Did Napoleon Bonaparte have any chance to keep his throne in the AD 1814 Allied Invasion of France ?

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,516
#11
That's true. But the problem is....who should be sit on the throne of France afterward ? Napoleon ? He's too ambitive and dangerous ; Bourbon ? Return to absolute monarchy is as dangerous as the previous choice since the country might be plunged into chaos again with huge discontent and revolution ; Bernadotte (that Swedish crown prince who also wanted to be the King of France) ? Tsar Alexander I liked this idea, but Austria and Britain said : NO !

Then just let France return to the republic....of course it was absolutely impossible ! Not a choice at all...

Then how about letting Napoleon degraded to the position of "regency" while letting his half-Habsburg son Napoleon II directly ascended the throne ? Tsar Alexander I liked this idea, too....but Talleyrand persuaded him, this was really not a good choice at all !

Also, even the Duke of Orleans Louis-Philippe was considered an option....

How many choices I have aforementioned in total ? Just count it....six choices (in reality, five) ! You should realize that the Allied army didn't pre-ordained the Bourbons from the beginning, especially Louis XVIII was infamous for his rude and disgraceful behaviour, which greatly "unimpressed" Alexander I.

So the choice was always open ; so complex, so many....intermingled with the rivalty of conflicting interests between coalition powers. History is not so streamlined and obvious as you imagined.
The Bourbns were the only viable option. Non one liked it but all the others had violent objectors.

BUt how coul dnay of this effect teh cmapaign enbough to give Napooen a chance? That it did not is an historical fact.
 
Jul 2018
496
Hong Kong
#12
Here comes the elaboration of my first argument.

Each of coalition powers pursued different and conflicting goals in large extent

Although the Coalition seemed extraordinarily formidable by appearance, with all the European great powers except France including Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia joined the fray, and even many second-rated or third-rated nations such as Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Naples and the German states participated, offering the gigantic pool of resource and manpower. It was really a terrifying alliance ! In fact, all those coalition powers' were deeply divisive due to various conflicting political interests and goals. They only grudingly united together with Napoleon threatening them as a dangerous enemy. When Napoleon's menace had been ebbing away, it's highly questionable could they maintain such a loose alliance to the last (indeed, the formal alliance pact hadn't been existed until the Treaty of Chaumont assured on 1st March 1814, which was pretty late in the Allied Invasion of France). And most importantly, they were faced with crucial decisions about the future settlement of Europe, for which they had no unanimous decision and standpoint. It did not help that the key players of the coalition such like Prussia, Russia and Austria were once bitter emenies or rivals for the past half of century. The most crucial issues hindering their co-operation were "regime change question" and "Poland-Saxony Question".

The French regime change Question

The Russian Tsar Alexander I saw the removal of Napoleon as an essential precondition for an era of international peace and stability. He was very ambitive, intended to portray himself as the "Liberator of Europe" by this unprecedented deed with which he shall drastically expand his sphere of influence in the Western Europe. But the Austrian Foreign Minister Klemens von Metternich was wary of that. He feared the Russian over-expansion would severely undermine the security and influence of Habsburg Empire, thus was more interested to have peace with Napoleon rather than having the latter overthrown, in order to maintain France's great power status to keep that "northern giant bear" in check, ensuring the balance of power in Europe.

Moreover, there was the relationship-by-marriage between the Bonarparte and the Habsburg (the Austrian Emperor Franz became the father-in-law of Napoleon since the latter married his daughter Maria Louise), denoted that Napoleon I's half-Habsburg-blooded son Napoleon II, who was also known as the "King of Rome", would certainly ascend the throne once his father had passed away. If this scenario turned to be reality, two great empires, two royal houses would closely interconnected : The Franco-Austrian union will dominate the entire Central-Western Europe ; the Habsburg shall once again dominate the Europe with such powerful political union ! Therefore, Austria believed that the overthrown of Napoleon would not be his best choice, but instead, intimidating Napoleon to accept a peace proposal favorable for Habsburg, reclaiming the control over the Northern Italy, was more fitted for the Austrian interest.

While Prussia, which long succumbed to the French supremacy and only with the Russian help he got rid of the French occupation, was greatly weakened. He was basically aligned with Russia in the stance towards the Napoleonic regime. But indeed, his "internal strife" was as almost grave as Napoleon versus other European great powers:The inspiring and patriotic military leaders as Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Blucher aspired avenging Prussia and overthrew Napoleon ; however, King Frederick Wilhelm III was probably more concerned of the growing threat appeared from the increasingly powerful military reformist faction (particularly of those "Jacobin" such like Gneisenau, which the king extremely disliked) and the surging nationalism which might gave him sense of insecurity. Though Frederick Wilhelm III might still trust some old, traditional veterans like Blucher, he distrusted many those aggressive, independent generals who were too charismatic to be reined. ; moreover, his Chancellor Karl August von Hardenberg was apprehensive of the Russian threat more than of Napoleon. The evident division between the "military faction" and the "court faction" inhibited the unity of Prussia in the latter's cause against Napoleon.

