First French Empire
The First French Empire, Note 1 was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Its name was a misnomer, as France already had colonies overseas and was short lived compared to the Colonial Empire, a series of wars, known collectively as the Napoleonic Wars, extended French influence over much of Western Europe and into Poland. The plot included Bonapartes brother Lucien, serving as speaker of the Council of Five Hundred, Roger Ducos, another Director, on 9 November 1799 and the following day, troops led by Bonaparte seized control. They dispersed the legislative councils, leaving a rump legislature to name Bonaparte, Sieyès, although Sieyès expected to dominate the new regime, the Consulate, he was outmaneuvered by Bonaparte, who drafted the Constitution of the Year VIII and secured his own election as First Consul. He thus became the most powerful person in France, a power that was increased by the Constitution of the Year X, the Battle of Marengo inaugurated the political idea that was to continue its development until Napoleons Moscow campaign.
Napoleon planned only to keep the Duchy of Milan for France, setting aside Austria, the Peace of Amiens, which cost him control of Egypt, was a temporary truce. He gradually extended his authority in Italy by annexing the Piedmont and by acquiring Genoa, Parma and Naples, he laid siege to the Roman state and initiated the Concordat of 1801 to control the material claims of the pope. Napoleon would have ruling elites from a fusion of the new bourgeoisie, on 12 May 1802, the French Tribunat voted unanimously, with exception of Carnot, in favour of the Life Consulship for the leader of France. This action was confirmed by the Corps Législatif, a general plebiscite followed thereafter resulting in 3,653,600 votes aye and 8,272 votes nay. On 2 August 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Consul for life, pro-revolutionary sentiment swept through Germany aided by the Recess of 1803, which brought Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden to Frances side. The memories of imperial Rome were for a time, after Julius Caesar and Charlemagne.
The Treaty of Pressburg, signed on 26 December 1805, did little other than create a more unified Germany to threaten France. On the other hand, Napoleons creation of the Kingdom of Italy, the occupation of Ancona, to create satellite states, Napoleon installed his relatives as rulers of many European states. The Bonapartes began to marry into old European monarchies, gaining sovereignty over many nations, in addition to the vassal titles, Napoleons closest relatives were granted the title of French Prince and formed the Imperial House of France. Met with opposition, Napoleon would not tolerate any neutral power, Prussia had been offered the territory of Hanover to stay out of the Third Coalition. With the diplomatic situation changing, Napoleon offered Great Britain the province as part of a peace proposal and this, combined with growing tensions in Germany over French hegemony, Prussia responded by forming an alliance with Russia and sending troops into Bavaria on 1 October 1806. In this War of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon destroyed the armies of Frederick William at Jena-Auerstedt, the Eylau and the Friedland against the Russians finally ruined Frederick the Greats formerly mighty kingdom, obliging Russia and Prussia to make peace with France at Tilsit.
The Treaties of Tilsit ended the war between Russia and the French Empire and began an alliance between the two empires that held power of much of the rest of Europe, the two empires secretly agreed to aid each other in disputes
First Battle of Polotsk
The First Battle of Polotsk should be distinguished from the Second Battle of Polotsk which took place during the same campaign two months later. After the battle of Klyastitsy and several minor losses Oudinots Corps retreated to Polotsk, in the early morning of 17 August, the 1st Infantry Corps led by Wittgenstein attacked the French positions near the village of Spas, forcing the French to retreat. Oudinot transported additional units to the sector of the attack and counterattacked in the centre, by the night both the French and the Russians managed to keep their positions. Oudinot was wounded and had to hand over the command to Gouvion Saint-Cyr, the next morning Gouvion Saint-Cyr undertook a major offensive. He managed to mislead Wittgenstein about the area of the offensive, regroup his troops and suddenly attack the left flank, in the beginning the offensive was a major success, the French troops crushed the Russians and captured seven cannons. When the defeat seemed imminent, Wittgenstein organized a cavalry counterattack and it caused a scare among the French who had to cease the offensive and retreat.
