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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

And married Stephanie Beauharnais


afterwards, on the 6th of August, 1806, Francis II. laid down his title of "Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation," and the political corpse, long since dead, was finally buried. Just a thousand years had elapsed since the time of Charlemagne: the power and influence of the Empire had reached their culmination under the Hohenstaufens, but even then the smaller rulers were undermining its foundations. It existed for a few centuries longer as a system which was one-fourth fact and three-fourths tradition: during the Thirty Years' War it perished, and the Hapsburgs, after that, only wore the ornaments and trappings it left behind. The German people were never further from being a nation than at the commencement of this century; but the most of them still clung to the superstition of an Empire, until the compulsory act of Francis II. showed them, at last, that there was none.




Napoleon's personal Policy. --The "Rhine-Bund." --French Tyranny. --Prussia declares War. --Battles of Jena and Auerstaedt. --Napoleon in Berlin. --Prussia and Russia allied. --Battle of Friedland. --Interviews of the Sovereigns. --Losses of Prussia. --Kingdom of Westphalia. --Frederick William III.'s Weakness. --Congress at Erfurt. --Patriotic Movements.

--Revolt of the Tyrolese. --Napoleon marches on Vienna. --Schill's Movement in Prussia. --Battles of Aspera and Wagram. --The Peace of Vienna. --Fate of Andreas Hofer. --The Duke of Brunswick's Attempt. --Napoleon's Rule in Germany. --Secret Resistance in Prussia. --War with Russia. --The March to Moscow. --The Retreat. --York's Measures. --Rising of Prussia. --Division of Germany. --Battle of Luetzen. --Napoleon in Dresden. --The Armistice. --Austria joins the Allies. --Victories of Bluecher and Buelow. --Napoleon's Hesitation. --The Battle of Leipzig. --Napoleon's Retreat from Germany. --Cowardice of the allied Monarchs. --Bluecher crosses the Rhine.

[Sidenote: 1806.]

After the peace of Presburg there was nothing to prevent Napoleon from carrying out his plan of dividing the greater part of Europe among the members of his own family, and the Marshals of his armies. He gave the kingdom of Naples to his brother Joseph; appointed his step-son Eugene Beauharnais Viceroy of Italy, and married him to the daughter of Maximilian I. (formerly Elector, now King) of Bavaria; made a Kingdom of Holland, and gave it to his brother Louis; gave the Duchy of Juelich, Cleves and Berg to Murat, and married Stephanie Beauharnais, the niece of the Empress Josephine, to the son of the Grand-Duke of Baden. There was no longer any thought of disputing his will in any of the smaller German States: the princes were as submissive as he could have desired, and the people had been too long powerless to dream of resistance.

[Sidenote: 1806. THE "RHINE-BUND."]

The "Rhine-Bund," therefore, was constructed just as France desired. Bavaria, Wuertemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt and Nassau united with twelve small principalities--the whole embracing a population of thirteen millions--in a Confederation, which accepted Napoleon as Protector, and agreed to maintain an army of 63,000 men, at the disposal of France. This arrangement divided the German Empire into three parts, one of which (Austria) had just been conquered, while another (Prussia) had lost all its former prestige by its weak and cowardly policy. Napoleon was now the recognized master of the third portion, the action of which was regulated by a Diet held at Frankfort. In order to make the Union simpler and more manageable, all the independent countships and baronies within its limits were abolished, and the seventeen States were thus increased by an aggregate territory of about 12,000 square miles. Bavaria took possession, without more ado, of the free cities of Nuremberg and Augsburg.

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