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How did Great Britain react to the Continental System?

Great Britain reacted to the Continental System by passing its own embargo in 1807, prohibiting any of its trading partners from trading with France. British merchants also smuggled goods to Europe, particularly through Russia.

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The Continental System or Continental Blockade is the name given to the embargo against British trade in continental Europe imposed by Napoleon I between the end of 1806 and the Emperor's first abdication in April 1814.

The British government responded to the Continental System by passing its own trade embargo by Orders in Council (legislation passed directly by the sovereign) in 1807. These Orders prohibited any of Britain's trading partners from engaging in trade with France. They also required all foreign ships to stop in British ports so that they could be checked to see whether they were carrying military supplies to the French. Any ship refusing to do so was liable to be sunk.

This response caused various ancillary battles on the fringes of the Napoleonic Wars, such as the Battle of Copenhagen (1807), in which the British attempted to prevent the Danish from joining the Continental System. It also led to tensions with the United States of America, culminating in the War of 1812.

Unofficially, the response of British merchants to the Continental System was to engage in widespread and effective smuggling. There was little that Napoleon could do to stop this, and his futile attempts to curb trade between Britain and Russia were largely to blame for his disastrous Russian campaign of 1812.

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