There was also considerable dissenters within the Russian army for the exhausting long march against the Napoleonic regime. Many Russian general had been reluctant after the 1812 campaign to continue the pursuit into central Europe, let alone invade France, and wanted simply to occupy Poland as a war trophy and avoided the horrendous casualties. Their will and persistence in the AD 1814 Campaign was largely varied and doubted.

If even the matter of whether Napoleon should be overthrowned had not been mutually agreed on, then surely there was no fantasy for their unanimous decision about who should be the post-war monarch and which form of government should be arranged in post-war era:Should Napoleon keep his throne ? Or restoring the Bourbons to the throne ? Or plucking Napoleon's son and heir King of Rome onto the throne (with Maria-Louise as Queen Regent) while Napoleon degraded to regency ? The coalition powers fluctuated between many options and had no unanimous opinion for long. More complicated was the Swedish Crown Prince Bernadotte's ambition (Bernadotte was bornt in France, originally one of Napoleon's marshals) ; Bernadotte desired for grabbing the French throne in Napoleon's stead, and initially earned the support of Tsar Alexander I, who was pretty friendly with him, but the other European great powers disagreed. Frustrated, Bernadotte had no motivation for the cause of against Napoleon, and hitherto the Nordarmee (120,000-men strong on paper) under his command performed inactively during the AD 1814 campaign in retaliation of the indifferent reception he endured from those great powers, weakened the Allied army's momentum against Napoleon.

Such division undoubly hindered the co-operation and unity among the coalition powers, sprouted the seed of suspicion and mistrust each other. Under such delicate and highly-complicated political circumstance, by what guarantee it's safe to conclude that Napoleon's regime was certainly doomed in the AD 1814 Invasion of France ? The reality and truth were far more complicated than what you knew on the surface.

~ Okay, next time I'll talk about the Poland-Saxony Question + Frankfurt Proposals ~
 
Last edited:
Likes: macon
Nov 2011
4,657
Ohio, USA
#13
Perhaps a stretch, but if Napoleon had seized on his final idea to pounce on Coalition supply lines in eastern France a month or so earlier and ruined the logistics of their huge armies then who knows what success that could have produced. Really, all that would need to be done, in theory, is prevent the Coalition armies from taking Paris, all the while making their position untenable, and I think even Napoleon realized this. Of course, this assumes that the majority of the French populace and most of all Paris itself are even still up for fighting like this. As it was, Napoleon actually launching the plan was a classic 'too little, too late' case, and as such, most of France and Paris just did not have the requisite fight left in her.
 
Jul 2018
496
Hong Kong
#14
but if Napoleon had seized on his final idea to pounce on Coalition supply lines in eastern France a month or so earlier and ruined the logistics of their huge armies then who knows what success that could have produced.
And unfortunately, Napoleon's letters to Queen Maria-Louise depicting his strategic plan were "intercepted" by the Coalition army many times, allowing the Coalition to grasp the better knowledge about Napoleon army's location and how vulnerable Paris was.

And what equally unfortunate was, Tsar Alexander I was able to exert his great influence upon Schwarzenberg at this critical moment, forcing him to "change" his army's marching direction from eastward to westward on 24th March, rushing onto Paris rather than pursuing Napoleon ; Metternich and Emperor Franz were coincidentially not at there, so they could not stop Alexander I's "arbitrary decision".

In addition, the "traitorous faction" within Paris such like Talleyrand, and other Royalists were working in acquaintance with the Allies, encouraging the latter to approach Paris as fast as they could, another crucial factor that could not be neglected.

So overall, Napoleon's "psychological blow" attempted for paralyzing the Coalition by swift manuoever to the enemy rear while gathering reinforcement on the eastern border of France and arousing massive peasants to fight against the invaders ended in utter failure, when his "surprising move" no longer had any "surprising effect" on the Coalition. And thus his fate was decided.
 
