- Confederation of the Rhine
Confederation of the Rhine
États confédérés du Rhin (fr)
Confederation of clients of the French Empire ← 1806–1813 → Unofficial flag Imperial Standard of
Capital Frankfurt Language(s) Official languages:
Political structure Confederation
Protector (Emperor of the French)
- 1806–13 Napoleon I
Prince-Primate (Grand Duke of Frankfurt)
- 1806–1813 Karl von Dalberg - 1813 Eugène de Beauharnais Historical era Napoleonic Wars - Formation 12 July 1806 - Holy Roman Empire dissolved 6 August 1806 - Collapse 4 November 1813 Today part of Austria
The Confederation of the Rhine (German: Rheinbund; French: États confédérés du Rhin, officially "Confederated States of the Rhine", but in practice Confédération du Rhin) was a confederation of client states of the First French Empire. It was formed initially from 16 German states by Napoleon after he defeated Austria's Francis II and Russia's Alexander I in the Battle of Austerlitz. The Treaty of Pressburg, in effect, led to the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine. It lasted from 1806 to 1813.
The members of the confederation were German princes (Fürsten) from the Holy Roman Empire. They were later joined by 19 others, all together ruling a total of over 15 million subjects providing a significant strategic advantage to the French Empire on its eastern front.
On 12 July 1806, on signing the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine (German: Rheinbundakte), 16 states in present-day Germany formally left the Holy Roman Empire and joined together in a confederation (the treaty called it the états confédérés du Rhin, with a precursor in the League of the Rhine). Napoleon was its "protector." On 6 August, following an ultimatum by Napoleon, Francis II gave up his title of Emperor and declared the Holy Roman Empire dissolved. In the years that followed, 23 more German states joined the Confederation; Francis's Habsburg dynasty would rule the remainder of the empire as Austria. Only Austria, Prussia, Danish Holstein, and Swedish Pomerania stayed outside, not counting the west bank of the Rhine and Principality of Erfurt, which were annexed by the French empire.
According to the treaty, the confederation was to be run by common constitutional bodies, but the individual states (in particular the larger ones) wanted unlimited sovereignty.
Instead of a monarchical head of state, as the Holy Roman Emperor had been, its highest office was held by Karl Theodor von Dalberg, the former Arch Chancellor, who now bore the title of a Prince-Primate of the confederation. As such, he was President of the College of Kings and presided over the Diet of the Confederation, designed to be a parliament-like body though it never actually assembled. The President of the Council of the Princes was the Prince of Nassau-Usingen.
The Confederation was above all a military alliance: the members had to supply France with large numbers of military personnel. In return for their cooperation some state rulers were given higher statuses: Baden, Hesse, Cleves, and Berg were made into grand duchies, and Württemberg and Bavaria became kingdoms. States were also made larger by incorporating the many smaller "Kleinstaaten," or small former imperial member states.
After Prussia lost to France in 1806, many medium-sized and small states joined the Rheinbund. It was at its largest in 1808, including four kingdoms, five grand duchies, 13 duchies, seventeen principalities, and the Free Hansa towns of Hamburg, Lübeck, and Bremen.
The Confederation of the Rhine collapsed in 1813, with the aftermath of Napoleon's failed campaign against the Russian Empire. Many of its members changed sides after the Battle of Leipzig, when it became apparent Napoleon would lose the War of the Sixth Coalition.
The following table shows the members of the confederation, with their date of joining, as well as the number of troops provided, listed in parentheses.
The College of Kings
Flag Member monarchy Year joined Notes Grand Duchy of Baden 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former margraviate (8,000) Kingdom of Bavaria 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former duchy (30,000) Grand Duchy of Berg 12 July 1806 Co-founder; absorbed Cleves, both formerly Duchies (5,000) Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former landgraviate (4,000) Principality of Regensburg 12 July 1806 Co-founder; formerly Prince-Archbishopric and Electorate; after 1810 the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt Kingdom of Saxony 11 December 1806 Former duchy (20,000) Kingdom of Westphalia 15 November 1807 Napoleonic creation (25,000) Kingdom of Württemberg 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former duchy (12,000) Grand Duchy of Würzburg 23 September 1806 Napoleonic creation (2,000)
The College of Princes
Flag Member monarchy Year joined Notes Duchy of Anhalt-Bernburg 11 April 1807 (700) Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau 11 April 1807 (700) Duchy of Anhalt-Köthen 11 April 1807 (700) Duchy of Arenberg 12 July 1806 Co-founder; mediatized 13 December 1810 (4000) Principality of Hohenzollern-Hechingen 12 July 1806 Co-founder (4000) Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen 12 July 1806 Co-founder (4000) Principality of Isenburg-Birstein 12 July 1806 Co-founder (4000) Principality of Leyen 12 July 1806 Co-founder; former countship or graviate (4000) Principality of Liechtenstein 12 July 1806 Co-founder (4000) Principality of Lippe-Detmold 11 April 1807 (650) Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin 22 March 1808 (1900) Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 18 February 1808 (400) Duchy of Nassau (Usingen and Weilburg) 12 July 1806* Union of Nassau-Usingen and Nassau-Weilburg, both co-founders (4000 each) Duchy of Oldenburg 14 October 1808 annexed by France 13 December 1810 (800) Principality of Reuss-Ebersdorf 11 April 1807 (400) Principality of Reuss-Greiz 11 April 1807 (400) Principality of Reuss-Lobenstein 11 April 1807 (400) Principality of Reuss-Schleiz 11 April 1807 (400) Principality of Salm (Salm-Salm and Salm-Kyrburg) 25 July 1806 Co-founder; annexed by France 13 December 1810 (4000) Duchy of Saxe-Coburg 15 December 1806 (Saxon duchies total 2000) Duchy of Saxe-Gotha 15 December 1806 Duchy of Saxe-Hildburghausen 15 December 1806 Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen 15 December 1806 Duchy of Saxe-Weimar 15 December 1806 Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe 11 April 1807 (650) Principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt 11 April 1807 (650) Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen 11 April 1807 (650) Principality of Waldeck 11 April 1807 (400)
The allies opposing Napoleon dissolved the Confederation of the Rhine 4 November 1813. After its demise, the only attempt at political coordination in Germany until the creation on 8 June 1815 of the German Confederation was a body called the Central Administration Council (German: Zentralverwaltungsrat); its President was Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr vom und zum Stein (1757 – 1831). It was dissolved on 20 June 1815.
On 30 May 1814 the Treaty of Paris declared the German states independent.
In 1815, the Congress of Vienna redrew the continent's political map. In fact, most surviving members had only minor border changes, and the resulting German Confederation consisted more or less of the same members as the Confederation of the Rhine, with the important addition of the two German great powers of Austria and Prussia.
Client states of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1792–1815) French client
Europe at the height of Napoleon's Empire Other
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