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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

And this gave him a pretext for invading Hannover


On the 27th of April, 1803, the decree of partition was issued, suddenly changing the map of Germany. Only six free cities were left out of fifty-two,--Frankfort, Hamburg, Bremen, Luebeck, Nuremberg and Augsburg: Prussia received three bishoprics (Hildesheim, Muenster and Paderborn), and a number of abbeys and cities, including Erfurt, amounting to four times as much as she had lost on the left bank of the Rhine. Baden was increased to double its former size by the remains of the Palatinate (including Heidelberg and Mannheim), the city of Constance, and a number of abbeys and monasteries: a great part of Franconia, with Wuerzburg and Bamberg, was added to Bavaria. Wuertemberg, Hesse-Darmstadt and Nassau were much enlarged, and most of the other States received smaller additions. At the same time the rulers of Baden, Wuertemberg, Hesse-Cassel and Salzburg were dignified by the new title of "Electors"--when they never would be called upon to elect another German Emperor!

[Sidenote: 1803. FRENCH INVASION OF HANNOVER.]

An impartial study of these events will show that they were caused by the indifference of Prussia to the general interests of Germany, and the utter lack of the commonest political wisdom in Francis II. of Austria and his ministers. The war with France was wantonly undertaken, in the first place; it was then continued with stupid obstinacy after two offers of peace. But except the loss of the left bank of the Rhine, with more than three millions of German inhabitants, Germany, though humiliated, was not yet seriously damaged. The complete overthrow of priestly rule, the extinction of a multitude of petty States, and the abolition of the special privileges of nearly a thousand "Imperial" noble families, was an immense gain to the whole country. The influence which Bonaparte exercised in the partition of 1803, though made solely with a view to the political interests of France, produced some very beneficial changes in Germany. In regard to religion, the Chief Electors were now equally divided, five being Catholic and five Protestant; while the Diet of Princes, instead of having a Catholic majority of twelve, as heretofore, acquired a Protestant majority of twenty-two.

France was now the ruling power on the Continent of Europe. Prussia preserved a timid neutrality, Austria was powerless, the new Republics in Holland, Switzerland and Italy were wholly subjected to French influence, Spain, Denmark and Russia were friendly, and even England, after the overthrow of Pitt's ministry, was persuaded to make peace with Bonaparte in 1802. The same year, the latter had himself declared First Consul for life, and became absolute master of the destinies of France. A new quarrel with England soon broke out, and this gave him a pretext for invading Hannover. In May, 1803, General Mortier marched from Holland with only 12,000 men, while Hannover, alone, had an excellent army of 15,000. But the Council of Nobles, who governed in the name of George III. of England, gave orders that "the troops should not be allowed to fire, and might only use the bayonet _moderately_, in extreme necessity!" Of course no battle was fought; the country was overrun by the French in a few days, and plundered to the amount of 26,000,000 thalers. Prussia and the other German States quietly looked on, and--did nothing.


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