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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

The Tyrolese leaders were Andreas Hofer


At

the same time Napoleon held a so-called Congress at Erfurt, at which all the German rulers (except Austria) were present, but the decisions were made by himself, with the connivance of Alexander I. of Russia. The latter received Finland and the Danubian Principalities. Napoleon simply carried out his own personal policy. He made his brother Joseph king of Spain, gave Naples to his brother-in-law, Murat, and soon afterwards annexed the States of the Church, in Italy, to France, abolishing the temporal sovereignty of the Pope. Every one of the smaller German States had already joined the Rhine-Bund, and the Diet by which they were governed abjectly obeyed his will. Princes, nobles, officials, and authors vied with each other in doing homage to him. Even the battles of Jena and Friedland were celebrated by popular festivals in the capitals of the other States: the people of Southern Germany, especially, rejoiced over the shame and suffering of their brethren in the North. Ninety German authors dedicated books to Napoleon, and the newspapers became contemptible in their servile praises of his rule.

[Sidenote: 1809. REVOLT OF THE TYROLESE.]

Austria, always energetic at the wrong time and weak when energy was necessary, prepared for war, relying on the help of Prussia and possibly of Russia. Napoleon had been called to Spain, where a part of the people, supported by Wellington, with an English force, in Portugal,

was making a gallant resistance to the French rule. A few patriotic and courageous men, all over Germany, began to consult together concerning the best means for the liberation of the country. The Prussian Ex-minister, Baron Stein, the philosopher Fichte, the statesman and poet Arndt, the Generals Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, the historian Niebuhr, and also the Austrian minister, Count Stadion, used every effort to increase and extend this movement; but there was no German prince, except the young Duke of Brunswick, ready or willing to act.

The Tyrolese, who are still the most Austrian of Austrians, and the most Catholic of Catholics, organized a revolt against the French-Bavarian rule, early in 1809. This was the first purely popular movement in Germany, which had occurred since the revolt of the Austrian peasants against Ferdinand II. nearly two hundred years before. The Tyrolese leaders were Andreas Hofer, a hunter named Speckbacher and a monk named Haspinger; their troops were peasants and mountaineers. The plot was so well organized that the Alps were speedily cleared of the enemy, and on the 13th of April, Hofer captured Innsbruck, which he held for Austria. When the French and Bavarian troops entered the mountain-passes, they were picked off by skilful riflemen or crushed by rocks and trees rolled down upon them. The daring of the Tyrolese produced a stirring effect throughout Austria; for the first time, the people came forward as volunteers, to be enrolled in the army, and the Archduke Karl, in a short time, had a force of 300,000 men at his disposal.


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