On the other hand, Wittgenstein retreated to the Drissa, for the next two months both the French and the Russians did not attempt to upset the balance of powers. French-Bavarian losses numbered 6,000 killed and missing while the Russians lost 5,500, bavarian general officer losses were heavy. General of Infantry Bernhard Erasmus von Deroy was mortally wounded and General-Major Siebein was killed, general-Majors Vincenti and Raglovitch were both wounded. Among the French, both Oudinot and General of Brigade François Valentin were wounded, Russian Generals Berg and Kazatchkowski suffered wounds
Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres is forested and its strongest economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Belarus declared independence as the Belarusian Peoples Republic, the Socialist Soviet Republic of Byelorussia became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922 and was renamed as the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War of 1919–1921, during WWII, military operations devastated Belarus, which lost about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years, in 1945 the Byelorussian SSR became a founding member of the United Nations, along with the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian SSR. The parliament of the declared the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990. Alexander Lukashenko has served as the president since 1994.
Belarus has been labeled Europes last dictatorship by some Western journalists, Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy. Though not directly espousing communism like the five remaining communist countries of China, Laos and North Korea, in 2000 Belarus and Russia signed a treaty for greater cooperation, with some hints of forming a Union State. Over 70% of Belaruss population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas, more than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages and Russian, the Constitution of Belarus does not declare any official religion, although the primary religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Belarus is the only European country to retain capital punishment in both law and practice, the name Belarus is closely related with the term Belaya Rus, i. e. White Rus. There are several claims to the origin of the name White Rus, an alternate explanation for the name comments on the white clothing worn by the local Slavic population.
A third theory suggests that the old Rus lands that were not conquered by the Tatars had been referred to as white, other sources claim that, before 1267, the land not conquered by the Mongols was considered White Rus. The name Rus is often conflated with its Latin forms Russia and Ruthenia, in some languages, including German and Dutch, the country is generally called White Russia to this day. The Latin term Alba Russia was used again by Pope Pius VI in 1783 to recognize the Society of Jesus there, exclaiming Approbo Societatem Jesu in Alba Russia degentem, approbo. The first known use of White Russia to refer to Belarus was in the century by Englishman Sir Jerome Horsey. During the 17th century, the Russian tsars used White Rus to describe the lands added from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Battle of Vitebsk (1812)
The Battle of Vitebsk, sometimes spelled Witepsk, was a military engagement that took place on 26 and 27 July 1812 during the French invasion of Russia. The battle occurred as Napoleon was trying to envelop the Russian First Army at Vitebsk, Barclays motivation to make a stand resulted from political pressures and from his own desire to improve the armys morale, after weeks of retreating without a fight. Barclays main concern for the day of 27 July was to keep the French at bay for long enough, in order to allow his main force to escape towards Smolensk, where he planned to unite with Bagration. Unbeknownst to Napoleon, the Russian army retreated during the afternoon and night, the Russian army made a hasty retreat and safely reached Smolensk, where they were able to unite with Bagration, just as planned. Towards mid-July, he launched a part of his forces in an enveloping action towards Vitebsk. There, a French force under Marshal Joachim Murat and General Etienne de Nansouty tried to pin down a superior force under Russian General Alexander Ivanovich Ostermann-Tolstoy.
While the Russians registered relatively high casualties, they were able to retreat in good order, the Russians themselves inflicted significant casualties on the enemy and crucially, delayed them for long enough to allow the concentration of significant forces around Vitebsk. Meanwhile, with the Russian army having continually retreated before the enemy ever since the campaign started an earlier, morale among the rank. Barclay was thus under pressure to fight and decided to do so at Vitebsk. However, Napoleons superior numbers and the weaknesses of Barclays battlefield position meant that the chances for a Russian victory were very weak at best. Konovnitsyn was extremely adept at leading rearguard actions and he managed to block all the attempts to advance. The French were thus unable to contact with the bulk of the Russian forces on 26 July. Meanwhile, at nightfall, Prince Aleksandr Meshikov, aide-de-camp to General Pyotr Bagration arrived at Barclays headquarters, Meshikov brought alarming news of the defeat of Bagrations Second Army at the Battle of Saltanovka, three days earlier, at the hands of Marshal Louis Nicolas Davout.
