British Blockade of Napoleonic France

Feb 2019
483
Serbia
#1
Since the start of the Napoleonic Wars the French coast was blockaded by the Royal Navy with the blockade extending to Spain and in 1807 all of French allied Europe and the Continental System. The blockade was challenging to keep up, especially the British fleets off Brest and Toulon struggled to maintain an effective blockade and due to hazards such as bad weather and occasional lack of supplies the blockade was broke on several occasions, notably in 1805.

Some ports such as Bordeaux, Antwerp and Hamburg were devastated and the former trade centres suffered greatly.
What were the full effects of the blockade, just how much damage did it cause to both France and Britain and what long-term consequences did it have.
 
Apr 2019
85
Ireland
#2
The Continental System apart from being an economic weapon aimed at undermining British maritime power (where it failed chiefly due to lack of control of the continent's coastlines and Britain's ability to trade with other continents ) was also a system which protected French Industries in Europe to the detriment of other countries. Italy and Holland suffered enormous exploitation by France.
Damage to ports such as Bordeaux, Antwerp and Hamburg, although very real were probably offset by exploitation elsewhere. The British blockade also bottled up the French fleet and after 1805 Britain was supreme at Sea. I'm sure the blockade had an economic effect, however I don't envisage that it was anywhere near similar to the effect realised by the blockade of Germany in WWI.
I'm not so sure of the long-term consequences, but perhaps the closure of certain routes to the continent and to Britain from France may have opened up new markets for each of the main protagonists, would be interesting to hear if there is any information on this.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,888
#3
The Bloackade made smuggling very economicly rewwarding experince, the Napoleonic Empire spent a lot of resoeurces in trying to stop smuggling and clandestine British trade. It also provided massive opptunties for corruption from Generals, Governors right down to cpatains and soliders. It menat many people were involved in criminal or corrupt activity.
 
Likes: Sindane
Apr 2014
372
Istanbul Turkey
#4
Entire Continental System which have became official with Berlin Decrees of Bonaparte in 1806 , basically hurt First French Empire more than British (who had all monopoly of raw material and finished good supply on overseas and means to transport them) Napoleon just like he did in several other poorly thought diplomatic/economic schemes , shot his own foot. When one avenue closed down , British could always find another new market (USA , Russia , South America , Iberian Peninsula , Scandanivia ) Europe under Napoleon's rule at the other hand desperately needed these goods and raw materials and once he blockaded them from North West European ports , smuggling on enormous scale soared up on every shore of Europe and goods Napoleon tried to prevent coming in , entered Europe anyway only this time with illegal and unofficcial , unregistered and untrackable means. Customs revenue of France decreased significantly. There were vast smuggling depots were set up on Heligoland and off Walcharen at North Sea and off coast of Italy openly with collaboration of local authorities even with cooperation and corruption of Napoleon's own family. It made a mockery of Napoleon's authority. And British continued to make money anyway , actualy they increased their profits since they had all supply and means of shipping. Never upset balance of Supply/Demand.

Several self sufficient trades and industries sprung up to cover up devestated maritime industry/trade in coastal regions of France with French state substitutes but not much in rest of Europe. That caused further resentment against Napoleonic rule acros Europe. Several French generals and Field Marshalls actually bought British textile goods to clothe their troops and invested British stock exchange while they were at war with Britain ! One French general Maximillien Foy made huge sums of profit from London Stock Exchange while he and his troops were fighting against British in Iberian peninsula. That alone shows who had more confidence in this economic war.
 
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Likes: Arminius
May 2018
660
Michigan
#5
Entire Continental System which have became official with Berlin Decrees of Bonaparte in 1806 , basically hurt First French Empire more than British (who had all monopoly of raw material and finished good supply on overseas and means to transport them) Napoleon just like he did in several other poorly thought diplomatic/economic schemes , shot his own foot. When one avenue closed down , British could always find another new market (USA , Russia , South America , Iberian Peninsula , Scandanivia ) Europe under Napoleon's rule at the other hand desperately needed these goods and raw materials and once he blockaded them from North West European ports , smuggling on enormous scale soared up on every shore of Europe and goods Napoleon tried to prevent coming in , entered Europe anyway only this time with illegal and unofficcial , unregistered and untrackable means. Customs revenue of France decreased significantly. There were vast smuggling depots were set up on Heligoland and off Walcharen at North Sea and off coast of Italy openly with collaboration of local authorities even with cooperation and corruption of Napoleon's own family. It made a mockery of Napoleon's authority. And British continued to make money anyway , actualy they increased their profits since they had all supply and means of shipping. Never upset balance of Supply/Demand.

Several self sufficient trades and industries sprung up to cover up devestated maritime industry/trade in coastal regions of France with French state substitutes but not much in rest of Europe. That caused further resentment against Napoleonic rule acros Europe. Several French generals and Field Marshalls actually bought British textile goods to clothe their troops and invested British stock exchange while they were at war with Britain ! One French general Maximillien Foy made huge sums of profit from London Stock Exchange while he and his troops were fighting against British in Iberian peninsula. That alone shows who had more confidence in this economic war.
Wow, Foy was making a killing on the stock market in Britain? I can't stop laughing: Foy was present at Salamanca, and I wonder if Foy's investments affected his combat judgement.
 
Apr 2014
372
Istanbul Turkey
#6
Wow, Foy was making a killing on the stock market in Britain? I can't stop laughing: Foy was present at Salamanca, and I wonder if Foy's investments affected his combat judgement.
During Peninsular War , Foy actually ordered his troops on frontline to gather up any British newspapers they could find or captured from enemy and bring it to him , officially for intelligence gathering purposes (which was actualy true since intelligence incoming from official French resources in Paris were not just bad and unreliable , they were also out of date even if it is true) but in reality to track latest economic trends about investments in UK.
 

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