Likes: macon

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,516
#15
Be that as it may it's an histrocial fact they worked together to dispose Napoleon.
Perhaps a stretch, but if Napoleon had seized on his final idea to pounce on Coalition supply lines in eastern France a month or so earlier and ruined the logistics of their huge armies then who knows what success that could have produced. Really, all that would need to be done, in theory, is prevent the Coalition armies from taking Paris, all the while making their position untenable, and I think even Napoleon realized this. Of course, this assumes that the majority of the French populace and most of all Paris itself are even still up for fighting like this. As it was, Napoleon actually launching the plan was a classic 'too little, too late' case, and as such, most of France and Paris just did not have the requisite fight left in her.
a massive unrealistic stretch. Coalition supplies lines where no all one single thing that Napoleon could effectively close.
..
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,516
#16
Here comes the elaboration of my first argument.

Each of coalition powers pursued different and conflicting goals in large extent

Although the Coalition seemed extraordinarily formidable by appearance, with all the European great powers except France including Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia joined the fray, and even many second-rated or third-rated nations such as Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Naples and the German states participated, offering the gigantic pool of resource and manpower. It was really a terrifying alliance ! In fact, all those coalition powers' were deeply divisive due to various conflicting political interests and goals. They only grudingly united together with Napoleon threatening them as a dangerous enemy. When Napoleon's menace had been ebbing away, it's highly questionable could they maintain such a loose alliance to the last (indeed, the formal alliance pact hadn't been existed until the Treaty of Chaumont assured on 1st March 1814, which was pretty late in the Allied Invasion of France). And most importantly, they were faced with crucial decisions about the future settlement of Europe, for which they had no unanimous decision and standpoint. It did not help that the key players of the coalition such like Prussia, Russia and Austria were once bitter emenies or rivals for the past half of century. The most crucial issues hindering their co-operation were "regime change question" and "Poland-Saxony Question".

The French regime change Question

The Russian Tsar Alexander I saw the removal of Napoleon as an essential precondition for an era of international peace and stability. He was very ambitive, intended to portray himself as the "Liberator of Europe" by this unprecedented deed with which he shall drastically expand his sphere of influence in the Western Europe. But the Austrian Foreign Minister Klemens von Metternich was wary of that. He feared the Russian over-expansion would severely undermine the security and influence of Habsburg Empire, thus was more interested to have peace with Napoleon rather than having the latter overthrown, in order to maintain France's great power status to keep that "northern giant bear" in check, ensuring the balance of power in Europe.

Moreover, there was the relationship-by-marriage between the Bonarparte and the Habsburg (the Austrian Emperor Franz became the father-in-law of Napoleon since the latter married his daughter Maria Louise), denoted that Napoleon I's half-Habsburg-blooded son Napoleon II, who was also known as the "King of Rome", would certainly ascend the throne once his father had passed away. If this scenario turned to be reality, two great empires, two royal houses would closely interconnected : The Franco-Austrian union will dominate the entire Central-Western Europe ; the Habsburg shall once again dominate the Europe with such powerful political union ! Therefore, Austria believed that the overthrown of Napoleon would not be his best choice, but instead, intimidating Napoleon to accept a peace proposal favorable for Habsburg, reclaiming the control over the Northern Italy, was more fitted for the Austrian interest.

While Prussia, which long succumbed to the French supremacy and only with the Russian help he got rid of the French occupation, was greatly weakened. He was basically aligned with Russia in the stance towards the Napoleonic regime. But indeed, his "internal strife" was as almost grave as Napoleon versus other European great powers:The inspiring and patriotic military leaders as Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Blucher aspired avenging Prussia and overthrew Napoleon ; however, King Frederick Wilhelm III was probably more concerned of the growing threat appeared from the increasingly powerful military reformist faction (particularly of those "Jacobin" such like Gneisenau, which the king extremely disliked) and the surging nationalism which might gave him sense of insecurity. Though Frederick Wilhelm III might still trust some old, traditional veterans like Blucher, he distrusted many those aggressive, independent generals who were too charismatic to be reined. ; moreover, his Chancellor Karl August von Hardenberg was apprehensive of the Russian threat more than of Napoleon. The evident division between the "military faction" and the "court faction" inhibited the unity of Prussia in the latter's cause against Napoleon.

There was also considerable dissenters within the Russian army for the exhausting long march against the Napoleonic regime. Many Russian general had been reluctant after the 1812 campaign to continue the pursuit into central Europe, let alone invade France, and wanted simply to occupy Poland as a war trophy and avoided the horrendous casualties. Their will and persistence in the AD 1814 Campaign was largely varied and doubted.