The Russians thus needed to abandon any plans to give battle, urgently break contact with the enemy and move southeast. Despite these considerations, Barclay still wanted to battle the next day and was only dissuaded from doing so by his advisers. That night, the commander issued orders for retreat, but the proximity of Napoleons force meant that a retreat would not be easy to operate. At daybreak on 27 July, Napoleon set his troops in motion, thrilled that he faced a massed enemy army. The battlefield at Vitebsk was a vast and flat plain and only the river Dvina separated the French forces from the Russians, who were occupying a slightly elevated position on the eastern bank
Vitebsk or Vitsebsk, is a city in Belarus. The capital of the Vitebsk Region, in 2004 it had 342,381 inhabitants and it is served by Vitebsk Vostochny Airport and Vitebsk air base. Vitebsk developed from a harbor where the Vitba River flows into the larger Western Dvina. Archaeological research indicates that at the mouth of Vitba there were settlements by Baltic tribes, according to the Chronicle of Michael Brigandine, Vitebsk was founded by Princess Olga of Kiev in 974. Other versions give 947 or 914, academician Boris Rybakov and historian Leonid Alekseyev, based on the chronicles, have come to the conclusion that Princess Olga of Kiev could have established Vitebsk in 947. Leonid Alekseyev suggested that the chroniclers, moving the date from the account of the Byzantine era to a new era, got the year 947, but mistakenly written in copying manuscripts 974. In the 12th and 13th centuries Vitebsk was the capital of the Principality of Vitebsk, in 1320 the city was incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania as a dowry of the Princess Maria, the first wife of Grand Duke of Lithuania Algirdas.
By 1351 the city had erected a stone Upper and Lower Castle, in 1410 Vitebsk participated in the Battle of Grunwald. In 1597, the townsfolk of Vitebsk were privileged with Magdeburg rights, the rights were taken away in 1623 after the citizens revolted against the imposed Union of Brest and killed Archbishop Josaphat Kuntsevych. During the First Partition of Poland in 1772, Vitebsk was annexed by the Russian Empire, under the Russian Empire the historic centre of Vitebsk was rebuilt with Neoclassical architecture. By World War II, Vitebsk had a significant Jewish population, according to Russian census of 1897, out of the population of 65,900. The most famous of its Jewish natives was the painter Marc Chagall, in 1924, it was returned to the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. During World War II, the city was under Nazi Germany occupation, much of the old city was destroyed in the ensuing battles between the Germans and the Red Army soldiers. Most of the local Jews perished in the Vitebsk Ghetto massacre, in the first postwar five-year period the city was rebuilt.
In the structure of its industrial complex stands machinery and light industry, in 1959, a TV tower was commissioned and started broadcasting the 1st Central Television program. In the same year during excavations on the Liberation Square, a scroll was found dating from the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries. It read, From Stpana to Nezhilovi, also, if hast sold trousers, buy me rye for 6 hryvnia. And if some didst not sold, send to my person, and if thou hast sold, do good to buy rye for me In January 1991, Vitebsk celebrated the first Marc Chagall Festival
Yevgeny Viktorovich Tarle was a Soviet historian and academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is known for his books about Napoleons invasion of Russia and on the Crimean War, yevgeny Tarle was one of the founders of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Russias diplomatic university. Tarle was a historian who lived and worked both under Tsarist and Soviet regimes and he witnessed the whole period in which Joseph Stalin held power. The Stalinist era had exceedingly strict ideological pressure on scholarly research in the Soviet Union in science, together with art, education, thus, it was inevitable for historians to face that pressure while doing their scholarly works. The secrecy of the made the historical study of the Soviet Union, especially Stalin. In the Stalin era the Party’s total control of archives, publishing houses, historians’ appointments, “History was the handmaiden of ideology and politics. The leader and his intimates could manipulate the historical record as it suited them in their struggle to gain and maintain power.
