Amiens and Munich: Comparisons in Appeasement

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It lasted until his opponents became wise to the method, both in the drawing room and in battle! The bluff succeeded and Hawkesbury signed the Preliminary Treaty of London on the night of the 1st of October The terms were for Britain to return all colonies as described above, and to withdraw from Malta and the other Mediterranean ports that she had occupied. France would restore Egypt, withdraw from Naples and Switzerland and guarantee Portugal.

The very next day word arrived the garrison of Alexandria had opened negotiations for surrender. It hardly mattered in the face of the rapturous reception that the news of peace received on both sides of the channel.

When Napoleon's ratification of the Hawkesbury-Otto agreement reached London the crowds spontaneously took the horses from General Lauriston's carriage and pulled it by hand to Downing Street such was their enthusiasm. On the 22nd of October the blockade was lifted and Europe was finally at peace once more. Not everyone in England was as pleased.


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The King later after the definitive peace settlement was signed, called it an "experimental peace". Pitt's old cabinet were even less enthusiastic, damning the concessions at the same time fearing for the future. But with Pitt solidly standing behind Addington and speaking in the commons in favour of the peace there was nothing they could do. The opposition led by Fox had never supported the war in the first place and so readily embraced peace only blaming the government for not making it earlier. There was no vote taken in the Commons and in the Lords only 10 voted against compared to for.

Therefore peace it was, and 11 October Addington passed his budget. We can be absolutely certain that Britain genuinely expected a lasting settlement because the budget completely undermined Britain's economic war footing. Pitt's income tax was abolished it was universally understood that this would be part of the dividend of peace , naval expenditures were reduced by 2 million pounds and naval construction suspended.

Peace of Amiens 1801

Within a few months the number of ships of the Line was reduced from over to less than 40, the volunteers were disbanded and the army halved. A few days after the agreement on 8 October Napoleon also came to terms with the new Tsar Alexander. France conceded all that had been given to Paul but this time without any reciprocal support. Among the things this agreement stipulated was that Naples would be evacuated and the door was opened to Russian mediation with the Sultan over the question of Egypt.

In short Napoleon appeared to concede everything the Tsar demanded but in reality he only offered the Tsar an empty hand that he had already given away to Hawkesbury. But an important consideration; his agreement with Russia was secret lest Britain discover that he was tied to his concessions by other commitments and thus weakening his position. However although Europe was now at peace the agreement worked out between Hawkesbury and Otto had been quite properly nothing more than the basis for an armistice.

There was much to work out before a formal peace treaty could be concluded. Since the agreement had disposed of Spain and Holland's former colonies as well as France's, these two countries would have to be involved. With the Batavian and Cisalpine republics now evidently a fact of life although Napoleon had given assurances of the Batavian Republic's independence there was the question of compensation for Britain's erstwhile allies the Prince of Orange and the King of Sardinia.

There were the mechanics of returning Malta to the Knights of St John and its great power guarantee to be worked out.

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Finally a matter dear to Britain's heart there was the question of reopening commercial ties. The negotiations for the final peace settlement were to take place at Amiens in France unlike the initial agreement which had been negotiated in London. This brought about a profound change in the nature of the diplomacy.

Epub Amiens And Munich Comparisons In Appeasement

While Otto had been passing on Napoleon's instructions direct to Hawkesbury and by extension to the British government; at Amiens Britain too would have to appoint an agent who would by necessity have to act on his own cognisance for long stretches at a time. The nature of a conference although it was to be in France, meant that Napoleon would also have to appoint a delegate. A hundred miles north west of Paris his communications were shorter; but still meant the French delegate would have personal influence on proceedings rather than simply being Napoleons mouthpiece.

Why did Hawkesbury not go as plenipotentiary himself since this was clearly his responsibility as Foreign Secretary? Perhaps given his inexperience he did not have the full confidence of Addington so far from home.

