strength[22]
  • Unknown numbers of Austrians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Swedish and other coalition members
  • 3,000,000 French under arms in total
  • 1,200,000 French regulars and militia at peak strength[23]
  • 680,000 French and allied regulars at peak strength[24]<
Casualties and losses
  • Italians: 120,000 killed or missing[25]
  • Spanish: more than 300,000 military deaths[25] — more than 586,000 killed[26]
  • Portuguese: up to 250,000 dead or missing[27]
  • British: 32,232 killed in action[28]
  • British: 279,574 killed by wounds, disease, accidents and other causes[28]
  • Russian: 289,000 killed in action[29]
  • Prussian: 134,000 killed in action[29]
  • Austrian: 550,220 killed in action (1792–1815)[29][30]<
  • 371,000 killed in action[31]
  • 800,000 killed by disease, wounds, accidents and other causes[32]
  • 600,000 civilians killed[32]
  • 65,000 French allies killed[32]
Total 3,707,000+ military and civilians killed
  1. 1805, 1809, 1813–1815
  2. 1804–1807, 1812–1815
  3. 1806–1807, 1813–1815
  4. 1808–1815
  5. 1800–1807, 1809–1815
  6. 1804–1809, 1812–1815
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 1807–1812
  8. 1806–1815
  9. 1809
  10. 1813–1815
  11. 1815
  12. 1806–1807, 1813–1814
  13. 1808–1813
  14. 1803–1808
  15. 1807–1814
  16. 1809–1813
  17. 1806–1809
  18. 1804–1807, 1812–1813
  19. 1810–1812
  20. 20.0 20.1 until the eve of the Battle of Leipzig, 1813
  21. until 1813
Napoléon Bonaparte

The wars changed European military systems. Cannons became lighter and moved faster. Armies were much larger but had better food and supplies and were very large and destructive, mainly because of compulsory conscription. The French became powerful very fast and conquered most of Europe but then lost quickly after the French invasion of Russia failed.

The Napoleonic Wars ended with the Second Treaty of Paris on 20 November 1815, just after the huge Battle of Waterloo, a large battle that the French lost. Napoleon was sent into exile, and the House of Bourbon ruled France again.

Some people call the time between 20 April 1792 and 20 November 1815 "the Great French War". On one side were the France, the Kingdom of Italy and others. On the other side were Great Britain, Prussia, Austria, Russia, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Sicily, and others.

1805-1812: Napoleon conquers Europe


On May 18, 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of the French at Notre-Dame de Paris. The following year, the Third Coalition started in response, but he crowned himself King of Italy. Austrian Emperor Franz I angrily declared war on him and began the War of the Third Coalition. The British destroyed the French Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar in October. In December, the Austrians and the Russians allied and fought the French at the Battle of Austerlitz. The Russo-Austrian army suffered a devastating defeat and had to sign a treaty with Napoleon.

In 1806, the War of the Fourth Coalition started. The Kingdom of Prussia declared war on France first but was crushed by Napoleon's troops at the Battle of Jena. Napoleon captured Berlin before the Russians could help. In 1807, Napoleon defeated the Russian army at the Battle of Friedland, which ended the Fourth Coalition.

In 1809, the War of the Fifth Coalition began with Austria declaring war on Napoleon. In the early phases of the war, the Austrians had the advantage of the war, but later the French captured Vienna and ended the Fifth Coalition. At the height of his power in 1810, Napoleon had controlled France, Spain, northern Italy, Germany and part of Russia.

In 1808, the Peninsular War began when Napoleon crowned his brother Joseph Bonaparte as King of Spain, and France fought British, Spanish, and Portuguese troops. In 1809, the Finnish War began between Russia and Sweden after Sweden and Portugal made peace with France. That led to the annexation of Finland by Russia and the decisive failure of Sweden. In 1811, France and Russia had disagreements again, and Napoleon allied with Prussia and Austria and invaded Russia.