”When the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, Tarle was born in Ukraine in a Jewish family on 8 November 1874. His father was a government official and he completed Gymnasium in Kherson in 1892 and afterward entered the University of Kiev to study history and philosophy. He was “the most distinguished student of Ivan Vasilevich Luchitski of the University of Kiev. ”After finishing his education at the University of Kiev. He defended his master’s thesis in 1901 and became a lecturer at the University of St. Petersburg in 1903, to achieve his doctoral degree, he completed a two-volume dissertation about France. His interest in France increased in time, he completed work on the economic history of France in 1916. Tarle was able to travel outside of Russia several times before the Revolution in 1917 and he had done research in the libraries and archives of Western Europe for all his early works. He even read a paper at the World Congress of Historical Studies held in London in 1913, the number of his works prior to the Revolution amounted to 211.
The second and last time that Soviet historians appeared abroad was at the “Sixth International Congress of Historians” in Oslo in September,1928, Tarle had been proposed as a participant at the latter, but did not appear, as at the last moment he was recalled. Tarle’s Soviet biographers did not mention his political views prior the Bolshevik Revolution, “He had even held a rather negative attitude towards it at first. ”Russian historical scholarship was deeply affected by the Revolution. Despite this, Tarle remained at the University of St. Petersburg, however, in RAINON, “most researchers were specialists who had been trained under the old regime. The historians among them had to change their fields and study the movement or socio-economic problems. In 1921, he became a “corresponding member” of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, from 1922 to 1924, with F
Battle of Berezina
The battle ended with a mixed outcome. The French suffered very heavy losses but managed to cross the river, since Bérézina has been used in French as a synonym for disaster. As the surviving masses of the Grande Armée struggled on for the safety of the west. The French had suffered a defeat just two weeks earlier during the Battle of Krasnoi, the Russians had approximately 61,000 troops at the Berezina, with another 54,000 under Kutuzov just 40 miles to the east who were approaching the river. Napoleons plan was to cross the Berezina River and head for Poland, while his enemies wanted to him there. The original plan to cross the river quickly proved impossible. The nearby bridge at Borisov had been destroyed and most of the equipment to build a bridge had been destroyed a few days earlier. Marshal Oudinot was given the task of drawing off the admiral, the plan worked, and Eblés Dutch engineers braved ferociously cold water to construct the vital 100-metre bridge. Hypothermic death in less than 30 minutes of exposure was likely, the four Swiss infantry regiments acted as the rearguard.
Cavalry quickly crossed it followed by infantry to hold the bridgehead, the Swiss suffered terrible losses, but managed to cover both positions and the retreat. This struggle is depicted in the Beresinalied, the Swiss heroic stand saved most of the French troops. A second structure opened within hours and cannons were taken across it to bolster the defensive perimeter and they arrived just in time, as Chichagov realised his error and attacked the 11,000 French troops. By midday of the 27th, Napoleon and his Imperial Guard were across, and the strategy now swung to saving the Swiss rearguard, one of the spans broke in the late afternoon, but more feats of engineering skill had it repaired by early evening. The corps of Marshal Davout and Prince Eugene crossed, leaving Marshal Victors IX Corps to hold off the enemy on the east bank, there is considerable disagreement regarding the numbers of casualties on both sides. While some 22,000 French men became casualties, these included a number of stragglers.