If even the matter of whether Napoleon should be overthrowned had not been mutually agreed on, then surely there was no fantasy for their unanimous decision about who should be the post-war monarch and which form of government should be arranged in post-war era:Should Napoleon keep his throne ? Or restoring the Bourbons to the throne ? Or plucking Napoleon's son and heir King of Rome onto the throne (with Maria-Louise as Queen Regent) while Napoleon degraded to regency ? The coalition powers fluctuated between many options and had no unanimous opinion for long. More complicated was the Swedish Crown Prince Bernadotte's ambition (Bernadotte was bornt in France, originally one of Napoleon's marshals) ; Bernadotte desired for grabbing the French throne in Napoleon's stead, and initially earned the support of Tsar Alexander I, who was pretty friendly with him, but the other European great powers disagreed. Frustrated, Bernadotte had no motivation for the cause of against Napoleon, and hitherto the Nordarmee (120,000-men strong on paper) under his command performed inactively during the AD 1814 campaign in retaliation of the indifferent reception he endured from those great powers, weakened the Allied army's momentum against Napoleon.

Such division undoubly hindered the co-operation and unity among the coalition powers, sprouted the seed of suspicion and mistrust each other. Under such delicate and highly-complicated political circumstance, by what guarantee it's safe to conclude that Napoleon's regime was certainly doomed in the AD 1814 Invasion of France ? The reality and truth were far more complicated than what you knew on the surface.

~ Okay, next time I'll talk about the Poland-Saxony Question + Frankfurt Proposals ~
Over reach taking a few things and blowing them out way beyond any credibility

There was argeement that Napoleon should be removed, the cotinution of Napoleon's rule was unacceptable to all the major powers,

While there was some division, nobody really cared that much about who was going to govern france, various factions had an number of outcomes they would not accept, which is why the Bourbons were returned. But no one was going to quit the coalition to prevent the Bourbon return.

There was no significnat dissension in the Russian army, Kutuzov was the only significnat figure oppsinghthe 1813/14 campaign. Who were these dessenters, what was their influence? For this augement to have any substanc eyou need to name names and provide sonethging to support this contenetion No one popsed Alexander in any real way, and no one was viewed as a realistic alternative.

The Prussian Monarch coul n ot call an end to the way of liberation even if he wanted to.

The Austrians put in some short steps. But talking about an Austro-French union in the terms you use here is simply not accurate there was no firm allaince. Marriage alliances hardly had a strong history of delivering results. Marie-Lousie was not going to rule nor was the King of Rome, a regency dominated by who is the question, if not a General it would not have the power. While there may have been adream of using teh King of Rome as a political movem and Austria was the Natiuon most wanting to preserve the French as factor in the balance of Europe, they were not going to leave the coliaton to prevent teh bourbon restoration, or seek a french allaince with Napoloen., The who problem with the regnecy alternative is who's the regent, anything other than French general would not survive, replacing Napoleon with another French military adventurer had no attraction for any one.
 
Jul 2018
496
Hong Kong
#17
it's an histrocial fact they worked together to dispose Napoleon.
Yes, but the historical fact also showed that the coalition didn't preordain the deposition of Napoleon. Even in the famous Treaty of Chaumont officially signed in mid-March 1814, the Coalition did not express such objective in the text. According to wikipedia, it merely mentioned :

" in the event of France refusing to accede to the Conditions of Peace now proposed, to apply all the means of their respective States to the vigorous prosecution of the War against that Power, and to employ them in perfect concert, in order to obtain for themselves and for Europe a General Peace, under the protection of which the rights and liberties of all Nations may be established and secured."

What kind of peace and order in post-war they desired to arrange ? Does it include regime change ? Not sure...indeed it only confirmed the alliance between Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia ; but for the matter of handling the Napoleonic regime, they hadn't reached the unanimous agreement yet.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,516
#18
Yes, but the historical fact also showed that the coalition didn't preordain the deposition of Napoleon. Even in the famous Treaty of Chaumont officially signed in mid-March 1814, the Coalition did not express such objective in the text. According to wikipedia, it merely mentioned :

" in the event of France refusing to accede to the Conditions of Peace now proposed, to apply all the means of their respective States to the vigorous prosecution of the War against that Power, and to employ them in perfect concert, in order to obtain for themselves and for Europe a General Peace, under the protection of which the rights and liberties of all Nations may be established and secured."

What kind of peace and order in post-war they desired to arrange ? Does it include regime change ? Not sure...indeed it only confirmed the alliance between Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia ; but for the matter of handling the Napoleonic regime, they hadn't reached the unanimous agreement yet.
the lack of put in writing statement does not proove your case in any way.