1812: Invasion of Russia and War of 1812


Napoleon staged a French invasion of Russia in 1812 by gathering the largest army that Europe and possibly the whole world had ever seen, just as the Americans and the British started the War of 1812. In Russia, Napoleon barely won the huge Battle of Borodino but lost many of his soldiers. Napoleon hoped to make peace with the Russias, but they decided to retreat and abandon Moscow to the advancing French troops. Napoleon found Moscow empty and burning. The cold winter along with starvation from scorched earth tactics devastated Napoleon's army. That was the first important defeat in his conquest of Europe

Napoleon's weakened Grande Armée had to retreat to Paris through the freezing winter of Russia but was finally defeated by the Russians. Prussia and Austria declared war after Napoleon's failure and began the War of the Sixth Coalition. Later, Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's music piece 1812 Overture depicted the Patriotic War and celebrated the resistance and the liberation of Russia.

Meanwhile, the much smaller War of 1812 started between the British and the Americans, the latter trying to conquer Canada. The war continued until 1815, neither side gaining anything. Revolutions in Latin America made independent states in the Americas of most of the Spanish Empire, which was unstable by the French invasion.

1813-1814: Battle of Leipzig and First Restoration


The British, Spanish and Portuguese had pushed Napoleon's forces out of Spain after the Battle of Vitoria. Britain, Russia, Prussia, and Austria defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig and captured Paris in 1814. The brother of the executed King Louis XVI had already proclaimed himself as French King Louis XVIII, was sent by the Prussian forces to Paris and was crowned. Napoleon was forced to abdicate.

1815: Battle of Waterloo and Hundred Days


Napoleon was later exiled to Elba and was nearly assassinated. However, he and 200 other men escaped back to Paris, forced Louis XVIII off the throne and stated the Hundred Days. The former Allies formed the Seventh Coalition, and the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon again at the Battle of Waterloo with the help of the Prussian General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher in 1815. Louis XVIII was returned to the throne again, and the Second Restoration began.


