Confederation of the Rhine

The Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbund, Confédération du Rhin) lasted from 1806 to 1813 and was formed from 16 minor German states by Napoleon after he defeated Francis II and Alexander I in the Battle of the Three Emperors at Austerlitz.

The members of the confederation were German princes (Fürsten) from the Holy Roman Empire. Their states were later joined by 19 others, a total of over 15 million subjects providing a significant strategic advantage to France on its eastern front.



On 12 July 1806, on signing the Rheinbundakte - the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine - sixteen imperial estates formally left the Holy Roman Empire and joined together in a confederation (the treaty called it the états confédérés du Rhin). Napoleon was its "protector". On 6 August, following an ultimatum by Napoleon, Francis II gave up his title of emperor and declared the Holy Roman Empire dissolved. In the years that followed, twenty-three more German states joined the Confederation. Only Austria, Prussia, Danish Holstein and Swedish Pomerania stayed outside. Karl Theodor von Dalberg, the Grand Duke of Frankfurt am Main and Napoleon's close ally, was president and Prince Primate of the confederation.

The Confederation was above all a military alliance; the members had to supply France with large numbers of military personnel. In return the states were given higher statuses: Baden, Hessen, Cleves and Berg were made into grand duchies and Württemberg and Bavaria became kingdoms. For their cooperation states could also be made larger by incorporating smaller imperial estates.

According to the treaty, the confederation was to be run by common constitutional bodies, but the individual states (in particular the larger ones) wanted unlimited sovereignty. The parliament Von Dalberg should have called together in Frankfurt am Main never met.

After Prussia lost to France in 1806, many medium-sized and small states joined the Rheinbund. It was at its largest in 1808, including four kingdoms, five grand duchies, thirteen duchies, seventeen principalities and the Hansa towns of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen. In 1810 large parts of northwest Germany were quickly incorporated into the Napoleonic Empire in order to better monitor the embargo on trade with Britain, the Continental System.

In 1813, when Napoleon's campaign in Russia failed and some of its members changed sides, the Confederation of the Rhine collapsed. On 30 May 1814 the Treaty of Paris declared the German states independent; in 1815 the Congress of Vienna redrew the continent's political map. In fact, only minor changes were made to inner-German borders, and the resulting German Confederation consisted more or less of the same members as the Confederation of the Rhine.

Member countries

See also

External links

es:Confederación del Rin nl:Rijnbond (1806) sv:Rhenförbundet


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