A higher estimate is provided by historian Jacques Garnier, who places French losses at 25,000 combatants,25 cannon and 20,000 civilian stragglers, of which around 10,000 were massacred by Cossacks. Russian casualties were high, and although a very moderate 19th century Russian estimate places them at 6,000 they probably amounted to 20,000 men. Historian Alain Pigeard offers more moderate figures, between 13,000 and 16,000 men for the French,13,000 men for the Russians, among the French casualties were three generals and four colonels, killed during this battle
Battle of Smolensk (1812)
Napoleon attacked Smolensk occupied by Russian General Bagrations corps and captured two of the suburbs. During the night the Russians evacuated the burning city, the Battle of Smolensk is commemorated on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with the inscription SMOLENSK17 VIII1812. Initially the Russians employed hit and run tactics against the Grande Armée, Napoleon therefore devised the Smolensk Manoeuvre in an attempt to sweep behind the enemy and inflict a decisive defeat. On August 14,1812 forces under the command of Joachim Murat, Marshal Davout, and Michel Ney crossed the Dnieper River at Rassna using bridges constructed overnight. The plan was to race toward the city, taking it without a fight, unfortunately for the French, conflicting orders and a breakdown in communication had already led Bagration to disobey orders and instead of marching west, he occupied Smolensk to the south. By August 16, French forces found the city heavily garrisoned by Bagrations troops, further reinforced with the subsequent arrival of Barclay and the main Russian army.
Smolensk, a fortress city of 12,600 inhabitants on the main Western invasion route to Moscow was defended by bastion towers. The River Dnieper ran through the middle, the main battle was fought on August 16. An initial probing force captured two suburbs but failed to bring the Russians out to battle, Napoleon ordered a general assault with three corps of the Grande Armée, supported by two hundred artillery pieces. By nightfall, most of the city was burning, estimates of casualties vary, Alain Pigeard quotes French losses at 4,200 and Russian at 4, 000–6,000. Around dawn on August 17, Grande Armée Polish forces successfully breached the walls, Barclay retained forces on the other side of the river preventing a crossing until the night of August the 18th. The city was almost completely destroyed, technically the battle of Smolensk was a victory for Napoleon as he captured the city. However his soldiers were running short of food and its destruction denied him a useful supply base. Napoleons invasion of Russia Battle of Smolensk Jean-Victor Poncelet Color Map of the Battle of Smolensk in 1812
Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino was a battle fought on 7 September 1812 in the Napoleonic Wars during the French invasion of Russia. The fighting involved around 250,000 troops and left at least 70,000 casualties, Napoleons Grande Armée launched an attack against the Russian army, driving it back from its initial positions but failing to gain a decisive victory. Both armies were exhausted after the battle and the Russians withdrew from the field the following day, Borodino represented the last Russian effort at stopping the French advance on Moscow, which fell a week later. After a series of Russian retreats at the beginning of the campaign, Mikhail Kutuzov was appointed as his replacement. In a final attempt to save Moscow, the Russians made a stand near the village of Borodino and they fortified their positions and waited for the French to attack. The Russian right wing occupied ideal defensive terrain, so the French tried to press the Russian left for much of the battle, the highlight of the fighting became the bloody struggle for the large Raevsky redoubt near the village of Borodino.
The French managed to capture this redoubt late into the day, the Russians suffered terrible casualties during the fighting, losing over a third of their army. French losses were heavy, exacerbating the logistical difficulties that Napoleon encountered in the campaign. Napoleons Imperial Guard, the unit on the battlefield that saw no fighting, was available to swing into action at a moments notice. In refusing to commit the Guard, some believe, he lost his one chance to destroy the Russian army. The capture of Moscow proved a pyrrhic victory since the Russians had no intention of negotiating with Napoleon for peace. The French evacuated Russias spiritual capital in October and conducted a retreat that only ended in December. Historical reports of the battle differed significantly depending on whether they originated from supporters of the French or Russian side, factional fighting among senior officers within each army led to conflicting accounts and disagreements over the roles of particular officers.