But did not mean there was any real opposition tro the disposition of Napoleon, there was near universal agreement on the question. The fact it was not put into writing does not mean there was eany support for Napoleon retaining any position all. Except for Austria all the the major powers where vehemently opposed and committed to removing Napoleon and his entire regime.. Austria had some thought bubbleabout regency but there was no way of making that work, or any support at all elsewhere.

Simply not a credible option. And Austria was not going to go to bat in any significant way.

There was a lack of agreement about who and what to replace him with. There was a distaste for all options. No one really liked the bourbons. But the continuance of the Napoleonic regime was unacceptable to all.

You have to show that this vagueness about the end political goal actually impacted events directly. Thats it would stop the campaign.
 
Jul 2018
496
Hong Kong
#19
Now continue the Argument #1B and Argument #1C.

Poland-Saxony Question

Russia aimed for annexing the entire Poland (with the excuse of granting liberty to Poles), while Prussia intended for seizing the whole Kingdom of Saxony (with the excuse of the Saxon king Frederick August I obstinately sided with Napoleon until the last moment), Metternich was awared of their planning and worried of their over-expansion might threaten the security of Habsburg. For ensuring the Habsburg interest and maintaining the balance of power, Metternich knew that they need to be keep at bay. Therefore, he probably need Napoleon as his "bargain" to forcing Russia and Prussia concession over the territorial gains.

The evidence of conflicting interests — Frankfurt Proposals

Metternich already made his move prior to the Allied invasion of France — he offered peace to France in the Habsburg term in 10th November 1813 : allowing France to retain his "natural border" (encompassing the territories bounded by the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Rhine and the sea, even including Belgium, Savoy and Rhineland occupied after AD 1792) if Napoleon agreed for having peace. Such lenient peace conditions demonstrated the Habsburg's genuius desire in having peace with France. Yet Russia and Britain vehemently opposed it, so the negotiation was unsuccessful.

Despite of that, this event revealed the vulnerability of the Coalition : even during the Allied invasion of France in AD 1814, Napoleon might still had an opportunity for re-negotiation, which truly happened in subsequence in February 1814. Had Napoleon scored greater success and displayed better diplomatic skills, the psychological and realistic pressure upon the Coalition would be exerted even greater, might resulted in greater chance that the Habsburg would seriously consider the peace with Napoleon.

~ Next time : I'll analyze about the military divergence of the Coalition, and the weaknesses of Schwarzenberg and Blucher ~
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,516
#20
Now continue the Argument #1B and Argument #1C.

Poland-Saxony Question

Russia aimed for annexing the entire Poland (with the excuse of granting liberty to Poles), while Prussia intended for seizing the whole Kingdom of Saxony (with the excuse of the Saxon king Frederick August I obstinately sided with Napoleon until the last moment), Metternich was awared of their planning and worried of their over-expansion might threaten the security of Habsburg. For ensuring the Habsburg interest and maintaining the balance of power, Metternich knew that they need to be keep at bay. Therefore, he probably need Napoleon as his "bargain" to forcing Russia and Prussia concession over the territorial gains.
theese tension only really emrged later. Yeah thet were ocncerns but until push was coming to shove at veinna they were not explosive, which is far too late to help Napoloen.

The evidence of conflicting interests — Frankfurt Proposals

Metternich already made his move prior to the Allied invasion of France — he offered peace to France in the Habsburg term in 10th November 1813 : allowing France to retain his "natural border" (encompassing the territories bounded by the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Rhine and the sea, even including Belgium, Savoy and Rhineland occupied after AD 1792) if Napoleon agreed for having peace. Such lenient peace conditions demonstrated the Habsburg's genuius desire in having peace with France. Yet Russia and Britain vehemently opposed it, so the negotiation was unsuccessful.

Despite of that, this event revealed the vulnerability of the Coalition : even during the Allied invasion of France in AD 1814, Napoleon might still had an opportunity for re-negotiation, which truly happened in subsequence in February 1814. Had Napoleon scored greater success and displayed better diplomatic skills, the psychological and realistic pressure upon the Coalition would be exerted even greater, might resulted in greater chance that the Habsburg would seriously consider the peace with Napoleon.
Proposals that were not accepted by anyone else. Who would have invaded regardless of what Austria did. (and conceivably been better off if they had without Austria's "help")

Insincerely proposals are pretty common in this era. Napoleon accepts, Brittan, Prussia, Russia invade kick his sorry arse and leave Austria out of the peace settlement, AUstria would have been force dto jion teh invasion or be faced with just accpeting whatever deal was hammered out without them.

you gotta link these claims to something that actually could have affected the cmapaign.