What were the Coalitions during Napoleon's time?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The Napoleonic Wars that pitted the various coalitions led by Great Britain against France began in 1793 when a number of nations banded together in the hopes of defeating the new French Republic. France assembled a massive force, primarily through conscription, to battle England and her allies, which became known as the First Coalition. Led by Napoleon, the French were victorious.

  • First Coalition Nations and Kingdoms: Great Britain, Austria, Sardinia,  Naples, Prussia, and Spain.

During the wars involving the Second Coalition, Great Britain and her allies won a number of victories against the French, who were without Napoleon. When Napoleon returned from Egypt in 1799, he took control of the government and reorganized and realigned his armies. The French were again victorious following victories at Marengo and Hohenlinden in 1800, forcing the Austrians and British to sign peace treaties.

  • Second Coalition Nations, Kingdoms and States: Great Britain, Austria, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Naples, the Ottoman Empire, Papal States, and other states.

The British Treaty of Amiens (1802) lasted only about a year before the two sides began warring again. Napoleon declared himself emperor in 1804 and closed trading territories with the British. As Napoleon assembled an army of more than 2.5 million men (Great Britain had only one-tenth that number), the Third Coalition of nations attempted to defeat the French: Once again, Napoleon's troops were victorious, crushing the Austrian and Russian armies at his masterpiece--Austerlitz--before another treaty was signed in 1805.

  • Third Coalition Nations:  Great Britain, Austria, Russia, Sweden.

The Fourth Coalition (1806-1807) primarily involved the Prussian army, which was totally overrun by the French before Napoleon forced another peace treaty.

  • Fourth Coalition Nations:  Great Britain, Prussia, Russia, Saxony, and Sweden.

Napoleon was again victorious against Fifth Coalition (1809) land forces, although England defeated France in a number of sea engagements. By 1810, France controlled most of mainland Europe.

  • Fifth Coalition Nations:  Great Britain, Austria, Spain, Portugal

France was finally defeated in the War of the Sixth Coalition (1812-1814) in which Napoleon was often outnumbered by as much as seven-to-one. The defeat of France resulted in Napoleon being exiled to Elba in 1814.

  • Sixth Coalition Nations:  Great Britain, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, several German states.

Napoleon's final battles came during the War of the Seventh Coaltion in 1815 following his return from Elba. Outnumbered nearly three-to-one, he met his end at Waterloo, Belgium in June 1815.   

  • Seventh Coalition Nations:  Great Britain, Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, and German states.
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