The French Grande Armée began its invasion of Russia on 16 June 1812, in response, Emperor Alexander I proclaimed a Patriotic War and prepared to face the French. However, Phulls plan soon proved to be a mistake, as the enormous Grande Armée was more than enough to separate. Furthermore, the participation of Tsar Alexander I as commander caused more chaos in the Russian army, the Russian forces which were massed along the Polish frontier were obliged to fall back in the face of the swift French advance. Napoleon advanced from Vitebsk, hoping to catch the Russian Army in the open where he could annihilate it, the French army was not positioned well for an extended overland campaign, it was 925 km from its nearest supply base at Kovno. French supply lines were vulnerable and Cossacks, light cavalry, guerrilla forces and even French deserters attacked and seriously depleted French supply columns
Peter von Hess
Peter Heinrich Lambert von Hess was a German painter, known for historic paintings, especially of the Napoleonic Wars and the Greek War of Independence. Peter von Hess initially received training from his father Carl Ernst Christopher Hess and he accompanied his younger brother Heinrich Maria to Munich in 1806, and enrolled at the Munich Academy at the age of sixteenth. He trained under Wilhelm von Kobell, during the Napoleonic Wars, he was allowed to join the staff of General Wrede, who commanded the Bavarians in the military operations which led to the abdication of Napoleon. There he gained novel experiences of war and a taste for extensive travel, during this time, von Hess painted his first battle pieces. In 1818 he spent some time in Italy where he painted landscapes and various Italian scenes and travelled to Naples with Joseph Petzl and a group of other Bavarian artists. In 1833, at Ludwigs request, he accompanied Otto of Greece to the newly formed Kingdom of Greece, where at Athens he gathered materials for pictures of the war of liberation.
The sketches which he made were placed, forty in number, in the Pinakothek, after being copied in wax on a large scale by Nilsen. King Othos entrance into Nauplia was the subject of a large and crowded canvas now in the Pinakothek, peter von Hess work has been evaluated positively for its execution but some have questioned its boldness and congeniality. He is buried in the Alter Südfriedhof in Munich and this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, Hugh, ed. Hess
Battle of Smoliani
At the Battle of Smoliani, the Russians under General Peter Wittgenstein defeated the French forces of Marshal Claude Victor and Marshal Nicholas Oudinot. This battle was the last effort of the French to reestablish their northern flank in Russia, at the time of the Smoliani encounter, Napoleon was planning on leading his rapidly disintegrating Grande Armée to a safehaven in the west such as Minsk. In order to execute this plan, the Grande Armées planned route of retreat had to be secured, Wittgensteins position at Czasniki was just 40 miles north of Bobruisk, a town Napoleon needed to be secure in order for the main French army to reach Minsk. Victor, per Napoleons orders, was to coordinate the actions of his IX corps with the VI corps and this plan however was scuttled per the insistence of Oudinot, who thought it more advantageous to attack Wittgenstein head on. Going into the action at Smoliani, the French commanders exhibited the hallmarks of leaders setting themselves up for failure, bad planning, historians have criticized Oudinot and Victor for not attempting a flanking maneuver against Wittgenstein.
Victor especially has been criticized for indecision in his planning and execution of the Smoliani attack, previously, at Czasniki, Victor had proven himself over-inclined to retreat in the face of just minor reversals. The mood among the Russian leaders on the eve of the battle stood in stark contrast to that of the French, one notable work on 1812 describes the aura among Wittgenstein and his staff at this juncture as a sense of being morally equal and often superior to the enemy. It is no wonder, that Victor was hesitant in executing the assigned to him by Napoleon. The French cause at Smoliani was undermined by mounting attrition within their ranks, in the two weeks following the action at Czasniki, Victors force had suffered greatly from exposure to frost and disease. By November 10, only 25,000 troops remained until Victors command, the Battle of Smoliani commenced on November 13, at the nearby village of Axenzi, and initially the French were successful. Here the 6,000 troops of General Partenoux attacked Wittgensteins advance guard,6,000 strong, each side lost roughly 500 troops in this encounter, and despite being reinforced, the Russians were forced to retreat to Smoliani.
The next day, November 14, the combat intensified as 5,000 of Victors troops attacked and captured Smoliani, after this, the French attacking force suffered a reversal, being repulsed on the Russian right wing and losing Smoliani to Wittgensteins counterattack. While this action was taking place, a small Russian detachment kept Oudinots superior force in check at the village of Poczavizi, the next day, November 15, Victor retreated 20 miles south to Chereja. That Victor and Oudinot retreated in the face of this big threat to the Grande Armée was another blow to Napoleon. The Battle of Smoliani ended, any hope the French had of reestablishing their northern Dwina Line, John Wiley & Sons, Inc