Ernst Presseisen, 82, a Temple professor

Another candidate was Whitworth the ambassador to St Petersburg who had clearly proved his adroitness in highly flammable postings. But the man settled on was the 62 year old Lord Cornwallis. Cornwallis appeared at first glance to be an ideal choice. He was one of his country's senior statesmen, untarnished by partisanship either for or against the war but rather with a history of diplomatic and civil achievements.

Comparisons in Appeasement

Unfortunate hero of the American Revolution he had gone on to become a highly successful governor-general of India and on his return joined the cabinet as master-general of ordnance before serving as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland Essentially his duty there was to secure the Act of Union combining the Irish parliament with Britain's and this he accomplished by a string of concessions and handouts; and this was hardly promising portents for dealing with revolutionary France.

Even more troubling, his health and morale were poorly fortified for the task ahead. In September he accurately described himself as, "out of sorts, low-spirited and tired of everything But did he have sufficient resolve? Napoleon's delegate was his brother Joseph who had some experience in treaty negotiations. He had negotiated the Treaty of Luneville on his brother's behalf, but as before, the degree that he was able to influence matters must always be mitigated by the presumptive actions of Napoleon and by the machinations of Talleyrand.


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  • Before the peace conference moved to Amiens to sit down with the Spanish and Dutch representatives Napoleon invited Cornwallis to Paris for the "festival of peace. The festival on the 9th included illuminations and fireworks and a state dinner at Tuilleries. As a mark of honour Cornwallis's carriage was the only one allowed on the streets of Paris. The negotiations began with two brief audiences Cornwallis had with Napoleon in Paris. The First Consul was warm and positive about the peace but proved uncompromising and not at all conciliatory.

    Already Britain was wanting to change the initial agreement but perhaps with an element of utilitarianism about it. The planters of Tobago themselves were petitioning cabinet against return to French rule. As Tobago nicely complimented the acquisition of Trinidad a formula had been concocted that would accomplish this: namely that Britain would retain Tobago and compensate France by the cancellation of the debt for the maintenance of French prisoners during the war. Napoleon was outraged and furthermore denied any obligation for the maintenance of prisoners of war.

    Since none other than Pitt had defended the treaty in the commons by proclaiming the value of Trinidad as a war gain, it is little wonder that Napoleon was mortified by this inequitable offer. But all the same Cornwallis was already finding Napoleon and Talleyrand intractable, obstinate and double-dealing. In December the negotiations moved to Amiens and Joseph took over as French negotiator.

    Joseph had a reputation for honesty and moderation but Cornwallis found him inconsistent and shifty. Perhaps this in some way reflected the communications and instructions that Joseph was receiving. Cornwallis cannot have been any easier to deal with. He was apparently sleepy and lacking in alertness, and his slow protracted means of doing business drew complaints. For all these difficulties the two chief negotiators had a will and genuine desire to reach agreement and complete the peace settlement between their respective countries.

    However they had also to contend with a shifting backdrop for their negotiations. In December Napoleon despatched an expedition of 25, men to St Domingo to recapture the island from the black rebel leader Toussiant l'Ouverture. In truth there may also have been domestic expediencies for Napoleon to send certain troops out to the far flung colonies, but this was seen as presumptive by Britain whereby it was taking advantage of the lifting of the blockade before the peace settlement had been concluded.

    Although at French expedition was potentially threatening to British overseas trade, Hawkesbury and Addington had granted permission for this expedition and had despatched Admiral Mitchell with a squadron to watch them. But it only got worst. Given that the basis of peace had largely been the fait accompli of France's redrawing of the European map it would have been naive to expect Napoleon to release his grip on the daughter Batavian, Helvetic and Cisalpine Republics before they could stand on their own feet.

    Nevertheless here lies the crux of the peace problem. If France was expected to continue to prop up and tinker with these Republics she certainly wasn't expected to actually improve her own position regarding them.

    It had perhaps never occurred to anyone that a stipulation of the peace settlement with Britain needed to be that Napoleon would abide by his previous peace settlements. Surely if that needed to be said then it called into question the integrity of the current settlement also.