Invasion of Russia in 1812 - Provoked or not?

Sep 2010
3,538
Somewhere in the former First French Empire
Many people see Napoleon as imperialistic monster who wanted to conquer the whole of Europe. Well I find that a really misplaced view of such a great man. Actually when you think about it most wars were more enforced on Napoleon then just an imperialistic acts on the side of Napoleon. The only true imperialistic mission of Napoleon was his Spanish invasion. Still most people see Russia also among them. Also this I find the wrong view on reality that was created by the coalition powers.

The truth is that Napoleon had little choice then to declare war on Russia. Why well because of this:

- Napoleon tried to establish a lasting peace between the two by proposing a marriage between him and Anna Palowna. This was utterly refused by the Tsar.
- Russia rearmed rapidly and concentrated his forces mostly on the Polish border. (signed a sudden peace with the Ottomans)
- Russia broke the treaty of Tilsit by again trading with the English while this was forbidden in change of mildness on Napoleon's side especially towards the Prussian King.
- Napoleon's foreign minister Taleyrand poisened Alexanders mind by telling him to oppose Napoleon.

The campaign itself is also regared as imperialistic. This I find total nonsense. Napoleon just went in the offense and had to cross fast territories. That's why he had to live from the land after a certain time when his supply lines became really thin. He could easily have gone into defense, but anyone who knows Napoleon a bit knows that defense is not Napoleons thing.


But of course Napoleon is not the angel in this story, but certainly Alexander had at least as much fault in this as Napoleon.
 
Dec 2010
1,946
Newfoundland
Yeh I wouldn't call Russia the good guy or anything but I always had the idea that one of the biggest reasons Bony invaded Russia is because they were screwing up his plans to destroy Britain. That makes me sympathize with the Russians. Though I am sure the Russians deserved a bruising, Britain did not.
 
Sep 2010
3,538
Somewhere in the former First French Empire
Yeh I wouldn't call Russia the good guy or anything but I always had the idea that one of the biggest reasons Bony invaded Russia is because they were screwing up his plans to destroy Britain. That makes me sympathize with the Russians. Though I am sure the Russians deserved a bruising, Britain did not.
Said like a true member of the British commenwealth :p.
 

SPERRO

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,480
North East England
At Tilsit, all sorts of promises were made between the emporers. The fact is that after the agreement napoleon knew that he would have to take military action to bring Russia in line.
The agreement at Tilsit gave both sides the breathing space to prepare for the inevitiable conflict.

JC
 

ktisis

Ad Honorem
Aug 2009
2,152
Russia, Msk
Many people see Napoleon as imperialistic monster who wanted to conquer the whole of Europe. Well I find that a really misplaced view of such a great man. Actually when you think about it most wars were more enforced on Napoleon then just an imperialistic acts on the side of Napoleon. The only true imperialistic mission of Napoleon was his Spanish invasion. Still most people see Russia also among them. Also this I find the wrong view on reality that was created by the coalition powers.

The truth is that Napoleon had little choice then to declare war on Russia. Why well because of this:

- Napoleon tried to establish a lasting peace between the two by proposing a marriage between him and Anna Palowna. This was utterly refused by the Tsar.
- Russia rearmed rapidly and concentrated his forces mostly on the Polish border. (signed a sudden peace with the Ottomans)
- Russia broke the treaty of Tilsit by again trading with the English while this was forbidden in change of mildness on Napoleon's side especially towards the Prussian King.
- Napoleon's foreign minister Taleyrand poisened Alexanders mind by telling him to oppose Napoleon.

The campaign itself is also regared as imperialistic. This I find total nonsense. Napoleon just went in the offense and had to cross fast territories. That's why he had to live from the land after a certain time when his supply lines became really thin. He could easily have gone into defense, but anyone who knows Napoleon a bit knows that defense is not Napoleons thing.
Yes, the maniac* had attacked his victim because it had provoked him... Not because he`s a maniac...

- Napoleon tried to establish a lasting peace between the two by proposing a marriage between him and Anna Palowna. This was utterly refused by the Tsar.
The Russian economy suffered a huge damage. No wedding could compensate it. Russia couldn`t follow the terms of the Tilsit treaty for a long time. Napoleon had to understand it if he was a great man.

- Russia broke the treaty of Tilsit by again trading with the English while this was forbidden in change of mildness on Napoleon's side especially towards the Prussian King.
Napoleon, too, was not a bunny. He meddled in Russian affairs in the Middle East, although according to the Tilsit treaty, he had no right to do so. Napoleon refused to withdraw his troops from Prussia, in breach of the Tilsit treaty. He annexed Western Galicia to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. It was a step against Russian interests. And he occupied the Duchy of Oldenburg.

The truth is that Napoleon had little choice then to declare war on Russia.
I guess the reason was he had to take into account russian position in his european affairs (especially after he got bogged down in Spain).
____________________________
* Of course I don`t think that Napoleon was a maniac.
 
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HistoryFreak1912

Ad Honorem
Apr 2009
4,428
Alabama, USA
Hey, I like Bony as much as you do, jeroenrottgering, however I must agree with both Pancho35 and ktisis. If Napoleon were a smart fellow, he'd not meddle in Russian affairs, not want to wage endless war with Britain and just rule peacefully as emperor of France.
 

Bismarck

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
2,847
rangiora
... The only true imperialistic mission of Napoleon was his Spanish invasion. ...
Spain was conquered almost by accident and certainly most unexpectedly. I certainly don't think it was part of any master-plan on his part. Like most of his wars, I am sure he felt as though he had been forced into most of them. Napoleon only displayed 'imperialistic' tendencies (and we mustn't forget that the term in its modern meaning was used only after Napoleon was long dead; so, it is an anachronism if we continue to talk in terms of his 'imperial ambition') if it involved threatening Britain's empire, such as it was. Thus, he didn't go after Egypt simply to add to the French empire, but to threaten Britain's. The conquest of Spain was a by-product of the same policy applied to Portugal.
 
Mar 2011
437
Spain was conquered almost by accident and certainly most unexpectedly. I certainly don't think it was part of any master-plan on his part.
It certainly was part of his master-plan. The Peninsular Campaign was undertaken for the sole reason of forcing the Spanish and Portugese to enforce the Continental Blockade.
 
May 2011
525
UK
telling someone they cant trade with someone else is imperialism. Napoleon wanted dominance over the whole of europe, the same as Hitler. if you say otherwise, you're deluding yourself