  1. Hanover was in a Personal Union with Great Britain
  2. 2.0 2.1 The term "Austrian Empire" came into use after Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of the French in 1804, whereby Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor took the title Emperor of Austria (Kaiser von Österreich) in response. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, and consequently "Emperor of Austria" became Francis' primary title. For this reason, "Austrian Empire" is often used instead of "Holy Roman Empire" for brevity's sake when speaking of the Napoleonic Wars, even though the two entities are not synonymous.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Both Austria and Prussia briefly became allies of France and contributed forces to the French Invasion of Russia in 1812.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Russia became an ally of France following the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807. The alliance broke down in 1810, which led to the French invasion in 1812. During that time Russia waged war against Sweden (1808–1809) and the Ottoman Empire (1806–1812), and nominally against Britain (1807–1812).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Spain was an ally of France until a stealthy French invasion in 1808, then fought France in the Peninsular War.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Nominally, Sweden declared war against Great Britain after its defeat by Russia in the Finnish War (1808–1809).
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Ottoman Empire fought against Napoleon in the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria as part of the French Revolutionary Wars. During the Napoleonic era of 1803 to 1815, the Empire participated in two wars against the Allies: against Britain in the Anglo-Turkish War (1807–1809) and against Russia in the Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812). Russia was allied with Napoleon 1807–1810.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Qajar dynasty fought against Russia from 1804 to 1813; the Russians were allied with Napoleon 1807–1812.
  9. Sicily remained in personal union with Naples until Naples became a French client-republic following the Battle of Campo Tenese in 1806.
  10. The Kingdom of Hungary participated in the war with separate Hungarian regiments[1][2] in the Imperial and Royal Army, and also by a traditional army ("insurrectio").[3] The Hungarian Diet voted to join in war and agreed to pay one third of the war expenses.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Napoleon established the Duchy of Warsaw, ruled by the Kingdom of Saxony in 1807. Polish Legions had already been serving in the French armies beforehand.
  12. The French Empire annexed the Kingdom of Holland in 1810. Dutch troops fought against Napoleon during the Hundred Days in 1815.
  13. The French Empire annexed the Kingdom of Etruria in 1807.
  14. The Kingdom of Naples, briefly allied with Austria in 1814, allied with France again and fought against Austria during the Neapolitan War in 1815.
  15. Sixteen of France's allies among the German states (including Bavaria and Württemberg) established the Confederation of the Rhine in July 1806 following the Battle of Austerlitz (December 1805). Following the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt (October 1806), various other German states that had previously fought alongside the anti-French allies, including Saxony and Westphalia, also allied with France and joined the Confederation. Saxony changed sides again in 1813 during the Battle of Leipzig, causing most other member-states to quickly follow suit and declare war on France.
  16. These four states were the leading nations of the Confederation, but the Confederation was made up of a total of 43 principalities, kingdoms, and duchies.
  17. Denmark-Norway remained neutral until the Battle of Copenhagen (1807). Denmark was compelled to cede Norway to Sweden by the Treaty of Kiel in 1814. Following a brief Swedish campaign against Norway, Norway entered a personal union with Sweden.
  1. Arnold, James R. (1995). Napoleon Conquers Austria: The 1809 Campaign for Vienna. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-275-94694-4.
  2. The Austrian Imperial-Royal Army (Kaiserliche-Königliche Heer) 1805 – 1809: The Hungarian Royal Army The Austrian Imperial-Royal Army Kaiserliche-Königliche Heer): 1805 – 1809
  3. Todd Fisher: The Napoleonic Wars: The Empires Fight Back 1808–1812, Oshray Publishing, 2001 [1] Archived 2015-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  4. John Sainsbury (1842). Sketch of the Napoleon Museum. London. p. 15.
  5. Reich 1905, p. 622
  6. "Denmark". World Statesmen. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  7. "Norway". World Statesmen. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  8. Benjamin Keen and Keith Haynes, A History of Latin America (2012) ch 8
  9. Schafer, Anton (2002). Zeittafel der Rechtsgeschichte: von den Anfangen uber Rom bis 1919 mit Schwerpunkt Osterreich und zeitgenossischen Bezugen ; [mit uber 1400 Jahresdaten (mehr als 2000 Eintragungen) und 39 Seiten mit Stichwortern fur die effiziente Suche von 10000 v.d.Zw. bis 1919 n.d.Zw.] EDITION EUROPA Verlag. p. 137. ISBN 3-9500616-8-1.
  10. Edward et al., pp. 522–524
  11. "De Grondwet van 1815". Parlement & Politiek (in Dutch). Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  12. "The Royal Navy". Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  13. Dwyer, Philip G. (2014). The Rise of Prussia 1700-1830. Routledge. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-317-88703-4.
  14. Collier, Martin (2003). Italian unification, 1820–71. Heinemann Advanced History (First ed.). Oxford: Heinemann. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-435-32754-5. The Risorgimento is the name given to the process that ended with the political unification of Italy in 1871
  15. Riall, Lucy (1994). The Italian Risorgimento: state, society, and national unification (First ed.). London: Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-203-41234-3. The functional importance of the Risorgimento to both Italian politics and Italian historiography has made this short period (1815–60) one of the most contested and controversial in modern Italian history
  16. Jakob Walter, and Marc Raeff. The diary of a Napoleonic foot soldier. Princeton, N.J., 1996.
  17. Martyn Lyons p. 234–36
  18. Payne 1973, pp. 432–433.
  19. Esdaile 2008.
  20. Riehn 1991, p. 50.
  21. Chandler & Beckett, p. 132
  22. Blücher, scourge of Napoleon, Leggiere
  23. France, John (2011). Perilous Glory: The Rise of Western Military Power. Yale UP. p. 351. ISBN 978-0-300-17744-2.
  24. Napoleon, Fondation (2012). Correspondance generale - Tome 12. Fayard. ISBN 978-2-213-67272-4.
  25. 25.0 25.1 White 2014, Napoleonic Wars cites Urlanis 1971
  26. Canales 2004.
  27. White 2014 cites Payne
  28. 28.0 28.1 White 2014 cites Dumas 1923 citing Hodge
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 White 2014 cites Danzer
  30. White 2014 cites Clodfelter
  31. White 2014 cites Bodart 1916
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 Philo 2010.